Monday, January 28, 2013

Goodnight Sweet Prince (Be): The Overlooked Twilight Of PM Dawn

Its starts with a fleeting remembrance. A moment where bliss seemed to permeate every day, to the point where everything is so romanticized twenty years after the fact. The reality was much different. I also remember being broke. All the time. But then again, I had just come out of college, so I was used to living lean. Whittling paychecks down to the last ten bucks and funding my music habits off the promotional copies of bands like PM Dawn.

And when you start to look lovingly on those years that have left you, you also begin to cherish the very music that you gave away, dismissing it in favor of something on Touch & Go.

On one instance, I cleared out a load of promotional cds and pissed it all away on a box set of all the singles from R.E.M.’s Out Of Time release. Each disc had maybe four songs on them. Oh, and it was an import. Probably the stupidest purchase of my life.

There’s no telling where that copy of PM Dawn’s The Bliss Album is now. Maybe it’s still up in the bargain bins of Weird Harold’s, along with the other five copies of the same title. The “band,” essentially two brothers, Attrell and Jarrett Cordes, brought a different blend of r&b hip-hop soul, first exposed with a cut that melded a soft rap over a gentle beat, and an unexpected sample of Spandau Ballet’s “True.”

How successful was it? “Set Adrift On Memory Bliss” became the first #1 U.S. single in the SoundScan era and even the video, which featured the not-so-photogenic pair in various stages of weird, bright colored hippy attire, received incessant airplay on MTV.

PM Dawn milked success for a few more albums, but by record three, Jesus Wept, the band wasn’t even able to top the top 100.

I came across an old aircheck tape featuring a new news reporter from the station and before one of my breaks with her, the leadoff single from Jesus Wept was wrapping up.

I heard the last thirty seconds of “Downtown Venus” and then my voice explaining to listeners that the sample that was featured so prominently in the track was none other than Deep Purple’s “Hush.”

Personally, I think the song is a hoot, but the rest of America didn’t agree with my new playlist selection as “Downtown Venus” only reached number 48 on the charts and became what we used to call in the biz, a “stiff.”

Logically, my recent encounter prompted me to find a copy of “Downtown Venus” and to ponder what became of PM Dawn. I was shocked at what I had missed.

Evidently, Attrell-known by his more blissful name of “Prince Be”-suffered a massive stroke in early 2005, which severely impacted the left side of his body. PM Dawn re-formed that same year despite the setbacks of the lead singer and appeared on the show Hit Me One More Time, a program that features reunited bands competing against each other for charity.

In the video footage, a third member of PM Dawn appears. “Doc G” runs around the stage, and during one song is seen handing out roses to the girls in the studio crowd. Just who exactly is this “hype man” that was never part of the original picture turns out to be the brother’s cousin.

You can also see him serve another purpose. If you look closely at the video, Doc appears to be helping Prince Be stay upright. The camera farts around with some other shots while Prince Be is navigated down some stairs and into a waiting chair, obviously still reeling from his stroke.

“Doc G,” also known as the “Doc of the Dawn,” was originally tapped to be a member of PM Dawn with the Cordes brothers, but who split and joined the navy instead.

Doc later re-tells the incident where he was stuck in the military while his cousins were getting verbally manhandled by KRS-One in the early 90’s.

But it wouldn’t be until the appearance on Hit Me One More Time in 2005 where Doc G. got asked again to become a member, and this time he said “Yes.”

Just as soon as the reunion began, Jarrett Cordes decides to split and take his talents to South Beach, but he doesn’t take the name PM Dawn with him. Prince Be and Doc G continue onward, making soft inroads with Be’s feeble condition, until 2009 when he suffers several more strokes.

In late December of 2009, doctors are forced to remove Prince Be’s leg at the knee due to gangrene infection, and since then Doc G has been performing, albeit questionably, as the “sole member” of PM Dawn.

Additionally, Doc G also has his own music available and he appears to be very sensitive about any criticism towards his use of the PM Dawn moniker, something that he says he has Price Be’s blessings on.

There seems to be some beef with Jarrett too, but I’m not sure of the feud itself. What I am sure of is that Doc G recently had a bad case of bronchitis, which has made him “65%,” is on a record label that can only be accessed by “intelligent” people, and is prone to wearing a plastic mask that appears to have been made from an old Dust Buster.

I also know that Doc G needs to replace the “D” batteries in his fire alarm.

Kind of a tragic ending to a band that seemed to thrive on positivity, regardless of how dorky or contrived as it may have seemed through the gaze of an MTV camera.

The ended up wining that Hit Me One More Time contest, even after some pretty shaky moments. Maybe that should serve as their curtain call, and maybe Doc G could stop from reminding us that he has everyone’s blessing to us the PM Dawn “franchise” (as he called it) and instead focus on what he might be doing to the name itself.

Perhaps it’s time for PM Dawn to fade to black.

No comments: