Jealous Haters Since 1998!
Home | News | Reviews | Day In Rock | Photos | RockNewsWire | Singled Out | Tour Dates/Tix | Feeds

Behind The Song: Prince's Kiss

One of our most popular features on antiMusic is our Singled Out series where musicians tell us the story behind their new songs. Today we doing something a little different, presenting the story behind a classic song. The tale of Prince's hit "Kiss" comes to us from the new book 'Prince: Chaos, Disorder, and Revolution?' by Jason Draper. We'll have a review of the book next week but today, Jason shares the story behind "Kiss":

Prince took over the three studios at Sunset Sound while working on the [Parade] album. He used one for Parade, another for his side project The Family, and a third for an album by the Minneapolis band Mazarati, which was being produced by David Rivkin and Revolution bassist Mark Brown. Legend has it that he had cut the first four songs for Parade on the spot, in sequence: that he sat down behind the drums, asked Susan Rogers to roll the tape, and played through all of the drum tracks, using only his handwritten lyrics as guidance, then added the bass, keyboards, guitars, and vocals to each of the songs, one after another.

For most listeners, the highlight of Prince's 1986 album Parade was "Kiss," a song Prince almost didn't record. His cavalier attitude to giving away new songs (see "Manic Monday," reclaimed from Apollonia 6 during the Purple Rain/Apollonia 6 sessions, but unreleased until Prince gave it to The Bangles) made him believe that he could write hit tracks for just about anybody, even if he hadn't masterminded the band's image and sound.
Next door to where Prince was recording Parade, Revolution bassist Mark Brown and engineer Bobby Rivkin were working on a self-titled album by a group known as Mazarati. Brown had started playing with the group on the Minneapolis club scene during a break from touring with The Revolution. Not wanting to end up the same way as Jimmy Jam and Terry Lewis (who were fired by Prince for moonlighting with another band), he wore a mask on stage and called himself The Shadow. After a while, however, Brown knew that he would have to come clean to Prince or face serious consequences. But when he did, Prince surprised him by deciding to take Mazarati under his wing.

Prince was too busy to produce the group himself, but donated one song to the project, "100 MPH." Then, as the sessions continued, he offered them another unused track: a bluesy acoustic number called "Kiss." Rivkin and Brown sat up all night wondering what to do with the song before opting to give it a strident funk backing. When Prince returned to Sunset Sound the following day, he quickly changed his mind about the song's worth. "It's too good for you guys," he told them. "I'm taking it back." He had originally suggested that he would reward Rivkin for his efforts by giving him a co-production credit, but eventually listed him only as the song's arranger, even though the main elements of the song originated from Rivkin and Brown's version. ("Terence Trent D'Arby asked me where "Kiss" came from," Prince later boasted. "I have no idea. Nothing in it makes sense. Nothing! The hi-hat doesn't make sense.")

Before long, Prince had completed the minimal final version of "Kiss," stripping away a lot of the detail Rivkin and Brown had added, and chose it to be the first single from Parade. Warner Bros. felt that it sounded like a demo, but Prince was determined to release it without any changes, and he was right to. A taut, sparse blend of funk and R&B, sung in a falsetto Curtis Mayfield would have envied, "Kiss" would become Prince's first transatlantic Number One hit since "Let's Go Crazy." (The other song he had written for Mazarati fared rather less well. "100 MPH" stalled at Number 19 on the R&B chart, and didn't even register on the Hot 100.)

"I remember the first time that I heard the song 'Kiss'" guitarist Dez Dickerson later recalled, "really feeling that he had managed to recapture some of that raw R&B emotion from some of his earlier music." The promo video is equally stripped-down. It features just Prince, Wendy Melvoin, and an unidentified female dancer, proving just how valuable Melvoin was to Prince at the time.

From Prince: Chaos, Disorder and Revolution, (c) 2011 by Jason Draper. Published by Backbeat Books, an imprint of Hal Leonard. ISBN: 978-0-87930-961-9. $19.99. Reprinted with permission.

Grab the new book at Amazon!

Share this article on Twitter

Preview and Purchase Prince CDs

Prince Tour Dates/Tickets

Prince T-shirts and Posters

Was it Good for you? Please Fark it!, Stumble It, Digg it or more!
Stumble Upon

tell a friend about this article

know of a news item we should cover?

antiMUSIC News featured on and Yahoo News



News Reports
Day in Rock:
Lamb Of God's Mark Morton Streams Chester Bennington Collaboration- Rush Members To Make Special Appearance- Unreleased David Bowie Tracks In New Collection- more

Day in Pop

B-Sides: Taylor Swift Reveals Her Mother Has Cancer- Rich Homie Quan Surrenders To Police Over Alleged Nightclub Assault- Justin Bieber Duets With Ariana Grande- Mumford & Sons- more

 Subscribe To Day in Rock


Ladies Only: Jennie Abrahamson- Rachel Garlin- Nneka- More

Album of the Week: Led Zeppelin's When The West Was Won

Karyn Crisis' Gospel Of The Witches - Salem's Wounds

The Blues: John Mayall's Bluesbreakers- Arlen Roth, Mike Henderson Band- Slam Allen

Trauma Interview

December in Red - The Way Out

Battleaxe - Power From the Universe Reissue

SOKO Interview

The Compulsions - Dirty Fun

Rock Reads: Morbid Tales! A Tribute to Celtic Frost

Death Penalty - Death Penalty

On The Record: The Wild Beyond

RockPile: Minutian- Odin's Court- THEO

Michael Ubaldini Interview

Root 66: Cameron Mitchell- Stacy Jones- Greg Shirley

. .
Today's Rock News
. Lamb Of God's Mark Morton Streams Chester Bennington Collaboration

Rush Members To Make Special Appearance

Unreleased David Bowie Tracks In New Collection

Def Leppard Announce Summer Tour Dates

Avenged Sevenfold's M Shadows Guests On John Dolmayan Album

Aerosmith To Rock Steven Tyler's Grammy Awards Viewing Party

Tedeschi Trucks Band Streaming New Song 'Hard Case'

Queen Bohemian Rhapsody Biopic Nominated For Seven BAFTA Awards

Behemoth Release Ecclesia Diabolica Catholica Video

Blues Music Awards Nominees Announced

Subscribe to Day in Rock Report by Email

Today's Pop News
Latest B-Sides News

More News
anti Worthy Links
. The Screen Door A Journal of Musical Things Lloyd Zeffler blog Demolish Mag Nightwatcher's House of Rock CJ Chilvers Deja Voodoo The 1st Five Hard Rock Memorabilia Day in Rock @twitter


Click Here to Buy T-Shirts!
Click Here to Buy T-Shirts!


Tell a Friend about this page - Contact Us - Privacy - antiMusic Email - Why we are antiMusic

Copyright© 1998 - 2013 Iconoclast Entertainment Group All rights reserved. antiMusic works on a free link policy for reprinting of our original articles, click here for details. Please click here for legal restrictions and terms of use applicable to this site. Use of this site signifies your agreement to the terms of use.