For like the last week and a half or so, I’ve been on this Minneapolis sound kick. Not entirely sure why. I mean, I’ve always liked Prince, Jesse Johnson, Alexander O’Neal, and The Time. But lately, I’ve just been digging the more obscure stuff that either Prince directly influenced or were just groups who were from Minneapolis during the funk/disco days of the late 70’s to mid-80’s.
For those not familiar with the Minneapolis sound, it’s really funk that’s been combined with synthpop and new wave. Typically the horns are replaced by synthesizers and the guys look strangely feminine. Not like drag queen feminine. More like, guy lost a bet with a friend and had his girlfriend who was obsessed with Madonna make up the guy who lost the bet, feminine. (Are you locked in on that image? Good, we can continue.) Of course, most of this sound was attributed to Prince and his soaring popularity. Prince also directly influenced most of these bands by either being a member in them, producing their albums, or even writing their songs. (Vanity 6) So, it’s understandable that most of these groups and artists shared the same motif.
So what happens if you’re the bassist of Prince’s “The Revolution?” Well, you form a sub group, name it after a high end auto manufacturer (but just change the name slightly to not get sued), let Prince write your band a hit single, and put an album out under the Paisley Park label (Which is owned by Warner Brothers). This my friends, is a paraphrased version of how the band Mazarati was formed.
Mazarati did have one charting single which was “100mph” which charted to #16 on the Billboard R&B charts in 1986. (I wanted to post the video for it in this post, but I couldn’t find a decent version posted.) The band didn’t enjoy the huge success of as some of their sister groups in the Minneapolis area. And disbanded after their 2nd album, Mazarati “2” was released in 1989. (That album sounds way different than Mazarati sounds.)
Mazarati’s self-titled album isn’t that bad. The first thing that will grab anybody’s attention is the album cover. It’s what a Na’vi would look like if they were around in the 80’s and like synthpop. The music is enjoyable and the three tracks that stand out are the single “100mph,” “Stroke,” and “Player’s Ball.” Both of which you can tell were heavily influenced by the Purple One himself. (Even though 100mph was the only one actually written by Prince.) The rest of the tracks are decent and heavily laced with poppy keys and heavy synthetic bass lines. After all, what would you expect when fronted by a bassist? Is this the most rarest album in my collection or out there for this time period? No, not really. But to be honest, I’ve only found one copy of this in the wild and I purchased it just because of the cover. Little did I know at the time it was actually going to be pretty enjoyable. However, if you are a huge Minneapolis sound fan, then it’s a definite must that you have this in your collection. To me, this album really signifies that sound that came from that area at the time.
Label: Paisley Park – 1-25368
Format: Vinyl, LP, Album
Genre: Electronic, Funk / Soul
Style: Synth-pop, Funk
A1. Players’ Ball
A2. Lonely Girl On Bourbon Street
A3. 100 MPH
A4. She’s Just That Kind Of Lady
B3. Strawberry Love
B4. I Guess It’s All Over