2017 Cup of Russia

The next Olympic season begins now!

I quoted a tweet that had the starting order for the men’s competition so I’ll write all the names down and go through them in order on YouTube… hopefully to avoid spoilers beyond who the leader is (thanks a lot, Johnny Weir… I mean, I love the guy, but he was in my Facebook feed and I couldn’t avoid reading).

Andrei Lazukin- Russia
Denis Ten- Kazakhstan
Nam Nguyen- Canada
Grant Hochstein- US
Misha Ge- Uzebekistan (he’s back!!)
Deniss Vasiljevs- Latvia
Dmitri Aliev- Russia (yeah!!)
Daniel Samohin- Israel
Nathan Chen- US
Mikhail Kolyada- Russia
Yuzuru Hanyu- Japan

so that’s pretty much everyone except for someone from Georgia (the country, not the state)… but I’m a fan of everyone here and of course I’m curious about all the Russians (Andrei is the only one I hadn’t seen before).

oh boy… I wonder if Andrei is going to be skating to Carmen just based on his costume… I’m not saying this as a slight or as me saying I’m so sick of Carmen programs. I’m not. I actually love when costumes tell me what program to expect. [and watch- he’s going to skate to something that isn’t Carmen and this whole rant was a waste of time πŸ˜› ]

Andrei is another of Alexei Mishin’s students- and it clearly shows. I can’t take anything away from his jumps, they were solid. He started with a quad-triple combination.
And it wasn’t Carmen- but it sounded like music that I’d seen Javier Fernandez skate to.
78.54- 42 for technical, 37 for components- that’s definitely a good place to be. But considering that members of the Quad Revolution are competing here as well, that might not stack up. But it’s a nice showing for a Russian in Russia, so it’s all good for me.

Denis Ten won bronze at Sochi, but he’s one of the most inconsistent skaters I’ve seen in the seniors. He had a couple of super strong programs, but also a lot of disastrous performances. I think he has struggled with injuries too. Plus he’s in school so he’s balancing all that. I don’t know half the time if he’s still competing or not πŸ˜› but it seems he’s making another Olympic run, assuming no more injuries occur.
this was another of those disastrous performances 😦 all of his jumps had issues. He didnt’ get enough rotation and two footed landings and fell. But he’ll get good components for expression and interpretation and he also has some really nice spins.
69- 29 and 41 for his two marks. His components score is right where it should be for this level of competition. But sadly his technical mark lets him down.

Nam Nguyen
my criticism of him early on was that he needed to mature in his skating style- it’s hard to believe he’s 19 now and so much more mature. this was a different version of “Somewhere over the rainbow” where it sounded like a moody alt rock song. He had artistic flourishes in this that reminds me of several other skaters I’ve gotten to admire over the years.
He had what looked like two quads and a triple axel. His opening combination was brilliant. the other two jumps he fell on. But he gave a great performance overall. One of the best times I’d seen him.
80.74- 45 and 36- I guess his components score still needs to catch up a bit. He’s in first place at the moment.

Grant Hochstein
ah, he’s skating to the Moulin Rouge version of “Your Song”- he’s so good with these emotional passionate pieces of music πŸ˜› he killed with a Les Mis free skate either last season or the season before.
he’s great with the artistry, but all of his jumps had issues. He fell on his first two (one was a quad) and didn’t get fully around on his third jump. Love that part towards the end where he did back to back spread eagles. The only one I’d seen do them better is Yuzuru.
67.56- 31 and 37 for his marks- 37 was definitely deserved on components. But I think of everyone so far, he’s last.

Misha Ge- I thought he was retiring… I guess he changed his mind and decided to give it a go for one final Olympic appearance. Oh, so his father and Alexei Mishin are coaching him. No wonder he’s so good. He’s sadly one of those skaters that gets lost in the shuffle cuz he doesn’t have the quads and he’s from a random country that doesn’t have a big reputation in the skating community. But he has fans from all around the world- myself included. Been so since Sochi (as is the case with several skaters- but that number is shrinking all the time)
He had a mistake on one jump, but otherwise a flawless program. Every time I watch him, I’m always in awe of that artistry. I hope up and coming skaters watch his programs and take notes because they can learn so much.
85.02- wow it’s a season’s best- it might be a personal best, actually. I don’t think I’d seen him get 80 in all the times I’d seen him. And his technical mark was actually 2 points higher than components, where he typically shines. Awesome job, Misha!

Deniss Vasiljevs
I first saw him when I started watching the junior grand prix series. This was 3 years ago and the few times I’d seen him in seniors, he’s brought everything he is to the ice. All that makes him special. Then again, we’re at a year later, so I wonder if there’ll be any difference in his style.
oh, I forgot Stephane Lambiel was coaching him too πŸ˜›
oh wow, he’s so good. I knew he had talent, but… he skated with such class and he’s only 18. That relationship with his coach has definitely made a difference. Phew… no telling what’s going to happen now. Of course amazing spin positions. He had an issue with one jump, but he was on his feet. Everything came so easy to him.
82.44- 42 and 40… he’s in 2nd place… wow, good job… I mean, the upcoming skaters will get scores in the 90’s and beyond, but this has me so excited for the future of the sport. Such talent with the young skaters.
Speaking of that, here’s another one…

Dmitri Aliev
he gave one of his typical strong performances. for a while, I think I will be a little worried that he’ll feel extra pressure with this new level of competition. but for now, he seems ok. Personally, I’m not crazy about this music for him. “Masquerade Waltz” is old fashioned and a little too dramatic. He’s better with pieces that lend more to his artistry where the emotion can really come out. This was better for a technical showcase, which a short program kind of is anyway.
88.77- 48 and 40… he’s in first… a good start to his new career at this level. I hope he continues to succeed just like this.

Daniel Samohin
he won junior worlds two years ago and I thought of him as a rock star when he was doing quads in the junior level. But last season showed that the transition wouldn’t be easy for him. His personality got the audience on his side, but the jumps didn’t materialize as easily as they did before. I hope he got over those growing pains and can do better this year.
Interesting costume, looks like a yin yang and he’s skating to “It’s a man’s world” performed by Seal. The music suits his style well- but unfortunately the jumps didn’t materialize. He jumps so high on his quads, but he has trouble finding his feet. His triple axel was the best jump, but even that didn’t have a perfect landing. The spins are good. The choreography is maybe a little lacking. I guess I just have to keep hoping he’ll turn things around at some point.
62.02- 25 and 36- I thought he had a good components score just by watching. and he’s in last place, which kinda sucks.

Nathan Chen… oh now it’s gonna get GOOD…
I think I’d talked enough about Nathan Chen over the junior grand prix series a couple years ago and over the past season where he brought the Quad Revolution to the US National Championships πŸ˜›
wow, even Tatiana Tarasova, who is co-commentating was impressed by him. so much enthusiasm.
The music was so dramatic and powerful and he used it for his step sequences.
His jumps weren’t perfect- the best was a quad lutz- triple toe loop combination. He just held onto his quad flip and he was a little forward on his triple axel. But he was on his feet.
Damn… 100.54 (wow!!)- 57 technical 42 components…

Mikhail Kolyada
a Russian I’d had my eye on for the past couple years. He has quads and a lot of personality and a quirky type of artistry. he can be amazing, but he’s also had some rough programs too.

ah, Plushenko sighting! πŸ˜› so he saw Nathan Chen and what Team USA has in person… I’m still waiting to hear him make some sort of comment about that. I know he likes when men push this sport and Nathan’s certainly doing that for us.

So Mikhail- he had some issues. He had a triple lutz to start, that was good. He had a quad that he fell on. His triple axel was textbook. He’ll definitely have a good components score, lots of great footwork and nice spins.
85.79- 42 and 43… he’s in 3rd right now, which is a good position for sure… although there is one skater left and he can put up some high scores. Even a 90 when he has a slightly off day.

Yuzuru Hanyu… I don’t need to say anything… been watching him since the opening of the Sochi Olympics and been a fan ever since.
considering that Nathan was leading after the short program (that was the spoiler I learned earlier), I knew Yuzuru had to have made a mistake somewhere. But he didn’t let it affect him or his artistry. He had a strong opening jump and his triple axel solid as ever. But his final combination, which looked like a quad-triple where he didn’t get fully rotated on the second jump and he fell. But he handled that so masterfully, I think he’ll still be in 2nd place for this part of the competition.
Dude, I called it… I said he could skate 90 even if he doesn’t do a perfect program.
94.85- 49 and 46… his artistry is what separates him and Nathan Chen at this point.

Who knows what’ll happen for the free skate? one of these guys will win, but it’s just a matter of who. There’s only 6 points difference between the two. Nathan might have an extra quad, but Yuzuru is the whole package.

I’d also love to see Mikhail or Dmitri get a medal here. I think there’s a very good chance of that. Unfortunately I don’t think they have a shot at first or second. These guys are just too good.

I think I’ll check where the girls stand. I don’t know if I’ll watch any of them tonight. I think they’re showing their free skates tomorrow.
I have a feeling that since Evgenia Medvedeva is competing, she’s leading at the moment.

Hmm… going through Wikipedia, it looks like Joshua Farris, who was talking on Twitter about a comeback withdrew, and Gracie Gold withdrew as well “to focus on treatment”… yikes, she must be going through a lot right now. I’m not a big fan of her skating, but I hope she’s ok.

Evgenia is leading like I guessed- by 6 points over Carolina Kostner and Wakaba Higuchi from Japan is third.
Mariah Bell and Mirai Nagasu are the Team USA representatives and they’re in 7th and 9th respectively. Elena Radionova is in 5th.

I think they’ll show some highlights during the free skate broadcast, so I think I’m good for the night.
but definitely excited to see how it comes out.

…Just checked on Gracie Gold- she’s being treated for an eating disorder. That’s so sad. I read a few weeks ago that Yulia Lipnitskaya decided to retire because she’d been fighting the same problem. This is such a grueling sport with a lot of pressure from outside sources as well as within yourself.
Even if this means Gracie will wind up retiring as well, I just hope she’s able to get better.

I wrote comments about the ladies’ free skate on my phone and emailed it to myself:

Nicole Schott- Germany
Together with the music her skating is very traditional. Classical violin music combined with gorgeous artistry. She had a few jumps where the landings were a little scratchy but not bad overall. Ryan Bradley is pointing out how her jumps were mostly early on in the program which is the old way of doing things as well.
168.72- both her marks in the mid 50s

Mae Berenice Meite- France
She had two halves to her program. First with a classical piece that sounds very familiar (Shazam was no help telling me what it was) then what sounded like a New Orleans jazz piece. She let her personality fly and that’s always a nice thing go have in a sport where it’s reserved a lot of the time. She struggled with standing on her jumps but some she did really well
160.96- both scores at 53

Mariah Bell- US
She seems to love these musical numbers. She did Chicago last year. West side story this year. she had some strong jumps but others where she landed outside of where she planned to. I think for the time being she’ll be in first.
188.56- 64 and 60 for her two marks

I think I know what I’ll do with the guys. To avoid spoilers I’ll watch the first half of the competition and the rest with tomorrow’s recap with Johnny and Tara.

Mirai Nagasu- US
Her artistry is among the best in the sport but she’s been inconsistent with her jumps. She had to fight to land a few. Her opening triple axel might be a little under rotated but nobody else has that jump so that should help get a good score. She skated to Miss Saigon which suited her well. Ryan Bradley said how she did some jumps and said she learned from mistakes in the short
178.25- 2nd- 61 and 60

Valentiina Mikhailova- Russia
Another debut for the latest Russian female. A good start. She skated to an ABBA medley and did it well. She had a fall on a step sequence of all things but otherwise a good skate. I have a feeling though that Evgenia will be leading the Russian ladies for quite some time
185.09- 63 and 59

Mariah bell is leading going into the final group.

Elena Radionova- Russia
It was a nice change of pace doing a Spanish influenced piece of music. She did strongly overall but slipped as she was preparing to do a jump. But I noticed one combination where she had her hand over her head in the second jump- I didn’t know she could do that too. I think for now she’ll get first place but probably will get silver or bronze
195.52- 58 and 68- wow can’t believe how high her components is than her technical

Elizabet Tursynbaeva- Kazakhstan
She skated to The Prayer and brought the right amount and poise to match it but some jumps weren’t landed as well as they could have been.
184.95- 58 and 63

Kaori Sakamoto- Japan
Making her debut
She had a rough start but she had her strongest moments in the second half including a triple triple combination. She got a big teddy bear and some flowers from a couple appreciative fans in the audience. That’s kinda nice seeing moments like that.
194.00- 62 for both marks. Definitely a good start for her senior career

Wakaba Higuchi- Japan
She skated to Skyfall with Adele coming in at the second half. I said nail it and she did really well. A couple jumps might be under rotated but other a strong showing. They were talking about how Japan only has 2 Olympic spots and 7 are fighting for them. She could be one. Apparently she was disappointed with her performance last season even though she had some success
207.17- 69 and 68- well done

Evgenia Medvedeva- Russia
With her costume I was hoping she’d do something like Black Swan but it was Anna Karinina. She can have a flair for the dramatic and if worked well in this piece. She did have a fall on a double axel a rare mistake but she laughed it off like nothing. Otherwise she was her usual perfection.
231.21- 75 and 76- yeah she’s gonna win cuz her artistry is so flawless

Carolina Kostner- Italy
Another traditional nice program to watch but not much to say beyond that. Every jump was good but snow did come up on a few of them so maybe under rotations. She didn’t have a triple triple so she might not get as good a score
215.98- 68 and 73- she got 2nd- nicely done

…with the guys, I’m pretty sure that the recap or highlight reel NBC is going to air tomorrow will have the final group of guys. At the very least, Nathan Chen and Yuzuru.
So I figure I’ll watch the first group of skaters.

That’s going to include Andrei, Grant Hochstein, Daniel Samohin, Misha, Denis Ten and Nam Nguyen.
I doubt they’ll be in the same order as they finished in the short program, but I’ll do the videos in that order.

Daniel Samohin gave a lot to his performance and his artistry got to show. But this was one of the worst showings I’d seen from anyone with jumps. He only had one jumping pass that was flawless. He fell what fell like a dozen times, popped a couple jumps and fell out of others. Tatiana Tarasova seems to be in disbelief. Not sure what she’s saying πŸ˜› but I think she believes he’s better than he showed. I have no idea what’s going on with him, but I hope it’s an issue he’ll be able to fix. I’m always going to hope he will because I know he’s capable.
183.79- 52 and 72- they really gave him a lot for components and I agree for sure.

Grant Hochstein
I hope later in the season I can see him do this program cleanly. It had a rough start, but he had better jumps in the second half. It was “Phantom of the Opera”- a little “all I ask of u, “angel of music” and then with someone singing “music of the night”… He did Les Mis last year so he seems to like the musical numbers and he does them well.
206.09- 66 and 74. Yeah, a lot of our guys can put really good components scores and the quality for the elements he did well showed well.
I realized halfway through… yeah, I think they might show his program tomorrow just cuz he’s a member of team USA. Oh well, it is worth seeing again

Denis Ten
he had a rough start as well, the first few jumps he went down on. And a few mistakes later on. But this was a great dramatic program for him to bring the artistry he’s so good at and emotion and passion. That’s going to be why his score was the one to beat for a while. He went first and Grant bested his technical score with his performance.
214.35- 62 and 83 (amazing components score!)

Andrei Lazukin
eh, I wasn’t that impressed. It seems like everyone’s been having an off day at this competition because there’ve been few clean jumps. And this was another of those programs. I’m not sure if it was as tough to watch as Daniel’s, but the score will probably be as bad. I wonder if it’s coincidence that he’s also skating to Masquerade Waltz as Dmitri had. Neither of them really brought anything to it to make me like it. And unlike other more seasoned skaters that went before him, he doesn’t have that artistry to help with the components score.
212.14- 64 and 71- I mean he has the lowest components score of everyone so far. But to me, it didn’t look like it was worth 70 something points. But that’s something that comes with more experience. At least it should (Maxim Kovtun has had plenty of experience, but the artistry, I rarely found it to be there- if he got a good score, it’s cuz he nailed a quad)

while Grant will probably be shown on the recap, unless they’re in first or second place, NBC rarely shows the Russians… so I might not get to see Dmitri or Mikhail’s free skates. I may get to see one, but I’m not holding my breath.

Nam Nguyen
whoa, I spent the first part of that distracted by the fact he’s now chasing a technical score of 90.95… which means he skated after someone who did really well. Yuzuru and Nathan, when they skate really well, get over 100. So it could possibly be Dmitri or Mikhail… or I could be totally surprised and it’ll be Misha.
Nam fell a couple times, but kept it together overall for the program. “An American in Paris” is a good fit for him and I hope he does a clean performance of it sometime this season cuz it’ll make a good impact.
238.45- 83 and 75- oh wow, he’s the first guy so far who had a higher technical score than components… that’s the way I’m used to seeing the scores. Definitely a good score for him.
But who is ahead is the real question…

Misha Ge
well, Misha’s in the final group (I don’t know if that’s ever happened, but it’s great to see) so that score wasn’t his… it might be Deniss Vasiljev’s and I’ll have to watch him next then.
This feels like the best I’d seen Misha ever. No falls. Flawless performance. No quad, but he had a triple axel triple jump combination to open. And just wow… I felt like I was breathing with him and it was only a couple of times in the whole thing. So beautiful… don’t know what else to say.
255.33- 85 and 84- oh wow, he’s in first. And it looks like a personal best for him in the free skate AND overall. Good on him, I’m so happy for him to have that moment. That’s the type of score that’d win competitions 10 years ago. Unfortunately this is the age of the Quad Revolution so it might not win. But it could potentially earn him a bronze medal… I’ll have to see how the others do tomorrow.

Deniss Vasiljevs
ok, so he’s chasing a technical score over 100… I think Dmitri might have the technical score of 90.95… which kinda sucks cuz that means he won’t get a medal.
Anyway- Deniss had two halves to his program, both songs done by Michael BublΓ©, covers of classics. but the second was a more upbeat number and seeing his personality come out… it was just so much fun to watch. I really do enjoy watching Deniss perform because he just lights up so much on the ice.
227.53- 65 and 80… he’s in 5th place. Behind Nam and Misha for sure… and there’s someone else at top with a really big technical score. So he could possibly be one of the last skaters to perform.

As much as I want to search for that certain technical score, I’d rather save that for tomorrow. Cuz in my searching I’m probably going to end up watching everyone and I’d rather wait to see how it all plays out.

I’m betting, though, that Nathan was the one who had that 100.27 technical score. Yuzuru has score higher than that. And I think he’s going to do very well in this free skate.

…now it’s recap time on NBC… I just hope they show the guys first cuz I really don’t want to sit through the ladies’ free skates again…

I got my wish πŸ˜› of course they showed Nathan’s performance in the short program again cuz he is leading.

They’re starting with Misha cuz he was in 5th going into this free skate (maybe his best placing in a grand prix short ever… wouldn’t it be amazing if he got bronze?).
Johnny and Tara were way harsh. Saying that he needs a quad to be competitive (which I know of course, but I know he might not have that capability. As much as I want to push him to do it, I know he’s gotten some injuries cuz he’d been trying to do them. Kinda odd that I’m giving him a break, but I attack Jason Brown for relying on the components scores more than technical to stay relevant… I honestly don’t know why, maybe it’s cuz he’s team USA and I’d like us to win Olympic medals with quads cuz that’s what proved controversial at Vancouver)… but they went after him for being too slow in executing the elements.
Guys! This music isn’t exactly fast paced, so his choreography is matching the pace of the music. Sorry, it just sounds like a stupid criticism. It’s a beautiful program to watch (even better the second time) and it didn’t need to be rushed to be effective. Not to me, anyway.

Mikhail Kolyada
I saw the typical Russian program from him. He’s very technical at the start with all jumps, very difficult jumps and he only lets the performance come in during the last minute. Usually he’d been more balanced with that. So he had two quads at the start, lutz and salchow and couldn’t find his feet on either. And he fell out of his third jump. But he had some amazing jumps later on, including a triple axel triple jump combination and a quadruple toe loop-triple combination that was flawless. He did an Elvis medley and Johnny didn’t think it fit him. I kinda agree- he’s better with some quirkier music and this didn’t quite work. For Javier Fernandez last season, it did cuz he had that charisma.
And there’s the talk about whether Russians can contend for a medal and Johnny says they really can’t. I still think they could get bronze at the Olympics and while Mikhail has three quads in his free skate, I don’t think he has that components score to be on that level with Yuzuru and Shoma.
4 points deducted
185.27- 1st place- 100.27 and 89 (he was the one with 100+ for his technical)

Dmitri Aliev- I hope Johnny and Tara know as much about him as I do cuz this is his debut and I’d been watching him for three years now
Johnny and Tara did like him, which is great to hear. I can’t believe Dmitri brought 4 quads- two he nailed, but a couple might be under rotated, which sucks, but it’s great that he has them. They liked his artistry and say he has the goods to challenge the top skaters, but he needs to find that consistency.
I think he had maybe some nerves and maybe tired in the 2nd half (where he did have another quad and a fall on a triple axel). But I think he did enough to get third place. I can’t ask him to do a perfectly clean program in his senior debut, so this for me was a good performance that pleases me. I just hope he’s able to really bring it later in the season. And to answer my criticism from the previous program, the music fit his artistry a lot better.
239.61- dammit, I thought he could have gotten 3rd, but he’ll end up in 6th. I thought he was so much better than the scores showed.

Yuzuru Hanyu
this wasn’t a perfect program where he seemed unhuman, but it was a strong performance where I just urged him through it. Seimei came back with a vengeance. Johnny and Tara talked about his fangirls that follow him to all the competitions- I think that’s the first time they mentioned that πŸ˜› I know all about that, being part of a Facebook group full of them and following one on Twitter who’s part of it.
290.77- 101.54 94.38- so he’s in first… I’m not sure if Nathan will beat him, but he’ll put up a good fight for sure.

Nathan Chen
He put up a fight for sure- started so strongly with all his quads, but in the second half, he had a pop on a quad and he had a difficult combination where he kinda fell out of the second jump. I think he also has stepped up his artistry a big deal, which is great
293.73- 104.85 88.40…. Nathan won by less than 3 points…

Oh man, I have such mixed feelings about that. I love Yuzuru so much, but Nathan is also Team USA… I can’t help but be a little upset that Yuzuru lost. And I’m sure Yuzuru’s fangirls (they showed one wearing his Seimei costume crying in the stands) are going to go after Nathan so badly, attacking him for not having the same level of artistry.
Those girls are relentless πŸ˜›

Anyway- that’s that… Mikhail got 3rd and potentially could be in the conversation for the grand prix final, but with all these other giants in the sport, it’s an uphill battle.

and this one guy Moris Kvitelashvili from Georgia, he got 5th place (that was probably his 90.95 technical score) and Misha got 4th (might be his best grand prix finish to date, which I’m sure he’s happy with too).

Advertisements
Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , | Leave a comment

Junior Grand Prix Series 2017- part 2

Event 5- Zagreb, Croatia

yeah, I’m watching this on a Sunday (both the short and free), so I’m really going to be picky and choosy about the performances I’ll be watching.
If they’re from a country I actively follow or they’re someone I’ve seen a few times and happen to be a fan of, those are the skaters I’ll be covering, simply because I want to do this all today and don’t want to spend hours on it.

Joseph Phan from Canada had a flawless routine and I hope “the best is yet to come” becomes a good omen. He did really well in his previous competition, but gave away a position on the podium with a disastrous free skate.
76.09- his technical merit of 43.17 is exactly where he should be, so that’s great to see.

but after two groups where I only watched one skater, I’ll be watching all of group 3.
Alexei is here as well as Mitsuki Sumoto (two people who won their first grand prixes this season), Koshiro Shimada (who I haven’t seen yet this year) and a couple Russians. Plus Josh Brown.

Mark Ignatov has really good technique and had some musicality with the Josh Groban piece he skated to. He had a spread eagle going into his final jumping pass, which was a combination. Really upped the difficulty on that. Some great jumps. His spins just need a little refinement. The entry into one was a little awkward where he might have lost his balance but didn’t and his positions weren’t fully executed on the second spin.
72 even. in 2nd place at the moment.

Mitsuki Sumoto looks like he had one jump where he just held on to maintain his balance, but a solid performance overall.
73.18- now he’s in 2nd place

Artur Danielian- another Russian- but one still getting his sea legs a bit. He fell on his first two jumping passes. But he had a third jump with two hands over the head that he nailed. Some great spins, especially in the end. Plus a Biellmann spin- those always make me smile cuz I know the Russian man who made them popular πŸ˜‰
he’s only 13 so he has a while to go yet
61.31- he’s in 4th place. I think the next closest skater had a score of 58+

Josh Brown got off to a good start, playing up to the music, but it wasn’t a perfect performance. He looks like he doesn’t have enough speed going into his jumps to get enough height for triple and on one jump he fell.
46.12- in 10th place

Koshiro Shimada
wow- he seems like a different skater since I saw him last. He’s become a real entertainer. Really strong jumps. His spins need maybe a little work, but if anyone can help him improve them, it’s Stefane Lambiel, who’s choreographing him. And you couldn’t ask for better.
64.85- 4th place- I think he’s going to get even better. Can’t wait to see more from him.

Alexei Krasnozhon
yeah, I can’t really pick out anything wrong with that. Another solid performance where he gave his all. I think he played it safe not having any quads, but he had a killer combination- flip-loop that went so fast.
80.26- 1st place- and a season’s best- nice!

Guko Endo- new guy from the US
he fell on his first jump, but the rest was good. he had some upbeat music and he performed to it best he could.
53.50

another skater earlier from France was coached by Brian Joubert and is in 6th with a score in the low 60’s… I swear I’ll lose my mind if there comes a day I’m watching the junior grand prix and hear “coached by Evgeni Plushenko”… it seems like everyone’s worked with him on Snow King and Kings on Ice has gone on to coaching… except for Johnny Weir, but he’s doing his own thing, which is fine.

Basar Otkar from Turkey
he had another solid short program. that was so good. another performance where I can’t find anything to take away from it. Great technique and musicality. A quiet confident performance with some occasional celebratory moments after hitting his jumps.
67.08- a season’s best and his expression at that… priceless πŸ˜› in 5th place

So it looks like a solid top 8 I’ll be watching in the free skate.
I’ll have a look at that French skater, plus Alexei, the two Russians, Koshiro, Mitsuki, Joseph Phan and Basar.

The video had a bunch of thumbs up but 7 thumbs down, but no comments to explain why. Maybe it’s because the audio cut out a couple of times.

fast-forwarding to the free skates… instead of wasting time trying to scroll through the main video, I think I’ll just go through the individual videos… while hoping YouTube doesn’t keep recommending the video of the winner.

Artur Danielian
he had a fall on the first jump and a three jump combination that could have been executed better, but he did well otherwise. he did better than on his short program. Skated to Notre Dame de Paris, but a different arrangement than Dmitri Aliev when he did it 3 seasons ago… one of the most iconic junior grand prix performances in the time I’d been watching.
188.36

next I’ll watch that skater from France whose short program I skipped over… just in case he makes an impact here… but based on the playlist, Joseph Phan and Alexei are the ones who will be making the most impact. Just not sure which places they’ve finished in as of yet.

Adam Siao Him Fa had a bit of an uneven skate, but he’s also a work in progress as well.
his first jump was a quad and didn’t nail it, but the fact he has one is a step in the right direction.
183.46

now for the other Russian…
Makar Ignatov put a hand down on one jump, but otherwise gave another solid performance. He had one quad that I could see and it was really well done. I think he’s a similar skater to Dmitri, but he needs to work on becoming a more dynamic performer. Once he has that, he’ll be a force to be reckoned with, which Russian men really need right now πŸ˜›
219.22… phew… that’s going to be hard to beat… 77.22 technical and a solid 70 on components

Mitsuki Sumoto… don’t know what happened there… the first few jumps all had flaws and he picked it up in the second half… he was so good the competition he won and just didn’t have it together today.
Of course cuz it’s Les Mis, I’m getting teary cuz of the final song in that suite of songs. Too bad it wasn’t a solid performance where the whole package gets the reaction from me instead of just the music.
207.54- he’s in 2nd place despite the mistakes… although I don’t know if there’s someone else who got a 200+ score cuz I am watching these out of order.

Basar Otkar put a hand down on one jump and had a fall, but another great performance overall. He looks like he’s happy with that.
194.39- his free skate was another season’s best… so yeah, a great job by him.

now for the final three… all are capable of being the top 3 in this competition, but considering Makar’s score, that’s going to be difficult. I think only Alexei has the numbers to beat him.

Koshiro Shimada
whew… that was good… can’t really find anything to take away from that. a solid all-around skate and performance. And the spins were even better. Stefane Lambiel is doing such wonders for him as a coach. So excited for his future already.
196.72- yeah that’s really good… but to win at this point, everyone’s going to need to get into the 200’s.

Joseph Phan
he fell on what looked like an opening quad attempt, but an amazing skate beyond that. It sounds like he’s got fan girls that cheered him for throughout the program. And well earned. His components score will have to be high, he has that over Makar- who had the solid quad and good jumps overall. This has to be a good score.
And it sounds like I watched these in the right order because Alexei is skating last and is directly following this.
221.07- whew, he’s in 1st place. he was 2nd in the free skate beyond Makar, but he also had 4 points higher than him in the short program.

let’s see if Alexei can hang on to win or if he’ll have to settle for 2nd place…
he had a fall as well, but he really gave it his all to this. his quad loop wasn’t as solid as Yuzuru’s, but he still stayed on his feet. some jumps probably won’t have the best GOE scores, but definitely a solid performance. I love his spirit when he performs.
225.48- he did- he won!… second in the free skate, but having that 4 point advantage going in helped a lot.

And I’ll for sure have to watch these interviews.
not a whole lot of time to interview Joseph, he was disappointed with falling on the quad and just decided to stay focused.
Ted Barton noted that Alexei was watching Joseph compete and he said it was to cheer him on because they’ve competed together before and he was also sad about him not landing his quad, but he thought how he stepped up his game and wants to see if he can as well.

So for sure, Alexei is the first guaranteed entry into the men’s junior grand prix final.
From here forward, it seems to be an open field and will depend on the final two competitions.

Event 6- Gdansk, Poland

I went through the videos of the guys Saturday night and saw so many that I decided to save them for another night (I’d been meaning to watch Inuyasha on YouTube for a while and kept putting it off so that’s what I did).
Counting the videos today… I think that 11 is the number of people I need to see. And it wasn’t as great as I thought it’d be. I didn’t actually count last night and it felt more like 15 or 20 than 11.

So I have 2 Russians (there’s been no sign of Dmitri or Alexander Samarin at all this season, so I’m HOPING that means they’re in the senior grand prix series this year… and that they’re good enough that NBC will actually show their performances because I know they’re brilliant), 2 from the US, Mark Gorodnitsky from Israel, Koshiro Shimada from Japan, Larry Loupolover from Azerbaijan (originally from Brooklyn yet somehow skating for another country… but he also sounds like he’s from that country), Jiri Belohradsky from the Czech Republic, Conrad Orzel from Canada, Aleksandr Selveko from Estonia (who I hadn’t seen all season and happy to see back) and Kai Xiang Chew from Malaysia (I think I saw him last season and he was good).

Larry Loupolover
now I kinda remember why I wanted to see him again. he was skating to “Earned it” from 50 shades. of course at first I’m thinking how this would look if Plushenko skated to the same music- then I remembered I made a montage of him skating to another song from that movie. (I’m not sure why I’m thinking of him with the music from that movie… I mean, he’s got sex appeal for sure, but I don’t fantasize about him in that way. But my adoration of him feels forbidden sometimes cuz he’s Russian and a lot of Americans hate Russia cuz they think they rigged our election).
Anyway- there were some sloppy mistakes in this. He had a great combination to start, but the second jump he had the landing but got turned around on it. one or two moments in the footwork and then the spin positions not being crisp and one where he wasn’t centered. But soon enough, I felt like he fell in with the music and skated to it well.
55.59 is a season’s best for him, but I think he can do better if he gets more consistent. Definitely a lot of potential to bring the house down with a great performance.

Mark Gorodnitsky
oh wow- I don’t know what music he was skating to- it had an Asian feel at the start and then it became a mysterious jazz type song that sounded like David Bowie singing, but it might be some other singer from another country. But it’s the type of music I grew to love from the choices Plushenko made for his galas. and with these junior skaters, if they have good jumps and good flow, I don’t care as much that they don’t bring all of their personality to it (that’s for the higher level skaters to worry about). Man, my favorite performance by him so far. Very confident through the jumps. He had a two foot landing on the 2nd jump in the combination, but other than that, phew… I got chills
56.96… so not as good as I thought it was going to be. But still enjoyed that a lot.

can I just say it is REALLY REALLY annoying that YouTube is now showing 2 ads before I can watch these videos? WHY?

Kai Xiang Chew
skated to “Orange Colored sky” by Michael BublΓ©… oh man, this was a perfect combination. He looked like he really liked skating to this music and it suited his style well. He did an extra rotation on the ground with the 2nd jump in his combination (it looked like a fast jump with a toe loop or flip with an immediate loop at the end of it). Good jumps, good style and skating skills and could tell he was confident and having fun. That just makes me happy and is why I love figure skating so much. Having this feel after a good performance like this.
61.81- at this point in 6th place, but his reaction being so happy, so good πŸ˜€ I can’t stop smiling

and yeah, I am getting the guys from the odd ball countries out of the way first. Cuz I have a feeling the Americans and Russians will be towards the top

Aleksandr Selveko
wow- he really went for it with that opening triple axel, although it didn’t go as planned and he put his hands down on his last jump, a triple lutz. But despite the mistakes, I think he’s going to have an amazing components score because his skating skills and all the other elements were really cool and crisp. If he gets the jumps under control, he could be amazing.
54.95- I was right about the components score, but I thought it’d be higher than 29.64.

Jiri Belohradsky
I think what he needs to get better scores is to start introducing the triple axel. He seems to have the potential to even better, but not quite there. He has the confident and the skills to get there. The opening combination was meant to be a triple-triple, but it was a triple-double. His music reminded me of Carmina Burana, but a different song with the same type of intense operatic vocals creating intensity. It suits him well.
61.13- which isn’t bad. I think with the juniors, a good score is in the 60’s and the great scores are in the 70’s. And I think you only get into the 70’s with strong triple jumps, triple-triple combinations and possibly a quad. And I think only the Russians may be attempting quads at this level.

Conrad Orzel
he’s probably the skater I’m frustrated with the most when he performs. He’s going to be amazing when he goes into seniors, but he always has a problem with his jumps. He opened with a triple axel and didn’t get fully around and landed hard. I don’t know if Secrets was his program last year (I think it might be), but it suits him so well.
According to Ted Barton, he had a bad collusion in the warm-up, so considering that, him only falling on that first jump is a good result. But I know he can be better. Has that great artistry and basic skating skills. It’s just nailing all the jumps, which I don’t think I’d seen him do. There’s always a mistake somewhere.
61.07 is a season’s best, so that’s definitely good on him.

Koshiro Shimada
the best performance so far- no mistakes. And he made everything look easy. Nice that his personality is coming out more each time and he’s become a good little performer. Can’t wait to see him do the more difficult jumps because that’ll make him a force to be reckoned with when Yuzuru retires. And he’ll be good competition for Shoma as well.
59.47… ah boo hiss, it should’ve at least gotten 60 points.

so just leaves the Americans and Russians… I’ll start with the Russians.

Igor Efimchuk
I saw his landing leg collapse underneath him when he landed on that triple axel so it was a hard fall. The rest of it was really well done. Strong and confident. I’d just like to see more emotion from him.
66.48- wow, he’s only in 5th place with that. I think that’s the highest score I’d seen so far… and I have 3 skaters left, so I definitely missed another strong performance somewhere.

yeah, both of these Russians are blonde, so I don’t really know what the difference between the two of them is πŸ˜› I think Alexey might be slightly better with his artistry.

Alexey Erokhov
I don’t know if he has his own entourage or what but he definitely had fangirls in the audience cheering for every nailed element.
He had the best program so far, strong triple axel, great jumps, and that artistry was so nice to watch. He’s a bit like Dmitri in that way and that’s how I like my Russians. The strong jumps with beautiful ease of movement. Just bring more personality and facial expression- and Ted Barton is saying the same thing practically. He sees the same thing I do πŸ˜‰
78.83- yeah, I think he’s in first place and could possibly win this whole thing.
43.55 for his technical merit is particularly impressive because that’s where senior skaters typically are. (I say typically because skaters like Yuzuru Hanyu, Patrick Chan, Javier Fernandez, Shoma Uno and Boyang Jin, their technical scores are 90-100+- and that’s the extraordinary it need to be to get medals in the world competitions.

now for the two Americans…

Dinh Tran
overall a well done performance. no huge mistakes which is always good. has all the basics done well. don’t have much to say because there wasn’t particularly memorable about it- but I also have a lot of skaters to keep track of. But for his first year, definitely a good start to his career.
60.53- definitely a good score for a first competition.

I have a feel Camden is among the top skaters. After all he did win a grand prix a few weeks ago. Week 2, I think.

Camden Pulkinen
I think he’ll be in the top 4 just based on the virtue of his triple axel. it looked wild in the air, but he nailed it perfectly. it’s kinda nuts that it was his best jump and the other two easier jumps were off. He had a triple-triple combination, but his second jump, he fell on that. And he fell out of his triple lutz.
But great performance overall. He skated to “Fix You” by Coldplay and that’ll be an amazing program if he does it with no mistakes. His composure and his artistry made me so happy that he’s one of ours. In seniors, I think he’s going to be one of the next great skaters.
68.52- ok, he’s actually IN 4th place… who the else is there that I’ve missed? somehow a season’s best, but yeah, that is a great score for this level. I guess I’ll find the free skate video and find that out now.

oh wow… Matteo Rizzo from Italy must have had a personal best because he’s in 2nd and Luc Economides from France is 3rd. A little unexpected.
So I guess I’ll add some more free skates to this. Alexey only has 5 points over Matteo so he’s not untouchable.
from there:

Camden 4th
Igor 5th
Kai Xiang Chew (7th)
Jiri Belohradsky (8th)
Conrad Orzel (9th)
Dinh Tran (10th)
Koshiro Shimada (12th)
Mark Gorodnitsky (13th)
Larry Loupolover (14th)
Aleksandr Seleveko (15th)

listening to Ted Barton, Alexey had won a competition so if he wins this or gets a top 2, he’s a shoe-in for the final (that’d be awesome). And Luc has a competition next week so he could make the final as well. Other than Alexei Krasnozhon, all the other spaces are ripe for the taking.

now for the free skates- 3 or so hours later…

starting with Larry
this was a performance on par with the first ones I saw of him. meaning that he just had all kinds of trouble. he fell on his first jump and never fully recovered. halfway through, he was popping jumps left and right as if he was just tired really quickly. Kinda sad- he had Great Gatsby music as his soundtrack, some great music, but he looked labored through much of it, not able to fully refocus.
as of this point he’s in 2nd with several skaters left.

Mark Gordonitsky
he skated to a Josh Groban song I think I’d heard a few times in these competitions. He put a hand down on one jump, but the rest were solid. He had such ease about his skating and movement. His artistry could improve a bit, but I really liked this performance. He’s grown so much since last season. That makes me happy.

Aleksandr Selveko
he popped his first jump and had maybe one other bad jump, but overall I enjoyed that. He skated to “Caruso” but I think this is the original by Pavarotti (unlike Plushenko’s version, which was by Boccelli). The artistry is amazing and he’s good with music like this. it’s just finding that consistency. Ted Barton said any ice dancer would be jealous of his twizzles πŸ˜›
he’s in 2nd as of this point in the free skate and he seems happy with that score. 60 and 59 for his two scores are definitely a step in the right direction.

Koshiro Shimada
that was so good- another consistent program throughout. No mistakes, very smooth edges. I think his spins might need a little work cuz the transitions between positions can sometimes be a little off. But with Stefane Lambiel as his coach, that should improve in no time at all.
190.46- definitely the best so far- I think the Russians and Camden could get into the 200’s, but for now, I think Koshiro’s score will stand at the top for a while. Well done! he looks so happy with that too.

Dinh Tran
another strong consistent performance from him. he finds his feet so easy with his jumps, it’s crazy. The music had Spanish notes to it and I felt like his choreography could have fit a little better with the music, but that’s not entirely his fault. He seems to really love skating, which makes it fun to watch. His components score was 4 points higher than his technical. Definitely matches what I saw. Maybe his jumps just weren’t difficult enough to get a higher score.

Jiri Belohrasky
oh man, he fell on one jump. The rest was so solid and good. He skated to Moonlight Sonata in its original format and then other Beethoven pieces that were a tad more modern. He’s easily one of the best skaters in the junior grand prix, but he misses out on the potential without the triple axels and quads. And his programs almost always have one mistake in it that keeps him off the podium. He also had a slip during a step sequence, but it was hard to tell if it was a mistake because other step sequences have had moments where the skater comes down on a knee and slides across the ice.
he’s at 181.52- but his components score is really impressive, 62.92.

Kai Xiang Chew
had one fall, but otherwise another great performance from him. he did this great spread eagle into a triple jump combination. Great flow and musicality.

Conrad Orzel
that was definitely better than his short program. he went sideways and fell on one jump and the other after wasn’t good either, but his strong skating skills were able to come through in the end.
An amazing triple axel combination right off the top. Oh wow, his 2nd jumping pass was a quad. Ted Barton said the total of that combination was 15.46. I didn’t even realize that he had a quad. His second attempt was that first fall. I think this will be a big help getting him higher up on the leaderboard.
196.05- whoa, he’s in first. Just looking at the technical being at 71.62 I knew this would be a good score.

6 left to go…

Camden Pulkinen
not sure what’s going on, but Camden seems a little off this competition. He starts out so well, but over time, the mistakes start coming in a bit. He popped a couple of jumps. Some of his jumps in the air look so crooked yet he’s somehow able to land on his feet. That to me is crazy.
oh wow, despite some mistakes, he’s in first place.
209.35 overall, technical was 71.29 and components weren’t too far behind at 69.54.

Igor Efimchuk
he finished 3rd in his previous competition so he’s another contender for the final if he had a good score here.
it looks like he has some quads early on and they were very strong (ok, they might be triple axels). but he had a fall, pop and some other little mistakes on the jumps. He skated to music from “Spectre” including “writing on the wall” but instrumental only (and of course I’m waiting for the big ending of it, but the song never fully gets done in this mix).
Both of his marks are in the 60’s, more on components (although I didn’t find it that compelling a performance. for music from James Bond, it kinda needs to be. that’s just my opinion)
he didn’t break 200- 194.44 and currently in 3rd. Yeah, no podium finish here.

ok, one of two skaters I didn’t see in the short

Luc Economides from France
kinda interesting he’s from France, but his music was Spanish, including some Flamenco where he had a step sequence to match.
Overall, not a good program, though. He had so many falls, it almost seemed like his first performance in the competition was a fluke (although I’m not really familiar with him, so I really can’t say). It’s cool to hear though that he’s really involved with the music and how he skates to it. A little something extra I appreciate with skaters.
195.96- he’s in 3rd. He lost three points on the falls (it felt like he had more than 3 falls, there were so many) but his two scores were nearly identical to what Igor just did on his free skate.

and the second…

Matteo Rizzo from Italy
yikes- lots of mistakes there too.
The last time I watched Matteo, I think was a couple years ago when I first started watching the grand prix competitions. I know he’s a good skater and he’s done so much better than this. He’s a natural performer and seemed to really enjoy his music. He skated to a Beatles medley, Come Together, an instrumental of Let it Go and Help! at the end. I think the Help! edit was really sloppy and I didn’t like it (of the three songs, it’s by far my favorite). He has another competition next week, so I hope he does better than this. I’ll definitely be watching him then. I think he’s just not used to being in contention like this and he tried too hard or just nerves happened.
192.79- his components score was exactly 10 points higher than technical. In 5th place in the competition and he’ll probably finish in 6th after Alexey. So sad how disappointed he is in the kiss and cry. So I’m hoping he shakes this off and does better next week.

ok, moment of truth…

Alexey Erokhov
there must be a jinx on the loose… nobody’s really had an all the way consistent performance tonight and this is no exception. Alexey had a fall and had some varied mistakes throughout. I know he’s a lot better than this. So it’ll be interesting to see if he can hold on to win or Camden will sneak in and take that from him. He had two quads, but they weren’t as pristine as they could be.
221.89- 73.70 and 70.36 for his two marks.

uh… I don’t know if I agree. To me, some jumps were good, but the overall quality of the performance just looked sloppy to me.

I guess it doesn’t matter now.
Alexey Erokhov and Camden Pulkinen are now locks for the grand prix final. The final three spots are still up for grabs. I think all the winners so far have already skated their 2nd competition, so it’ll just depend on the rest of the field to determine those final results

Event 7- Egna/Bolzano, Italy

We’re at the brink of the next Olympic season… and I need to finish this post before I see any of it.
I’d been away on vacation for a week and only now have the time to start watching.
Going through the names on the JGP playlist on YouTube, I only recognize a handful, so I’ll only be seeing a small amount.

I see a couple Russians (as per the usual), Tomoki and Andrew Torgashev from the US, Eric Liu from Canada (I think I’ve seen him a couple times before), Ivan Pavlov and Matteo Rizzo from Italy (as I said last week, I’ll watch him to see how he fairs because he had a strong performance the previous week).
I’ll go to the master video to see if there’s anyone it missed.

Aleksandr Selevko (also, several of the skaters I want to watch, they’re in the first group… that rarely happens)… I counted 8 skaters.

Egor Murashov- Russia
his artistry is so good, amazing lines and extensions. his jumps could use a little work with the landings, a little sloppy, but lots of potential there for sure.
65.54- definitely a good start for him. I see something in him… maybe I’m imagining things, but maybe I’m not. Only time will tell.

Matteo Rizzo- Italy
I’ll have to see if he scored better than the previous week. But I’m so happy for how he did. It must mean so much to him to do it this well for his home country audience. Every skater deserves a moment like that. And for a young skater, it must mean a lot.
This is a season’s best, awesome- 77.24. His components score is 10 points behind technical, but I hope he can pull together an even better free skate. If only to redeem himself from the previous week.

Aleksandr Selevko- Estonia
he can never seem to get the jumps right and that makes me sad. I see it in him that he can be great, but he has trouble getting all the elements together. his spins and footwork is good, but the jumps are what get a lot of the technical points.
49.09- his components score is 5 points higher than technical, reflecting what I see, but both scores being in the 20’s isn’t going to do him any favors.

Tomoki Hiwatashi- USA
some of his edges need to be smoothed out a bit, but another great effort from him. he’s come so far since the previous seasons I’d seen him. he seemed like a kid, but after this growth spurt, his style matured so much. I see bits of Shoma in him and that’ll be great to have as part of team US.
73.28- wow, he’s in 2nd place at the current moment. Good for him.

Andrew Torgashev- USA
he’s someone I’d been looking forward to seeing again. he was amazing in his last competition.
maybe not a season’s best, but the confidence he has is astounding to watch. He has such a bright future.
69.03- he’s in 3rd place, that’s a good score for this competition.

Ivan Pavlov- Ukraine
he had a triple axel that he turned into a double, but otherwise, this might be the best I’d seen him. He’s had consistency issues every other time. This time, he looked like he was hungrier to do better and his movements had more confidence. But his reaction at the end, he’s not happy with missing that triple axel.
66.71- 4th place- so that’s definitely good for him. The board said his season’s best was around 67.

Vladimir Samoilov- Russia
I don’t want to get too excited too soon… but where has this guy been hiding? He’s 18 and I don’t think I’d seen him before.
The program went so smooth, every jump was solid, great skating skills and so on. A natural talent and he had an easy with this Louis Armstrong music.
77.65- he’s in first place… omg!! I’m reading the comments… he’s one of Plushenko’s students!! this is what happens when I don’t watch the whole video, I missed that comment in the beginning and apparently his personal best was from 2 seasons ago in Spain.
I saw him and commented that he needed a triple axel… I think he had one.
oh wow… I still can’t believe it…
and I have to watch one final skater for the night. I’d finish to see if Vlad wins, but I don’t have the time tonight. Plus I need to give myself a rest.

Eric Liu
he didn’t have the cleanest skate, one major fall, but there were some good moments throughout… yeah, I’m just tired at this point
52.18

I think for next post, I’ll look at the order for the free skate and from there decide who to watch. Probably the top 5

I love this YouTube channel, but their videos aren’t uploaded perfectly all the time. This one started in the middle of someone’s program.
Of the first 10 skaters, only Aleksandr was among the skaters I watched and he was first in the group. So I’ll have to watch him just to see how it came out.
And Eric Liu winds up ahead of him, but after that next group, he’s only in 2nd.
I think I’ll have to watch the final two groups to catch everyone. But that’ll be for tomorrow.

It’s tomorrow… and immediately after I find out who wins this competition and post, I have to start an all new entry for the senior grand prix- which started today… when I was at work…
yeah, I’m never not going to sour about that. Forbid the Olympics come around and I have to dodge spoilers then as well. Avoiding Twitter is one thing, but I follow Johnny Weir on Facebook and he gave away who is leading at the current time.
Not that I’m totally surprised about who it is. But at least I can find the rest of the results as they come- thanks to a tweet I quoted that has the starting order.

But onto this particular competition and finishing the junior grand prix series (at least until the Final in December).

Aleksandr Selevko
it’s always that first jump… I’d never seen him do a clean first jump in a program. But he had several good jumps in this. He has a while to go as an overall skater, but lots of potential (man, I gotta stop saying that about these guys, but truthfully, that’s what the juniors is about- making the best of that and going beyond it).
every season I’d seen him, he’s had a piece that Plushenko had previously skated to. Whether he’s a fan or it’s just coincidence, I don’t know, but it’s always kinda nice. He’s the right type of skater for this type of music- slow and beautiful.
It was Je Suis Malade that first year for his free skate, I think he did “Maybe I maybe you” last year for his short program, and now “Caruso” for the free skate. All three were exhibition programs.
151.95- both of his scores were in the 50’s, which is a good starting point.

Eric Liu
he started out really strong, some great crisp jumps. One spin looked like he was losing momentum and had to regain himself. Then he just lost stamina halfway through the program and had two falls. He skated to “Sherlock holmes”- he did the music justice, although not adding too much to it with personality or expression.
157.72

Egor Murashov
I think I remember this program- he skated to two Stevie Wonder songs and a James Brown number at the end. I’ve seen moments that I have in other Russian skaters just getting used to competition, they’re not as refined. But he had several strong moments, plus his personality came out during the second song and he performed to the audience and it made me smile. Unfortunately after that, he just got tired and wasn’t able to land many jumps after that. It’ll be interesting to see how he grows from here
181.35- his technical mark was 62 and 55 for components, so the strongest to skate so far.

his score then got beaten from Daniel Grassl, another Italian.

the top 5 are sure to be strong… not sure how it’s going to go…

Andrew Torgashev
…now I remember why I was looking forward to seeing him again… sadly the program didn’t come out as well as he’d hoped for. The first 3 jumps were bad falls. But he’ll get a lot of points for components for pure emotion, passion and interpretation. And some great spins too. He had an opening quad- so hopefully the value of it will help make up for the mistake.
It was “Tango Roxanne” from Moulin Rouge… I don’t know why I thought about this, but I just had a thought about what it could have been if Plushenko had skated his Olympic short program to this music instead of withdrawing due to injury… too scary to envision fully. [part of me is also wondering if he might show up in the kiss & cry here with his student]
205.56… he still got 1st place with those mistakes. Both his scores were around 69, which is definitely great. Had he nailed this… he could got gotten 75 or 80 for his two scores.

he still might have a chance at the Final… we’ll have to see the next few skaters.

Ivan Pavlov
he fought through much of this program, as if he was determined to nail more jumps than he typically does. a strong showing, though, I think. he had an opening quad and stood on his feet, so that’s good. the triple axels are hit and miss. by the end, he looked so tired that he might not get up from his finishing position.
188.95- he got 63 for components, a bit stronger than technical, so he’s going in the right direction.

Vladimir Samoilov
I think I might have put too much pressure on him πŸ˜› expecting greatness all the time because of one slam dunk performance.
he popped a quad salchow and he had two falls. But there were also some moments of effortlessness that I saw yesterday… the type of skating I hadn’t seen from any Russians (other than Plushenko, obviously… this is the most I’d given him thought in what feels like months, but that’s a good thing).
He had enough of a buffer from the short program where I was sure he’d be in first place after this and he is.
211.74- 68 and 66 were his two scores- a good place to be, but definitely potential to be much better than that.

at this point, I think Matteo is the only one who can beat him, assuming he skates a perfectly clean program.

Tomoki Hiwatashi (totally forgot he was competing πŸ˜› that’s pretty bad… )
he had a rough start and fell out of a couple jumps. But the overall program was good. this “Last of the Mohicans” soundtrack doesn’t do a lot for me personally, so it was hard to fully invest. his final skills were a cantilever, a split jump (where he has both feet off the group and his legs are spread apart) and into a combination spin. Shoma usually follows his cantilevers with a jump πŸ˜‰ just something to look into to add to the difficulty. Although it sounds like Tomoki had a quad and some triple axels and they were among the jumps that didn’t go well.
206.28- he’s in 2nd and both his scores were 66.

now it’s just up to Matteo Rizzo…
he can’t make the final, but I just got this feeling I just really wanted to see him win for his home audience, just to have that moment. the only mistake I saw was maybe a triple-triple combination where the 2nd jump wound up being a double. But strong program overall. Come Together- Let it be – Help
229.18- 78.50/73.44… yeah, he won… oh man, good for him! And that crowd, man, what a feeling hearing that.

I guess I’ll have to go to Wikipedia to see who else made the final.
Tomoki is in 3rd and Andrew in 4th in this competition…

oh wow, Andrew made the final. There’re three Americans, two Russians and one Japanese guy.

