Where did Minneapolis' sound come from? The Current's Andrea Swensson knows.
Black, white, Puerto Rican, everybody just a freakin’," sings Prince in "Uptown ." This song and Prince’s purple "reign" is the pulsating crescendo of Andrea Swensson’s book " Got To Be Something Here: The Rise of the Minneapolis Sound. "
Swensson, a music reporter and radio host for "The Local Show" on Minnesota Public Radio’s 89.3 The Current, points out Prince’s lyric in her final chapter, "Funkytown." It suggests a reaction to a racially divided music scene in Minneapolis, and Swensson carefully notates this scene’s insistent rhythms.
The book’s title references a track recorded in 1976 by The Family, a band Swensson claims pushed "their blackness to the forefront of their aesthetic." The track captured some of Prince’s first recorded guitar work in a band, where he jammed and sang with frontman Sonny Thompson. Swensson meticulously recounts the many musical motifs that lead to Prince’s eventual success, a success that grew out of the Sound 80 studio recording sessions that produced "Got to Be Something Here."
The racism of the Minneapolis music scene is at the heart of Swensson’s book. Considering the damage done to the predominately black Rondo and North Minneapolis neighborhoods by highway construction, and the exclusion of black bands from downtown clubs, the book introduces a trove of little-known, predominately black jazz, R&B, funk, and soul bands like the Big M’s whose "Silent Lover," recorded in David Hersk’s basement, has the distinction of being Minnesota’s first-ever R&B record.
Features like the Significant Recordings session appendix help the book echo with the sounds of bands like The Amazers, Purple Haze, and the Prophets of Peace, while it reminisces about clubs such as The Blue Note, Solomon’s Mines, and the Flame. Reaching into the late 50s, this powerful book captures the essence of Minnesota’s musical legacy.