Well, with only :gulp: one album left after this one, I, at last, have the answer to at least one question I came into this process with: how many Prince albums do I own?
This is not counting side projects, protégés and associated artists.
(I think I have 4 Time albums, 3 Wendy & Lisa albums, The Family, Children of the Sun, Madhouse 8, Vanity 6 and Apollonia 6, Elixir, and, most recently, Back in Time… I think that’s 14, unless I’m missing somebody… ]
And…unless something crazy happens with the final album, I think I know what my favorite Prince album is as far as my personal math and scoring system is concerned…
Sad to say, it’s probably not going to be this one.
With the releases of Art Official Age and Plectrum Electrum the year before, I really had no expectations for Prince to release another album the following year. It DID take 4+ years for those two albums to arrive, so I figured he’d go quietly back into the studio and maybe stay there forever.
Or at least spend the rest of his time doing this pop-up concerts he called his “HitNRun tour”… none of which I could physically go to because a) they weren’t remotely close to here- the only one that comes to one was one in New York with Judith Hill… and b) they were announced too last minute for me to have any means of going to.
I PROMISE, that is the last time I bring that up in this post. I expect people are just going onto the new website cuz they won’t want to read about me bemoaning that factor for another 100 words.
Any seasoned Prince fan is aware, of course, that the “HitNRun” concept was something he’d started way back in the mid to late 80’s. I believe he started it around the same time as he was doing after shows after the LoveSexy performances. He was just so pumped up with adrenaline and music that he had to keep going into the wee hours of the morning.
I’d hear rumors of this album as it was materializing, but I figured I wouldn’t be able to get my hands on it. At the time, Prince was only releasing his music exclusively through Tidal, a streaming service started by Jay-Z and he liked the fact it was artist-friendly and gave artists their due credit and a fair exchange of currency for product.
I think I still have my receipt for this one, but I think the story was that I went to Target some day after work because I’d heard it might be released in stores.
Sure enough, there it was on display… one of those special moments I probably won’t have again unless the Estate decides to release another remaster or finally releases the Deliverance EP officially.
(Not that my opinion counts for anything, but they could do with a remaster of the first two albums or Sign o’ the Times… if they can find the original “footage” and mix it on analog and release it digitally on CD the way Prince had with the Come album, the sound quality could make all the fans who couldn’t find the vinyl version happy… with the first two albums, they kinda suffered in my scoring system because the sound quality wasn’t as good as it could have been. But a lot might have also had to do with Prince not having that confidence in his voice to do a solid performance at a proper volume)
Now, I’m getting off topic…
I’ve listened to this album… I think… 3-4 times since I got it.
Unlike with 20TEN, though, it wasn’t so much about other things coming up that I just kept pushing back the next time I’d be listening to it, in this case, I think it had more to do with the music itself.
This album is an oddball, to say the least. Half of it is Prince aiming for a more current sound and collaborating with young artists he respects and wanted to offer advice or mentoring. And the other half is either a continuation of the Prince-par-for-the-course, the AOA sound or the next step in his “evolution.” There are also two remixes that I’m debating whether or not to consider songs I could give proper scores.
I’m sure I know what most people, namely hardcore fans, were thinking… WTF is/has Prince doing/done? There are the usual Prince-isms that you’ll find throughout, but to some, it felt like a very drastic turn in a different direction.
I don’t remember what I’ve heard about this album previous to its release, but when I started listening and grasping that this was a twist in a different direction, I think I really tried not to judge it too harshly. I didn’t really want to be like everyone else who was surely going to slam this release, if only for the first couple songs.
But as this review goes on, I’m sure some of that negativity will come out. It’s bound to happen.
Going by first impressions… there are some songs that I love or at least really like. But there are a bunch already where I’m trying to level the scales of justice to give certain songs a fair trial. By that, I mean I’m going to try to find some positives even when there are a couple of things that don’t sit well with me or just feel odd. One or two, I had a similar thought process as I did to the Plectrum Electrum material– that’s a lot that’s good or at least decent, but there are one or two things in a couple songs that I wish I could edit out.
Ain’t About 2 Stop is a good place to start with this train of thought…
I’m not super familiar with hip-hop, as anyone who’s read my stuff before knows… but this sounds like Prince doing down & dirty hip-hop. But the adjectives describe the music more than any lyric. And honestly, the only lyric (or part of the song) I remember at this point is him rapping “I come from North Minni and I never run from any and I ain’t about to stop right now”…
Yeah, Prince is trying to be gangster. And in an odd sort of way, it works for me. I kinda like the song, but I’m not over the moon for it.
Rita Ora guest stars on it. The only collaboration I can remember her doing is her saying “if you’re not a Ritabot, you’re a blood clot”…
Funny thing- 50 Shades Darker was on TV last night and I thought I’d watch it because I hadn’t seen it since in theaters last February. Rita Ora plays Christian’s younger sister, Mia, who for some reason dyed her hair blonde for this movie when she had a short dark pixie cut in the previous one. I can’t quite get used to that, honestly. She was at the Masquerade Ball scene and with the mask, I thought she was Anastasia’s friend Kate.
I don’t know much about her besides being in this movie and I think she has some connection to the Kardashians, whether it’s one or two degrees of separation. I don’t really know or care, to be honest. I can’t adequately judge one way or another.
…I kinda lost my point, so I’m bringing it back… at the end of the chorus or the end of 4 measures every now and then, there’s this REALLY ANNOYING horn that plays that sounds like someone’s trying to charm a snake. That is the one thing about that song that kills any chance of my loving it. It’s going to be one of those things I need to ask whether it was something Prince wanted or Josh Welton suggested it first.
The reason this album has a slightly different sound than all the others before it. Excluding his work with Wendy & Lisa during the Parade era, this was the first time Prince did an album with an outside producer.
The way Matt Thorne’s book went into it, supposedly Josh did his thing with the tracks first in one studio, Prince took the production and recorded his vocal in another studio and he’d listen to the end result and decide whether something else needed to be added.
Speaking of Matt Thorne… I’d been reading his book as a companion piece to accompany all of Prince’s albums. To maybe get an inside look into how some of these albums came together, the history of things of everything in between… it’s been pretty informative and eye-opening.