I already knew about Alexei Krasnozhon and Alexey Erokhov from previous weeks.
But thanks to the standings from the previous competitions so far:

Camden Pulkinen and Andrew Torgashev from the US got in.
Mitsuki Sumoto has had a strong showing so far this season so not surprised to see him there.
And Makar Ignatov is the other Russian that came in… I need to look up my previous post to remember my thoughts about him πŸ˜› but definitely happy with these standings.
I commented that Makar reminded me of Dmitri, being sensitive to his music, but needs to be more dynamic a performer.

So anyway, ending this post now and soon I’ll watch the new start of the Olympic season… can’t believe how long it’s been since the last one and how much had changed since then… not just in skating, but for me personally.

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , | Leave a comment

“Prince” Album #25: The Vault…Old Friends 4 Sale

Can I just say that Prince and O(+> released a ridiculous amount of music in the 90’s? It’s easy to keep up with him in the 80’s because it was only an album a year (except for 1987 where I wrote about two).

Anyway- this is the final “Prince” album post.
And it’s another brand new album for me.

I’d like to get my first impressions down because I want to have all my first impressions written down somewhere if I can manage it. [This blog saw all of those first impressions except for the first 4- I think- Musicology, The Gold Experience, Purple Rain and 3121].

But because it’s a bit of a blur right now, I won’t have too much to say as far as details go. Not even the usual track by track. Understand I’m in my car driving and this is on my iPod- with this particular record, some songs blend into one another, so I don’t know where some end and others begin.

First thoughts- it’s very jazzy and has kind of a live jazz club feel (although maybe not to the extent of how ONA feels). There’s horns (Hornheadz, I think) and Eric Leeds (I think) on saxophone. Prince is on acoustic guitar if he’s on guitar at all, but is favoring the piano.
Between that and the inclusion of “Old Friends 4 Sale,” some bits bring me back to the Parade album. Just a little bit. [Also- I need to find the original version of that song on YouTube- I’d heard a lot of fans say how they didn’t like this official release].

I liked the opening track, however short it was.
Then for the next few songs, I was on the fence. They ran a little bit longer than I anticipated and of course I spent a good part of my track worrying about whether I’d be able to finish the whole album on my drive. I’d thought about checking out the lengths of the track beforehand and just didn’t get around to it.
But I think I liked the first song so much that anything that’d follow probably wouldn’t catch my attention the same way. It started out as a song and then developed into a jam and a lot of me “ok, when’s this going to be over?” which isn’t a good feeling to have.
“She spoke 2 me” I liked at first, but again, it ran long… I think it was 10 minutes long. And it didn’t seem necessary.

The next song I remember was a highlight that brought me back in- “5 Women”- I don’t know if this is based on true events or not. I kinda hope they aren’t because it’s a cool song and it’d overcomplicate things.
The whole story was that it took him 5 women to get over this one, but 5 minutes of talking with her and he’s back in love. And the women wind up being April-July. It’s one of those mesmerizing Prince songs I love so much. He just leads me down a rabbit hole with this storyline and I get suckered in more and more. And the sound of it- it didn’t sound like his type of music. I think it reminded me of some Richard Marx song, but I couldn’t tell you which one.

“There is lonely” stood out to me as a song from another time. Meaning that I feel like it’s an older song from his Vault. The vocal sounded younger than he was at the time the album came out. and I liked how it sounded.
“Old Friends 4 Sale”- haven’t not heard the original version- it was very haunting and another great circa 80’s vocal- but it seemed a little over dramatic at times. It felt like something out an old dramatic black & white movie.
“Sarah” stood out, but I don’t remember why. It’s about this girl and he keeps asking her the same question throughout the song. I think he’s asking if that’s her.
and “Extraordinary” had some nice sounding piano, but I don’t know what else he was saying.

Which means I should see how old these songs are. Just to see if any of the others besides “Old Friends” is an older track from deeper in The Vault. Or if he described it as an album of old material, but it was really just from the mid 90’s.

According to Prince Vault, Sarah and track 2 “It’s about that walk” were post name change and the others were older.

Old Friends for Sale- 1985
5 Women- 1990
She Spoke 2 Me- 1991
When the Lights go down- 1991-1992?
My Little Pill- march 1992
There is Lonely- april 1992 (so it wasn’t circa 80’s like I thought, but man, what a great emotional vocal)
Extraordinary- september 1992
It’s About that Walk- September 1993 (the name change was June 7th of that year)
Sarah- February 1996

So when I have a better idea about these tracks, I’ll add more to this post.
But I think I’ll end it today after listening to the original version of the song.

according to the info on the YouTube video I found, the Vault version has different lyrics and arrangement.
it’s listed in the credits of Under the Cherry Moon, but I don’t know where it’s lurking within that movie. It’s probably just an instrumental in it somewhere.
Yeah, the song, maybe it’s because it’s recorded at the home studio and was on piano, but it reminded me a little of “Another Lonely Christmas”
Anyway, I’ll save the link for future reference so I don’t completely lose the original version from my memory. Of course when I rate these songs, I’ll have to go by the album releases only. Just like I had to do with Computer Blue… which is unfortunate because the full version is so much better.
I can only hope that the Purple Rain deluxe version of it is really good quality unlike what I have- not that they’re entirely bad either.


day 2 and I have a little more to say. a little more idea of what these tracks are like.

Admittedly, there were some instances where it’s hard not to get a “throwaway” vibe to it. I mean, Prince went into his Vault and picked 10 songs, seemingly at random, and put them together in some random order.

I think if I had had this album before, you know, a couple of days ago… I think I would have just listened to the songs along with the albums released around the time they were created.
At the same time, this might be serving as a nice little palette cleanser before going into the next decade. Plus, I’ll have Peach and Black top Prince songs of the 90’s on Friday to do that as well.

By this point, it’s been maybe 5 hours since I heard these songs, so the lyrics aren’t sticking with me as much as I’d like.
But I have a better idea of what happens in these songs.

The Rest of My Life- I love it as an opener and it starts out with a nice bounce to it. Then it opens into a small jam session and bam- the song’s over. And I’m sad. I don’t know how else he could have added to it without it just becoming a long jam of a song. But I loved the vibe of it.

It’s about that Walk- this sounds like a throwback type of song to Motown. It reminds me of that Natalie Cole song “This Will Be”… it has that same rhythm to it.
It’s kind of a nice sentiment. That it isn’t about where you start or finish, it’s your attitude and how you go about getting there. He’s doing call outs to the band (although not saying any names)so it has a live vibe to it. Maybe runs a little long, but for me today, it wasn’t too bad.

She Spoke 2 Me- it’s hard for me take this song entirely seriously because Prince spends much of the song saying “she spoke 2 me, I can’t believe it, but she spoke 2 me”… as if he doubts his own swagger or his chick magnet abilities. Give me a break, dude! πŸ˜›
there are some cool lyrics, but also some cheesy ones. I kept picking up one about a subway track and how she could roll over him and he’d still be the same. I think that one is borderline between being clever and being super cheesy.
But after a while, it goes into this extended mix of instrumentals… for the first couple minutes, it’s fine. But the whole song… oh, I thought it was 10 minutes, it’s actually 8:19 (not 3:19… I think the 4 minute mark is where the song should end- and supposedly it came out first on the Girl 6 soundtrack and he choose to put the long cut here… makes me wonder if that was meant as self-sabotage cuz not everyone is going to be up for a jam session of a song.

Speaking of jam sessions, When the Lights Go Down is kinda like that to. Prince is trying, again, to do a throwback type of song, but this is something you’d get at the clubs in old movies.
He does this weird thing with this vocal on certain parts that I think is meant to parody or emulate another singer. I’m not going to dock points off it when I’m scoring this song. I just don’t personally care for it. He’s just doing it to play a character, it doesn’t come off as genuine to me.
This is another long song, 7:10 and the first couple minutes is instrumental. Some good instruments including signature Prince piano playing.

5 Women… it’s March-July… but I still love this song. Don’t know what else I can add after yesterday. Just keep leading down that rabbit hole, Prince. That’s all I can say. Love it.

My Little Pill was the one song I couldn’t pick up yesterday. Mainly because it’s only 1:08. And “There is lonely” is so good and unique to itself that this almost felt like a part of it or an intro to it.
I don’t care for it much. The one oddity about it that’s unique is that there’s this sound oscillating back and forth throughout. I don’t know what instrument is making it. I think he just put it in there to make it stand out or maybe to create an atmosphere.

“There is Lonely” is short also- 2:29…
kudos to Prince for finally moving away from the Adam & Eve references… I mean, he said something about Cain and Abel and maybe Cain after slaying his brother would know how he feels.
the bottom line of it: there is lonely, there is LONELY (deeper voice) and there is how I feel right now…
it’s kinda funny how Prince did this same type of thing with Into the Light & I Will on Chaos & Disorder where he had two short songs at this part of the album that bled into each other.

Just wanted to add, earlier in the day, I was actually thinking about some songs from Chaos & Disorder because I’m discovering these songs in the exact same manner- for the first time, on my iPod, in the car driving home.

Old Friends 4 Sale- I gotta compare lyrics between the original and this version.
I listened to the original version earlier and… oh man… so good. I don’t know where this would have fit on Parade if it made the final cut of that album.
This version just is overdone with all the strings. And it sounds super dark and dramatic. Whereas the original sounds forlorn and melancholy. I also think the vocal had something to do with it too. Getting to hear Prince in a rough cut song from the 80’s… oh man… I miss that guy πŸ˜›
Nothing against Prince in his 40’s, of course. I just haven’t been with 80’s Prince in 5-6 months.

Going between the two- the first version shows more of the big picture whereas is the released version is a very self-involved narrative. And I don’t like that as much.
It sounds like the released version is being overdramatic just for the sake of it.
The weird thing is that both versions have lyrics about getting stuck in the snow- except the released version is more morbid, saying if you get stuck in the snow, you won’t get out alive. And there’s another lyric about someone taking pictures of him. In the released version, someone asks him if he wants to buy the picture he took of him. That’s just an odd lyric… a little too self-involved. And self-deprecating.

Had I not tracked down the original version… I don’t know how much I’d like the song at all. I like the music, but it’s obvious Prince is putting it on.
Not with the same type of voice, but he’s coming off like Humphrey Bogart in “Casablanca” where he’s like “…of all the gin joints in all the world, she walked into mine”… that same attitude but with a different story entirely.

the last two songs… “Sarah”- I’m blanking out now… it’s funny how he keeps asking “Sarah, is that you?” at the end of the verses. He has a nice sense of fun about it.

“Extraordinary”- I like the way it sounds… but reading into it, it sounds like this is the “morning after” song where he’s saying how good she was in bed. And how great a lover she is and so on… uh, it seems unnecessary and self-indulgent.
I mean, I like a lot of self-indulgent Prince songs, but not often when the lyrics are super obvious.

Just looking at all the tracks, there is no Eric Leeds anywhere. It’s all Hornheadz and what seems to be the original NPG line-up.

Anyway- that’s good for today. I’ll probably add a little more tomorrow. And I think I’ll start the podcast tomorrow afternoon and finish Thursday, and do the 90’s podcast over Friday.


so the podcast… uh…

this moment seems to happen a lot… I have a brand new album and there’s a song or two I really like and of course I’m the only weirdo who seems to like it.

I mean, you could look into it in depth and say that “5 women” isn’t a great song by Prince standards… but it just cut so deep that everyone but Player didn’t have much good to say about it. They just downplayed and said it wasn’t that good. Captain says it had no dynamics. And I’m shouting at him “you dork, listen to the lyrics!”… I’d been calling a lot of people “dork” lately, so it’s not like anything out of the ordinary for me.
Yes, it’s clichΓ© and maybe a couple women too many… that’s not going to change how much I love the song. The atmosphere of it- I thought Toejam was going to talk about the atmosphere and how great it is.

Instead the guys were praising how “She Spoke 2 Me” got to breathe here opposed to the Girl 6 version.
…I must be in the minority badly because I think it’s just too long. And I don’t like how everyone gets a solo… at least not at this current time.
Maybe the way I listened to this album the first time might have ruined it for me. I love it at face value, but 8 minutes is just too much.

there was a little reservation about whether the first song was actually a song… yeah, I can kinda get that. And I’ll probably take a point off technically for that reason. As much as I like the song.

but as much as Captain annoyed me with his review of my favorite song on the album and said this was another album that had a big hole in the middle that started with it, it was hilarious when someone contested him for saying it was the most skippeable. Delayed reaction- but he’s like “yeah, you’re right”…
his review of “when the lights go down” fit in more with how I felt, that it took a little long to get started and there’s not much to it.

I’m just underwhelmed by the song honestly… although if I had my way, I’d like it just as an instrumental. Leave out the vocals cuz he’s adhering a little too closely to classic jazz singers and how they sing. It doesn’t feel wholly original to me and I find it a little distracting.

Not much to add about my 3rd listen to the album- my feelings are about the same.
I will add something I’d wanted to say, but kept forgetting- that crack-up at the end of “it’s about that walk”- it made me think about the end of “Shoot the Duck”… I’d only heard that song on Peach & Black maybe 4 times, but I kinda miss it πŸ˜›

and of course the horns on the album are awesome… I really like how they give some songs more color than they would have without them. And the horn line in “She spoke 2 me” will probably go down as one of my favorites on a Prince song.

another podcast finished… and things got a little heated when it came to the title track. A rare 3 vs. Player moment. But to Player’s point, Old Friends 4 Sale has its drawbacks. His complaint was that he made the lyrics not only vague, but less personal and the song overall didn’t do much for him. MC cited one lyric, talking about someone taking his picture and asking him to buy it and Prince says “I don’t know how”… now that I think about it, yeah, that is an odd response.
When I heard that lyric initially, I just thought about the characters on Time Square that take pictures with people and then demand they get paid afterwards. I know this is a regular thing now, but I’ve heard certain characters are extra aggressive about getting their money.

Anyway, MC gave the most glowing review of the album overall, although he gave it a 7. Couldn’t get it anything higher or lower than that. The others were closer to 6, 6.5.

I don’t know where I am personally and while I think I’m doing this album a disservice by rating it now when I’d only listened to it 4 times (the 4th time was just moments after finishing the podcast- I just couldn’t help myself).
I see a lot of potential for me really liking it and getting into it.

Another interesting moment on Old Friends 4 Sale- with “There is lonely,” the panel split. But not in typical fashion (which I often find is Player/Captain vs. MC/Toejam). Toejam and Captain didn’t think it was genuine and MC and Player did.
And then MC was the only big voice in favor for Extraordinary, calling a modern jazz standard.

One thing I will say for this album overall… the music sounds amazing to me. The first three songs, I could feel and see the rhythms and choreography and so on. That’s proof that Prince is on point.
But what lets it down are some oddities and meh lyrics.

The guys were kinda bugging out with how these songs ranked on their poll for greatest Prince songs of all time.
5 Women was #2 (a-ha! I’m not the only one!), and obviously the title track was number one.
I was surprised about The Rest of My Life being near the bottom. I really like that one.

One last comment before rating…
when MC called “When the lights go down” one of the best on the album, it sounded like Captain dying in the background- he couldn’t believe it πŸ˜› I mean, it was a different type of sound he made, but it was a similar reaction he had one other time.
and then when he said something good about “My little pill” of course MC is lilke “this is your Morning After moment”- although MC completely took this song off his iPod, so I can understand why he feels the way he does.

so onto business…

THE REST OF MY LIFE
today I thought how this sounds a bit like Courtin’ Time and maybe they were recorded around the same time… same year, but months apart.
This is such a fun song, I enjoy it every time I’ve listened to it so far. The lyrics don’t offer too much for me to grab onto, but I haven’t listened to too many lyrics on this album anyway, so that’s not a big deal.
Technical Merit- 4
Components Score- 4.5
Total Score- 8.5 (if only it was longer, I’d have scored it higher)

IT’S ABOUT THAT WALK
I’m liking this song a bit more every time I listen. The rhythm and sense of fun is kinda nice and refreshing. It’s kind of a throwback type of song and not unique to Prince, but it’s nice to hear him cover the genre and put his own spin on it. [also, him saying “ooh wee”… it makes me think of him saying that in Under the Cherry Moon when he drops by Mrs. Wellington’s place and he sees Isaac Sharon’s car in the driveway… makes me smile]
Technical Merit- 4.5
Components Score- 4
Total score- 8.5

SHE SPOKE 2 ME
Some great lyrics in this. More great horns- that horn line is good for a hip swivel. Now I think the instrumental break makes sense since the lyric right before it is something about a “groovy wet dream”- so that’s the dream section. But after a while, I just tune it out and don’t get much out of it. The main part of the song, though, is great.
Technical Merit- 4.5
Components Score- 4
Total Score- 8.5

yeah… my scoring isn’t all that varied so far… but that’s going to change in a bit.

5 WOMEN
for me, this is about the atmosphere. This is the dream song for me- where it feels like falling into a dream, which Wonderland really was for Alice.
The lyrics, yeah, maybe a little cheesy at points. But beyond that… oh man, love this song!
Technical Merit- 4.5
Components Score- 4.5
Total Score- 9 (I’d have given it a 5 for components, but I think it’s still too soon to give it too much… maybe after I listen to it 10-15 times, I’ll know for sure)

WHEN THE LIGHTS GO DOWN
Another musical highlight among Prince’s music overall. I just don’t personally care for some of the vocal stylings he does. And it runs a little too long to fully keep my attention. Nice bongo action also. [Looking up the lyrics, the one lyric is “when your baby get a ride”… what?! that doesn’t make any sense… I heard “that’s when your baby get it right”… either way, it’s a muddled lyric because of how he sings it and that annoys me]
Technical Merit- 4 (for that one lyric and it running a little too long)
Components Score- 3
Total Score- 7

MY LITTLE PILL
This song is so short, it’s barely even a song, but it still is. (Apparently, it and “The rest of my life” were being considered for a movie “I’ll Do Anything” that was meant to be a musical, but didn’t come out that way… which is explains why this is an oddball song for Prince to do).
The musical parts are great, again (talk about being a broken record). But the lyrics are just odd and un-Prince-like, although he is a bit of a weirdo anyway.
Technical Merit- 3.5
Components Score- 2.5
Total score- 6 (this is giving the song a benefit of the doubt… in a few years, I might downgrade it some more)

THERE IS LONELY
Great atmosphere on this one. Love the vocal. Some of the music reminds me of “3 chains o’ gold” (this was recorded a couple months afterwards, so there’s a possible link).
yeah, I like this one a lot, but it’s not one I’d probably play outside of the album sequence.
Technical Merit- 4.5
Components Score- 4
Total Score- 8.5 (yep, another one)

OLD FRIENDS 4 SALE
of course I prefer the original version and how deep and personal it is. This one still has its charms, but the lyrics might be a little too dramatic and maybe too vague for me to fully engage.
I’m with Player on this, I think.
Technical Merit- 4.5
Components Score- 3.5
Total Score- 8 (the original one… I think my total score for that would be a 9.5 or possibly a 10)

SARAH
the opening of this song reminds me so much of another one… some other song by some other artist, but after two downers, it’s nice to have a big upbeat song like this. I have no idea if this is autobiographical or not, but it’d be interesting if it was. The lyrics create a fun story where he’s kinda saying a girl is in over her head and maybe trying too hard to impress. The lyric that sticks out to me (haha) is him saying her skirt isn’t too long and he can see her underwear. interesting little detail that helps paint a picture.
Technical Merit- 4.5
Components Score- 4
Total score- 8.5

EXTRAORDINARY
an odd end for the album… kinda funny that Captain called this the “obligatory falsetto ballad”… I can see his point.
Another musical gem (he hasn’t put a foot wrong on this album on that front at all). Another great falsetto vocal (although I’ve heard him do better). Just don’t care too much for the lyrics… like he’s trying too hard to make this into something big, but with a name like this, I expected a little better than this.
Technical Merit- 4
Components Score- 3
Total Score- 7 (yeah, I’m not crazy about this song, but I feel kinda neutral towards it).

So all that together…

79.5/100… yeah, ok… it’s 7.95 out of 10… technically it’d be another 8, but considering I have to round it up to make it an 8, this is not on the same level as all the other 8’s I’ve given out.
Although with some more time (where I’d give out scores more varied than a bunch of 8.5’s), that could change.

And the only outstanding track of this time… is 5 Women.

If I were to put these in order:

5 Women
The Rest of My life
It’s About that walk
She Spoke 2 Me
There is Lonely
Sarah
Old Friends 4 Sale
When the lights go down
Extraordinary
My Little Pill

I guess I can wait to post this until tomorrow… I have some other things to take care of tonight. Non-Prince-related things that kinda have time as a factor.


so this will be the last part before I post.

I listened to a couple Greatest Romance remixes. The techno remix is pretty good. But there’s another one with some other male vocals on it that I really didn’t like.

I also had the 1999 new master on there. Something I didn’t think I’d listen to again after the first time. 1999 played on the radio at work and I knew that was the perfect time to do so.

The music sounds freaking amazing remastered… but there’s this pulsing bass in the background that felt unnecessary. And then there was this dude interjecting and making comments like a rap or something and I’m like “no, shut up!”
then Rosario Dawson did this poem with the Little Red Corvette intro music in the background. It was some weird religious and sociopolitical commentary babble about how there’s more colored people on jail than on the streets and how people wouldn’t recognize Jesus if he was among us and that the people who wrote the Bible changed his color and when he was born… she sounded nice saying it, but the… ugh… I didn’t like it. Prince was drinking way too much of the JW Kool-Aid when he wrote that.

So one odd thing about Prince… he got so sucked into the JW religion to the point he was spouting verbatim everything Larry Graham ever told him. I mean, this guy is super talented and super intelligent and the fact he took this stuff so seriously that he changed so much about his life, took the cursing out of his music, separated from someone he once thought of as his soulmate… all because he thought he had to atone for things in his past because his past is the bad karma that led to the tragedies that occurred.
I also half wonder, taking into account how he died… if the lifestyle was getting to him, the stardom and he did have addiction issues and he thought the religion could help him with that.
However, there’s the whole thing in that religion that doesn’t allow blood transfusions and he had to turn to painkiller instead of getting proper surgery for whatever hip issues he had.

…I did have a point to all this and I’m sorry to bring the negatives into it. I can pick on that religion during my Rainbow Children post, which is the next album to discuss.
But not for a while.

It’s a crazy connection, this odd thing- Prince being so enamored by this religion that he took to it like a fish to waster… I feel like I get suckered into his world much the same way. But at least I can acknowledge he has his flaws, even if I don’t like saying them, I know they exist.

But it’s another of those times where I think I do need to get some separation.
Listening to Peach and Black countdown the songs from the 90’s made up my mind. It was such a good summation of this decade that it felt like a good place to stop for a while.

As for the list… it’s a great list as voted by fans.
However, I had some big issues with the top 10.
Gold being #9? In the whole of his catalogue, #73 is respectable. But it should have ranked a lot higher.

And not giving too much away- Sexy MF and Days of Wild ranked higher than it… quite a bit higher and I didn’t like it.
The guys were weirded out by at least 2 songs and I can understand their reservations about them. And Endorphinmachine, one of MC’s favorites, was a lot lower than they would have figured.
#1 was too damn predictable… I mean, yeah, I like it, but it’s not on that same extraordinary plane. #2 should’ve been #1

Kinda sad that nothing from Come or Emancipation made this top 20, but it can’t argue the songs that did make the list. Lots of great ones to choose from.
It’ll be interesting at the end of this to go through their lists and see what scores I gave for each of these songs.

One thing that bugged me just a bit… nearly all the songs were hit singles.

I think this attitude has been mine since I started listening to full albums and finding songs I liked a lot more than the radio singles. It bugged me when I got the Backstreet Boys greatest hits and it was all the stuff from the radio (I had all the songs already, but I bought for one new song, so sue me).

It was so weird listening and hearing some older songs on here and I felt a little disoriented, but once the Gold Experience tracks started coming, I found my center again.

when it comes to Prince, it’s very hard for me to mix eras of his music together on the same day… it honestly makes my head hurt. That’s why I typically only do one album or era at a time or in a given day. I don’t have this issue with any other artist, but none of them are as varied or have as much range or have gone through as many changes.

So… I took a break from Prince for a week after I finished the 80’s on the Batman album (but it was also a big downward swing, being on the high of LoveSexy and crashing with Batman- an album I don’t particularly like a lot).
I think I need another one… I’ll try to finish Mayte’s book over the weekend if I can. I’m kinda hoping there isn’t anything in it that refers to another Prince era so I miss out on having that as a companion piece. Reading those Rainbow Children comments were ok because I already kinda knew about them anyway. As much as I’ve enjoyed it, I think it’s time to finish and move on. In my mind when I first started reading it today, I feel like I already have. Where it was a little jarring to read at first because my mind is thinking the 90’s are over and they are over.

I need that break to reset and prepare for the next decade because things are changing yet again.
Then there are some albums I like to listen to in October that I’d like to get to. I really haven’t had anyone else in my car but him these past few months with some rare exceptions.

Then I’m also going on vacation starting next Thursday… I kinda don’t want to take another Prince album with me on my iPod and spend my vacation time writing all my scores on paper to type out later.
But it’s going to kinda suck that I’m going for a 3 hour plan ride without a Peach & Black podcast πŸ˜› I was kinda looking forward to doing that with The Rainbow Children to make the flight go by crazy fast. But now that doesn’t seem to be happening.

Last thing to do– watch some interviews and the press conference where Prince officially became Prince again.

[going to Matt Thorne’s comments on The Vault album… he called “5 women” a high point, and balked at one too many “I’ll Do Anything” outtakes- but grateful “Poor little bastard” wasn’t among them… he cited it as a song he listens to to remind himself that Prince isn’t worth putting on a pedestal… he also called “Extraordinary” a reason why this album is worth tracking down].

yeah, binging on these so I can move on to something else tomorrow.
still think that Larry King interview is great, although I winced when asked about Mayte, he said she was perfect… at this time, I know for a fact they’d fought a few times and she was in their house in Spain and he rarely visited.
I remember the person calling in asking about “so far so pleased” and why that’s on the Rave album… he basically said he wanted a guitar showcase track because he always has his guitar with him and he wanted something Gwen Stefani would sound good on.
It’s hard to take the entire interview seriously knowing some things I know now, but bits and pieces here and there, I still enjoy and of course taking in every word.

Him calling his music inspirational and how all music can inspire if it comes from the heart… makes me wonder if that part of the interview got into my subconscious and into that dream I had about him.

And now– it’s gonna be so weird thinking of him as Prince again. He’d been O(+> for nearly 7 years and for me, that was at least a dozen blog posts. While I’m typing his name (because I don’t feel like copy/pasting the symbol a hundred times throughout), I think of people calling him Prince and flinching like he would cuz he didn’t answer to the name anymore.
So I gotta unlearn that and just relearn what once was.
But of course he’s going to be a different artist now– in the 2000’s.

