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Jio's HoF :NOW:WEEKLY PICKS (3/10/2023)

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    Late 1984- early 1985 Prince toured the world with his "Purple Rain tour". Having achieved international superstardom, the tour was bigger and longer than anything he had done thus far (he played for over 2 hours in each date, that's double the time any of his previous tours lasted). That was also a very much happy tour in the sense that it really looked like a celebration of Prince finally hitting the big time. All of the big hits were performed along with some b-sides such as "Irresistible Bitch", the funky b-side of "Let's Pretend We're Married" and even material unreleased to this day such as "Possessed". The strongest part of the "Purple Rain" album became also the strongest part of the tour. After an impressive skit showing Prince taking shower (!!!) on stage (reminiscent of course of the "When Doves Cry" video), Prince got on with amazing back to back performances of "Computer Blue" and "Darlin' Nicki" (complete with an oral sex imitation on stage). In this tour several unreleased songs debuted during the final dates, songs such as Temptation, Raspberry Beret, 4 The Tears In Your Eyes, America etc. None of those songs appeared in Prince's first ever home video, a depiction of the tour simply called "Prince and the Revolution Live" a video which hit #1 on the US Top Music Video charts. But where did those songs come from?

    Prince never stopped composing songs during his tour and in February of 1985 he presented his new material in a very interesting way to about 20 Warners' officials. Having them all sit down on the floor for the occasion and having Revolution members Wendy and Lisa walking in the room as the music started holding flowers, this was obviously a very different kind of project. And indeed, new album "Around The World In A Day" (R&B #4, BB 200 #1, UK #5) came out when nobody was expecting it with the Purple Rain hype still in full effect, without a single promoting it (all of the singles were released later than the album), without an announcement, without a video, without even Prince's face on the cover. People just walked in a record store one day and just found a new Prince & the Revolution album sitting there.

    Indeed the album was very very different from "Purple Rain" and that's obvious right from opening track "Around The World In A Day", a song starting with flute and a scream and progressing to mixing oriental sounds (kind of previewing the more spiritual nature of this album) with the Minneapolis sound. European-only first single "Paisley Park" (UK #18) takes a page from the Beatles' songbook creating a song which is both retro and at the same time very Prince even if he does things with his voice that we had never heard before. "Condition Of The Heart" begins with impressive piano before it develops into a melancholic ballad of "The Beautiful Ones"-type, only slightly less pop and far more introspective. First American and second international single "Raspberry Beret" (R&B #3, Hot 100 #2, UK #25) was a more uptempo and optimistic song of the "Paisley Park"-type with a video featuring Prince and the Revolution in a dreamy cartoonish-type of world performing the song. The video eventually won the "Best Choreography In A Video" award at the MTV Awards. "Tamborine" is a dirty little gem which takes a few listens before one can realize its magnificence. The hard rock track on the album is "America" (R&B #35) a song whose album version was a 4-minutes cut of a 20+ minutes original composition which appeared fully on the single and the video of the song. The song is great but it's that 20-minute version which really elevates it into a masterpiece. Like "Purple Rain", "Around The World In A Day" featured just one R&B track and that was the excellent "Pop Life" (R&B #8, Hot 100 #7). Much more mellow than "When Doves Cry", this is probably the most commercial moment on the album. The song remains a classic even if Prince mostly talks the lyrics . "The Ladder" is another melancholic ballad, not too dissimilar to "Condition Of The Heart" but with a slightly more sing-a-long chorus and a straight-forward spiritual religious message. The album closes with "Temptation" a rock-pop song which fails to impress as a standalone song but works pretty good as a closer.

    All in all this is an album made more for being heard as a cohesive body of work rather than as individual singles. Perhaps that's the reason that some of Prince's most commercial songs ever did not appear on this album but were used as b-sides to the album's singles. Take for example the fab "She's Always In My Hair", b-side to the first single release of the album ("Raspberry Beret" in the US, "Paisley Park" in the UK). The song is fantastic, with more chart potential than anything in the album, yet it's pop and doesn't really suit the melancholia of the record. So it was a b-side, albeit one that was played thousands of times by every Prince fan and some more. The b-side to the American "Pop Life" single and European "Raspberry Beret" single "Hello" was a rock track, quite similar to "America". As b-side to "America" the pop ballad "Girl" appeared. Unlike the ballads in the album, this was a sexy suggestive ballad, more in-tune with the themes on the "Dirty Mind" album.

    The year ended with another hit single for Prince, this time in the shape of a duet with Sheila E. "A Love Bizarre" (R&B #2, Hot 100 #11, dance #1) was the only song in which Prince was actually credited in her second album "Romance 1600" (R&B #12) (even though he composed the whole album minus one track) and is perhaps the most funky tune of her career. Prince went uncredited as a lead performer in the single and did not appear in the video even though his vocals can be clearly heard throughout the song even more prominently than Sheila's. Minneapolis classic alert this song definitely is, the rest of the album does not really improve much on her debut. Prince's compositions take Sheila again through a variety of styles but little in this album sounds really above average. Second single "Sister Fate" (R&B #36) is a somewhat interesting composition as it is more reminiscent of DeBarge rather than Prince. Sheila E. is definitely a talented lady but there is really not much of note in this album.

    Of course Prince hadn't abandoned the idea of releasing even more material through protege bands just yet, even though both Vanity/Apollonia 6 and The Time were history at this point. In 1985 Prince resurrected the Time by creating a new band called The Family made up by the remaining members of the Time plus Wendy, Eric Leeds and future fiancee Susannah Melvoin. The band just released one album with all except one song composed by Prince before breaking-off and absorbed into the Revolution. "The Family" (R&B #17) album is mostly known for including the original version of "Nothing Compares 2 U" a song which five years later was covered by Sinead O' Connor topping the charts at both sides of the Atlantic. Although the Family version is seriously lacking in comparison to Sinead's, Prince perhaps sensed its potential so that song is the only one in the album where Prince did not use a pseudonym as a composer. Prince himself recorded the track for his 1993 "Hits" album in a Rosie Gaines-duet version which builds on the original's gospel elements. That version wasn't bad but still Sinead's version remains the best. Other than that the album includes several funky R&B songs. The two singles "Screams Of Passion" (R&B #9) and "High Fashion" (R&B #34) remain the best Prince compositions in there with the first being a fantastic mellow laid-back R&B affair and the second being a more straight-forward Minneapolis jam. "Mutiny" is another great song of similar funky vibe and a mega jazz ending. Talking about jazz, on this album we have the first taste of Prince's ever-growing interest on that genre with a couple of songs which are essentially jazz instrumentals and are quite good too. Although the band didn't release any further albums under the Family name, just like The Time it continues recording and performing under an alternative name (The Time now is the Original 7ven whereas The Family is FDeluxe) due to Prince legally owning both names

    Also in 1985 Prince helped childhood friend's and ex-Revolution member's Andre Cymone's fledging solo career by giving him an amazing funky tune called "The Dance Electric" (R&B #10). The song became the biggest hit ever for Andre and deservingly so.

    In the romantic department that was the year that Prince met then newcomer/ now biggest selling female artist of all-times Madonna at the American Music Awards. Back then Prince just asked his associates to get him Madonna's number and he proceeded on calling her and asking for a date. The two met and dated for a while but eventually Madonna got married to actor Sean Penn a few months later and Prince engaged to Sean Penn's ex girlfriend Susannah Melvoin.

    Of course 1985 was the year mostly famous to this day for two things: Madonna's rise to superstardom and the Michael Jackson-led all-star charity single "We Are The World". Prince was invited but hated the idea so refused to participate in the song, instead he composed a brand new song, the beautiful melancholic ballad "4 The Tears In Your Eyes" for the USA For Africa album. That didn't prevent the press completely missing the point of charity and turning "We Are The World" into a hate-campaign against Prince who thus got his first taste of celebrity lynching.

    jio CHARTS NOW:3/10/2023:


    • Your Prince album homages are a total treat to read.

      The great thing now is that so much of this stuff is able to be heard on YouTube so those who don't know the albums back and front like we do can check it out
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      • Hats off for doing this "Raspberry Beret" is one of my faves but bizarrely it only reached #25 in the UK not #13 as you mentioned.
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        • You're right.... I got that from somewhere and looked a bit weird. Yeah it was #25, thanks
          jio CHARTS NOW:3/10/2023:


          • REMEMBERING PRINCE: 1986

            Having already a major hit-movie under his belt, the inevitable follow up came in 1986 with a romantic comedy named "Under The Cherry Moon". Prince co-starred with Kristin Scott-Thomas (who replaced Prince's fiance Susannah Melvoin when it became obvious that she couldn't act) and Revolution member Jerome Benton and also directed this pretty ambitious film. Despite its relative box-office failure (it entered at #10 at the box-office charts and disappeared a couple of weeks later) and its huge victory at the year's Razzie Awards (where Prince won "Worst Director", "Worst Actor" and "Worst Picture" honors), the movie remains an interesting curiosity and definitely a guilty pleasure not just for me, but also for many other Prince fans I suppose. The very stylish black-and-white cinematography coupled with the intentional use of modern-day features and items in a movie supposedly taking place decades ago, Prince and Jerome's refusal to act anything else but themselves throughout the movie, the extravagant clothing and the glorious music makes this definitely a must-see.

            The movie itself wasn't a musical (just one song is actually performed in the film), but Prince's new music is all over this movie and of course a soundtrack with those new songs was released. "Parade" (R&B #2, BB200 #3, UK #4) is something of a return to R&B/funk for Prince after a couple of pop albums. Of course Prince never abandoned the genre but almost all of the R&B songs he composed during 1984 and 1985 were given to protege bands. This time Prince kept the funk for himself.

            How funky the "Parade" album is was a bit hard to understand from the album's first single "Kiss" (R&B #1, BB Hot 100 #1, dance #1, UK #6), an essentially pop/dance song which took the world by storm in 1986 with its crazy vocals, its video featuring Prince dance-flirting to a girl that has her face covered throughout the video and its clever tongue-n-cheek lyrics. "Kiss" was nominated for "Best R&B Song" in the year's Grammies but it had to settle with winning just in the "Best R&B Performance By A Duo Or Group" category. The song is nothing short but an '80s classic, proven by several covers which appeared over the years, most famous of which, the rather horrid take on the song by Art Of Noise feat. Tom Jones (BB Hot 100 #31, UK #5) a couple of years later. Another "Under The Cherry Moon" song "Love Or $" appeared as the b-side and although that song is the only one not to appear in the actual "Parade" album, it was much more indicative of the funky stripped nature of that album than "Kiss".