But as I’ve stated countless times in the past year… it was a difficult read in places. It wasn’t so much that this guy was one of those older jaded Prince fans that actively complains he’s not as good as he used to be. But there were many an occasion where I took issue with his personal commentary. It was almost like he was embarrassed of his own fandom that he had to talk himself out of it. And he spent a little too much time questioning Prince’s motives behind certain moves he made or certain songs he wrote. Almost like he was judging him and taking shots at his character.
To be honest, though, I’m probably not going to be satisfied with anyone’s interpretation of Prince. I know the guy isn’t perfect, but if you spend more of your time pointing out his flaws than celebrating what’s good about him, why are you even here?
On the positive, though, there were those few album chapters where he went into full-on fan mode and that passion really showed. It was also kinda nice hearing from a certain engineer that worked with Prince in the mid to late 90’s. I got some trade secrets about a period in his life that had been a mystery to me for years.
With this album, not a lot he said stood out. He just pointed out how 1000 x’s and o’s was an old song. And he quoted that Rita Ora lyric…
Earlier today, I listened to a podcast from July 2015 that was a bit of a news update. First, the guys had to joke that Prince announced the album the day after they got together for the first time in months to do a podcast… that he’s bugged their laptops or something and found out when they were all online at the same moment.
They talked about a couple of songs that were released or teased- HardRockLover and X’s Face (both found their way onto this album), Baltimore and Stare (found their way on the next one), What If (I think I have that one somewhere… but they really took issue with his lyrics, saying how they were very exclusive to his way of thinking- plus the song was a cover)…
then there was this huge tangent about the state of the music industry and if Prince cares about releasing music anymore because nobody cares about charts and how music’s become disposable. Or whether he’s running out of ideas or his screams aren’t as good as they used to be due to aging… they really went into a lot of stuff in general and it was oddly interesting, taking what transpired a year after that. It was an oddly apt conversation to say the least.
Now back to this album…
I’m going to be listening to it almost every day this week so I can really get to know it better… because I really don’t have a lot of concrete things to say. Just some first impressions. That’s probably why I’m doing so much side-tracking.
One solid thing I had to say from the start of the album, though…
Million $ Show- I remembered how it started with openings from a couple of Prince’s album openers- For You, 1999, Let’s Go Crazy… then Judith Hill kicks into the chorus, does a verse and then Prince comes about halfway through.
The impression I got- it reminded me a lot of the first song off The Vault- “The Rest of My Life”… both were really short album openers. While “The Rest of My Life” feels like it was going somewhere and stopped maybe a minute before reaching its destination… Million $ Show feels like it describes Prince’s HitNRun tour in tandem with what it’s like seeing him in concert or just picking up one of his albums- you’re treated to something you don’t quite expect to find with any regular artist.
Ultimately, I think the song doesn’t quite deliver on that promise. Whether the rest of the album does, it remains to be seen. It’s kinda funny how I remembered that random Vault track when not a lot of that album was memorable (I’d only just gotten the album before doing the post on it)– but it feels like a good comparison. Two short opening tracks. But unlike the Vault track, I don’t feel like I need another minute of this song.
Shut This Down- I read that this was an NPG track without the NPG on it. Prince sounds like he’s doing to the “My Name is Prince” vocal on it cuz he’s shouting the verses.
Like a Mack- there’s a touch too many of those kitschy nuances in this song… this features a female rapper and she does some of the verses or choruses… there isn’t a lot of variation of how they sound and I think a lot of lines are repeated. But it’s a very groovy beat that makes me want to dance.
This Could B Us is a remix of the AOA track… it oddly reminded me of the “Man o’ War” remix on Rave In2 The Joy Fantastic… except in this case, the entire song isn’t revisited. The chorus doesn’t completely finish (it leaves out the cage-to-my-dove lyric). I don’t really like how he sings “this could be us”… but the “us” just trails off… it’s mildly annoying. Did they really need to do that to make this sound different from the original?
But unlike “Mr. Nelson,” it feels like more of a complete song. “Mr. Nelson” feels like one of those random remixes that are hanging around in the mp3s I was gifted… I’m not sure if it’s going to qualify as a song. Even though it does sound kinda nice- I mean, it’s a remix of “Clouds”
Fallinlove2Nite… of course I have a lot of warm & fuzzies about this song because he did this on “New Girl.” There’s the question about why Zooey’s vocal wasn’t in this track like it was in the original release… I think it’s because that version belongs to the show and he’d have to go through a lot of legal crap to put it on this album. I love the show and I love Zooey and I don’t mind the omission. I just hope not a lot of people made a big deal about this.
Anyway- I love this song. It’s gotten a few extra overdubs. I have a feeling that Captain is going to hate them and I’m going to cringe… there’s a barrage of synth strings that just hum and sing so sweetly and this phrase is repeated at least three times throughout the song. I love that part so much that I hope I never get sick of it.
X’s Face- I’m still undecided about, honestly. I don’t really know what the title means and that might get to be annoying to me. But there are bits of this song I kinda like.
HardRockLover- I don’t know if I’d say it’s that greatest thing the way the guys at the podcast did… I mean, they spent 20 minutes talking about it and wondering if Prince can’t scream anymore or if he was purposely holding back. Musically, it sounds really cool and despite what the guys on the podcast said, it really does sound like he’s dissing hip-hop in this 😛 I don’t mind
1000 x’s and o’s… I remember really liking that song. I didn’t know it was an older song (it was so old that at one time, Rosie Gaines and Nona Gaye were on it- two different recordings)… it really doesn’t matter how old it is. I really like it. When I first heard it, it felt like the first time in ages that Prince wrote a love song or a tender moment of a song like this where he’s fawning over his girl and wants a sweet moment alone with her. And it feels like love is valued more than lust… The Breakdown was about losing love, Breakfast Can Wait was about sex… this is just a sweet song to me. The most romantic Prince had been in a long time… I guess U’re Gonna C Me is the last romantic recording he’d put on an album prior to this.
Let’s just say it was a side of Prince I had sorely missed.
