Category Archives: Prince Reviews

20Ten 2010

After the lavish Lotusflower/MPLSound set, Prince keeps it simple on 20Ten, released co-incidentally in 2010!

The fact that this is a simpler, less bloated effort than it’s predecessor strangely also makes it more satisfying, as if (when he doesn’t try too hard, he can churn out good music – see my review for Chaos and Disorder as another example of this). Like Planet Earth, I received this album free with my Daily Mail newspaper (in London). At the time it was available for sale or downloadable on the charts, so it could never chart.

Possibly one of the “safest” Prince albums made, not really saying much but at the same time, it’s pretty funky.

The first two songs, “Compassion” and “Beginning Endlessly” are a hark back to the past, with Linn drums and analogue synths, pretty tight and catchy songs to begin the album.

Future Soul Song is a funky, tight ballad reminisce of “Future Baby Mama”! “Sticky Like Glue” is a downbeat funk song, and “Act of God” is another Prince statement about the problems of the world.

Next up is “Lavaux”, one of Prince’s catchiest numbers to date, and VERY reminiscent of his 80’s output.

However, the best songs are near the end, and are not funk classics.

“Walk in the sand” sounds like a man at peace with himself, about as mellow as it gets, but also a very nice sweeping tune. Even better is the “Sea of everything” a beautiful love song, and as good a song penned by Prince in the last 10 years.

The disappointing ending of “Everybody loves me” seems par for the course for Prince, make a lot of good songs and end the album with trash. However, the “secret” song at the end, “Laydown” is nice funky bonus.

Really, the album is nothing special, but its probably better than a lot of the stuff he made the 5-10 years before that, and definitely a LOT better than his NPG Music website output. So you could say, in a way, that Prince is improving over time.. There is evidence of this on the next musical release (over 4 years later – in Art Official Age). But it’s a big break for an artist who was releasing at least 1 record a year and sometimes 2 or 3 a year.

Track listing

All songs written and composed by Prince[5].

No. Title Length
1. “Compassion” 3:57
2. “Beginning Endlessly” 5:27
3. “Future Soul Song” 5:08
4. “Sticky Like Glue” 4:46
5. “Act of God” 3:13
6. “Lavaux” 3:03
7. “Walk in Sand” 3:29
8. “Sea of Everything” 3:49
9. “Everybody Loves Me” 4:08
10. “Laydown” (hidden track on track #77; following tracks #10 to #76, each containing 5 or 6 seconds of silence [23]) 3:07

 

LOtUSFLOW3R / MPLSound / Elixer 2009

The 3 CD set LOtUSFLOW3R / MPLSound / Elixer released in 2009 contains 3 very distinct and differing CD’s. The Main “Prince” CD’s are what will be reviewed here. To begin with Elixer is a Bria Valente CD and has some Prince songs on it, but it’s not really a Prince album so wont get reviewed.

Lotusflow3R (or Lotusflower) is the more “rock” oriented CD, and it’s been a few years since a “rock” album came out. The NPG output being very dance oriented. MPLSound is Prince using old 80’s analog CD’s and the classic LINN drum machine famous on the early 80’s albums, like 1999 and Purple Rain. The two albums are intriguing and have mixed resulst in their output.

Lotusflow3R

For me, Lotusflow3R  is the strongest of the two CD’s. The rock inspired album is a collection of almost psycadelic rock tunes. Starting with “From the Lotus.. ” and “Boom”  you already get that sonic rock feeling. “Boom” in particular is pretty trippy. Depending on which version of the CD you got “Crimson and Clover” is probably one of Prince’s best covers. Recreating that trippy 60’s vibe. On the download version, its replaced by “The morning after”, not as good, sounding like a “Planet Earth” left over. “4Ever” is roaring JW inspired song, about eternity, and that morphs nicely into “Colonized Mind”, a song about brainwashing – but a pretty good song – in fact an instant classic.  So the first 5 songs are pretty strong/consistent – not since Chaos and Disorder has one side of a CD been so consistent. The next song “Feel Good, Feel Better, Feel Wonderful” might be about Prince detractors or Prince acknowledging his age!  Whatever, its a pretty wholesome, funky song. “Love Like Jazz” and “77 Beverly Park” are album tracks, Jazz lite. Usually get skipped through. “Wall of Berlin” is a strange song (strange in that the Wall went down 20 years earlier, so what’s the point of bringing it up??). But it’s a pretty good rock song, not outstanding, but good.

The album ends in the two strongest songs – “$” (aka “Money”) is reminiscent of the “Camille” period, so fluid and catchy at the same time, smart lyrics and a super confident performance from Prince. And “Dreamer” is the OPUS, a Hendrix inspired LOUD and NASTY rock tune. Interesting to see if Hendrix’ estate could have sued Prince as there were no song writing credits, but the riff IS Jimmy. But, as you know Prince can do Jimmy H and James B perfectly.

Last song, “Back to the Lotus…” an aptly eerie ending to an unusual but really interesting, creative album.

MPLSound

Unfortunately MPLSound is great, but does not live up to Lotusflow3r at all. The “DANCE” CD, this is the first problem. As a 50 something, Prince just cant make dance anymore. Rock – he can breath and sleep. “Chocolate Box”, “No More Candy 4 U”, “(There’ll Never B) Another Like Me” are just cheesy. “Dance 4 Me” is a little better, and “Old Skool Company” is OK. The best songs, ironically are the ballads – “”Better with Time” is a beautiful song and “Here” is a sweet ditty.

The main interest in the MPLSound project is the use of original synths and drum machines, but that cannot compensate for poor song writing. It seems Prince writes better songs with a guitar in his hand.

Overall, however, I consider MPLSound to be a bit of a mess and probably better off not released at all. Prince could have just released Lotusflow3R, which is brilliant and promoted that.

LOTUS – 4 out of 5

MPLS – 2 out of 5

Elixer – 0 out of 5

Track listings[edit]

Lotusflow3r
PrinceLotusFlow3r.jpg
Studio album by Prince
Genre Psychedelic rock, rock, soul, funk, acid rock, pop
Length 48:40 (physical)
46:54 (digital)
MPLSound
Prince mplsound cd.png
Studio album by Prince
Genre Funk, R&B, electronica, soul, new wave, hip hop, pop
Length 47:44
Singles from MPLSound
  1. “Better with Time”
    Released: August 24, 2009 (radio play)[citation needed]
  2. “Dance 4 Me”
    Released: September 29, 2009
  3. “U’re Gonna C Me”
    Released: October, 2009
Elixer
Elixer.jpg
Studio album by Bria Valente
Genre Pop, R&B, electronica, soul, smooth jazz
Length 44:25
Singles from Elixer
  1. “Another Boy”
    Released: September 30, 2008

Lotusflow3r

All songs written by Prince; except “Crimson and Clover”, written by Tommy James and Peter Lucia, Jr., and including an interpolation of Chip Taylor’sWild Thing.”

  1. “From the Lotus…” – 2:46
  2. “Boom” – 3:19
  3. Crimson and Clover” – 3:52
  4. “4ever” – 3:47
  5. “Colonized Mind” – 4:47
  6. “Feel Good, Feel Better, Feel Wonderful” – 3:52
  7. “Love Like Jazz” – 3:49
  8. “77 Beverly Park” – 3:04
  9. “Wall of Berlin” – 4:16
  10. “$” – 3:58
  11. “Dreamer” – 5:30
  12. “…Back 2 the Lotus” – 5:34

Lotusflow3r.com edition

3. “The Morning After” – 2:06[25]

MPLSound

All songs written by Prince.

  1. “(There’ll Never B) Another Like Me” – 6:01
  2. “Chocolate Box” (featuring Q-Tip) – 6:14
  3. “Dance 4 Me” – 4:58
  4. “U’re Gonna C Me” – 4:36
  5. “Here” – 5:15
  6. “Valentina” – 3:59
  7. “Better with Time” – 4:54
  8. “Ol’ Skool Company” – 7:30
  9. “No More Candy 4 U” – 4:14

Elixer

All songs written by Prince and Bria Valente. Sung by Bria Valente.