            The album itself (third and final to be credited to "Prince & The Revolution") was a funk feast, unlike anything Prince released up to that time and, taking into account that it was essentially a soundtrack, an unusually cohesive album. "Christopher Tracy's Parade" opened the show with a song that is both funky at heart but also gives you a feeling of welcoming you to a musical chapter or something (I don't know how to explain it better). "New Position" is the song that coupled with the previous one gives you exactly an idea of what to expect next. A deeply funky and at the same time very instrumentally minimalistic R&B song. "I Wonder U" is more of a bridge to the next song and a musical experiment than a fully completed song. That next song in question is "Under The Cherry Moon", a gorgeous ballad which sounds like coming right out of a musical. That song showcased a whole new side to Prince's artistry that was not apparent in previous releases. "Girls And Boys" (UK #11) was the only song in the album that was actually performed in the film. Another deeply funky affair which also introduces even more jazz to Prince's music (courtesy of saxophonist Eric Leeds) is a hell of a tune which, who knows why, was never released in the States. The lyrics talk about events in the actual film, however those evens were not seen on-screen so in a way it is a musical expansion to the film's mythology. "Life Can Be So Nice" may sound a bit weird at first and it does take a few listens to get used to it but once one does, the genius nature of a song that sounds messy at first but makes perfect sense eventually is apparent. The songs on the latter half of the album are clearly the ones with the most commercial value. Single "Mountains" (R&B #15, BB Hot 100 #23) is essentially a gospel/soul track delivered in Prince's characteristic high-pitch voice. The song arrived complete with a video showing Prince, Wendy & Lisa performing the song up in the clouds. The same video (albeit in black-n-white) can be seen in the movie while the end-credits roll. "Do U Lie" is a piano-driven chanson. Although an interesting piece of music, its inclusion is justified only considering the soundtrack nature of the album. The strangely named "Anotherloverholenyohead" (R&B #18, UK #36) is my personal favorite due to its deep '80s funky nature. One should listen to this song in a club to realize its magnificence. The extended version takes the song in a very different direction adding a long jazz instrumental in the end and is a definite pleasure to the ears. Although virtually among Prince's lesser-known songs through the years, album closer "Sometimes It Snows In April" took a whole new meaning after Prince's passing this year due to many chilling coincidences: a song about death and a song composed on the same day music died.

            Prince toured the world in 1986 with his "Parade tour" focusing mainly in Europe and Japan and limiting the American shows to a few hit-and-run dates (shows that were announced in very short advance thus driving ticket prices sky-high). It was a far more organic and stripped-down tour than anything Prince had done up to that time, focusing far more on the music than on visuals. Many of the songs were expanded with long jazz or electric guitar parts making them even more interesting than the original versions. There was also a long section of Prince's funk classics including such songs such as Controversy, DMSR, Lady Cab Driver, Automatic etc. Prince also had a few surprises for fans including the performance of a brand new song called "Dream Factory", and performances of songs he had composed for other artists such as a fab performance of The Family's "Mutiny" and Andre Cymone's "Dance Electric" as well as having Sheila E. do her Prince-composed pop/rap song "Holly Rock". Despite its beauty the tour marked even more problems among Prince and proteges. Prince ended the tour by smashing all guitars on stage, disbanding The Revolution and firing Wendy & Lisa.

            In terms of songs composed for other artists, 1986 is most notable for The Bangles' "Manic Monday" (BB Hot 100 #2, UK #2), a song Prince originally composed for Apollonia 6's second album which never happened. The pop classic was prevented reaching the top by Prince's own "Kiss", a feat which gave Prince the two top-selling songs in that particular week in the States. Much better than "Manic Monday" IMO was the song Prince composed for Revolution member's Brown Mark's band Mazarati, named "100 MPH" (R&B #19) which was a hell of a funky tune, among Prince's best ever. It is interesting to note that "Kiss" was initially composed for Mazarati too but Prince, obviously realizing its potential, took it back as soon as he heard the band performing it. Other than that Prince also contributed a rather indifferent song to Kenny Rogers in 1986. The extra projects of 1986 may sound way too few in comparison to 1984 and 1985 but that was perhaps due to the fact that Prince was preparing such a multitude of releases to come out in 1987.

            jio CHARTS NOW:3/10/2023:


            • i generally never look at pop stars from my childhood a certain way, but Prince was at his hottest in 1986 (I also thought he looked sexy during Lovesexy/Batman with the long straight hair).

              Parade is a real sleeper in his 80s catalog, totally overshadowed by Kiss but actually a lot of great tracks on it. Mountains has been one of my faves of his of late for some reason.
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              • "Parade" was always among my favorites from Prince (and "Kiss" wasn't, I like it but I wouldn't consider it among his absolute best songs), it's such a different, weird and funky album. I prefer it to ATWIAD, SOTT and Lovesexy.
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                • Kiss is a fun song but I think it's the most overrated single of his catalog, at least stateside. Even more than Purple Rain or 1999, it's that song it seems like every single person loves, when it's a nice song but it isn't the be-all end-all and is surrounded by better tracks on that album
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                  • [youtube:1b6hwmtp]XEVB4dAw6jk[/youtube:1b6hwmtp]

                    A rather radical reworking of Kiss, made just a few months after original Prince's release,
                    a big hit on indie charts


                    • REMEMBERING PRINCE: 1987

                      1987 was a pivotal year in Prince's career. That was the year when Michael Jackson asserted that "he's bad, he's bad", Whitney told us "she wants to dance with somebody" and Madonna wondered "who's that girl". In that pop atmosphere Prince made a comeback with "Sign O' The Times" (R&B #1, BB Hot 100 #3, UK #10), a song about society's ills tackling war, religious fanaticism and AIDS, a sort of '80s' "What's Going On". "Some say a man ain't happy Unless a man truly dies", say the lyrics over a fantastic cold beat. The video in a very Prince-y way featured no camera shots, just the lyrics on screen, in an effort to focus attention on the message.

                      The double album "Sign O' The Times" (R&B #4, BB 200 #6, UK #4) was the outcome of a big recording process which resulted in a wealth of material that would appear in various Prince releases over the following years. It initially began as a triple-album project called "Dream Factory" which included the title track plus eight of the 16 tracks that finally made the album. However with the Revolution's disbandment and Wendy & Lisa's firing that project was abandoned and Prince considered releasing an album focusing on his high-pitch vocal range called "Camille". A further 2 songs from the final tracklist appeared in this abandoned project. Back to the triple-album scenario with "Crystal Ball" and in that configuration all the tracks (minus "U Got The Look") which eventually appeared on the album are present. However Warner Brothers felt the album was just way too long and forced Prince to narrow it down. The result was "Sign O' The Times", an album which received a nomination for "Album Of The Year" at the Grammys.

                      The album's second disc is clearly the best one. It is in fact a disc full of masterpieces beginning to end. The Sheena Easton duet "U Got The Look" (R&B #11, US Hot 100 #2, UK #11) is the party rocker on the album and the only song to have actually a proper video filmed (although that too looked like a live performance), all other songs were promoted using their movie (more about that later) performances. "U Got The Look" was the main award recipient from the album, it won "Best Male Video" and "Best Stage Performance" at the MTV Awards and it was nominated for "Best Choreography" and "Best Editing" in the same awards and for "Best R&B Song" and "Best R&B Performance by a Duo or Group" at the Grammys.The real gem on the album is second track, the amazing R&B track "If I Was Your Girlfriend" (R&B #12, UK #20). The song could have easily become a hit in the '90s as the beat brings to mind the R&B of that decade rather than the '80s. Perhaps that's why it was covered by TLC and was used as a very prominent sample in Jay-Z and Beyonce's "Bonnie & Clyde" in 2003. The song is extremely clever lyrically as it manages to build a highly romantic theme on a very androgynous foundation . "Strange Relationship" is the single that never was. A 1982-composed pop/R&B track which is catchy as hell, it became a staple in Prince's concerts before a live version was finally released as a single in 2005. "I Could Never Take The Place Of Your Man" (BB Hot 100 #10, UK #29) is highly reminiscent of "Purple Rain" songs such as "Let's Go Crazy" and "Take Me With You" and is the type of optimistic pop/rock that only Prince could do so well. "The Cross" is the perfect rock ballad, a highly spiritual song with a vocal and instrumental performance which is simply out of this world. The song became another staple in Prince's concerts for ages but it was also the most famous victim of Prince's conversion to Jehovah Witness faith. After that happened "The Cross" became "The Christ" and was never performed again with its original lyrics. "It's Gonna Be A Beautiful Night" is something of a unique song in Prince's back catalogue. Besides being a party song thus the polar opposite of "The Cross", it also sounds like a Bee-Gees song with jazz/funk instrumentation. And it's pretty awesome. The album closes with the big R&B ballad "Adore", a song which could have clearly been the best song on most of other artists' albums but, being included in such a strong package, it is just the closer.

                      The first disc is less accomplished. There is still not a bad song in there but there are several average ones which hold the record down. Had this been released as a stand-alone album, it would have been Prince's worst since his debut. Still though there are several jams in here. There is the title track of course, then there is "Housequake" where Prince flirts with breakdance for the very first time, a banger of a club tune reminiscent of James Brown. "Hot Thing" is a fantastic piece of '80s pop/funk magic with an extended version that takes the song to a whole different level, "It" is another minimalistic club banger whereas "Starfish And Coffee" is a great mid-tempo pop song and "Slow Love" is a charming R&B doo-wop ballad. In terms of b-sides the era arrived with the dirty little funky b-side of "Sign O' The Times" called "La La La He He Hee" but the real banger was the nasty funk of "Shockadelica" (originally considered for the "Camille" album), b-side to "If I Was Your Girlfriend".

                      Prince promoted the album with the "Sign O' The Times tour" which played only European dates. The tour was a highly theatrical show with breathtaking performances of most of the songs from the album as well as old classics. The performance of "Hot Thing" is a special joy to the eyes, the furry diva look during "If I Was Your Girlfriend" is legendary, Cat's crazy dancing is out of this world whereas "The Cross" is even more breathtaking live than on record. In short this was Prince's best tour to that date. Although America didn't get a chance to watch Prince on this one, Prince re-did most of the performance in his studios in Paisley Park, added the video of "U Got The Look" to the mix and released it as a movie for the American public. "Sign O' The Times" (the movie) only made it to #16 on the box-office charts but I guess it is not everyday people flock to the cinema to see a... concert.

                      But that was not all Prince had to offer in 1987. For years Prince's music was receiving more and more jazz influences so it was only natural that Prince would release a jazz album sooner or later... or two. In 1987 Prince formed his jazz band Madhouse consisting just by him and saxophonist Eric Leeds. The band released the album "8" (R&B #25) in January of 1987. The album is an amazing jazz fusion piece of art with no spoken lyrics at all which manages to remain interesting beginning to end. It was called "8" because all songs were numbered from 1 to 8 with "6" (R&B #5) being the only single. After the success of that album, other instrumentalists such as Dr. Fink and Sheila E. were added to Madhouse and second album "16" was released in November of the same year with a further 8 tracks (9-16). Another great album which was more beat-driven than "8" but with the same fantastic musical results. These are the albums I mostly fell back to immediately after Prince passed away thanks to their ability to still be great Prince music without Prince's voice so I could still listen to them without the sadness getting too much. I just love them and wish they finally get a proper release along with the three Madhouse b-sides, imaginatively titled "Six and 1/2", "Ten and 1/2" and "Thirteen and 1/4".

                      Now Jill Jones met Prince in 1982 when she was a backing vocalist for Teena Marie who opened Prince's "Dirty Mind tour" and she had been working with him ever since. She was a member of Vanity 6, a backing singer of Apollonia 6, starred in "Purple Rain" and appeared in several Prince videos. Although she was also Prince's on-and-off girlfriend and she is largely considered the most talented of the girl-proteges, her career took a back seat in Prince's priorities thanks to his preoccupation with his female groups' and Sheila E's releases. Her Prince-composed debut album "Jill Jones" finally came out in 1987. Despite flopping, the album is a good example of a more pop oriented version of Minneapolis sound and contains a few hidden gems in Prince's back catalogue. The album's songs were composed over an extended period of time with "Mia Bocca", "Baby You're A Trip", "All Day All Night" and "G-Spot" being composed as early as 1982-1984. Those are clearly the best tracks in the album and bear a heavy resemblance to Vanity 6's sound with a bit of jazz added. In short those are pretty much Minneapolis-sound essentials although I can imagine they must have sounded pretty retro in 1987. The rest of the songs are so-so and sound very much like afterthoughts. The fact that all the songs in the album have a very similar beat does not help things either as the album ends up sounding like an awfully long single song in the end. That's too bad because those 4 early songs are too good to be buried in an otherwise average album this way.

                      Sheila E. had also been Prince's girlfriend and seems like he was double-dating her and Susannah Melvoin for quite some time. By 1987 his engagement to the latter had ended so he proposed to Sheila E. onstage during a "Purple Rain" performance. Sheila accepted and became Prince's second fiance. Also in 1987, Sheila E. released her third studio album, "Sheila E." (R&B #24). Unlike her two first albums, Prince did not compose the whole of this one but still contributed 5 of the 10 songs. Like other Sheila E. albums, it is pretty much a hit-and-miss affair. "Koo Koo" (R&B #35) is a cool breakdance/pop song sounding not too dissimilar to the songs that made Neneh Cherry a superstar a couple of years later. "One Day" is also an agreeable pop song but other than that there is not much of notice here in either Prince's compositions or Sheila's delivery.

                      In 1987 Prince worked with a number of other artists making limited contributions to their albums. "Baby Go-Go" is a jazzy track given to ex-LaBelle member Nona Hendryx, "Eternity" is a rather average pop song given to Sheena Easton and later covered by Chaka Khan and "If I Could Get Your Attention" is a bubblegum pop song given to Taja Sevelle. During 1987 there were also two failed attempts at Prince working with Michael Jackson. Michael offered Prince the "Bad" song as a duet which Prince turned down, while Prince offered Michael his 1978 composition, the rather average disco track "Wouldn't You Love To Love Me" which Michael rejected. The song was eventually recorded by Taja Sevelle in 1987. The most interesting song Prince gave to another artist that year was "Telepathy" by far, a fabulous new-wave song given to country star Deborah Allen. Deborah had already 8 country hits under her belt and this very pop song could be viewed as an attempt to cross over to the pop charts. Although the experiment eventually failed, the song remains among Prince's most essential compositions IMO and a definite pleasure to the ears of any '80s fan.

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                      • REMEMBERING PRINCE: 1988

                        Like Whitney Houston and Michael Jackson, Prince's success in the pop charts came with accusations of abandoning his "black" sound for a more mainstream pop one. Truth is Prince's first 5 albums were well within the so-called black music genre and he did shoot to fame with the 5th of those ("1999") but superstardom only came when he switched to pop/rock with "Purple Rain". What is also true is that Prince always stayed faithful to his R&B roots: even when he was releasing pop/rock albums, he was still composing R&B/funk albums and songs for his army of proteges. Despite this, Prince felt the need to return back to his R&B roots in late 1987 with an album originally called "The Funk Bible" but with a sleeve which featured no title, no artist name and no tracklist and was thus dubbed "The Black Album" (R&B #18, UK #36).

                        To make things even more complicated, Prince changed his mind about this release at the very last moment and withdrew and destroyed all copies, leaving just about 100 odd copies mostly in Europe. The result was the most famous bootleg ever for Prince and a 1987 release which costs a small fortune nowadays. The album finally got a proper release in 1994 (with a sticker providing proper credits) and that's when it reached the chart positions mentioned above.

                        Indeed this is a very different album compared to "Sign O' The Times" and is a very profound return to Prince's R&B/funk roots. The album is not a trip back to memory lane though, 1987 was the year rap exploded big time with artists such as Public Enemy, LL Cool J. and Rakim and the album features more than a few nods to this upcoming genre that would change R&B beyond recognition. The album's funkiness is obvious right from opening track "Le Grind" a long jam that gives the listener the feeling of being in a Prince aftershow. Things get even funkier with "Cindy C.", a song about Mrs. Crawford with added spirituality coming courtesy of a rap by Prince's ultra-talented choreographer/rapper Cat. But from there on the album abandons proper funk and moves straight into rap territory. "Dead On It" is the first rap track Prince ever did (although he had experimented with rap in a few of his compositions for Sheila E. before such as "Holly Rock" and "Koo Koo") and it's quite nice (albeit not great) in a very 80s way. "When 2 R In Love" is the album's ballad, a rather sweet and nice one but it does feel a little out of place here. "Bob George" is clearly the highlight of the "rap" songs in the album. Featuring a break-dance beat and electric guitar, Prince performs it with an altered deeper voice. Thematically it's a comic depiction of life in the hood complete with a murder ending the song. "Superfunkycalifragisexy" is a mix of rap lyrics with a very Prince-y funky musical basis. "2 Nigs United 4 West Compton"'s title may sound very Public Enemy but this is essentially a long and fabulous jazz instrumental. The album closes with "Rockhard In A Funky Place", a track originally meant to be included in the "Camille" and "Crystal Ball" albums. In all fairness this does sound more similar to other "Camille" tracks such as "Shockadelica" than to anything else in here and that perhaps makes it one of the album's clear highlights. It's just great as is the whole album really.

                        So after abandoning "The Black Album", Prince composed a much less R&B-leaning album in less than 2 months and released it in early 1988. "Lovesexy" (R&B #5, BB 200 #11, UK #1) may have had a proper cover but it was not like we could show it easily to anyone. That legendary cover art probably led to loads of copies being hidden in various places out of embarrassment.

                        So was "Lovesexy" an improvement over the abandoned "Black Album"? Well, yes and no. The "Black Album" is pretty stable in terms of songs' quality whereas "Lovesexy" seems to fluctuate between great, average and forgettable tracks. The continuous flow of the songs as one long track does nothing to hide this variation in quality. However, the best songs of "Lovesexy" are far far better than anything on "The Black Album" and can easily compete in terms of quality with even the best songs in Prince's whole discography.

                        First single "Alphabet St." (R&B #3, BB Hot 100 #8, UK #9) is a pop song which sounds composed with the charts in mind. Perhaps that's why this may be the only Prince '80s lead single which has not stood the test of time all that well. Thankfully the album includes its fair share of gems, songs much much better than "Alphabet St." Listen for example to second single "Glam Slam" (UK #29). A terrific dark pop song which is everything "Alphabet St." fails to be, a real Prince classic. Then there is the haunting "Anna Stesia". That song begins slowly, develops into a dark pop song before reaching its mega-ending with both funk and gospel ("Love Is God, God Is love, Girls And Boys Love God Above") elements. Then there is the break-dance jam "Dance On" which manages to be pop while sounding very underground at the same time. "Lovesexy" attempts a marriage of pop and gospel in a way not dissimilar to "Anna Stesia" but it's not as successful despite featuring a glorious instrumental ending. The ballad "I Wish U Heaven" (R&B #18, UK #24) features a heavy beat and a mellow rhythm making it a magnificent single of the type only the '80s could provide. The dreamy video was nominated for "Best Special Effects In A Video" award at the MTV Awards. Those 4 songs ("Glam Slam", "Anna Stesia", "Dance On" and "Wish U Heaven") are among Prince's all time classics in a way no "Black Album" song is. The rest of the album though, although not bad by any means, leaves a lot to be desired if compared to Prince's previous releases. This is further illustrated by taking into account the era's b-sides: "Escape" (b-side to and sampling "Glam Slam") is a rap/break-dance song which sounds as good (if not better) as half the tracks in "Lovesexy". "Scarlet Pussy" (b-side to "I Wish U Heaven") on the other hand is pure funk and is a far better track than anything on either "Black Album" or "Lovesexy".

                        Prince toured for the last time in the '80s with what was probably his most extravagant tour: The "Lovesexy tour". I don't think there is any other Prince tour to personify so well the excesses of the '80s. It featured a huuuge stage with everything on it from a car, a bed, a swing and even a basketball ring. The tour featured some excellent performances such as "Dirty Mind" and "Superfunkycalifragisexy" done on the bed and then tied on a chair, a beautiful dance solo during "Lovesexy" and iconic synth work during "Anna Stesia" among others. What keeps this tour down IMO is the excessive use of medleys, especially when performing the older songs. Still though it's a fab tour. It was released in a 2-parts VHS early in 1989.

                        In terms of songs given to other artists, in 1988 Prince gave to singer Dale a song called "So Strong". What is interesting about this song is that it is the most bubblegum pop song Prince had ever done up to that point (or maybe ever, I just can't think of anything more poppish than this right now). Then there is the rather throw-away rock track "Neon Telephone" (originally composed in 1985) given to boy-band Three O' Clock. But more importantly this year Prince composed for two female stars he was sharing a connection from the past. 1988 saw Prince reuniting with Sheena Easton with two fabulous songs he contributed on her album "The Lover In Me". One was the beautiful "Cool Love", a pop carefree song of the type that was really popular in late 80s/early 90s and the (unfortunately flopping) single "101" where Prince creates a dramatic pop/rock '80s jam with a very euro-feel. The other lady he collaborated with in 1988 had never worked with Prince before but had achieved the biggest hit of her solo career with a Prince cover. The lady in question is of course R&B legend Chaka Khan. 1988 saw Prince composing "Sticky Wicked" for her. The song is appropriately (and predictably) a fab long funk jam. Chaka was not alone performing on the song. Making it a kind a legends-meet song, it also features lead solos by Miles Davis and even Prince himself.

                        jio CHARTS NOW:3/10/2023:


                        • REMEMBERING PRINCE: 1989

                          In 1989 the first "Batman" film came out and of course it needed a big hit soundtrack so Warners' initially tried to bring to life a dream soundtrack made up by Prince funk songs and Michael Jackson ballads. When that plan didn't materialize, Prince took the project all upon himself and released "Batman" (R&B #1, BB 200 #1, UK #1) alone. Although the songs are all in the movie, the actual album includes only the Prince compositions while the rest of the film score appeared in other "Batman" soundtrack albums released in the same year. So by tying his name to a big box-office hit movie Prince managed to end the decade with his first (and only) international #1 album. Added to his gains from the project was a nomination for "Best Male Pop Vocal Performance" for the whole album and another one for "Best Male R&B Vocal Performance" for "Batdance" at the Grammys, a nomination for "Best Video From A Film" for "Batdance" at the MTV Awards and a romantic relationship with "Batman"'s lead actress Kim Basinger which led to plenty of headlines for both of them throughout 1989.

                          First single "Batdance" (R&B #1, BB Hot 100 #1, UK #2) is one of those songs that makes you wonder what the people who bought it were thinking. On a positive note it features a great guitar solo and also a very innovative construction made up almost completely by lines from the movie. On the negative side, it is just way too long, doesn't really go anywhere musically and sounds like a complete mess. Oh and the "Batdaaance" line is so reminiscent of "Ghostbusteeers" from a few years back. But with the movie's hype, Prince's hype and the stars coming together in general it became one of the most unlikely smashes of 1989. Did it stand the test of time well? Absolutely not. I think in the end it even gave the whole album a bad reputation since it is the song most people remember from it (second and third singles did not do much to repair "Batdance"'s effects either) and that's quite a shame since the album contains several good songs, albeit with very very poor single choices.

                          The album begins with "The Future", a pop song which sounds more like an invitation or a prologue than an actual song. I could imagine this one played in discos in the early hours, you know when just a few people dance and the rest are still trying to get pissed. I quite like it. Interestingly this song includes an impute from Sounds Of Blackness , a group which would go on to score 7 UK hits between 1992-1997. Then the album gains steam with the pop-rocker "Electric Chair", a very Prince-y track which has just the right amount of decadence to make it totally memorable. The song marked also his only live performance for the year, a fantast?c guitar-heavy performance in "Saturday Night Live". Despite its good start, the album loses considerable steam with the Sheena Easton duet "The Arms Of Orion" (BB Hot 100 #36, UK #27), a sugary ballad which sounds like those soundtrack ballads that were seemingly produced by the hundreds in the late 80s/early 90s, achieving huge chart success in the States and passing unnoticed in Europe. Not a bad song per se but not very memorable either and totally not something that anyone would have expected Prince to produce (and not in the positive sense). The cd-single for this included a very early video file with poems and pictures which had absolutely nothing to do with Prince but seems to be a Warners' experiment on how to include video files in the new (for 1989) format of cd-singles. "Partyman" (R&B #5, BB Hot 100 #18, UK #14) brings us back to the rock tracks, this sounds very similar to the first two tracks, only it's not as good. The Batman-themed video probably helped this track become a hit because otherwise it's a very average track. Things get (much) better with the mellower pop/rock track "Vicky Waiting", a much more accomplished track than the two big singles. "Trust" is another party anthem and it works greatly as such. Although it sounds very '80s, it still retains all of its charm in a nostalgia type of way. "Lemon Crush" is the clear highlight and jam of the album. This is totally the type of magnificent song that Prince could compose in his sleep while others could just not, proving his genius. The super-sexy, totally amazing "Scandalous" (R&B #5) is the only R&B track on the album and it's a steamy erotic ballad. Prince did not sound that sexy in any other ballad he released in his career and even if you didn't like any other song in the album, this song alone is enough reason to buy it. It came complete with an ultra-sexy video featuring just Prince performing the song in front of a microphone, but that's enough really.

                          Although "Scandalous" was the only R&B track on album, Prince released a couple more great R&B tracks in 1989 as b-sides. The dirty funk of "Feel U Up", b-side to "Partyman" was originally composed for the "Camille" album but was shelved with that album until 1989. It's difficult to understand why because as it stands this was definitely the best song Prince released in 1989 and far better than many tracks on "Sign O' The Times" or "Lovesexy". "Sex", the b-side to "Scandalous" was another funky little jam Prince performed with his Camille voice. Another great track, actually this was released more as a double A-side since the actual name of the "Scandalous" single was "The Scandalous Sex Suite". The ballad "I Love U In Me" may have been only the b-side to another ballad ("Arms Of Orion") but it's another case of the b-side being far far better than the a-side. And who else but Prince could sing in a ballad the lines "When She Makin' Love It's Like A Surgery" and mean it in a good way? Finally "200 Balloons" is a rock track which was used as a b-side to "Batdance" and is arguably much better than the a-side and many tracks in the album. Surprisingly enough this song was actually intended to be a part of the soundtrack but was rejected by the filmmakers (???).

                          In 1989 Prince composed 6 out of 8 tracks for gospel singer's Mavis Staples' album "Time Waits For No One". Mavis Staples was of course part of the gospel band The Staples Singers who had scored 8 American hits (including 2 #1s) and 2 UK hits in between 1971 and 1975. The songs Prince gave to Mavis are pretty different from his usual stuff, revealing a softer side in him. "Come Home" is a charming mellow R&B ballad which lets Mavis' voice shine, "I Guess I'm Crazy" is even slower, yet it's another charmer of a song. "Interesting" is a much more Prince-y track, a true funk workout which must have sounded absolutely gorgeous in a club. We also get great funk in "Jaguar", a track originally intended for Sheena Easton, even if it's not as good as "Interesting". "Time Waits For No One" is more of a gospel song and it's pretty ace too. Finally "Train" was originally a track Prince composed (and performed) as part of the abandoned "Dream Factory" album. After that album was cancelled the song did not appear in any other Prince release and was finally given to Mavis. It's a very pop track, the only one in the album, and it sounds pretty cool, although I can understand Prince abandoning it back in 1987 since he had much better material. All in all a great album and a must-have for Prince fans.

                          1989 was the year when Prince finally worked together with another artist of the '80s' so-called "holy triad". That artist was Madonna. Prince composed and the two duetted in the charming "Love Song", a track which despite appearing in a Madonna album, it is definitely a Prince song all the way, providing Madonna with a sound she hadn't tried to that time and she wouldn't try in the future either. He also composed the fab experimental skit "Act Of Contrition" for Madonna's album that year. Besides pop queen Madonna, 1989 saw a collaboration with soul legend Patti Labelle. Prince composed "Yo Mister" (R&B #6), a fab R&B jam for the soul legend. This is a fantastic song that never gets old. Well done to both Prince and Patti. The two worked together also in the rather average rocker "Love '89". Prince also composed two tracks for ex-Revolution bassist Brownmark in 1989. "Bang Bang" and "Shall We Dance" are OK-ish funk numbers but of the kind Prince could probably do in his sleep. They are OK I guess but nothing to go head over heels about. The most bizarre collaboration for the year though was his two compositions for Japanese singer Kahoru Kohiruimaki, "Mind Bells" and "Bliss", two pop songs which sound very Prince (you can even hear Prince doing vocals in the second and clearly better one). I guess the songs could have been much better had they been performed by someone else but as they are Kahoru's delivery is kinda weird and lifeless and really doesn't do the tracks any favor at all.

                          jio CHARTS NOW:3/10/2023:


                          • "Love Sex.... that's my jam!!" -- the girl who hosted the webcast in 2014

                            Batman was fun at the time but the further from 1989, the less badass the album comes off.
                            My top 100 artists (2018 edition)


                            • Originally posted by NothingFails
                              "Love Sex.... that's my jam!!" -- the girl who hosted the webcast in 2014

                              Batman was fun at the time but the further from 1989, the less badass the album comes off.
                              It's an album I never listen to but I played it a few times the last few days for writing this... and I was surprised how good it sounds. Not as good as anything up to 1987 but as a whole I would say it's better than "Lovesexy" (although that one has better individual songs). It's just that the three pop hits are so average, they really destroy the flow . Maybe I will find appreciation for other Prince albums I never listen to by doing this (although 1990 will not be coming this week as I am going abroad)
                              jio CHARTS NOW:3/10/2023:


                              • REMEMBERING PRINCE: 1990

                                Prince was widely considered one of the holy triad of the '80s (along with Michael Jackson and Madonna), the three artists who defined that decade for a variety of very different reasons. The 80s without Prince would simply not be the decade we all came to remember and love. But that decade had ended and a new one had began. Prince began the '90s by mostly looking back in 1990. First of all was the "Nude tour". That tour was the first time that Prince did an essentially Greatest Hits set. That was a more stripped down show without the huge stage of the "Lovesexy tour" focusing mainly on music. And it was a pleasure to both ears and eyes. Just watch the dance routine during "Housequake" or the beautiful stripped down but speeded-up version of "Alphabet St." and the way he interacts with the crowd while giving a nod to massive hits of the time that remain classic to this day such as Rob Base & DJ E-Z Rock's club classic "It Takes Two". That was also the tour where Prince re-claimed (by performing it on tour) his own composition "Nothing Compares 2 U" which had just become the biggest hit of the year internationally by being covered by Sinead O'Connor.

                                Another nod to his past during 1990 was the filming and release of a sequel to "Purple Rain". The movie "Graffiti Bridge" was actually in the works since 1987 with a script and characters that kept changing. Reportedly both Madonna and Jill Jones had turned down the lead female role in the film. The end project was filmed in Paisley Park studios with Prince, The Time and Ingrid Chavez (mostly famous for composing Madonna's "Justify My Love") starring and with a plot which was incomprehensible to put it mildly. Unlike "Purple Rain" there was little charm in this movie other than the songs, and efforts of spirituality looked misplaced and tacky. The movie did manage to debut at #9 on the box-office charts but it was nowhere to be seen a fortnight after, whereas it remains a mystery how it did not triumph in the year's Golden Raspberry Awards. A major injustice although it did get Prince nominations for "Worst Picture", "Worst Actor", "Worst Director" and "Worst Screenplay"...

                                The movie did come with a soundtrack album also called "Graffiti Bridge" (R&B #6, BB 200 #6, UK #1) featuring songs by both Prince and proteges.The album's Prince tracks work sort of as a Greatest Hits of unreleased tracks. Although almost all of the songs in the album were re-recorded for this release, just two were actually new compositions with everything else dating back years. The two new compositions were the two singles. "Thieves In The Temple" (R&B #1, BB Hot 100 #6, UK #7) is a totally fab pop/rock track which could have easily been included in a musical, it's just that kind of song. It's totally the work of a genius. The song won "Most Performed Song From A Motion Picture" award at the ASCAP Awards. The other new track, "New Power Generation" (R&B #27, UK #26), sees Prince trying his hand in new jack swing for the very first time. The results are so-so, it's an OK dance track but nothing more. T.C. Ellis raps on the song and his rap actually formed the basis for the title track in his own solo album, while the song's name later became the name of Prince's new (and longest-lasting) backing band, playing the same role in Prince's career The Revolution played in the 80s.The single came with a number of b-sides. "Brother With A Purpose" can be considered as both a remix and a new track, it essentially takes sang elements of "New Power Generation" and creates a rap track over it with future New Power Generation very prominent rapper Tony M. providing the rapping. Is it successful? Well, it's another indication of Prince's interest in rap, it sounds very very early 90s but I actually like it more than the original track. "Loveleft, Loveright" is a very interesting track with spoken verses and a very Prince-y chorus over an R&B beat with electric guitar on the back. It's essentially another taste of the new more R&B direction Prince's career would take in the '90s and it's a massive tune (and another case of a b-side being 100 times better than the a-side). "The Lubricated Lady" and "Get Off" (not to be confused with "Gett Off") are essentially two takes of the same song, the first being the better version, a very Prince-style funk track whereas the second gives the song a more dance feel without abandoning the funk. Both tracks are actually quite nice.

                                Back to the album though, considering the Prince tracks first "Tick Tick Bang" is the oldest track included in the album having being composed way back in 1981. It is a weird track in terms of structure, it's quite OK but just doesn't compare with anything on the "Dirty Mind" album. Still though this is a track I could have imagined Prince giving over to The Time. "Can't Stop This Feeling I Got" is a very retro pop/rock track with excellent guitar work sounding like it could easily be a b-side of one of the "Purple Rain" singles. The song was originally composed in 1982, hence the retro feeling. "We Can Funk" is a song Prince composed way back in 1983 and had been working on it ever since. The final version is a duet with funk legend George Clinton of Parliament and Funkadelic fame, two bands that have obviously influenced Prince hugely. The collaboration doesn't disappoint, this is definitely a major jam in every sense possible. "The Question Of U" is clearly a highlight from the album, originally composed in 1985, it does sound a bit similar to "Under The Cherry Moon" (the song) in that it's a very musical-sounding ballad. This is just awesome from the flute in the beginning to Prince's singing to the claps and the guitar work in the end, I just love it. "Joy In Repetition" is a beautiful melancholic ballad composed in 1986 originally scheduled to appear in the abandoned "Crystal Ball" album. It may have missed the "Sign O' The Times" album but this one is just as good as most of the tracks in that album and a joy to the ears. The offense to the ears called "Graffiti Bridge" was composed in 1987 but was not scheduled to appear in any of Prince's or proteges' cancelled albums. Perhaps it would have been better for this track to remain in the vault as it truthfully is not good at all.The album contains several tracks composed for the abandoned "Rave Un2 The Joy Fantastic" album. That album was supposed to be released in 1989 but Prince abandoned that project to focus on "Batman" . Besides "Electric Chair" which ended up in "Batman" another 12 tracks had already been recorded and in "Graffiti Bridge" we do get a bunch of those, in particular 3 of them: "Elephants And Flowers" is a rather interesting song that mixes pop/rock with gospel and it works quite well while "Still Would Stand All Time" is a ballad not dissimilar to the ballads Prince did in 1984 and 1985.

                                The remaining "Rave Un2 The Joy Fantastic" track, "Melody Cool" is an energetic dance/soul track, originally meant to be included in its Prince-sang version. In the end Mavis Staples recorded the song and that version was included in "Graffiti Bridge" probably for the better, since her take is quite good. Besides Mavis, 15-years old gospel singer Tevin Campbell makes an appearance in the album. He had already tasted some recognition as his first recording was done with star producer Quincy Jones. After that he was paired with Prince and made an appearance in "Graffiti Bridge" with the fab new-jack-swing-meets-gospel track "Round And Round" (R&B #3, BB Hot 100 #12). The singer would enjoy quite a career with a total of 14 R&B and 5 pop hits in between 1990 and 1998.

                                What the "Graffiti Bridge" film did do right was bring The Time back together again for a re-union album, their first in six years. The Time's fourth album was initially supposed to be another one composed by Prince in its entirety originally titled "Corporate World". However plans changed because of the return of ex-members Jesse Johnson, Monte Moir, Terry Lewis and Jimmy Jam who all had made a name for themselves as successful musicians since The Time's last release. Jessie Johnson had achieved 3 hit albums and 8 hit singles in the R&B charts, Monte Moir had composed hit singles for both Alexander O'Neal and Janet Jackson whereas Jam & Lewis had composed no less than 6 BB Hot 100 #1 hits for artists such as Janet Jackson, George Michael and The Human League. That led to them contributing songs to the album as well and changing the tracklist leading to the released "Pandemonium" (R&B #9, BB 200 #18) album. In the end Prince composed half of the album. "Jerk Out" (R&B #1, BB Hot 100 #9), a fabulous R&B/funk track was the first single. Originally composed in 1981 and intended for The Time's first album, was then considered for The Family album before finally becoming a single in 1990. It's hard to understand why Prince was sitting on this one for 9 years because it's just so good. Another older track which resurfaced for this album and used as its second single was the 1983 composition "Chocolate" featuring vocals by Wendy & Lisa. It's another totally great funk track which was unfairly gathering dust in the Prince vault. "Data Bank" is a 1986-composed track and although is much more mellow than the two singles it is still funky as hell and a total jam. Just listening to those tracks which were just kept unreleased for so many years makes you wonder what gems are still locked away in that vault. There were also newly-composed tracks in the album. "Donald Trump" (ahem, yeah it sounds current) was a brand-new track specifically composed for The Time and it's a... ballad. Despite its interesting title and content this sounds more like a filler than anything else. The case of "Pandemonium" (the song) is more complicated. The track seems to be more of a group composition involving Prince and The Time. It's a funky track although it lacks in comparison to the three older songs and many of the non-Prince-composed tracks in the album. Three of the Prince-composed tracks which were scheduled to appear in "Corporate World" but did not appear in "Pandemonium" found their way into "Graffiti Bridge" "Release It" is a funky drums-heavy number. Putting this one right next to Prince's own "New Power Generation", doesn't do the Prince song any favors at all as this one is a true jam. "Love Machine" is quite similar although much more poppish and not quite as good. "Shake" is an unimpressive effort at rock-n-roll which could only be considered a filler and nothing more. The rather unimpressive dance effort "The Latest Fashion" was composed in 1987 for Dale's album but she rejected it. Then it was recorded in two different versions by the Time for inclusion in their cancelled album "Corporate World". In the end a rap by Prince was added in the version which was included in "Graffiti Bridge" while the better version (called "My Summertime Thang") did appear on "Pandemonium". Unfortunately 1990 would be the last year The Time worked with Prince.

                                In 1990 Prince was also involved with composing 50% of Elisa Fiorillo's second album "I Am". Elisa had a hit single back in 1986 but her career seemed to be going nowhere since then. In this album Prince provided her with a number of newly-composed pop/dance tracks which made her sound a lot like Paula Abdul. "I Am" is a perfect example of this. The song flirts with freestyle and is a beautiful song although I guess hearing it in a club one could be forgiven for thinking that this was Paula's new song. Single "On The Way Up" (BB Hot 100 #27) brought Elisa back to the charts for the second (and last) time. It's a more sexy dance song which sounds very 1990 indeed. This brings back quite some memories to me since I was familiar with this song without actually knowing is a Prince-composed track. "Playgirl" moves Elisa even more into dance territory with a song that sounds a lot like Neneh Cherry doing a tribute to Vanity 6. It's cute alright but not much more. The ballad "Love's No Fun" sounds much more like a Prince song than anything else in here and is actually quite good. Second single "Ooh This I Need" is a much more serious pop song which actually should have been a hit. It has a sound approaching a lot to rock and provides well-needed diversity to the album. Prince does some great guitar work in this song.

                                Kid Creole and The Coconuts had been recording since 1980 and they had amassed six UK hits since then, including three Top 10s. The last of them though came way back in 1983. Prince managed to bring them back for one final hit by giving them his 1987 composition "The Sex Of It" (UK #29), a song which sounds much more like a Time lost gem than anything remotely similar to Kid Creole's past hits. It's another great track.

                                jio CHARTS NOW:3/10/2023:


                                • REMEMBERING PRINCE: 1991

                                  Musically 1990 was a continuation of the '80s but by 1991 the radical new direction popular music was heading was obvious, especially in the States. New-jack swing and rap were king whereas a new type of more slow and beats-driven R&B was being recorded and would explode in 1992-1993. Prince was not absent from the movement. Prince formed The New Power Generation with people he had already worked with in the "Nude tour" and he would go on to release albums credited to "Prince & The New Power Generation". Unlike The Revolution, this band was created with the goal of moving Prince into a far more R&B direction, evident from the iclusion of both a gospel vocalist (Rosie Gaines) and a rapper (Tony M.).

                                  With the New Power Generation backing him, Prince went modern all the way in 1991 with his "Diamonds And Pearls" (R&B #1, BB 200 #3, UK #2) album. That was obvious right from first single "Gett Off" (R&B #6, BB Hot 100 #21, dance #1, UK #4), a song where Prince fully embraced the R&B sound of the moment. The song evolved from extensive work on the already-released b-side "Get Off", and was definitely a major R&B/dance jam which set the clubs on fire back in 1991 and became Prince's most significant non-80s classic (and the Prince song which first grabbed my attention). The subject matter (various positions in sex) led to it being avoided by US radio which explains its relatively low BB Hot 100 peak. US radio may have avoided it but the Grammys didn't. It received a nomination for "Best R&B Performance by a Duo or Group". The song was only added to the album very late replacing a track called "Horny Pony". You can actually see "Horny Pony" written in red on the back-cover of the album with "Gett Off" written over it. Although there was no Prince tour in 1991, Prince did steal the show at the MTV Video Music Awards with an X-rated performance of "Gett Off" which basically turned the MTV stage into a huge orgy Prince-style. And of course there were those ass-revealing pants...The "Gett Off" single came with a wealth of b-sides. "Violet The Organ Grinder" uses the Prince scream and music from "Gett Off" but adds whole new lyrics and melody on top of it creating a very very funky jam which builds and expands on the mood, theme and nastiness of the original. "Get Some Solo" is pretty much back to Madhouse territory, this is a charming jazz instrumental (only negative that it's too short) which thankfully gets no rap input at all. So is "Q In Doubt", a jazz instrumental with the right length this time.The rest of the b-sides of this single were rather sub-par though. "Clockin' The Jizz" uses the same base to create a jazz instrumental whereas "2 The Wire" does the same by sampling "Cream". "Gangster Slam" is a far less successful attempt in using elements of the song to create a sub-par rap track performed by Tony M, who was also the main performer in another rather forgettable b-side "Things Have Got To Change". Prince does the rapping in the already mentioned "Horny Pony" but that doesn't really save the song. The same b-sides appeared in all the "Diamonds And Pearls" singles, with the addition of another sub-par Tony M. rap track ("Call The Law") appearing as the b-side to "Money Don't Matter 2 Night".

                                  The album itself proved a huge commercial success. It went multi-platinum around the world becoming essentially his most successful album since "Purple Rain" and provided Prince with the "Best International Solo Artist" award at the Brits. Despite its success this was an album with equal highs and lows and an album whose weaknesses have become very apparent as the years went by. Given the amazing discography that Prince had produced up to 1991, this one really comes close to being one of his worst albums to that time, despite its numerous moments of musical brilliance. The album takes off with "Thunder" (UK #28) , a typical Prince opening song. It is more rock than R&B (featuring electric guitars and all) and it has a certain degree of mysticism in it with a bit of a stage musical feel thrown in. It is definitely not the highlight of the album and it kinda drags but it is a good opening song. "Daddy Pop", an R&B/pop song with 70s influences did sound great back in 1991 and in the tour but it's one of those songs one gets tired of really fast. Rosie Gaines is prominent on this one as she is in several songs in this album. The ballad "Diamonds And Pearls" (R&B #1, BB Hot 100 #3, UK #25) was actually recorded as a Prince-only song back in 1989. But as the "Nude tour" led to the introduction of musicians which eventually formed the New Power Generation, the song progressively changed (most prominently with added Rosie Gaines vocals) and the final version came to be. Despite it being a massive hit and receiving a Grammy nomination for "Best Pop Performance by a Duo or Group", this remains one of the Prince songs I don't like at all, it's just too sugary. Thankfully Prince rarely returned to this kind of songs during the rest of his career. "Cream" (BB Hot 100 #1, UK #15), also released prior to the album's release, is probably the most famous song on the album, a song which sounds equally pop and equally rock-n-roll. Although this is definitely both a Prince-signature and a 1991-signature song, it is a song which to me has lost a lot of appeal through the years. Perhaps it's too pop in the fast-food sense I don't know, it's just not a timeless classic for me I guess. This was the 5th and final #1 for Prince in the States and it won "Best Dance Video" at the MTV Music Awards.The album thankfully does get more interesting after the four first songs. "Strollin'" is a fab jazzy ballad showing that thankfully Prince's musical interests in this album weren't completely directed at the pop market. Prince sings with his high-pitch voice and sounds fab. The song didn't go to waste but was released as a double a-side with the first single from Prince's next album the following year. Similarly "Willing And Able" is a totally fab retro-sounding R&B/gospel affair. This is clearly the highlight of the album for me, a song that never gets old and just shows Prince's musical genius. The song did get a promo release to US radio but not a proper commercial single release. Because of the new music medium of cd, albums in the 90s became much longer than what they were in the '80s. That led to many artists who had a name for delivering great solid albums, losing a lot of their magic as they now released longer albums with the inclusion of several fillers. "Diamonds And Pearls" is a clear example of this, especially its flip side (on cassette and LP). That side does have its gems. In particular "Money Don't Matter 2 Night" (R&B #14, BB Hot 100 #23, UK #19) still stands among Prince's best ballads ever even if in terms of composition, this is quite different than any ballad Prince released before. Thematically it is a socially conscious song about poverty with a Spike Lee-directed video featuring images of hunger-stricken African kids. The controversy here was caused by MTV which refused to play the video (as not to disturb its western viewers) resulting in Prince filming an alternative video for MTV purposes made up by concert images. The sexy ballad "Insatiable" (R&B #3) finds Prince revisiting "Scandalous" territory with a video showing him passionately filming his girl. Finally closing track "Live 4 Love" is an energetic dance jam featuring several electronic music elements. The song is the most dance-friendly song on the album other than "Gett Off" and a great closing song to the album. Unfortunately the album's latter part has also several inexcusable duds that bring the whole project down such as "Walk Don't Walk", the embarrassing rap that is "Jughead" and "Push", a song which isn't bad per se but is destroyed by the extensive use of silly Tony M./ New Power Generation (and Prince) raps throughout.

                                  After a warmup concert at the "Arsenio Hall Show" (presented by miss Patti Labelle), Prince toured the world in 1992 with his "Diamonds And Pearls tour". This tour was back to the extravagant spectacular shows and it was a gorgeous one. Most of the album was performed in versions which stayed relatively close to the originals. Older classics were done as well including a breathtaking heavily-danced performance of "Kiss". That was an obvious highlight as were Rosie Gaines' contributions. "Sexy MF" from Prince's following album debuted in this tour, as well as Prince's future wife Mayte as a dancer. Two music home videos were released from the album. The "Gett Off" music video single peaked at #6 on the US home music video charts and featured the videos of "Gett Off", "Violet The Organ Grinder" and the (totally ridiculous) video of "Gangster Slam" whereas "Diamonds And Pearls Home Video Collection" (also peaking at #6) featured all promotional videos from the album plus newly-made videos for "Call The Law", "Willing And Able" and "Strollin'". Album, tour and home videos solidified Prince's claim as one of the most successful artists in 1991 and 1992.

                                  Er?c Leeds had been a member of the Revolution since 1986, had worked in numerous Prince albums since then and had been a member of Madhouse playing saxophone and other brass instruments in both albums of Prince's jazz side-project. Prince had began experimenting with the idea of releasing a third Madhouse album called "26" in 1989 with both new and older instrumental tracks. The album never materialized but the songs recorded for it were released as Eric Leeds' debut solo album called "Times Squared". The album sounds a lot like Madhouse in part but has also differences, most notable of which is the focus on saxophone. "Little Rock", originally composed in 1985 is basically a beautiful saxophone solo with little backing music. The 1987 compositions "Andorra", "Night Owl", "Overnight, Every Night" and the Eric Leeds-composed "Kenya" where Prince plays the drums and keyboards were actually composed in the same sessions that produced the tracks that ended up in Madhouse's "16" album and are clearly the best tracks and the ones closer to that sound. "Times Squared" was recorded in 1988 and it has a breakdance type of funkiness reminiscent of the "Black Album". Single "The Dopamine Rush" was initially composed as four separate tracks which were eventually merged into one. That explains the frequent change of styles throughout the song. The song is the only one in the album with spoken verses in various languages, some of which are lifted from older unreleased recordings by both Apollonia 6 and Vanity 6. The rest of the album (with the exception of the fab track "Lines" where Prince wasn't involved) moves away from the Madhouse sound and into a more atmospheric (and less interesting) direction but all in all this is another great album.

                                  Ingrid Chavez had starred with Prince in "Graffiti Bridge" and, other than that, her biggest claim to fame was co-composing Madonna's "Justify My Love" (although she was included in the credits only after successfully suing her). Her debut solo album "May 19, 1992" came out in 1991 with Prince contributing compositions and/or playing instruments in five of the album's ten tracks, all recorded back in 1987. Similar to "Justify My Love", all of the tracks feature Ingrid Chavez just talking over a beat. Unlike "Justify My Love", the results are neither interesting, nor funky, nor sexy but just boring as everything sounds like an endless track of identical music which fails to grab attention and ends up forming a sound which is chill-out to the extent you could easily fall asleep listening to this. This is by far the worst album Prince's name was involved with to that time.

                                  Martika had made a name for herself in the late '80s as part of the teen singers' wave also including Debbie Gibson and Tiffany. Wanting to mature her sound for her second album, she turned to Prince. Prince's involvement in the "Martika's Kitchen" album is often overestimated. Although he composed just four songs for this album, three of them were actually released as singles with two of them becoming this wonderful album's only hits. "Love... Thy Will Be Done" (BB Hot 100 #10, UK #9) is clearly the highlight of the album, a totally fantastic mellow R&B ballad which brings Martika's beautiful voice to the forefront. This is clearly a classic single in every way. "Martika's Kitchen" (UK #17) is a more pop/rock affair which screams Prince from a mile. It's another great party track. "Spirit" and "Don't Say U Love Me" (as well as "U" the 1979 track Prince gave to Paula Abdul in 1991) are dance songs which wouldn't put you off a dance-floor. "Don't Say U Love Me" is clearly the best of those three and it should have been a hit but the other two are more than OK as album tracks. Mica Paris had made a name for herself in the late '80s as one of the most important British R&B artists with a career totaling nine UK hits in between 1988 and 1998. In 1991 Mica released the Prince-composed "If I Love U 2 Nite" as the final single from her "Contribution" album. Despite just missing the Top 40, the song is a great mellow R&B jam which stands right after "Love... Thy Will Be Done" as the best song Prince gave to another artist in 1991 and an absolutely essential track. But there were even more superstars Prince worked with in 1991. Joe Cocker recorded (and released) the jazzy Prince-composed "5 Women", a totally fantastic track of the type you could listen to while getting drunk in a bar after someone broke your heart. Patti Labelle got "I Hear Your Voice", a beautiful melancholic R&B track Prince originally composed for Rosie Gaines' debut album. Patti as usual does magic with her voice on this one. Prince also gave two songs with a sound much closer to the "Diamonds And Pearls" album's sound to rapper TC Ellis. "Miss Thang" is a massive R&B jam of the type only the early 90s could produce while "Girl O' My Dreams" is a 1982 track reworked by Ellis for this album. These are pop/rap tracks and one has to wonder why these tracks sound much better than Tony M's efforts in rapping in Prince's own albums. Finally Prince was involved also in Jevetta Steeles' "Here It Is" album (released only in France in 1991) with two songs: "Skip To My Lu My Darling" and "And How".

                                  All in all 1991 was another great year for Prince. It looked like Prince had entered the new decade in the best way possible. However the success of this album laid the foundations of his infamous feud with Warner Bros...

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                                  • Graffiti Bridge was a great soundtrack, kind of a farewell to the 1980s Prince IMO, but the movie was poorly executed. When Madonna turns a movie down because the script is crap, you know something's wrong lol.

                                    Diamonds And Pearls is fine for where it is in the context of his career, a commercial rebirth for a new decade. But I think as a whole it is a weaker album that almost everything that preceded it, and it is some of his most dated material as well.
                                    My top 100 artists (2018 edition)


                                    • REMEMBERING PRINCE: 1992

                                      Desp?te the failure of "Graffiti Bridge" Prince hadn't exactly abandoned the idea of movies just yet. In 1992, Prince and The New Power Generation flirted with a new concept of movie-making. Prince would release an album which is essentially the soundtrack of an unreleased movie. The film in question was to be completed in Paisley Park studios but not released upon completion. The videos for the songs released would slowly slowly create a storyline and it all would come together in the end and then the movie would be released.