June… I think I’m starting to come around with this one. It’s an odd song. Matt Thorne called it a stream of consciousness and compared it to Time and This is What It Feels Like… how it’s a better version of one and a less than al dente version of another…
to me, it sounded like he was talking some random stuff with music going on in the background… but I think I’m getting a little more out of it than I had the first time.
today, I gave Back in Time, Judith Hill’s debut album its first listen…
I don’t want to say that I’m not impressed, but I didn’t really care for the first couple of songs. The first song had a lot of crackling like Prince was trying to go for the throwback “look” and I just found it annoying when her voice came into the chorus under that.
She was one of my favorites on that season of The Voice she was on, but the issue I had with the album at first was that Prince had her singing music that sounded way too old school. In other words, it didn’t sound current or hip. Like something that people nowadays would be interested in. There’s a lot of talk on reality shows about artists sounding too old fashioned or their song choices not being current enough. This issue seems to come up a lot with black female R&B artists. And oddly, the moment they do something current, it’s often too current or too indie for people to recognize and they get sent home. It’s a very cruel game sometimes.
But as the album went on, the songs did get better and hopefully I’ve have more specifics to give tomorrow.
The title track, Back in Time, really caught my attention in a good way, but it was a bit of an odd animal. It transported me to a place I kinda didn’t want to go… and it was looking ahead to 2016. Some of the songs (ok, maybe 2, including this one) were a little too prophetic about what happened to Prince. Namely, the scare that made his plane take an emergency landing in April 14th.
…I’m just going to move away from that… I’m not there yet, dammit!
As for giving this album another spin, there were some pretty cool moments and some strong favorites are emerging.
Like a Mack being one of them. Maybe the one thing I don’t like about it is when he trails off at the end of a phrase where he’s going “like a…” repeatedly. But right after that, there’s this cool lead line with horns. Real or fake horns, I have no idea. But it reminds of me two Prince songs. The pacing of the music in that part reminds me of my favorite part of “Joint 2 Joint”– halfway through, we run through this phrase a couple of times. I think it’s an organ solo and at the end of each go, “joint 2 joint” is repeated. With the horns, it reminds me of a melodic part from the end of “Hot With U”…
There’s a bunch of little things throughout this song that are cool nuances. But I think I like the chorus the best. And it doesn’t matter if it’s Prince or his guest rapping it, it just sounds cool.
I think with Fallinlove2night, I think what I really like about this song… it reminds me a lot of those techno songs I loved in the 90’s. Check out the tracklist of the compilation “Fired Up!” and you’ll find a bunch of them there. “In a dream” is one of my favorites off that.
The synth string part I love from this Prince song reminds me of songs like that where there are these little refrains sprinkled throughout the song that just ring really nice in my ears.
And really, this song is just Prince attempting a dance club anthem ala “Night at the Roxbury” (why am I thinking that Captain would like that movie? It’s one of those so-bad-it’s-good type movies. I’m not sure if I can say the same for “Dude, where’s my car?” which I saw recently for the first time in maybe a decade)
And Prince succeeds at this. However much of it Prince and Josh Welton, I have no idea, but whoever it is, great job.
Million $ Show, I don’t think I’m quite on board with and I’m not sure if I will be. As far as Prince album openers go, it’s probably one of the least good. It gets your heart pumping, but there isn’t a lot there to get excited about. Heck, if that was your first impression of the album and based off it, you decide whether to continue with the rest of the album… this is one of those rare occasions where a Prince album where I don’t think a lot of people would pay to continue playing based off this song.
Underwhelmed is probably the word I’m thinking of… kinda like listening to the first part of Judith Hill’s album. Her voice adds a little something extra to this song, but it isn’t enough to elevate it to where it should be.
the other songs, I think I’ll just add notes if I have anything to add…
I think I might have to listen to the original “this could be us” so I know what’s different between it and the remix. I don’t remember there being a guitar solo in the original, but I could be wrong. It sticks with the song for the first couple minute, but then there’s the guitar solo and the rest is the same instrumentals repeating over and over. With his voice coming in every now and then to say what he said on the original song. The one thing I hate about remixes, though, is when a certain line is sampled repeatedly or it’s skipped over like a broken record… as if that’s hip and cool… it’s not. Just say the damn phrase and be done with it, people!
“Mr. Nelson”- I think I’ll still consider it a song, even though it doesn’t really go anywhere or have a finite conclusion. I think there was a song off Rave In2, one or two songs, where I took points off cuz it wasn’t put together well structurally. A good song has a beginning, middle and end. And this song kinda doesn’t. But it’s a nice listen. Yet, for whatever reason, I can’t remember it hours after I’ve heard it. But it’s a 2+ minute song that goes by so quickly…
“1000 x’s and o’s”… I thought this yesterday, but forgot to mention it… it reminds me of a couple R&B tracks I’ve heard on some NOW CD’s. Either NOW 5 or 6. And it sounds like Prince was going for that particular genre… but then again, this song originally dates back to 1992, so maybe he had the idea of this sound for a song long before any of those dudes did.
And “Hardrocklover” isn’t just a diss to hip-hop, it’s a diss to R&B and every other genre of music that isn’t rock music. Supposedly this song was about having a dream and this girl was really into rock music. But it kinda sounds like she and Prince are getting it on and for her, rock music is an aphrodisiac…
Also, Shut This Down is probably Prince’s last recorded signature scream… I picked that up yesterday and it was kinda sad to think about. I thought about it a few weeks ago, wondering if he just stopped doing them after a point or when his last one was… I think I have the answer to that now.
After a long day of work (it didn’t feel that long, but I spent half the day catching up on work left over from 2nd shift the day before), during the last hour, I listened to Prince’s Rally 4 Peace at Baltimore.
He live-streamed it on Tidal, but my fellow purple knight got me a copy of it and I’m hearing it for the first time today.
It felt like the best Prince concert I’ve heard 😛 he sounded amazing. The crowd was really supportive and that got my heart pumping. It opened with Million $ Show (including all the samples at the beginning) but ended short of where it does on this album.
Other than that and perhaps his live premiere of his song “Baltimore,” all of it was the hits… but it gave me a lot to think about for my next step after finishing the albums. So many of the songs were songs I personally love and enjoy and they are in my top 100 somewhere. He started with the slow version of “Let’s go crazy” and that went into “Take Me with U”… two songs in, I was already grooving in my seat. Raspberry Beret, 1999, Controversy… so many good songs. Then he brought in the ? of U/The One set and that was just so cool hanging with again.
Towards the end, he did a medley or sampler set. He teased Nasty Girl and said “I got too many hits”… and ended with Hot Thing and went through the whole song… man, I was cleaning the snow of my car, ready to go home from work and that was really great music to take me through that.
Just the best time, I hated to see the whole thing end.
So I wound up listening to the album through again… I’ll be podcasting the next couple days, although I might listen to the album on my iPod sometime tomorrow morning at work… we’ll see…
I was kinda unimpressed with some of it the first couple days- on day 3, I’m starting to get into it a lot more as a whole.
While I still remember how “Mr. Nelson” goes, I’ll comment on that first… that more or less becomes a techno dance club song too. I made that comparison with “Fallinlove2nite”… other than a few murmurs of “Mr. Nelson” and the line from “Clouds”- “where u r now, is a place that does not require time”… and “we don’t need no clouds, no” once or twice… after the main beat goes away, a poppy techno beat replaces it. There’s some guitar that aligns with it, a different sounding guitar. Then there’s this Arabian nuance that ends the measure.
I checked the time- it’s only 2:26… by the time I’m really getting into the song, it’s over…
the main hook in that techno part reminds me of something from a song featured in “Night at the Roxbury”- “This is the night” by Amber– there’s an instrumental part that sounds kinda similar to it or sounds like it uses similar instruments.
Another thought I had about this album as a whole- I had it earlier in the week and now I’m just recalling it… expanding on it, actually…
Originality is probably going to be the thing I’m going to critique as much as lyrics… lyrics are kind of a given at this point, sadly… and the main question I’m going to have to answer with this album:
Would I be as interested in this music if Prince wasn’t the artist writing/performing them?
An album like this… it’s not really my cup of tea. Just taking songs like Shut This Down and Ain’t About 2 Stop… if Prince hadn’t done them, I wouldn’t care and I wouldn’t listen to them at all, really… if I wasn’t judging the album as a whole at this moment and I was listening to this album just for fun, there might come a point where I’ll take those songs off my iPod and just not listen to them anymore.
Then there’s my favorite song- “1000 x’s and o’s”… that’s an R&B track, plain and simple.
Would I like this song if Prince hadn’t done it?
Maybe… if the artist singing it brings that same smolder and charisma, I think I would. But it has to be just the right person.
In Prince’s catalog, it’s probably a bit unspectacular 😛 but it’s one I’m always gonna love when it comes on.
And there were songs throughout this where I was thinking… I think it was those 2 songs I mentioned earlier… where I probably wouldn’t listen to them if Prince hadn’t done them… it brought back something that came to mind when I was listening to Rave and songs like “Hot with U”… it sounds like Prince is trying to be corner a certain demographic or he’s trying to embody a certain type of music… to me, it’s something that a guy in his 20’s and 30’s would do… not a dude in his 50’s… it kinda doesn’t come off right to me, but at the same time, he sometimes gets away with it just because he’s Prince and I can’t help but like him even when he’s doing something I don’t think fits him as an artist in this time in his life.
June- there was a lyric I wanted to mention, but kept forgetting… he’s talking about conversation starters coming too hard and nobody wants to be the martyr playing the wrong card… DUDE, I can TOTALLY relate to that. With anyone except my immediate family, I’m not comfortable with starting conversation with people. I usually let others draw attention first and I comment.
there was a song I was sent via email a while that I put on my iPod- it’s called “Da Bourgeoise” and it seems to be Prince ragging on one of his exes cuz he caught her kissing another woman. I think I heard this was controversial cuz he was not approving of same-sex relationships. I think Wendy & Lisa would know a bit more about that than I do, but I heard rumors they had another falling out with Prince because he didn’t approve of their sexuality- and this comment was made after he became a Jehovah’s Witness. He didn’t seem to mind that at all when they were in his band back in the 80’s
Beyond that, I listened to “Clouds” and “This could be us” to prep for the remixes on this album… I still really love “Clouds” and the other song… I was trying to find where the two version vary.
The original “This could be us” is a full song with a couple of verses and choruses although it meanders a little towards the end. It’s good, but not great.
The remix isn’t great either… but there are bits I like better than in the original. The guitar solo makes it a bit better. All it is is the first two verses and two halves of a chorus… the rest the majority is instrumental with some nice touches of piano throughout, not just here, but the whole song.
The podcast started out really interesting, but it often does…
supposedly most of this album is Josh Welton’s doing so Captain offered up the possibility of scoring this as a Prince album or just an album… to me, it really doesn’t matter who did what on it… I’m still going to score as I do the other Prince albums. And I’ll probably still be a bit harsh on this one no matter whose at fault for the things I don’t enjoy…
My fellow purple knight, as I’ve said, doesn’t really consider this a Prince album in the sense that Art Official Cage is his final album… and the HitNRun albums are compilations he put together.
The guys at the podcast put up something to that effect, but it got me thinking… their take on it:
Take HitNRun without the Phase One part… it could have been packaged with Art Official Age as a remix/outtake album… that’s a pretty cool way of looking at it that I probably wouldn’t have thought of. Maybe not for years 😛
at the same time, though, the way this album is sequenced, it seems like Prince had intended it to be read as an album… at least with the first couple songs 😛 after Fallinlove2nite, the songs don’t seem to run into each other the way they had previously…
Another interesting thing that came up- MC (who recently assumed his name Rob Esse, I do not know the story behind it, I haven’t heard why yet) came up with his own playlist for this album. He maintains that the sequencing is all wrong, so he did his own version of it. He didn’t say it on air, but said to check out his twitter account.
I was afraid that a) it’d be so far down I couldn’t find it (he only has 400+ tweets, so it didn’t take long at all) and b) I thought I’d have to sign up for Tidal to see it… I did not…
so it seems like it could work really nice… I might write it down so I can do it myself.
It’s only 9 songs… the first two songs are completely absent and I don’t think I’ll miss them that much.
I’ll say that much- the rest, just go to twitter.com/therobesse and scroll down until you find his custom playlist.
I’d been playing the CD in the car today so I’m kinda doing it in tandem with the podcast. I’m 6 songs in.
They ran a fan vote on this and so far, none of the songs have cracked the top of the playlist.
we’ve found #10, 5-9… kinda interesting. we haven’t found the worst song on the album…but based on Player’s comments that fans don’t like remixes, I think “Mr. Nelson” is dead last.
I was ready for my soul to be crushed when the guys said how they didn’t like Fallinlove2nite… so far, Player’s not into it for the very reason I am- he called it “Euro trash dance music” from the 90’s, MC doesn’t really get it, Toejam says it’s a great pop song, but it doesn’t appeal to him…
I’m hoping so much that Captain likes it simply because it’s a rubbish pop song 😛 I mean, he has to, right?
the guys were pretty harsh on Like a Mack, saying that the horns could have been stronger and a saxophone (I didn’t know there was a sax, actually) kinda kills it… it didn’t rank high in the poll either, I think it was maybe 6 or 7.
There was a laugh out loud moment- and of course Captain was behind it… they were talking about the guest rappers Curly Fryz… and Captain’s like “I like those girls, I gotta find them”…
I got through the first half hour during my last half hour of work and I was kinda dying inside to get out of work. I was just dying to just laugh or talk back to the guys like I’m so used to doing in the car when I’m driving by myself. It was such a relief to get in my car so I could do my usual crap 😛 I swear, it’s gonna be so crazy if I wind up getting to do that podcast with Captain and I’ll be talking to him for real, instead of just relying sarcastically to comments he recorded years ago, lol
Anyway, Captain made that comment and a laugh slowly broke over all of us. MC is like “that’s not creepy at all”… of course he was referring to finding pictures of them online to see what they looked like.
I don’t really care to know what they look like, honestly.
That’s been kind of a thing with me these past couple years. I don’t really want to know what certain artists look like cuz it helps maintain an illusion that they can look like however they appear in my head. If they appear at all.
I looked through the lyric booklet to look at some lyrics. In particular, I wanted to see what the hell Prince was talking about in the chorus for “ain’t about 2 stop”…
it’s a bunch of NONSENSE… I mean, there are a lot of sub-par songs in the first half of the album, but this is probably one of the better ones.
Captain spent a lot of time on the “bloodclot” line and apparently that word has multiple meanings in the urban dictionary… and I don’t think I want to look that up.
Somebody said how the “this could b us” remake is a bloodclot for the album and everyone just lost it… that is kind of a good point, actually.
There was a little more love for that song than I thought there’d be, so that’s kinda interesting.
I’m literally cranking my neck trying to think of what other points they brought up, but nothing’s coming.
it’s a couple days later and I’m done with the podcast. I had to listen to a couple bits again because my routine was completely interrupted by the fact my gas station of choice had all but one of stations blocked off. And the one I used to go to, the parking lot was still coated with snow and ice and it looks like it’s no longer open. I was so pissed I came straight home… I find that I’m very choosy about the gas stations I go to, maybe because I don’t like going to unfamiliar places all that often. Something about that scares me. I did my own way to a Barnes & Noble with GPS to go Mayte’s book, but that’s beside the point. I had motivation for that. This, I’m just filling up my car. There’s no pay off other than ease of mind that my car has a full tank.
ANYWAY… a lot of side tracking on this post…
I’ve finished the podcast and it was a good one. Actually, it was hilarious almost more than usual. But considering this album, you kinda have to have a sense of humor.
Not saying it’s BAD or the absolute worst, but as someone said, it’s not up to the “Prince standard”… the unfortunate thing is that he’s outdone himself so many times, you come to expect that.
I think the issue I have with this album in particular is that it’s Prince chasing trends and, as Captain said a couple times, “trying to be down with the kids”… I swear, I hear that and I immediately think of Billy Black in “Twilight” saying that line and Bella’s dad Charlie is like “oh yeah, Billy, you’re the bomb”…
I also don’t like the fact that this album had remixes on it. I’m surprised the guys didn’t complain that he could have put “Screw Driver” on it or some other song… I’m not sure if that’s going to change sometime next week, but I’m saying out front, I don’t like “Screw Driver” because of the chorus. It is so stupid and cheesy and Prince is better than that. Ok, moving on…
I was a little miffed at the fan vote, as I tend to be a lot… I don’t care if my tastes align with theirs all the time, but I like feeling validated sometimes in not being the only person who likes certain Prince music.
But the survey, in predictable fashion, got the top songs right. “June” being in the top 3 is debatable for me… but the others, definitely agree. They’ll be sure in mine.
I don’t know why, maybe it was because how special his “New Girl” appearance was to me, but I felt like my soul would be crushed if the guys didn’t like Fallinlove2nite… it’s not like it’s the best song he’d ever written or even the most original… but I just like it so much. It just makes me happy.
well, I leave off the other day saying Captain has to like it cuz of what type of song it is, but he’s also the type of guy you can’t really predict what he’ll say about Prince music. I guess that’s what makes him so memorable. To me anyway. I was waiting to be let down, but sure enough, he liked this song and said it’s one of his favorites on the album. I’m like “thank you!”… I don’t know who I was saying that to, but those were my exact words. And it made me feel even better to hear he disagreed about the fan vote putting it in the middle of the pack.
X’s Face kinda split the panel and I agree, it’s a weird song, but I oddly like it for some reason. It’s probably going to be another solid “I kinda like 3.5” song.
I had a thought the other day about the overall sound of it and how unnerving it can be.
It’s not quite the same thing, but for some reason, I got me thinking about a scene in this RDJ movie “Two Girls and a Guy” and in the scene, Robert Downey Jr. goes into another room of his apartment with Heather Graham and this loud pulsing instrumental is playing and it ends up with him giving her oral sex and she’s moaning and enjoying it.
…and then in the next scene, the interrogation of him (cuz she and this other girl found out that he’d been dating both of them at the same time) continues and she says that what happened in the other room meant nothing…
Yeah, ok, right…
It was the tail end of 2011. I was in the guest bedroom close to midnight watching this movie (cuz I’d never seen it and I’d wanted to for a while cuz I heard this role was written for him… kinda as a way for him to work through whatever drug issues he was going through at the time… I think a year later, he wound up in the same prison as Charlie Manson, but in a different part of the prison cuz he was eventually released on parole…
I don’t like talking about Robert’s past issues cuz he actually beat them and has done so successfully. I’d rather think of him in the present- although I admit I want him to do more than play Iron-Man for the rest of his career. That’s not going to get him an Oscar).
yikes, another long rant… I think the point I wanted to make was that it wasn’t that I was completely uncomfortable with that scene, but I was still getting to R-rated stuff in movies at that point. I was 25. Now I’m 31- still a virgin, not in a hurry to change that clearly, but I’m a little desensitized to sex scenes in movies. I guess it just comes down to how they’re portrayed and shot.
ANYWAY, no more side tracking… I like X’s Face for some odd reason. Maybe cuz it brings back memories of songs like “Automatic” and “Computer Blue” where Prince seemed to be on the brink on insanity. He isn’t in this song, but the music is off-kilter in that same way.
The fan vote was kinda favorable of this one, I think top 4, which was surprising.
Mr. Nelson got some praise and some not… Captain liked it a lot, especially the second half. Toejam doesn’t like the second half, but kinda likes the first part. Player wasn’t feeling it, I don’t think.
Then we get to the good stuff… funny thing, I listened to their July 2015 news show where they were talking about new songs and stuff… I almost didn’t need to listen to that podcast cuz they actually inserted the clips of them reviewing Hardrocklover and X’s Face… and later said whether their thoughts have changed.
For the most part, not really… with Hardrocklover, MC liked it even more.
X’s Face got a little benefit cuz it makes more sense within the album.
Captain oddly said he sometimes skips Hardrocklover cuz it doesn’t feel like it fits on the album. I can kinda get that.
I also expected him to trash 1000 x’s and o’s cuz it’s a “bland R&B track”… he really didn’t. He said it was good, but maybe not one of his favorites on the album. “bland” and “R&B” were not even spoken.
and I was happy to find how much a lot of people liked this song.
Supposedly it holds the record as the longest gap between a song being recorded and it appearing on an album. Someone mentioned Xtraloveable, but said it’s not on an album.
If I was listening to this at a table like the one I’m typing at right now, I’d smack my head down on it saying “wait until you get the next album, omg!” THAT is the winner right there.
“June”- the conversation on it was predictably hilarious. And by that, I mean I knew that it was going to be funny hearing this guys talk about. But I didn’t think it’d be nearly this good a discussion.
They got really deep and of course Captain is the one (although going off something Toejam previously said) who had to say that it could be about nothing and he put it on an album to make us think it was about something.
That could very well be true, we’ll never get to ask him about it 😛
Toejam compared it to “Had U” and “My little pill”… I had a “Had U” moment with this song during one of my listens as well. But I prefer this to “Had U” cuz even though it doesn’t reach a destination, at least it feels like it’s heading for one.
It’s funny to me that I’m connecting songs on this album to songs off The Vault and Chaos & Disorder- both are brand new albums to me and I only heard them 5-6 ever and it was in the week I was discussing them. They still feel like outsiders to the whole Prince canon I’ve had configured in my head for 10 years, but suddenly, they seem to feel like they’re fitting in a bit more. And of course I’m connecting them with another album I’ve barely listened to.
Completely forgot to mention this… one of those few times I’ve heard this album before… I don’t know if it was the second or third time… but I put in my car while I was driving to work on a Friday. Earlier that morning (like 3am, I think), we got a phone call and my dad hung up immediately thinking it was some random robo-call (we get A LOT). I go to work and the manager tells me that he tried to call, saying for me not to come in. I was still a temp at the time and they had called me off a few times already cuz there wasn’t enough work for me to do. A couple of those calls came early in the morning and this was the first time. I think I called later to check on things and I tried to say I’d rather hear at 11pm than really early in the morning and the reaction I got back said that it couldn’t happen like that. One of those rare moments where I’ve felt put off by how things are run there. No work place is perfect, of course. Shortly after that, we eliminated 3rd shift and it was like that until this new project (that we’re still working through reprocessing) came up. I could say more, but that’s another stupid rant you don’t want to read.
Point is that the drive home felt like it went by SO fast because I had this album in my car and I listened to the rest of it moments after I’d heard the first couple songs. So I remember that day as a bit of a happy accident… but apparently, I didn’t remember the album all that much from that.
June is memorable because of the pasta reference… that’s freaking hilarious, them talking about that and Captain how that’s not something you bloody write a song about :falloff: that always threw me off too, I gotta be honest (and clearly, I am sometimes TOO honest on this blog). His rants about songs are sometimes the best parts of these podcasts, but they have to be about songs I don’t have any emotional attachment to. Otherwise, I get stupidly offended. But the guy is never going to make me stop smiling or laughing- there’s always something. Seriously, if you don’t get this song, give this podcast a listen for this part alone.
I think the parts I remembered- for the most part, were things I didn’t like about this album. I remember Prince being current and modern and not quite feeling it. I remember the annoying Indian “snake charmer” horn in Ain’t About 2 Stop. I remember how X’s Face left me off kilter. I remember how much I love Fallinlove2nite and how it goes. I didn’t remember how 1000 x’s and o’s went, but I remembered it being one of the few romantic songs Prince has put out in a long time.
The rest, I had to really listen to this album again to remember… unfortunately, I think I blocked this album out cuz of what I didn’t like about or how it was something of a disappointment. I did say that I like to cast Prince in a positive light as often as possible- so that might be why I’ve sidetracked so much through this post. I don’t want to run the risk of being too critical.
To answer another curiosity I have, I’m going to see if he ever performed any tracks live…
I got sidetracked on Princevault cuz they recommended the book on the Purple Rain sessions… I checked Amazon to see how much it is, it’s not a bad price, but I might wait for paperback. I checked Jim Walsh’s book on The Gold Experience and the 90’s and that’s on paperback.
Of course I read reviews and a lot of positive ones.
And I had to check out Matt Thorne’s book to see what people said and there were a few reviews I really should have read before asking for it for Christmas… there are a few who said it was too long. I get that, but I also stretched it out for a year, practically… but there were some I agreed completely with, people saying that he casts Prince in a negative light. another said it was more speculative than fact…
I’ll have to do my own proper review at another point.
Back to business…
Million $ Show- it was played over PA system a few times and also in a 2016 sampler set, but I know it was also at the Baltimore show cuz I heard it there
there’s a clip of an interview here of Prince saying how artists aren’t being compensated for creation or promotion, but to send the music and then wait for money and then are asked to perform for free… and shortly after this interview, the song was written… I don’t know if that’s enough to get me into this song more than I am.
Shut This Down- done sparingly in sample sets…
Ain’t About 2 Stop- sampler set once in 2016
Like a Mack- never done live… why do I feel like this could have been something he could have done in the Symbol era with Mayte dancing with him? The upbeat nature of it reminds of me “The Continental”- both songs kinda get my heart pumping with excitement
Fallinlove2nite- never done live… and the New Girl episode was lip-synched 😛 but to me, that still counts
X’s Face- 2015 and 2016 SAMPLER SETS (I’m seeing a pattern…)
Hardrocklover- NEVER live… which is so sad… but there’s a cool story on it about how Prince told Josh Welton to put it together- he said he wanted it start quiet and then erupt, like a rollercoaster… and June was recorded in the same hour… but this is proof that this album really was a collaboration- Prince telling Josh the kind of sound he wanted and he’d add his own things on top of it… that’s kinda cool… whether the album as a whole succeeds, I’ll find out in a bit
1000 x’s and o’s… interesting… this was written originally for Rosie Gaines to sing lead vocals (I misread this as a duet) and Carmen Electra to rap, but supposedly a bandmember told him not to so he didn’t 😛 (gee, I wonder why… he wanted so badly to make “fetch” happen, but it was never gonna happen… at least not Carmen as a singer/rapper). Then later for Nona Gaye’s album, but that never materialized. He performed it on piano at an O2 show in 2007 as part of 21 nights. And then we have this version… he did it at the Sydney Opera House in 2016 :O wow… I wonder if the guys at the podcast saw him do that. They did do a podcast about the Opera House shows and I’ll give that a listen sometime next week.
June, not surprisingly… never done live…
So now, I need to write down how the songs rank so I can compare them to my own thoughts… and then I’ll listen to MC’s custom tracklist…
there’s no way Like a Mack is in the middle of my pack or Fallinlove2nite for that matter… but we’ll see…
just wanted to mention one other thing- I was lying in bed this morning 😛 and a couple random Prince songs were coming to mind… I think these 30+ Prince albums have finally caught up with me, and I have one left :falloff: oh geesh…
on these first two songs… I can’t fault the music too much even if it’s a lot of digital noise… the beat on Shut This Down, I can’t help but dance to. But these two are already taking a pretty big hit on the technical side of things… I’m not at all sure what I’m going to do for components yet
Now for the Rob Esse tracklist…
it was funny that Toejam said how the fast part of Mr. Nelson sounds like something off a video game 😛 I totally get that and I love it 😛 I actually have to listen to that part of the song twice, I like it so much…
the big peeve from the guys is the implied cursing on this album… yeah, that is a bit much after a while. Almost every song has something like that.
So, I think MC was onto something with this… there seems there’s more of a story in his version of the album. And also, the songs fit a little better together.
I think my issue with it is that it just gets off to such a rough start, that it feels like it’s over before it can make a full recovery.
The first three songs and how they’re put in a row as they are… it just doesn’t quite work. That puts me off kilter more than the music on X’s face, much more.
Let’s put it like this- I’ll do the scoring for this album and then I’ll take the two tracks off it and see how MC’s version would score out of 10 and how it benefits from the absence of those 2 songs.
Here it goes:
MILLION $ SHOW
…probably one of the weakest openings Prince has started an album with… which is sad. It gets me kinda moving, but I’m not smiling from ear to ear when I listen to it. Someone on the podcast compared Judith Hill to Beyoncé with how she sings the song and the hand claps (I was waiting for someone to mention “Single Ladies”… I HATE THAT SONG SO MUCH, I cannot even tell you… and it’s a good part of why I don’t like Beyoncé as an artist- her songs do not appeal to me at all and half the time her voice makes me cringe, it hits some notes that don’t sound good in my ears)… anyway, not the best song for a Prince album to start on and it doesn’t get off to a good start because of it
Technical Merit- 3.5 (some lyrics aren’t great, the originality is lacking and the fact it starts with 3 other better Prince album openers… it’s a wasted opportunity)
Components Score- 2.5 (yeah, I “kinda dislike” this one… never said that about a Prince song before)
Total score- 6
SHUT THIS DOWN
The beat is kinda generic with some cool things in it. Prince’s vocal is a little too grating sung like this, so that takes a little away from it. And it’s just… it doesn’t really go anyway… I like it when I listen to it, but when I actually think about it, I hate the fact that it’s here and Prince thought it was ok to put out on an album. He’s far better than this.
Technical Merit- 3 (I gave originality a 0 cuz there isn’t enough here for me to feel like this is a Prince song)
Components Score- 2.5 (this was a struggle to figure out… I’m looking at other Prince songs I gave the same score and this is worse than a lot of my other 2.5’s… but it is slightly better than Freaks on this side and Push it up…)
Total score- 5.5 (ouch…)
AIN’T ABOUT 2 STOP
this song has a lot of the same issues as the previous song, but it does some things better, so it will get a slightly better score for that reason. the snake charmer horn, as I call it, is the one thing I absolutely hate about it… then there are some lyrics… one in particular is one I couldn’t understand in the chorus and it’s a stupid made-up thing: “rock star salad crusher can-a-trick away” I’m sorry, Prince, but what the hell?!!! (imagine me whining as I say this…). So, scoring business…
Technical Merit- 4 (music & lyrics)
Components Score- 3 (the best I can be is neutral on this…)
Total score- 7
LIKE A MACK
yeah, I admit, I didn’t like this one nearly as much as I did the past couple times… but it’s still one of the highlights of an otherwise weak album… It’s the best musically of the songs so far on virtue of the horn line 😛 and it’s one of the best instances of rap on a Prince song. If more rap was like this, I’d listen to rap… just saying… and I think if another artist did this other than Prince, I think I would like it. But he has a good sense of rhythm. Not great, but good enough to keep up with Curly Fryz
Technical Merit- 4.5 (“my click is hot” is an odd lyric- I’m not sure what that’s supposed to mean… and I don’t know about the “club full of thots”- it’s supposedly an acronym for something, but I’m afraid to look it up and have it run the song for me…)
Components Score- 4 (it’s not close to a masterpiece, but I would go out of my way to listen to it)
Total score- 8.5
THIS COULD B US
This will be interesting to see how it compares to the original…
I don’t think I’d go out of my way to listen to either version of it. It’s nice when it comes on, but it does come and go.
Technical Merit- 3.5 (it’s not the most original way to remix a song and there are a couple of extra musical things- tiny moments- that Josh Welton didn’t need to add. They irk me just slightly…and it runs a little long without it going anywhere notable after the guitar solo ends)
Components Score- 3.5
Total score- 7 (the original- I gave it 8.5 and I took off points for originality and some lame lyrics- this version erased some lyrics I didn’t like)
you know this is going to get a good score… I really like this one… one of the highlights of the album where I wouldn’t like it much at all without it…
Technical Merit- 4.5 (it’s a little too similar to some dance club songs for me to call this a true Prince original… but that goal was accomplished well, his first time doing a track like this… one of the best Josh Welton productions on this album)
Components Score- 5
Total score 9.5 (I think when it does come down to my other 9.5 tracks, this won’t be nearly as high on the list… just cuz it’s more recent and it doesn’t have as much going for it as some others do)
This is such an odd song, but I oddly like it…
Technical Merit- 4.5 (that stupid thing with the monkey kills any buzz, however odd it may be, and impact this song has… yeah, I let Prince get away with the “purple banana” lyric in “Let’s go crazy’… but I think because it is “Let’s go crazy,” he got a free pass… )
Components score- 3.5
Total score- 8
Probably the best production on this whole album… and you can really tell that it’s a Prince song on the vocal delivery and the use of guitar and of course the screams…
Technical Merit- 5
Components Score- 4.5
Total score- 9.5 (yeah, maybe one day it will be a perfect 10/10… but I’m still not 100% over the moon for it even though I do like it a lot)
MR. NELSON (:facepalm: I almost completely forgot about this one… MC’s tracklisting has sunk into my brain)
I think I’m going to like this one more than most… I just wish this song was a bit longer sometimes… and it doesn’t really go anywhere
Technical Merit- 4 (not the most original way to remix a song and it’s too short)
Components Score- 4
Total Score- 8
1000 X’S AND O’S
oh man… I’d easily put this on a playlist with my favorite Prince ballads… it’s so sweet and romantic. It sounds like Prince could have written this about Mayte after she overhears Diamond & Pearl talking trash about her and it’s him reassuring her that nobody works as hard as her… it had to at least have been inspired by her. But that didn’t even figure to my love for this song originally and it certainly won’t change anything about that. I can’t go higher than 5/5 for components, after all 😉
Technical Merit- 4 (unfortunately, I gotta be try to be honest with this one… it’s not an R&B original, I’ve heard some songs similar to this song… and there’s this lyric where he covers up him saying the word “bitch”… it kinda kills the flow of it)
Components Score- 5
Total score- 9
oh yeah, this oddity… the guys were kinda harsh on it being the album closer… I don’t think you could put it anywhere else, but yeah, it is a bit of a downer. It’d be even more so if Phase Two never came out and this was the last song on any Prince album… luckily, that isn’t the case… but it does make you wonder if he wrote this knowing (like he did with the Way Back Home/Affirmation Suite on AOA) his time left was running out… well, it makes ME wonder anyway…
Technical Merit- 4.5 (I almost took off for lyrics cuz he said something being born too late and should’ve been at Woodstock… that doesn’t make sense cuz if he was born literally at Woodstock, that’s even later… but taking the podcast into account, MC was saying how someone was referenced that was at Woodstock so maybe Prince meant being born metaphorically as an artist on the stage… I took half off cuz the song doesn’t really go anywhere and there’s really no resolution at the end… that’s a bit of a setdown)
Components Score- 3 (I don’t love or hate it- I’m bloody neutral)
Total score- 7.5
Ok, ranking from best to worst…
1. Hardrocklover- 9.5
2. Fallinlove2nite- 9.5
3. 1000 x’s and o’s- 9
4. Like a Mack- 8.5
5. X’s Face- 8
6. Mr. Nelson- 8
7. June- 7.5 (haha- June 7th is Prince’s birthday… not intentional at all)
8. Ain’t about 2 stop- 7
9. This could b us- 7
10. Million $ Show- 6
11. Shut this down- 5.5
Yeah, I came closer to the fan vote than I did with AOA, but there are still some big differences. And I’m ok with that.
Total score for the album- 85.5/110… 7.8/10… I do have a couple other 7.8 albums… to three digits, this is 7.77
I think it’s slightly higher than Controversy and The Symbol album, but oddly, Chaos & Disorder and The Vault are higher than this… and it’s also better than The Black Album, which I was pretty harsh on too…
but ultimately, HitNRun is going to be near the bottom of the album list cuz certain songs and production choices let it down… not to mention lack of originality and terrible lyrics on some accounts…
so, take out the bottom two songs… MC’s tracklist of HitNRun is…
74 out 90 possible points would be 8.2…
This album would be a 8.2, which is slightly less than I gave for Planet Earth… but that would also put it above so many albums considered as masterpieces… that I don’t think I’d be ok with…
So yeah, some interesting results…
I REALLY don’t want to think about the fact that I’m going into Prince’s last album next week…
so I’ll focus on the positive:
go to twitter.com/therobesse and scroll through the tweets to find the link to the HitNRUn Phase One tracklist on Tidal.com. You don’t need to subscribe to Twitter or Tidal to read it.
And my top songs that I’m taking forward to my top 100 Prince songs:
1000 x’s and o’s