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