                                      The album was called "LoveSymbol" (R&B #8, BB 200 #5, UK #1). And what a fantastic album that was. The album takes off with "My Name Is Prince" (R&B #25, BB Hot 100 #36, UK #7) , a song where Prince and Tony M. take turns at rapping the lyrics. It's a fab energetic club song, although in retrospect it is a little ironic that a few months later Prince would be actually proclaiming that his name is not Prince after all. "Sexy MF" (UK #4) is an even better rap song, one with a heavy jazz foundation. Despite being ignored by US radio and MTV due to its raunchy content (forcing Prince to release it as the "Sexy MF" video single), this is just amazing and probably Prince's most accomplished rap song ever. "Love 2 The 9s" begins as a classic Prince mellow R&B/pop song but then explodes into a raptastic climax. "The Morning Papers" is a classically beautiful piano driven ballad. "The Max" is the first effort at a somehow more traditional dance song in the album and it's pretty good (although probably the weakest song so far). "Blue Light" is Prince doing reggae, it's OK-ish but not much more. Then we get into the fantastic dance jam that is "I Wanna Melt With U", a song with deep groove and lyrics that are just so sexually explicit Prince-style "there's a river of blood U must have been a virgin What am I guilty of? Oh no. Are u afraid? Then take me 2 the next phase...". "Sweet Baby" and "Damn U" (R&B #32) are two retro-sounding R&B ballads of the type you would expect in a 70s album and not in an album beginning with rap songs. "The Continental" is back at "The Max" territory, only this song succeeds in everything that "The Max" doesn't, it's just an awesome dance number with heavy drums and interesting lyrics. "Arrogance" and "The Flow" can only be considered together, the latter is actually the only song not composed specifically for this project, instead it's a 1990 composition, although you wouldn't realize it by listening to it because it's a great rap song which sounds very 1992. The album's highlights all come in the end. The absolute highlight is "7" (BB Hot 100 #7, UK #27), a highly spiritual song with a cryptic theme that is difficult to categorize musically and remains possibly Prince's best '90s track. The video of the song was nominated for "Best R&B Video" at the MTV Awards. "And God Created Woman" is one of the best Prince ballads ever, a romantic song in a very spiritual way of the kind that I could easily imagine being used in a Prince musical. "3 Chains O' Gold" is essentially Prince doing his own version of "Bohemian Rhapsody" with styles changing per half-minute and all ending sounding amazing. Album-closer "The Sacrifice Of Victor" is just an accomplished dance track which leaves you begging for more. All in all this was easily Prince's best album since "Parade" and on par with the best of his 80s' work. However it went somehow under the radar. The reason for that was the beginning of Prince's dispute with Warners.

                                      Following the success of "Diamonds And Pearls" Prince signed a new deal with Warner Brothers worth 100m dollars. It was one of many lucrative deals signed by majors and their biggest stars at the time (other such deals were the ones signed by Michael and Janet Jackson and Madonna) but in historical terms those deals were lucrative for the artists in a degree never seen before. Prince's deal however had certain obvious traps which call into question the capabilities of both Prince and his legal representatives. In particular the deal was essentially valid only if Prince's each album to be released would sell 5 million units or more and if his next six albums made cumulatively 100m. profit for Warners. That clause essentially rendered the deal invalid since it was impossible to achieve. Throughout his career Prince had only two albums to sell that much ("Purple Rain" and "Diamonds And Pearls") and he had made 300m. for Warners since 1978 (a span which included thirteen main albums and several side projects instead of the six the deal was stipulating). What the deal did do however was licensing all Prince songs to Warners' for a further period of time. Without the deal Prince would have gotten full rights over his songs' masters back gradually starting from 1992. The deal was also limiting the number of albums Prince could release (in an effort to milk each album dry) and the number of tours Prince could perform. Understanding that he was cheated in his own game, Prince would go head-on with Warners' starting in 1992 by refusing to give them any new material for release, releasing multiple albums credited to "New Power Generation" instead of "Prince", changing his name into an unpronounceable symbol known as "The Artist Formerly Known As Prince" (because Warners' were essentially owning the "Prince" name), tattooing the word "slave" on his cheek, bad-mouthing the company and essentially becoming a Robin Hood against the industry.

                                      Despite all that Prince obviously loved the album as much as I did. In 1993 he toured with the "Act 1 tour". The tour was made by two parts. During the first part Prince played the whole album with the exception of "The Sacrifice Of Victor" in a show that was very very theatrical. In the second part oldies were played. Mayte was a very integral part of the show from her roller-skating during "Insatiable" to being on the piano getting Prince's attention during "The Max" to doing a more classic doll-in-a-box-type of dance during "And God Created Woman" to playing the saxophone during "Scandalous" to opening "7" with a magnificent oriental dance. Highlights of the tour include a super long version of "The Continental" complete with a fab retro disco group-dancing finale as the song morphs into "Everybody Get On Up" and the surprise performance of some of Prince's best known b-sides such as "Irresistible Bitch" and "She's Always In My Hair" (complete with a guitar solo that Prince delivers as majestically as ever). The tour included also the performance of four previously unheard Prince songs: "Peach", "Loose", "GoldNigga" and "Johnny", all of which would be released in the next couple of years.

                                      But what about the movie? Well, the film's concept was first explained in a late 1992 TV special called "Act 1" where scenes from the forthcoming film along with interviews with New Power Generation members and bits and pieces of both released and unreleased videos were included. The footage looked great and the focus was all on Prince's future wife, Mayte. In fact, although that TV special failed to explain what the movie would be all about, it did focus in an interesting way on Mayte's role in New Power Generation. However, after the singles from "LoveSymbol" were done and Prince's feud with Warners' went into full effect, it just seemed that the 4th Prince movie project had been forgotten. Then comes 1994 and suddenly the movie, titled "3 Chains O' Gold", came out on VHS. So was it any good? It was if your expectation was to see previously unseen Prince videos (even though even here the versions of the videos included were not complete). Otherwise, the movie was made up mostly by scenes already seen in the "Act 1" TV special with added nudity. The plot was all over the place, so much so that it seems likely that the movie's development was abandoned at some point and Prince just released what was already filmed regardless of the lack of any serious plot. The whole thing was so confusing (going from Egyptian royal succession to a love story to reaching Japan from America with the... train to spiritual mumbo-jumbo), that the release of an accompanying comic book (called "3 Chains Of Gold" instead of "3 Chains O' Gold) was deemed necessary to explain exactly what was going on. Like the movie, the comic book was great visually but in terms of plot it didn't exactly manage to enlighten us.

                                      In terms of music and television there was a further Prince special on TV in 1992, a much more interesting one, called "The Ryde Dyvine". That special was essentially a preview of Prince-composed songs to be released in the following years thus increasing anticipation. The Crayons performed "The Ryde Dyvine", a song which ended up being released two years later by another band called "Minneapolis" (comprised by several long-term Prince associates such as Kirk Johnson and Sonny T.) as a stand alone single. The song was typical Prince funk. Carmen Electra may be more well-known as a model and a television hostess nowadays but back in 1991 was Prince's girlfriend and as expected Prince was about to compose an album for her. The first taste of that album came in this special with a very very energetic performance of a rap/dance song named "Everybody Get On Up". Based on this performance alone Carmen could have had a career but then... the album was actually released. Funk legend George Clinton had already worked with Prince in "We Can Funk" from "Graffiti Bridge", here he performed a funk track called "Get Satisfied" mixing old with new style in a fab performance. Prince was not involved in composing this one but did provide backing vocals. The song was released commercially the following year. New Power Generation former member and Prince's duet partner in several "Diamonds And Pearls" tracks Rosie Gaines performs the rather average R&B ballad "My Tender Heart" which was released more than two years later commercially. The ballad was composed by Prince during the "Diamonds And Pearls" sessions. Mavis Staples had sang one of "Graffiti Bridge"'s most memorable songs, "Melody Cool". Here she does one more show-stealing performance with the gospel gem "You Will Be Moved", a fantastic track which will also see commercial release a couple of years later. The TV special concluded with Prince & The New Power Generation doing four "LoveSymbol" songs: a fantastic performance of "Sexy MF" bringing the video of the song to life on stage, a simple performance of "Sweet Baby", an extended (and even better) version of "I Wanna Melt With U" featuring Prince doing the song in a golden mask and a playful performance of "The Sacrifice Of Victor".

                                      1992 was an unusual year in Prince terms as no previously unreleased b-sides and no albums composed for other artists appeared in that year. However Prince did compose a handful of individual songs for other artists. Dutch band Lois Lane (who opened for Prince during the "Nude tour") took most of the Prince songs that year. "Qualified", despite being a new composition, sounds like something out of the "Batman" album whereas "Crying" also sounds very late '80s. These songs could have been better with better delivery but somehow Lois Lane's lifeless vocals hurt the songs. "I Wanna Be" (which appeared only in the US edition of the album) is a very mellow AC/pop song and, although it's nowhere close to single material, it is the song which suits the voice of the group the most. "I Oh I" also features some Prince input although not in composing the song but just in instrumentation. El DeBarge of course was a star of his own right. As a member of DeBarge he had scored nine R&B hits followed by 10 R&B hits as a solo artist. "Tip O' My Tongue" was a new composition by Prince for El, however it did sound a lot like a funk track The Time could have easily done back in the '80s. It was quite a cool song. Celine Dion may be music history's second best-selling female artist ever but back in 1992 she was just breaking out. She already had a Eurovision victory, six Canadian hits and four French ones under her belt but she was just counting three American and just one UK hit when Prince gave her "With This Tear", a rather average ballad that Celine elevates into a gorgeous album track with her amazing delivery and vocals. The best track Prince gave to another artist in 1992 was definitely "Allegiance", given to ex-Shalamar frontman Howard Hewett. A very sexy R&B track, it's just a shame this song didn't become a hit.

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                                      • REMEMBERING PRINCE: 1993

                                        1993 was one of the most exciting years musically for Prince (which is the reason this post is so long), although that wouldn't be so obvious judging by official releases. The reason for that was that, as his feud with Warners' entered in full swing, Prince began looking for alternative ways to release his music, independent of his label.

                                        Quite unexpectedly the first of these ways would be a stage production. "Glam Slam Ulysses" was a dance play presented at Paisley Park in early 1993 featuring twelve previously unheard Prince songs. The production was loosely based on Homer's "Odyssey" and Carmen Electra starred in it as a dancer. The show featured videos of several characters from Homer's work, presented one per song with dancers dancing in front of them. Spectacular it wasn't but, featuring fashion reminiscent of the 70s, a production which wasn't rich but ambitious, interesting it certainly was. I don't know if any non-Prince fans would enjoy watching this but I love it. The show takes off in a very rock manner. Opener "Strays Of The World" sounds like a big operatic opener to a show, a song aimed at increasing anticipation and not so much as a stand-alone track. "Dolphin" mixes musical-type of song-writing with rock instrumentation in an outstanding way. The song is just so catchy with lyrics that are both spiritual and enigmatic in a very Prince way. In "Interactive" the metal guitars get even louder in a song more suitable for commercial use if the year was 1988 and not 1993. Still great though. "Pheromone" is a jazzy type of dance song with heavy drums and it just sounds so so great. This is the type of song which just grows on you for a while before you can realize its magnificence in full. "Dark" finds Prince re-visiting reggae, only this time not with an average tune like "Blue Light" but with a gorgeous killer of a tune. The song is mellow but at the same time with such a deep groove that is simply irresistible and arguably one of Prince's best songs ever. "Loose" constitutes yet another change of style, this time Prince takes inspiration from the techno scene which was god in Europe at the time and creates a deeply infectious guitar-heavy dance song. This is quite unlike anything Prince had released up to that time and a very very pleasant surprise for any fan (and not only). "Space" is a more atmospheric song. Despite having a rap bridge, the song is essentially a mellow R&B song with a very deep groove. I totally love it."What's My Name" keeps the atmospheric music in its beginning but soon morphs into a bizarre rock song made up by electric guitar, auditory effects and Prince alternating between just talking and screaming the lyrics. "Endorphinemachine" keeps the rock going, courtesy of very loud electric guitars but this time the lyrics are delivered as a rap and the result is a song reminiscent of Run D.M.C. somewhat. "Race" is the first proper R&B song in the show, a song with heavy bass, lyrics which are delivered in a talking style which is not exactly rap and a chorus with a great female vocal sampling Steele-Battle's "Face The Music". This is funky as hell. "Come" begins with electric guitars but develops into a playful jam with a very naughty theme about various ways to... come. Its production sounds very Prince and very 80s but the song would undergo several re-incarnations before its final version arrived the following year. This version is far better than the final one as it is less pop and more R&B and sounds much more as the product of a live jam session rather than a polished studio version. There is also much more rap in here than in the final version. The show ends with a proper dance/rap song called "The Pope". This is the kind of music one would expect more by bands such as Technotronic or C&C Music Factory, the fact that this dance anthem is delivered by Prince makes it all the more refreshing. The chorus is sang by a certain lady called Mayte. Had this collection of songs been released as an album, it would have definitely be up there with Prince's best. However the songs were presented in the show and then all but one of them remained unreleased commercially for the rest of 1993.

