Chaos and Disorder, by the then known as “Symbol” in 1996, marked out Prince’s last contractual obligation to WB. According to the sleeve notes, it was made originally for personal purposes. Prince did not promote the album at all and it was only released less than a year after TGE. To say it was a low key affair is an understatement. To all but the hardcore Prince fan, this album did not exist. The single “Dinner with Delores” being perhaps the most familiar song as it had charted in a few countries. The lyrics on the album are mostly a parting shot at WB, with some of the more uplifting songs (such as “Into the light” telling us how good the future will be without WB).
However, taken at face value – Chaos and Disorder is in fact very very entertaining.
Side one, is a rollercoaster ride of rough and wild Rock, Blues and Jazz – the songs seem to go together like a glove, suggesting a set of songs made by a group (NPG) at their peak of performance.
The start of the album is the title track “Chaos and Disorder”, a loud and angry critique of the world today, followed by “I like it there” which reminds me (for some reason) of the type of rock and roll you would hear on the Rocky Horror picture show. “Dinner with Delores” is an aggressive anti WB lyrics hidden behind a cute, cathcy little acoustic guitar riff.
“The Same December” is a brilliant rock opera piece with again, the most blistering guitar and some jazz riffs. Brilliantly performed by the NPG in what was to become their last album with Prince.
“Right The Wrong” can only be called an attempt at Country music? With Prince’s trademark funk stamped all over it. It confused a lot of fans when it came out, I remember on Prince.Org many calling it the worst ever Prince song made, but I never saw it that way. To me it’s a masterpiece, a deep southern, country, funk song and have always been left wondering why Prince didn’t make more of the same. In some respects it had that hillbilly feeling, slimier to “Horny Toad”, that, for some reason really works with Prince. Then ending side 1 is Zannalee, a rocky blues number and very catchy at that. Zannalee works, because it just seems that Prince doesn’t care, telling whoever is with him at the end of the song – “See ya later.. Big Arse”. Brilliant, music, and its a pity that side 1 has to end, because at the start of side 2 is…
“I rock, therefore I am”, which is a kind of a B grade rap song with lots of Rosie Gains vocals. It’s just there like a fish out of water, but I don’t know why – maybe it’s the passing of time – but the cheesiness just seems to work.
The next two songs are brilliant ballads, “I will” and “Into the light”, with better quality production and with a better approach, could have been classics, but I think will be mostly forgotten by Prince fans.
“Dig you better dead” is a weird, operatic, rap which is frankly – superb. Especially like to hear Rosie Gains say “What the fuck!”.
Then it ends with “Had U”, a finger in the air to WB. The classic guitar riff in the background, Led Zepplin like is just marvellous and you don’t really want it to end.
But it does.
A chapter closes in Prince’s career. From here on, the music is not the same anymore – why? Did WB provide the much needed quality control to Prince’s career? Did they question some of his dubious (albeit highly artistic) reasons for doing things? Who knows. The breakdown of the relationship between Prince and WB also signalled the end of his great music (in my opinion). Although there are flashes of greatness – post WB Prince is not the same.
5 out of 5
- “Chaos and Disorder” – 4:19
- “I Like It There” – 3:15
- “Dinner with Delores” – 2:46
- “The Same December” – 3:24
- “Right the Wrong” – 4:39
- “Zannalee” – 2:43
- “I Rock, Therefore I Am” – 6:15
- “Into the Light” – 2:46
- “I Will” – 3:37
- “Dig U Better Dead” – 3:59
- “Had U” – 1:26