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PopEntertainment.com > Reviews > Record Reviews > Prince

MUSIC REVIEWS

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Prince-The Black Album (Warner Brothers)

There are legendary lost albums in music history, recordings like the Beatles Live at the BBC, The Beach Boys' Smile and Dylan's Basement Tapes and the Sex Pistols' Great Rock & Roll Swindle.  They all get released eventually, and usually they've become museum pieces by the time they see the light of day. 

Probably the most sought after lost album in recent years is The Black Album by Prince (back when he had a name and not a symbol.)  It came hard on the heels of Prince's last complete masterpiece of an album, Sign 'O' the Times.   Originally slated for release without an artist's name by the purple one, tapes started circulating and it was quickly discovered it was Prince.  Then the album was pulled from release, with only the ballad "When 2 Are In Love" seeing the light of day on his next album Lovesexy

Since then, The Black Album has been a popular bootleg, but only now is getting an official release (and only for a few months).  Waiting this long did the record no favors.  This may have been cutting edge stuff in 1988, but now it sounds a little bit dated.  There are some cool funk jams, like the sexy come-on to supermodel "Cindy C" and the truly demented character study "Bob George." 

Unfortunately, too many of the albums' experiments like "2 Nigs United for West Compton" sound like yesterday's news.  And the so-called raunchiness sounds pretty tame after rap has taken over, unless lines like "A blow job, a blow job, feels so good" on "Le Grind" turn you on.  The Black Album undoubtedly deserves its place in funk history.  Too bad it will always bear the asterisk of being released too late. (1/95)

Jay S. Jacobs

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Copyright 1995-1998 PopEntertainment.com. All rights reserved.
Revised: January 31, 2016.

 

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The Artist Formerly Known As Prince-Chaos & Disorder (Warner Brothers)

Sadly, this album title is way too apt. It seems to continue in the direction that last year's Gold, continuing a career long flirtation with rock & roll. Prince is a good rocker, but most of the songs here are pretty weak, particularly in comparison to work he has done previously. His heart just doesn't seem to be in it.

The symbol guy's work on auto-pilot usually is still better than most singers who are trying, but not this time. The liner notes read "Originally intended 4 private use only, this compilation serves as the last original material recorded by (Prince) 4 warner brothers records." This album has contractual obligation written all over it. 

Jay S. Jacobs

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The Artist Formerly Known As Prince-Crystal Ball (NPG)

Less than a year after the three disk set Emancipation, the former Prince has now released a new four disk set. Well, he certainly doesn't have to worry about prolificness. Of course, there are problems with this album, the first that the Artist has distributed completely independently since leaving Warner Bros. a year and a half ago (Emancipation was distributed through EMI.)

First of all, it's tough to find, with only two or three chains carrying it. Secondly, the package looks like it was done on a PC. Musically, Crystal Ball has the same problem as the last album. There's a lot of great stuff here, but there's just too much to connect with it in any visceral way. Stuff like the hard funk of "Da Bang" and the computer pop of "Interactive" are well worth hearing, but do we have to wade through nearly four hours worth of music each time to find them? With some well-placed pruning, this would have been an essential two-disk set. (5/98)

Jay S. Jacobs

 

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The Artist Formerly Known As Prince-Emancipation (NPG/EMI)

It ain't easy being the most prolific writer in music. How else do you explain releasing a three disk set just six months after his last album on Warner Brothers. At over three hours, Emancipation is supposed to show us where his is now, and while he sounds as funky as ever on tunes like "Somebody's Somebody," "Damned If I Do" and the sensual Kate Bush duet "My Computer," frankly, it's a little too much of a good thing.

Cut a little of the fat and two disks would have been fantastic. Also of note, for the first time the former Mr. P officially records other people's songs, not one but four, and all with Pennsylvania connections. Three of them, Eric Bazilian's "One Of Us," and Thom Bell "Betcha By Golly Wow" and "La La Means I Love You" were written by Philadelphians, the other, "I Can't Make You Love Me" was by former Penn State football star Mike Reid. (2/97)

Jay S. Jacobs

Prince-Girl 6 (Original Soundtrack) (Warner Brothers)

Unlike the instantly forgettable movie from which it springs, this soundtrack, a compilation of Prince b-sides, album tracks and side projects, rewards scrutiny. The best tracks, though, are two songs his Royal Badness wrote and produced for other groups in the the '80's. Vanity 6's "Nasty Girl" and "The Screams of Passion" by the Family (an offshoot of The Time who also originally recorded "Nothing Compares 2 U") are reminders that in his prime Prince was as good a love man as there comes. (7/96)

Jay S. Jacobs

Copyright 1995-1998 popentertainment.com All rights reserved.
Revised: January 31, 2016.