  1. “Here Eye Come” – 4:28
  2. “All This Love” – 4:39
  3. “Home” – 4:26
  4. “Something U Already Know” – 5:44
  5. “Everytime” – 3:50
  6. “2nite” – 5:02
  7. “Another Boy” – 3:56
  8. “Kept Woman” – 4:15
  9. “Immersion” – 4:02
  10. “Elixer” (with Prince) – 4:00

Planet Earth 2007

I remember getting Planet Earth, free with my newspaper, in London UK, sometime in 2007 and having a listen. What’s interesting about this album is that its an attempt to hark back to the past. The collaborations with Wendy and Lisa are evidence of that. The result sounds like an album the Revolution would have made had they stuck together for another 2 years.

Prince’s songwriting seems to also be in decline around the Planet Earth days too. The title track is interesting, but closer inspection reveals a rip off of Barry Manilow’s “Could this be magic”. The lyrics to Mr Goodnight are slightly embarrassing and the lyrics for “Resolution” could have been written by an 8 year old. It’s all a bit childish and meant to be serious..

There are good songs, for example “Future Baby Mama”, is good R&B. “Somewhere here on earth” is a massive improvement on songs like “On the couch”. “The One U Wanna C” and “Guitar” are the catchy pop material, and are oK on first listen but quickly get boring after a few listens. This is why I think the song writing is declining at this stage – the songs are not worth listening to after a few repeats, which is not the case with classics like “Lovesexy” and “Sign O the times”.

“Chelsea Rodgers” has potential as a dance/R&B song, but it’s not very well performed. And I can see what “All the Midnights in the World” is trying to be and what “Lion of Judah” is trying to be, but it doesn’t quite work.

1 out of 5

Track listing

All songs written and produced by Prince.

  1. “Planet Earth” – 5:51
  2. Guitar” – 3:45
  3. “Somewhere Here on Earth” – 5:45
  4. “The One U Wanna C” – 4:29
  5. “Future Baby Mama” – 4:47
  6. “Mr. Goodnight” – 4:26
  7. “All the Midnights in the World” – 2:21
  8. “Chelsea Rodgers” (featuring Shelby J)– 5:41
  9. “Lion of Judah” – 4:10
  10. “Resolution” – 3:40

3121 2006

3121 was a commercially successful comeback (number 2) album after Musicology in 2006. It was in some senses a bigger success, debuting at number 1 in the US.

The album is also a vast improvement over Musicology, mainly with it being a much more focused and overall entertaining record. Some of the songs are excellent, including the 80’s inspired “Love”, the Wendy/Lisa inspired “Fury” and the Spanish inspired “Te Amo Corazon”. The first of those songs. “Love” is some of Prince’s best song writing in a while.

The remake of “The Dance” is exquisite and about as good as the original, while “Get on the boat” is just a good fun ending.

Unfortunately, there are still a lot of weaker moments, and some embarrassing moments. “Beautiful, Loved and Blessed” by Tamar is. I guess, a song for the “younger audience”, as is “incense and candles”. Like fairy floss, too sweet. Not gaining well either. “Satisfied” follows on from the token ballad tradition, similar to “On the couch”. Forgettable.

“Lolita” is particularly embarrassing for a man who is approaching 50. A song about a girl he cant have because she’s under 18. Painful.

So, like Musicology, there is a mix of good and bad here – but there is more good than bad, and for that the record is a good experience overall.

3 out of 5

Track listing

All songs written and composed by Prince, except where noted.

No. Title Length
1. “3121” 4:31
2. “Lolita” 4:06
3. Te Amo Corazón 3:35
4. Black Sweat 3:12
5. “Incense and Candles” 4:04
6. “Love” 5:45
7. “Satisfied” 2:50
8. Fury 4:02
9. “The Word” 4:11
10. “Beautiful, Loved and Blessed” (Prince, Támar) 5:43
11. “The Dance” 5:20
12. “Get On the Boat” 6:18

Musicology 2004

Musicology, released in 2004 was a commercially successful “comeback” album for Prince, an album where he portrays himself as a teacher who wants to educate people about music. Thus the lesson is called “Musicology”.

It’s an interesting record in many respects. Accompanied by a world tour, lots of promotion and publicity – it was not that great a record. The songs on there were generally critically well received, and it’s Prince at his “middle of the road” best, so it makes sense. The first track, the title track, is James Brown lite. It’s OK, but it’s no Housequake. It’s this song that is also the first single and also the sets the scene for the rest of the record to come – that the album is about Prince wishing to provide a musical education to people. The next song, “Illusion, Coma, Pimp & Circumstance” is much much better, a funky, funny story. “Call my name” is a great little ballad actually winning a grammy which did not help it chart. “What Do U Want Me 2 Do” is like Dorothy Parker part II, still brilliantly executed and programmed drum machine, tight bass line, but made you long for the real thing.

There is a lot of bad song writing though. Starting with “Life of the party”, a very poor “party” song. “If Eye Was the Man in Ur Life” is just all over the place and has no purpose, and “On the couch” about getting in trouble with the wife – is just painful to listen to.

Some of the mid tempo songs, “Dear Mr Man”, “A Million Days” and “Reflection” seemed designed to be hits, but in the end were just too bland. “Cinnamon Girl” is a sign of music to come (e.g. Planet Earth), that type of earthy rock and roll. Not convincing by any means, but an attempt to convey his message about war.

So overall, a few good songs, a few OK songs and some bad ones. What’s more interesting than this is the high sales figures that come with it – that prove 2 things – 1) marketing works and 2) touring sells records.

After a few years of anonymity, and problems through his NPG website, he got it right with Musicology – he was back on the charts, back winning awards and had a whole new (younger) set of fans.

3 out of 5

Track listing

All tracks were written by Prince.

  1. Musicology” – 4:26
  2. “Illusion, Coma, Pimp & Circumstance” – 4:46
  3. “A Million Days” – 3:50
  4. “Life o’ the Party” – 4:29
  5. Call My Name” – 5:15
  6. Cinnamon Girl” – 3:56
  7. “What Do U Want Me 2 Do?” – 4:15
  8. “The Marrying Kind” – 2:49
  9. “If Eye Was the Man in Ur Life” – 3:09
  10. “On the Couch” – 3:33
  11. “Dear Mr. Man” – 4:14
  12. “Reflection” – 3:04

 

The Slaughterhouse 2004

The Slaughterhouse released on the NPG Music club website in 2004 is a poorer sister funk/soul album to The Chocolate Invasion (TCI) released just before it. This album has perhaps a bit more of a techno feel to it than TCI but in terms of the individual quality of songs is not as good as TCI. The best song being perhaps “Golden Parachute”.

Track listing

Tracks 2 and 5 credited to The Artist Formerly Known as Prince; tracks 7-10 credited to The New Power Generation.

  1. “Silicon” – 4:17
  2. “S&M Groove” – 5:10
  3. “Y Should Eye Do That When Eye Can Do This?” – 4:33
  4. “Golden Parachute” – 5:38
  5. “Hypnoparadise” – 6:05
  6. “Props ‘n’ Pounds” – 4:38
  7. “Northside” – 6:34
  8. “Peace” – 5:35
  9. “2045: Radical Man” – 6:34
  10. “The Daisy Chain” – 6:13

The Chocolate Invasion 2004

The Chocolate Invasion only being available on the NPG Music club website in 2004 is a pretty low key affair, but a return to funk and soul music. To be fair, it’s a pretty good collection of songs, “Sex Me? Sex Me Not” is an outstanding funk number as is “Whenever I lay my hands on you”, in fact that song is as good as any Prince song. The final mention is to the brilliant “The Dance” which is later re-recorded in 3121 in 2006.

The Chocolate Invasion is a surprisingly consistent collection of songs, and pretty enjoyable addition to Prince’s list of albums.

Track listing

  1. “When Eye Lay My Hands on U” – 3:45
  2. “Judas Smile” – 6:37
  3. Supercute” – 4:17
  4. “Underneath the Cream” – 4:04
  5. “Sex Me? Sex Me Not” – 5:46
  6. “Vavoom” – 4:40
  7. “High” – 5:09
  8. “The Dance” – 4:45
  9. “Gamillah” (credited to The New Power Generation) – 3:13
  10. U Make My Sun Shine” – 5:52

N.E.W.S 2003

N.E.W.S is the follow up jazz album released again from the NPG Music Club CD. It’s probably his best jazz output of the 2001-2003 period, having a distinctive Madhouse feel to it.

With only 4 songs of 14 minutes each, this is not exactly contemporary music. But good background music, a bit of fun.

 

Track listing

  1. “North” – 14:00
  2. “East” – 14:00
  3. “West” – 14:00
  4. “South” – 14:00

C-Note 2003

C-Note is another NPG Music club release in 2003. The album is basically an experimental set of songs made based on “soundchecks”, with the best being the jazzy Copenhagen, running for 13 minutes. The live version of “Empty Room” is interesting song, and probably better than the recorded version.

Track listing

  1. “Copenhagen” – 13:28
    • contains a portion of Miles Davis‘ “Jean-Pierre”
  2. “Nagoya” – 8:54
  3. “Osaka” – 5:28
  4. “Tokyo” – 5:04
  5. “Empty Room” – 4:02

Xpectation 2003

Xpectation released in 2003 is a download only album given to members of Prince’s NPG Music Club website for their $100 subscription fee.

Although an official Prince release, this is an album of instrumentals – unlike Kamasutra before it, it ismore of a classical sounding record with some moments of funk. One of the songs, Xemplify, is fairly jazzy/funky and reminiscent of the The Rainbow children in sound. Xpand is fairly grungy and funky as well and probably the best song.

Track listing

  1. “Xhalation” – 2:04
  2. “Xcogitate” – 3:33
  3. “Xemplify” – 5:53
  4. “Xpectation” – 4:01
  5. “Xotica” – 3:05
  6. “Xogenous” – 4:12
  7. “Xpand” – 6:11
  8. “Xosphere” – 3:34
  9. “Xpedition” – 8:24

The Rainbow Children 2001

The release of The Rainbow Children in 2001 is an important moment in Prince’s spiritual evolution, a move to more organic, live sounds. There is less of a “sexual” feeling about the album compared to past efforts, and there is a definite Jehovah Witness message throughout. Fans were massively divided at the time of the release, on one hand, the music was fresh and interesting, on the other the lyrics were preachy and – well about a religion that many do not understand or are simply not interested in. The sexy Prince, with his partying like it’s the last day on earth or about “masturbating with a magazine”, was long gone. This Prince is a mature, spiritual guy who does not cuss or scream.

About the music. The title track and first song is a Jazzy/swing number, that sounds a bit like 30’s Jazz standards such as Duke Ellington. It’s a really good start to the album, followed by equally mellow/jazzy “Mellow” and “Muse 2 the Pharaoh”. However, the rest of the record is a combination of straight rock / funk songs, or ballads. 1+1+1=3 and The Work Part 1 are rock/funk numbers by the book – standard fare for Prince. More interesting is the funky “Family Name” which takes a futuristic look at the past, and how African American people in the USA got their “names” underscored by a blistering Hendrix funk riff. There is a sub-plot in the album about the “Digital Garden”, a mythical, JW utopia, with the more experimental tunes dedicated to this theme, such as “Deconstruction” and “Wedding Feast” (Truth be told. “Wedding Feast” is a pretty bad song, but I believe it is just part of the album’s “story line”). There is a deep, slowed down version of Prince’s voice (similar to 1999 intro or Bob George) narrating the story of the “Digital Garden” throughout, and is in fact, pretty annoying after a while as it barges into the SONGS, for me the strength of the album are the variable and interesting songs, so don’t really want to hear that voice talking a load of nonsense.

The best song, is the song that doesn’t really fit in with the rest of the album – it once again showed that Prince can make good music if he keeps things simple. “She loves me for me” is a pretty, simple love song about good manners and respect. The album ends with the celebratory “Everlasting Now”, (better live in concert) and the spiritual “Last December”. Both songs, over 7 minutes long – but not interesting enough to be that long. In fact the whole album is almost 70 minutes in duration, so good value overall.

Some of the longer rock funk songs are on the bland side. But it also contains some interesting work, and a return to experimentation. It also is a huge turning point for a former rock star whose career was waning creatively.

It’s hard to judge The Rainbow Children. This is clearly a labour of love for Prince, and some of the ideas do come through – but on the other side of the funky spectrum, it’s a bit of a self indulgent and nonsensical, whimsical thing.

The Rainbow Children was no commercial success and you are unlikely to know about this album unless you are a Prince fan, but it was a turning point nonetheless and a standard for the music that was to come.

3 out of 5

Track listing

  1. “Rainbow Children” – 10:03
  2. “Muse 2 the Pharaoh” – 4:21
  3. “Digital Garden” – 4:07
  4. The Work, pt. 1” – 4:28
  5. “Everywhere” – 2:55
  6. “The Sensual Everafter” – 2:58
  7. “Mellow” – 4:24
  8. “1+1+1 is 3” – 5:17
  9. “Deconstruction” – 2:00
  10. “Wedding Feast” – 0:54
  11. “She Loves Me 4 Me” – 2:49
  12. “Family Name” – 8:17
  13. “The Everlasting Now” – 8:18
  14. “Last December” – 7:58
  15. Untitled hidden track – 0:04
  16. Untitled hidden track – 0:04
  17. Untitled hidden track – 0:04
  18. Untitled hidden track – 0:04
  19. Untitled hidden track – 0:04
  20. Untitled hidden track – 0:08
  21. Untitled hidden track – 0:38
  • Tracks 15-21 are all hidden tracks and are all silent with the exception of track 21, which gradually fades in to the repetition of the word “one” being sung.

 

Newpower Soul 1998

Although not a “Prince” album per se, Newpower Soul released in 1998 amongst multiple other Prince releases was actually the third album from the band “New Power Generation”. But unlike the first two albums, this is most definitely a purely Prince release and that is why I am reviewing it on this website. For me, this is part of Prince’s album repertoire and cannot be missed for review. Just to be clear, I will NOT be reviewing “Exodus 1995” and “Goldnigga 1993”, both of which I DO NOT see as Prince records, although I must state that Exodus is an excellent record, while Goldnigga contains the big hit “The Good Life” which is worth hearing again from time to time!

Like many of his late 80’s output, this record went a bit under the radar, but feels like a soulmate to other low profile, minimalist Prince CD’s, such as “Come” and even the dark “Batman” and post punk “Dirty Mind”.  In fact, Newpower Soul is a really really good record!

The first song is the jazzy and funky “Newpower Soul”, reminiscent of “Come”. The only single “Come On” is brilliant, catchy stuff. Pure funk. Then following that is the eerie “Mad Sex” which I quite like. Followed by one of Prince’s most commercial ever songs, “When you love somebody”. In another dimension, another year, another singer – this song would be a smash hit around the world, but it went unnoticed really.. “The One” is a spectacular ballad, one of Prince’s best. Whereas “Until your in my arms tonight” is not as good, but still quite nice. “Freaks on this side” and “I like funky music” are not that great, they are almost experimental funk songs in a way, but don’t really work.

The album ends with a surprise “bonus” track called “Wasted Kisses”, which co-incidentally is one of Prince’s best ever pop songs. Maybe he just didn’t realise it and / or never completed the song, but it really is a fan favourite and could have been number 1 in another time, space and dimension.

All in all, Newpower Soul is an unexpected Prince masterpiece, a record I keep going back to time and time again, ageless.

4 out of 5

  1. Newpower Soul (5:00)
  2. Mad Sex (5:12)
  3. Until U’re In My Arms Again (4:47)
  4. When U Love Somebody (5:56)
  5. Shoo-Bed-Ooh (3:23)
  6. Push It Up (5:28)
  7. Freaks On This Side (5:42)
  8. Come On (5:59)
  9. The One (7:04)
  10. ( Like) Funky Music (4:31)
  11. Wasted Kisses (2:58)1