                                        What was released in 1993 however was "GoldNigga", an album of new songs by the New Power Generation, composed (and originally sang as can be still heard on the background of several of the released versions) by Prince. The album was available for buying not in stores but just in a handful of "Act II" tour concerts making it one of the hardest-to-find Prince albums and highlights Prince's intention of not submitting his new work to Warners' for sale but to promote it individually though alternative ways. Musically this is Prince exploring the rap genre even more. The album has its highs and lows. "Goldnigga pt. 1" is a pretty decent rap song with a funky minimalistic groove which makes it a well-worthy opener to an album. "Goldnigga pt. 2" and "Goldnigga pt. 3" are jazz instrumentals which sound lovely too. "Guess Who's Knockin'" resembles a lot the work of Public Enemy, it just has that kind of heavy bass. It features an uncredited sample of the Wings' "Let 'Em In" and that may be what led to its removal from later pressings of the album. "Deuce & A Quarter" revisits the idea of mixing jazz with rap like in "Sexy MF" but in a much more mellow way creating yet another great tune. "2Gether" was the only single from the album and is easy to see why since it is without a doubt the best song in here. A mellow rap ballad with sang chorus reminiscent a bit of Jazzy Jeff and The Fresh Prince's musical efforts at mixing rap with pop. Had this been released and promoted properly by a major label, it would have definitely been a hit, it's just great. There is also "Johnny" (originally previewed in the "Act 1" tour) which despite its ridiculous "oh-oh" chorus, it is saved by the nice rap delivery during the verses and the fab instrumentation. Despite those great tunes the album suffers from the inclusion of several weak rap songs such as "Black MF In The House", "Goldie's Parade" and the "Money Don't Matter 2Night"-b-side "Call The Law" , songs that essentially show that Prince was far from being a Dr.Dre but he remained much more of an amateur admirer of the rap genre.

                                        So with two albums worth of songs released independently of Warner Bros, what did the label get from Prince during 1993? Well, the label had already been pushing Prince for a compilation album for more than 2 years and since Prince had decided he was not about to give any new material to the label as of 1992, the time was right for the compilation to be released. Prince's greatest hits set was released as three separate albums released and charting simultaneously: "The Hits 1" (R%B #14,UK #5) including a collection of his more pop-oriented songs featuring his own version of "Nothing Compares 2 U" as a duet with Rosie Gaines and "Pink Cashmere" (R&B #14) as previously-unreleased songs. The latter was a charming R&B acoustic ballad, originally composed way back in 1988. "The Hits 2" (R&B #23, UK #5) featured more funk-oriented material with the "Glam Slam Ulysses" track "The Pope" and "Peach" (UK #14), which had already debuted in the "Act 1" tour, as previously-unreleased tracks. The latter is a rock song which sounds pretty average on first listen but then grows on you on repeated plays never becoming a masterpiece but becoming pretty fun. Then there was the "Hits 1,2 & The B-sides" (R&B #6, BB 200 #4, UK #4) triple album featuring the two discs mentioned before plus a collection of b-sides with a 1986 track, "Power Fantastic" as the previously-unreleased song. The song was originally composed with Wendy & Lisa for the abandoned "Dream Factory" album. The version included here removes all instrumentation resulting in a song which sounds more proper as a closer to an album, rather than an individual song. Prince hits which missed the compilation found a home as b-sides to the compilation's various singles. Prince did promote this compilation by releasing the home music video "The Hits Collection" (home music video charts #10) featuring all his videos not tied to a concert or movie or home video release plus the new "Peach" video. He also continued his world tour reaching Europe and renaming it as the "Act II tour". He changed the setlist, removing all of the "LoveSymbol" tracks besides the three hits and replacing them with tracks from his compilation and other hits from his whole career, thus essentially creating a Greatest Hits tour.

                                        But what about the projects promised through the "Ryde Dyvine" special of last year? Well, three of them did come out in 1993. One was Mavis Staples' album "The Voice" (featuring the already-presented "You Will Be Moved"). The album features several Prince compositions and that is obvious straight from opening song "The Voice". A funk song of the type Prince probably writes in his sleep which Mavis delivers in a gospel way making it a well-worthy listening experience. This was originally intended for Rosie Gaines' debut album but since that got postponed Mavis got it. "House In Order" is another funk song but this time with disco influences. It sounds pretty 70s/80s and it's great. "Blood Is Thicker Than Time" is a more typical gospel song that just sounds good delivered by Mavis. "A Man Called Jesus" takes inspiration from African modern gospel delivering a bizarre rap/dance track about Jesus. It is fun but it's not great. "The Undertaker" is probably the most famous song in the album, mainly due to Prince re-claiming it in the same way he reclaimed "Nothing Compares 2 U" from Sinead. This is a blues track which had originally been recorded by Prince for his abandoned "Undertaker" album. When that album was cancelled, the song went to Mavis. The album's Prince contributions conclude with "Melody Cool" and a cover of Prince's "Positivity" from the "Lovesexy" album.

                                        The other "Ryde Dyvine"-advertised project released in 1993 was Carmen Electra's debut "Carmen Electra". "Everybody Get On Up" was a pretty fab rap/dance track and that's the direction Carmen goes in this album aiming at a career of an MC, Betty Boo or Monie Love-style. The album eventually flopped and acquired such a bad reputation that Carmen never attempted another album. However, I have to say that reputation is pretty unfair. This is far from the worst album Prince was ever involved in, that honor definitely goes to the Ingrid Chavez album. In fact it's not even a bad album. Carmen can actually rap and the album is fun with several good tracks including "Go Go Dancer", "Go On" (which has jazz foundations "Sexy MF"-style), "Step To The Mic" co-produced by Monie Love (a much harder rap track reminiscent of Salt-N-Pepa), the sexy "Just A Little Lovin'" and closer "This Is My House" which introduces some funk resulting in the most Prince-sounding song in here. New Power Generation's Tony M. duets Carmen in "S.T." a rather enjoyable filler which sounds more like a skit than a song. The album does include some duds such as the ill-advised second single "Fantasia Erotica". Based on a 1989 song Prince had originally composed for himself, it sounds like it has undergone a rather uninteresting and very basic dance remix treatment while Carmen can't really sing, both of these reasons render it just bad. "Fun" sounds like a forgettable little something that was randomly pulled up from the 80s' rejects part of Prince's vault but even that is not as bad as "All That", essentially a rap reworking of "Adore". Despite those songs the album remains very enjoyable (and far better than Prince's other rap effort in 1993, "GoldNigga") and it would definitely not sound out of place in any 1993 club.

                                        We already mentioned Monie Love. The British MC was quite a big name in the late 80s/early 90s having five UK hits, the biggest of which, "It's A Shame" even crossed over becoming a hit in the States as well. For her second album, she collaborated with Prince on two tracks. One was the out-of-this-world great single that was "Born 2 B.R.E.E.D." (dance #1, UK #18), a catchy-as-hell track mixing dance rap with gospel. The other one was the rather average rap ballad "In A Word Or 2" (UK #33) which became the final UK hit for Monie until 2000. Tevin Campbell's career started back in 1990 with the Prince-composed "Round And Round". In 1993 Tevin returned to Prince for further collaborations for his second album "I'm Ready", most famous of which is the original version of "Shhh" (R&B #8), a song Prince would later cover himself creating an even better version. As it is, the original version is a more straightforward R&B ballad of its time but it's still great. "Halls Of Desire" is a very Prince-sounding track which sounds like something Prince would write in the '80s for Sheila E., albeit with a new-jack swing production. It's pretty cool too. "Uncle Sam" is more pop than R&B and another track which screams Prince from a mile whereas "Paris 1798430" is a jazzed-up new jack song sounding exactly like something The Time would do if they were still active in 1993. A couple of R&B songs were given over to Louie Louie, an artist who, despite releasing four studio albums, remains more famous for playing the role of Madonna's love interest in her "Borderline" video. "Get Blue" is a hell of an R&B track with a killer hook and lyrics whereas "Dance Un2 The Rhythm" was OK too. Saxophonist Candy Dulfer had worked with Prince before and would do so again as an instrumentalist. In 1993 Prince provided the Madness-sounding jazzy instrumental "Sunday Afternoon" for her own album. Jevetta Steeles' 1991 French-only album which included two Prince compositions saw a worldwide release in 1993. Interestingly the two Prince compositions disappeared from this release and were replaced by two... other Prince compositions, "Open Book" (originally co-composed but then rejected by Martika) and "Hold Me", both rather under-average middle-of-the-road ballads. Prince also composed the song "Well Done" for Jevetta Steeles' family group The Steeles. Prince also worked with three superstars in 1993 who need no introduction at all. Earth Wind And Fire got "Super Hero", a funk song which would go on to be released as a cover single version by The New Power Generation and The Steeles the following year. "The Ryde Dyvine" had also previewed new material by George Clinton. When that album was released in 1993, besides "Get Satisfied" it included a further track where Prince played instruments, the rather fantastic rap jam , "The Big Pump". Finally Prince joined Eric Clapton in providing backing vocals in the Kate Bush album track "Why Should I Love You".

                                        jio CHARTS NOW:3/10/2023:


                                        • jio's picks of the week 24/2/2019

                                          1.CHAKA KHAN: Hello Happiness
                                          2.JACK JACOBS: I Believe It's Alright <==== CLASSIC PICK (1976)
                                          3.JOHNNY GILL: Soul Of A Woman
                                          4.BRUNO MARS/CARDI B: Please Me
                                          5.PALE FOUNTAINS:Something On My Mind <==== CLASSIC PICK (1984)
                                          6.ARIANA GRANDE: Break Up With Your Girlfriend, I'm Bored
                                          7.ZEDD/KATY PERRY: 365
                                          8.LADYTRON: The Animals
                                          9.DURAND JONES & THE INDICATIONS/AARON FRAZER: Don't You Know
                                          10.MONICA: Commitment
                                          THE TWILIGHT SAD: It Won/t Be Like This All The Time<==== ALBUM PICK
                                          jio CHARTS NOW:3/10/2023: