By special request a short story on Mazarati, the group that played a special role in the upcoming (and last) Prince And The Revolution album Parade, which would be released at the end of the same month in 1986.
Mazarati – group
Mazarati was an R&B group, that was formed in the early 1980s and was taken under the wing by Prince (And The Revolution) bass player BrownMark, who also provided the group with almost all of their songs. Due to his connection to Prince, the group was signed to Prince’s own Paisley Park label. Actually, Mazarati was the very first act ever to be signed to the label.
Because the group was connected to the Paisley Park label the group was offered to use songs by written by Prince. One of them was a rudimentary take of Kiss, a bluesy song recorded using an acoustic guitar. The group and producer David Z. (brother of Revolution drummer Bobby Z.) wanted a funky song. A rhythm was programmed into the Linn Drum machine, a delay was added to the hi-hat and combined with an acoustic guitar. The generated rhythm was extremely funky. Within a day all other parts were put to tape.
When Prince heard the result the next day, he took the song back. He changed parts on the recording: strip the bass, add a funky guitar riff, sing in his falsetto voice. The Mazarati background vocals remained intact on the version that was released by Prince as the leading single to his own upcoming Parade album.
Mazarati wasn’t too thrilled about Prince’s action, but, to be fair, after Prince’s changes the somewhat nondescript dance tune turned into the funk classic that is now known as Kiss. The Mazarati version is inferior to Prince’s version. However, without the group and David Z.’ preliminary work, Kiss wouldn’t have become the song it is.
The band recorded two more Prince songs, Jerk Out and 100 MPH, the last one finding its way on the group’s debut album.
Mazarati – album
On March 4th, 1986, Mazarati’s debut album was released on Paisley Park Records. Besides the song 100 MPH, Prince (re)wrote the lyrics to Strawberry Lover and I Guess It’s All Over. He also recorded the song 100 MPH all by himself and played a (acoustic!) guitar solo on I Guess It’s All Over. In 1985 he had recorded the song Mazarati, with the group in mind, but he ultimately decided it fit The Family more and renamed the song to Susannah’s Pajamas.
Bass player BrownMark is responsible for the rest of the songs and music. Pop and funk both fight for attention. The album is a typical example of the Minneapolis Sound, which dominated R&B in the second half of the 1980s. Based on the content, expectations for the group were high.
However, Mazarati turned into a primary example of a group that didn’t rise to the occasion. What caused it, isn’t entirely clear. It’s probably a combination of timing, quality and spunk. The album ‘s sound would have had connected better two years earlier, at the height of the Purple Rain. It still embraces a sound Prince had already left. And, the vocals are a bit tame.
Mazarati is by no means a bad album, but it can’t be compared to other Prince related albums by The Family, The Time, Vanity 6 or Sheila E. On top of that, the group wasn’t very fortunate with the taking back of Kiss and the choice not to use Jerk Out (which was The Time‘s biggest hit four years later).
The Mazarati album was only released on cd in Japan, a fate the album didn’t deserve. With Player’s Ball, 100 MPH, Strawberry Lover and I Guess It’s All Over the album contains some fine songs.
Three singles were culled from the album, all released in 1986:
- Players’ Ball / I Guess It’s All Over
- 100 MPH / Don’t Leave Me Baby
- Stroke / Champagne Saturday
Both Don’t Leave Me Baby and Champagne Saturday were only available as B-sides on the singles mentioned above.
All songs written by BrownMark, unless stated otherwise.
- Players’ Ball
- Lonely Girl On Bourbon Street
- 100 MPH (Prince)
- She’s Just That Kind Of Lady
- Strawberry Lover (lyrics: Prince)
- I Guess It’s All Over (lyrics: Prince)
- Sir Casey Terry – vocals
- Aaron Paul “Ace” Keith – keyboards and background vocals
- Craig “Screamer” Powell – guitar and background vocals
- Marr Starr – keyboards and background vocals
- Jerome “Romeo” Cox – bass and background vocals
- Tony Christian – guitar and background vocals
- Kevin “Blondie” Patricks – drums
- Prince – all instruments on 100 MPH and guitar solo on I Guess It’s All Over
- Jill Jones (J.J.) – background vocals on Strawberry Lover and I Guess It’s All Over
Mazarati is produced by BrownMark, assisted by David Z.
On July 1st, 1986, Mazarati played as the opening act to the premiere of the Prince movie Under The Cherry Moon in Sheridan, Wyoming. The group played some more shows that year, but things turned quiet rather quickly after 1986. The lack of success didn’t break the group’s spirit though.
The group was picked up by the famous Motown label, to whom the group presented the album Mazarati 2 in 1989. A combination of the ‘old’ sound of its predecessor and the very popular New Jack Swing, the album never made it past the promo stage. The album was never officially released. The group disbanded.
The group reunited and disbanded twice since, in 2004 and 2011. The last reunion, using the moniker Mazarati Revisited, seemed to be going somewhere initially, but ever since 2013 nothing was heard from Mazarati.
In 2019 the original Prince recording of 100 MPH was released on the posthumous Prince album Originals.
How do you feel about Mazarati, the group and the album? Let me know!
Mazarati image: youtube.com
Mazarati – Mazarati & Mazarati – Mazarati – The singles images: discogs.com
Mazarati – Mazarati – Back cover image: princeshop.online
Mazarati live image: twitter.com