In the late 1970s, a peculiar sound began bubbling up from the land of 10,000 lakes. Buried beneath 50 solid inches of annual snow, Minneapolis made a Sound quite different than what the pop world foresaw. It issued forth as a slick, black, technologically advanced fusion, poised to storm the charts. Never known for sizable African-American populations, the Twin Cities of Minneapolis and St. Paul in fact harbored a tight-knit community of musicians working feverishly through the late ’70s and early ’80s toward a radical manipulation of American dance music, coating futuristic funk with the glamorous sheen of guitar rock. Synthetic ebony and ivory met electricity, with sexed-up results sent shockingly across the pop heavens like violet lightning.
On 4 LPs or 2 CDs, Purple Snow: Forecasting the Minneapolis Sound-the Numero Group’s breathlessly anticipated 50th mainline release-chronicles the scene’s first steps, false starts, and follow-throughs, sourcing the life’s work of known quantities and shadowy figures alike. In the beginning, there was Purple Haze, whose billing as Haze on two obscure albums left the color purple to their city’s incipient sound. Pepé Willie’s 94 East project gave local prodigy Prince Rogers Nelson an early chance to row along with the crew. From there, the story courses past Jimmy Jam Harris’ extroverted Philly throwback Mind & Matter collective, to Terry Lewis and Flyte Tyme, flamboyant precursor to Morris Day’s The Time. Unearthing basement demos by Prince’s childhood sidekick/departed bassist André Cymone, plus deep cuts from legend-about-town Alexander O’Neal, Numero 050 gathers relentlessly as the sprawling, nonfiction prequel to Purple Rain’s cultural takeover.
Surpassing 30,000 words, our hardbound, full-color book companion to Purple Snow: Forecasting the Minneapolis Sound is a gorgeous, exhaustively detailed, and insight-rich guided tour across two hours of music and a decade of North Star history. Inside, dozens of supporting characters and combos seed clouds for the meteoric rise of a genre formerly known mostly as Prince’s-not to mention unheard product from his top collaborators and fiercest competitors. In game-changing sound and image-rich splendor, Purple Snow: Forecasting the Minneapolis Sound clears a crowded stage, ushering in unsung Twin Cities future-funk talent, to bask for a spotlit moment, out of that persistent violet shadow, and to shine. -Courtesy of Biz3