Nearly 35 years after the unceremonious release of The Lewis Conection, a local Minneapolis band’s sole funk LP, The Numero Group is resurrecting the disc, giving it a premiere release next month. (It’s part of an forthcoming phase at Numero to unearth significant and rare recordings from the early days of the Minneapolis sound.)
What makes this set so special? According to popular lore, while recording the album at Minneapolis’ Sound 80 Studios, The Lewis Connection invited an 18-year-old singer/songwriter who was tracking his first professional recordings in the same studio to sing and play guitar on one of their tunes, “Got to Be Something Here.”
That kid was Prince Rogers Nelson. The young man who would, in less than a decade, solidify his position as one of the 20th century’s greatest artists, made his first released professional appearance on another artist’s track with that session, a small but notable footnote in the sprawling Prince canon. (Hardcore fans correctly point to Prince’s tenure in the Twin Cities funk outfit 94 East, alongside cousin-in-law Pepe Willie and childhood friend André Cymone, as Prince’s first pro experience in the studio; that said, those recordings were not commercially released until Purple Rain had taken the world by storm.)
The Lewis Connection’s sole album of funk jams never crossed over beyond the local scene, where only about 200 copies were ever pressed (none of which even spelled the band’s name right – all copies credit “The Lewis Conection”). There was, ironically, one more connection to His Royal Badness some years down the pike, however; the band’s bassist, Sonny Thompson, would be Prince’s rhythmic backbone in the 1990s as part of The New Power Generation.
Below, you can listen to one of the album cuts, “Higher,” and check out the track list and a pre-order link.
The Lewis Connection (originally released by P.A. Productions, 1979 – reissued Numero Group, 2013)
- Get Up
- Feel Good to Ya
- Got to Be Something Here
- Dynamic Duo
- Mr. G