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

“Prince” Album #23 and 24- Rave Un2 and In2 the Joy Fantastic

So, long story with this album… which will make up the intro and it’ll be some time before I got into individual songs…

This was another album early on that I wanted. It was rare for Prince to promote his albums, so when he did a bunch of interviews and appearances (and back in 2007, they were easier to find than after the PFunk thing happened), that was an indication to me that it was something worth the venture.
Rave is one of those albums I never saw on a shelf after I found my used copy at FYE on 07/07/07 (along with Sign o’ the times and a brand new copy of 1999- and Sign I have seen one since I got my copy and it’s oddly packaged in two separate albums- I almost want to buy them both because I don’t trust anyone else to do the same :P).
It’s also an album I found out after the fact that the fan community considers a joke and a failure. There’s a wildly regarded theory that Prince was so disappointed with its sales that the end of the “Prettyman” remix on “In2 the Fantastic” contained the sound of him smashing the record of the original Rave album.

Speaking for myself and for the opinions of others, Rave isn’t perfect. Neither of its incarnations are perfect. But I am nonetheless putting them on the same blog entry- most of the same songs are on both albums, but in different formats.
Supposedly it was inspired by the success of Santana’s “Supernatural” album, which featured dozens of popular artists (Santana has done some great collaborations like “Smooth” with Rob Thomas, “The Game of Love” with Michelle Branch, and “Into the Night” from Nickelback’s Mike Kroeger… shut up, I like some Nickleback! Whole albums- that’s another story).
But the Supernatural album was released in June 1999 and Prince was busy working on these songs since early 1999.

However, people compare the two and probably think Prince’s album could have been just as good if it did more to highlight the other artists.
Personally, I don’t really listen to the other people on this album that much. No Doubt and Gwen Stefani and Sheryl Crow a little bit when they’re on the radio. But that’s basically it. I don’t like Eve or Chuck D and before Prince, I didn’t know who Maceo Parker was.

As for the album- I think I had mixed feelings about it the first time. I didn’t like any of the songs until we got to “The Greatest Romance,” which I was already familiar with because I saw the music video before I got the album (as was the case in those first few months of Prince fandom). Some songs were really sad and the end was a little bittersweet. Then there was the hidden party”man” track- and I didn’t like it that much.

Someone on .org gave opinions and advice regarding the albums I wanted and the ones I should check out. She said Rave was very “bye Mayte hello Mani.”
I had a fair idea about the album and I’d listened to it a fair amount of times. Heck, I once spent a week with it and I got so sick of it by the end of it.

But when Mayte did Hollywood Exes and that first interview where she talked about how she was practically left on her own after they broke up and she had to figure out how to rebuild her life… let’s just say the album got a tad more complicated.
NOW, after reading her book up to this point where she described “The Greatest Romance” and “I love u but don’t trust u anymore” as the “one-two punch”… OH BOY, it just got super complicated.
The way I always saw their break-up- the loss of their song was too much and they drifted apart, unable to rekindle what they once had. And I was okay with the two break-up ballads (“Man o’ war” is the other one) and I understood them without harboring any ill will towards anyone. There was never a time where I hated Mayte or blamed her for breaking his heart and so on. Unlike so many other fans who continue to dog her to this day, posting on YouTube videos how she wasn’t her soulmate or just mean comments in general. My belief was that he didn’t really love Manuela and their relationship was his rebound after Mayte wanted to leave him.
Now that doesn’t seem to be the case… it seems that he had his eye on Manuela for a little while before the divorce was final. She swears that nothing serious happened for some time and I’ll give her the benefit of that doubt. [I’d rather harbor that grudge against the JW crowd who convinced Prince to break up with Mayte because she didn’t believe in their beliefs as strongly as he did].

What I’m ultimately getting at this with…
well, certain tracks will probably be forever tainted by the truth behind them.
“Man o’ war” I was always on the fence with anyway, but “I love u but don’t trust u anymore”… omg, that song made me cry so bad, it was so heartbreaking.
Now, it’s kinda hard to be sad, to go “poor Prince got his heart broken”… I have trouble finding anything genuine in it anymore. It’s been that way for the past couple years.

And I checked Princevault to see if any of the songs correlated with certain dates or times where I could pinpoint where he and Mayte were in their relationship. None of them have a specific date- nearly all just say “early 1999″… absolutely no help at all.

Now it’s probably best to do the track by track initial thoughts… I’m kinda surprised with myself that I’m not furious with Prince like I was during 1996 when I was going through Emancipation and reading about Mayte’s pregnancy. But there’s still time for that- I stopped at the paragraph where he reclaims his name and they’re still together- although she’d signed an annulment he swore was for them to renew their vows before God… I went into it on the other post, so I won’t repeat it here.

Rave Un2 the Joy Fantastic- the effects that accompany the main synth riff- it reminds me a little of Positivity- I’m not sure what instrument’s making it, but to me, it sounds like a lot of “pew” sounds. Except the two tracks were written just less than 6 months apart.
The music is very plastic and computer generated, but I like how it sounds despite that.
However, my issue lies with the vocal. When he talked about this song in an interview (or maybe I read it somewhere), he said that it was similar to “Kiss” and was written around the same time. Other than falsetto and lack of bass, they have nothing in common.
And to me, the vocal is very coarse and grainy and it’s hard to listen to. Which is why I prefer the remix of this song- at least his vocal is clearer. Almost like he mucked it up on purpose because it’s technically a Prince song, not a O(+> creation.
Only months ago I heard him explain the title… only I can’t remember his exact words, but it had to do with a time that was coming and when that time was reached, you will find a joy that is fantastic.

Undisputed- the meaning of it can’t be disputed. It’s pretty clear it’s about the “masters and slaves” in the record business. I kinda like the rhythm of the vocals (if you can call it a rap) and some of the lyrics.
The Chuck D rap- I still don’t get it. I hear something about “School’s in session- run down to Smith & Wesson’s”… that’s a gun company, what does have to do with anything? There’s talk about the NPG, but the rap doesn’t feel like it has anything to do with the music.

The Greatest Romance Ever Sold- OMG!!- despite the inspiration and personal implications behind it for him and Mayte, this is one of those rare cases where I’m not going to let the song’s genesis detract from my adoration of it. It’s a beautiful video (Mayte wrote that it was risquΓ© even for him and her mom was angry after seeing it- saying it was humiliating her daughter).
I don’t know what interview I watched or what when this video premiered on MTV (I’m watching this after the fact, of course, some time in 2007)- I think there was a TRL appearance and supposedly the last one I watched the night was the “My name is Prince again” press conference.
…I don’t think it was my first time seeing this music video, but that specific night was the first time I dreamt about Prince. The first of 10 times (yeah, I write down my dreams- I started when recurring themes and people started cropping up). But it’s the one I remember the most because it told me everything I need to know about him. He told me that everything inspires him (when I asked what inspired him) and he put a hand to his heart to tell me that his music comes from inside, his heart, and that’s what makes him different from everyone else.

Since then I have found some other artists (which were lacking for me at the time) that I could find that connection who wrote their own material and played instruments… but Prince still stands alone from everyone else.

So I have that sentimental connection with this song for that one reason… but there have been times where I’d just take it out to listen to (it doesn’t happen as often as you’d think, but every now and then, it happens- when I have this album on rotation). When I was checking out the In2 tracks, I was lying in bed before sleep listening to it and just living in the moment with it.
Again- another of those great moments I can only have with Prince.
It might not have been inspired the same feelings I get when I listen to it, but that won’t change anything. Just like the Peach and Black guys not really caring for it (well, at least Captain, but him hating a song has yet to make me change my mind about loving it).

Hot with U- I’ve have a hot and cold relationship with. Most days, I really like it, but I do get over it after listening to it too much. I don’t really like Eve’s contribution to it because it makes Prince to be something he isn’t- at least not the way I see him. “I’m supposed to tremble cuz they call u The Artist”… bleck! like she think she’s so much cooler than his reputation.
His name alone didn’t make me react to him the way I do, but I love the mystique of his presence.
I really like the horn lines in this. It gives it that little something extra.

Tangerine- a lot of fans love this song, but think it’s too short (right behind a new song, it’s the best case there is for the Rave In2 remix album). It’s a nice simple little song- kinda sad and bittersweet, but it’s not long enough to let you wallow in it too long. Sometimes, there’s nothing better than Prince just being with an acoustic guitar.
I’ve imagined him just going down to the studio in the middle of the night or early in the morning and laying this track down.

So far so pleased- the guys at Peach and Black joke about Gwen Stefani’s vocals not being very present on this song. I hear her perfectly fine, I don’t know what the hell they’re talking about.
But I think this was a song that should’ve been a single. So much pop chart potential just wasted. I’m sure non-Prince fans could hear it and fall in love with it.
And to me, it’s the closest indication of the direction he went into with the Planet Earth album on songs like “The 1 u wanna c”
Today, I turned this on when I got onto the 65mph speed limit highway and just ran down the left lane going a little faster than that. Not as far as rolling the windows or sunroof, but it’s that kind of song.

The Sun Moon and Stars- this song took me a while to get and once I did, I’d been in love ever since. There’s a lot of this album I freely sing to with my natural voice and this is another one. It’s a romantic vision thanks to the Clare Fischer strings later on. It’s very visual- I imagine him and someone else (heck, I put myself in there sometimes) outdoors camping in the woods with a campfire and just sleeping together under the stars.

Everyday’s a winding road- I probably couldn’t replicate this if I tried, but I got to the point in my trip where there is a winding road going downhill and I played the last couple minutes of this song to it. Pretty exhilarating to the point the Larry Graham part didn’t seem to matter. (Peach and Black kinda groaned at the “do u love God?” lyric… like he couldn’t help himself).
I didn’t really care for the original song so to me, it’s a better version. But there are parts that feel kinda plasticy.

Man o’ War- this album has one huge sad ballad, so I don’t get why he needed this one. It just seems like another part of the same story- which is the growing separation between him and Mayte.
I hear this title and I think about the jellyfish πŸ˜› then I cringe at the “why u screaming” lyric cuz that’s not proper English or grammar and it just bugs the hell out of me. Always has.
But that final note at the end- not sure if it’s a guitar or trumpet (also there’s a great guitar solo in this), but it’s a beautiful sad note that just kills me every time.

Baby Knows- I don’t know how I felt about it the first time, but the last few time I’d listened to it, I just have the best time. I imagine Prince and Sheryl Crow giving a crowd-pleasing performance at a country fair or a honky tonk bar. I’ve always imagined choreography to this, but it’s usually just me tilting my head to the right and back on every “Baby Knows” utterance. And the chorus- I wish I could just dance to it without having to worry about driving or people watching me cuz I’d just lost it. So much fun. The lyrics are kinda nuts- it’s about this crazy chick that has Prince kinda fascinated and by the end of the song, she turns him down.

I love u but don’t trust u anymore- for a ballad, it’s pretty amazing. I love how it’s just him and the piano with some Ani DiFranco on guitar in the background. Very intimate. And I’ll wind up giving it a really good score because it’s well executed. But as I said, knowing the real story, it’s hard to give it all the credit I want to. Which is a shame because it’s one of his best vocals- but then I say he has a lot of “best vocals” numbers- it’d take forever for me to search how many times I’d said that over these past several entries.

Silly Game- it’s a silly song with some serious lyrics, but I kinda like it. I like the lead line and the music. Some nice moments in his voice (the point where I almost don’t want to know the story behind this song cuz it’d surely ruin it).
Something about it just reminds me of springtime and a field of grass and daisies and stuff. Even if the song is anything but sunshine and daisies.

Strange but True- I think I spent much of today trying to decode the songs and match them to what I was reading about and this is another I don’t want to read that much into. Because I really like this one. It’s very unique among Prince’s music. So different and unusual, just like him. (fun fact: Toejam’s favorite Prince song)

Wherever u go, whatever u do- another song I really don’t want to read into too much what it was inspired by (yeah, this album is pretty complicated- especially for someone like me who loved trying to figure out what inspired certain songs he wrote).
But this is another song I have personal connection to. I’ve always liked it and thought it was a happy but kinda bittersweet end to the album.

However, this was another song that changed for me after April 21st.
It’s even more bittersweet now, but it still has that bit of optimism that I like holding onto. Except for that stupid lyric “remember when u were children, you had toys” (surely he could have found a better rhyme for “every girl and boy”), I’d hear this song and feel like he was singing it to me and telling me that even without him here, I’d be fine and everything would be okay. One of those moments over those first couple months afterwards where I felt like his spirit was very strong and present with me.
I wonder if anyone else felt like this- that he hung around a little while to make sure we were okay before he left.

ok, I gotta change the subject before it gets too emotional in here.
I timed this song so well that I was coming to the light where I’d turn left towards the gas station and I pulled in as it finished. I was so focused on making the turn that the ending got away from me- which was just as well because with that last verse as it gets further into it, the emotions start to come out and I realized after it happened that I had prevented that sadness from taking me over.
But I almost feel like it’s something I’ll need over the week. Because there is a part of his life I will be saying goodbye to by the end of it.

and Prettyman… there are some lyrics too over the top for me that I just don’t get into it.
Where he says he kisses the mirror twice and when no one’s around, he smells himself.
I’m like “get the hell out of here with that!”… that is actually why I haven’t listened to it all that much. But occasionally I do listen to and over the past couple years, I have been bringing it back into rotation with this album.


now for a little In2 the Fantastic… how fantastic is it… I’ll find that out.
I’m sure there are plenty people who’ve made playlists with the best of both albums.

Honestly, I think my version would be mostly In2 tracks, the original Hot with U, without Everyday is a Winding Road, but it has Beautiful Strange AND Strange but True… can’t believe this version doesn’t have that song on it. Strange but True is so good!

But for this album…

The tracklists are identical except for the additional of one new song and the removal of two from Un2.
The title track, Undisputed, Hot With U and Man o’ War are remixes.
The Greatest Romance, Baby Knows, Prettyman, and Tangerine are extended versions.
So Far so Pleased, Sun Moon and Stars, I love u but don’t trust u, Silly Game, Wherever u go- to MY ears, are identical to what was on the other album.

The huge difference between the two obviously lies with the extended cuts and remixes, which take the original song and stay true to it for the first minute or so and then goes on its own path after a while.

As for when I score these albums… any of the redundant tracks, I’ll just carry the same score between the two albums. But I’ll probably make some changes for better or worse with all the other versions.

Rave In2- the song- improves on the original in one aspect. The vocals. He recorded a new lead vocal and used the original layered lead vocal as backing vocals.
But as is the case with a couple remixes, it meanders after a while and gets overlong to the point I completely lose interest. It’s refreshing after being so familiar with the original and my particular issues with it. But it still doesn’t feel like a very strong song or even a complete thought to me. Maybe I’m just missing something.

Undisputed- it’s more or less a remix. It has some of the same verses as the original, but it meanders a LONG time away the core of the song.
And it has one thing that repeatedly bugs me- “once again, back as the incredible” being repeated a million times in this song. Chuck D calling “Bass!” is also annoying after a while because only one time does a bass solo happen after it. It just feels unnecessary.

The Greatest Romance- I need to look up the lyrics of the opening part… they don’t make a whole lot of sense.
And there are points that maybe he added too much to this song to length it. But there are other times I listen to it and I just live in it and enjoy it.
So whatever mood I’m in, that’s the version I’ll be into.
I think this is the only song where I’ll be that lenient about either version.

Hot with U- it kinda stays the course more than the other two remixes so far.
I kinda like how he brought back the “Nasty Girl” chorus for this, but I also miss the original chorus. But the big issue- the “freak of the week” sample throughout the whole song… just shut up, Eve, I get it!
Yeah, I think I’d go with the original in this case.

Tangerine- I love the extended coda at the end. Although the ending doesn’t really feel like an ending. It’s kind of abrupt.

Won’t repeat my comments on the next two songs because they’re identical (unless I’m missing something) to the other disc… except that they are some of the prime examples of this album and why I don’t completely hate it like a lot of other people in the purple community do.

Man o’ War- I kinda like this version because it’s not as melancholic as the original, but there are bits of instrumentals I miss. The music that goes throughout reminds me a bit of the music from the Lotusflow3r website.

Baby Knows- the extended coda was a surprise and a nice one. It’s the same with Greatest Romance- whatever I’m in the mood for, that’s the version I’ll go with.

I come to a realization with “I love u but don’t trust u anymore”… I can’t listen to it anymore. At least not this week. It’s in the same exact form in both discs.
But I just can’t take it knowing how much of it is an act and how untrue it is. I mean, it’s very well crafted and it’ll get a really good score. But for me personally, I can’t get super into it where I’d give it a perfect 10.
I sung with it and gave it my all because I won’t be doing it again. At least not for a long time.

Beautiful Strange, I’m still wrapping my head around because I’d only heard it a handful of times.
The music is really trippy and cool, but the lyrics… I have them in front of me and still don’t get them. This is the one song people said is the reason to own this disc, but I’m still not completely in love with it like everyone else seems to be.

and Prettyman, I like it a tad more with the additional time added to it. But otherwise, it’s the same song.


I started out this morning with Rave Un2 and already felt like I was getting sick of it. To the point where I just might do In2 during work in the afternoon and split the podcast over the next two afternoon commutes.
It’s an hour and a hour roughly so I could do 45 minutes a day.

Then I got to the afternoon and was enjoying much of the album without any problem. The few times I wasn’t fully engaged, I was extra concerned about the cars around me.

Anyone who doesn’t like the cover of “Everyday is a Winding Road”… dude, find a winding road with some nice scenery going downhill- it’s pretty cool. Today I was on that winding road from the beginning of the song onward and it played out really well.

“So Far, so Pleased”- I was worried about some dude on my tail that was thinking I wasn’t going fast enough in the fast lane, so that took me out of the song. One I love pretty much every time.

Throughout these posts, I’d been pretty harsh with Matt Thorne’s book. But his chapter on Rave is one of the better examples in a sea of negativity.
Princevault was pretty vague on when all the songs were recorded and while he didn’t have dates, he mentioned a few songs that were last minute additions.

Rave didn’t come out of The Vault until halfway through the process and there was the comment of Prince thinking it was too similar to “Kiss.” The beat, I totally get that, but the vocal is completely different.
Undisputed wasn’t the first time Chuck D was part of a collaboration with a pop artist.
Interesting enough, he called Hot with U a “guilty pleasure” and commended Eve’s rap, saying that Carmen Electra’s musical career would have happened without a hitch if she was fed similar lines.

I think that was in my head when I was listening to the song this afternoon cuz the further I got into it, the more I just got caught in the spell of it and almost didn’t want it to end.
Most times, I actually like the song a lot. I just don’t like Eve all that much or the kind of slang in the rap, especially since it was talking about Prince.
When you look into the lyrics, though, it seems to be about wanting to get it on with someone and in new and exciting positions that he knows his way around.
Prince has boasted about this kind of thing before, but I have no idea if he really partook in the Kamasutra or S&M or any of that. (I don’t devote nearly as much time to thinking about these things as you might think… but can’t help but be curious how much of his sex talk in music is based in fact or if it’s all fantasy).

There was more discussion with the “Buff” engineer (I’ve yet to commit his name to memory despite him mastering Emancipation and everything I’d heard after it to this point) about trade secrets. Supposedly they took the Linn drum out of storage and it didn’t work and they had to get it fixed (wow- can’t imagine how long it’s been unused) and it’s on the album. But I have trouble finding it.
He said that a bunch of songs were written well into the project to round out the album, something he’d said a few times before that is a common thing with Prince. The Greatest Romance was the final song recorded (I guess cuz Prince decided he needed a classic ballad- as Captain would probably joke- he hates how Prince’s lead singles for a long part of his career were ballads). And other songs like Silly Game, I love u but don’t trust u, and the “Winding Road” cover.

One of those songs piques my interest… that means Man o’ War was the lead break-up song on this album and for whatever reason, Prince decided he needed another one… why he put it 2 songs after Man o’ War is beyond me… he did the same thing with Saviour and FLSM/W on Emancipation and it had a similar effect- except that kinda killed the end of Disc II.
At least with Rave, there are good songs to be found after that particular 1-2 punch.
And today, it was kinda nice to not have that second break-up song on this album.

I think one issue I had with the album (other than the raps) the first time… it’s too long… my attention started to wane after some time.
I had a lightbulb moment after finishing the album earlier today and I’ll get to that in a bit.

I think the first time I listened to 1999, O(+> and Rave, there was a point where I was wondering when the album would be over because it felt like it was lasting too long (1999 kinda has an issue with the tracks running too long if you’re not in the mood to spend a lot of time with them).

Then there was a paragraph about some people wanting certain songs to be included.
Like how Manuela wanted him to include “Tangerine” and Buff wanted “Strange but True” (he adds some cynicism to this statement- saying how Prince “had” to put the record scratches in there- I guess he didn’t like the song as much as we did, which is why it’s not on the In2 disc). And Buff wanted him to take out “Sun, Moon and Stars” and Prince’s response was asking him how his sex life was- to which he quips he thinks he needed the song to get him laid.
Dude- of all the people in the world, Prince would never have any trouble getting laid, seriously πŸ˜›

there was still a couple of “eh” points where I didn’t agree with something he said (calling “Tangerine” a “savage song”- give me a break- something that laid back?… and there was one other thing that I can’t remember)
but again, I liked reading these extra tidbits about the record. Getting more a peek into the creative process.
He made the comment yet again about how it’s dangerous or you just shouldn’t read too into Prince’s songs to relate them to real life- that’s something I hate when he says it…
but in this case, I didn’t mind. I actually like a lot of the songs on here and hearing what they’re really about might ruin that for me.

Which brings me back to a point I wanted to make:
I felt like I was over the record this morning… then I realized it was because of the opening of the album.

I really don’t like the title track all that much or really get it. And “Undisputed,” I kinda can’t stand it. I’ll still listen to both in the context of the album, but there may be future listens I just leave them off entirely. [Also wanted to say something about Hot with U- and how at age 40, Prince might be too old to be singing some of that stuff… that just occurred to me].

I had a lightbulb moment where I thought… you could remove the first two songs from the album entirely- start it with “The Greatest Romance Ever Sold” and name the album “The Greatest Romance”… it’d make perfect sense!
And then maybe I’d remove the second break-up to make it a little less of a downer and more cohesive.
Heck, maybe put Partyman in another place and end the album with “Wherever U Go”…

I think I might have something. Because, really, I don’t like having 2 break-up songs, Partyman and the first two songs.
Take all those away and I’d be left with 17 songs. Maybe 18 if I include Beautiful Strange.
the “Winding Road” cover is up for debate. Sure, most days I like listening to it, but it’s not a song I hit the skip button to get to.

Maybe I should have included that in the parameters of my scoring system- anything I rate a 4 or higher for components has to be a song I go out of my way to listen to because I like it that much.
3’s- I don’t mind listening to them in the context of the album and feel neutral about otherwise.
You get to the 2’s and lower- I’m more likely to hit the skip button or I just don’t listen to them at all.
Too bad I’m just figuring that out NOW- 20 something albums later…

I have a few interviews from this period saved up on my Watch Later list on YouTube.
Just watched one he did with Matt Lauer. They spent a lot of it talking about the song 1999 and it being the year of the song and the “new year” special he was doing for Pay Per View (don’t think I need to track that down or anything).
Then he goes into the record and he talks about how music has gotten so negative, particularly with hip-hop being full of violent imagery (I didn’t see any of that myself- in 1999, I was listening to Britney Spears and boy bands- no violent imagery there). And this album offsets that with positivity and in his word- he wants it to “remind people that Christ is present and there’s a joy to be had that’s fantastic”

this was the quote I referred to earlier in this post and I want to write it down so I don’t forget it again.
Now that he mentions it, though, I do feel a fantastic joy listening to my favorite songs on this album.
The Greatest Romance, So Far So Pleased, Sun Moon and Stars, Baby Knows, even Wherever U Go and Hot with U… these are songs that make me smile whenever I listen to them… this album gets a lot of flack and I don’t often like it a lot when I listen to the whole thing.
But when I get to my favorite songs and there are a bunch I really like on this that I feel get lost among the masses of material he’s written… it’s a pretty fantastic feeling. And from there, I’ll stop using that word for the rest of this post πŸ˜›

So I gave In2 another listen at work in the afternoon and later took Peach and Black on the road for the drive home as planned.

I had another of those moments with The Greatest Romance… it’s hard to describe exactly, other than being spellbound by Prince for the millionth time. And I swear there was a point where I felt a cool breeze and that feeling stayed with me.
It made me think of the “Comeback” lyric that says “that sweet wind was you”… but I also thought about a certain Plushenko program- where I swear the area around me grows cold the moment the music starts…
I think I felt Prince’s energy in the room with me, but I don’t know if it’s a specific message or anything concrete. Just a feeling and just him lulling me to a moment of utmost bliss. Kinda awkward that this was happening at work or I’d have let my mind take me a bit further (nothing beyond PG, I promise you).
I’ve yet to have a bad listen to the extended version of that song and would very much like to keep it that way.

So listening to the first two songs– I really don’t like their original forms (Matt Thorne said the new “Rave” took all the magic out of the original… I don’t get that magic personally).
The overall quality of the original, I don’t know, I just don’t get it. It hurts my ears.

The remix has a nice fresh energy to it, but it might be cuz I hadn’t heard it a million times like the other version (and I don’t think I’ve heard any Prince album a million times- not even 100. Individual songs that’ve been on the radio a lot- MAYBE).

I noticed some lyrics in the Undisputed remix. I don’t really like the new chorus that appears throughout the song. But the verses- some interesting moments.
One was him talking about them playing one of this songs on the radio, how he doesn’t remember cuz it was from 1984, and then he said something like “Like Clarence- I have a million of them and they’re all different”… that’s directly from Purple Rain… I realized that and it just blew my mind. He really has become his Father in that movie with the lots of songs that are all different.

The rest of the album… it was just the best time. I think this album might get a higher score than I’ve anticipated because for the most part, these listens have been successful. Although with Un2 I have to get past the first 2 songs to really enjoy it πŸ˜›

So with the guys over in Australia- Captain was the only one who liked In2 better than Un2 with the title track. His comment was that the In2 version was closer to what he expected, considering it was from 1988 and it reminded him of some of the Batman stuff.
Toejam talked about how the song was new to him because he was a newer fan at the time and didn’t find out for a while how old the song really was. I agree- it doesn’t sound out of place on the album to me because I had no real reference point. Although if I listened to it and Kiss back to back- I might be able to identify it more as an 80’s track.

So Far so Pleased got flack because Gwen Stefani is more of a backing vocalist than a duet partner. I didn’t even know it was supposed to be a duet, I thought these were all featured artists. Captain loves the song, but MC thinks it’s too lite pop Avril Lavigne. As if Prince is above doing this type of stuff.
Meanwhile, Captain called Sun Moon and Stars most skippable (I think there was a time I did too, but it didn’t last that long). Player’s three words were “Clare Fischer strings”- and I thought about how this song probably wouldn’t have been as great in my view without them.

Toejam called “Hot with U” a guilty pleasure and the guys couldn’t believe it πŸ˜›

someone said of Tangerine that they heard someone say the guitar sounded like the Rainbow Children- I totally get that vibe myself.

Speaking of Rainbow Children, I won’t be getting to it for another week. I got another generous donation and will instead be going into The Vault. Another new album for me, so it should be interesting.
And then after I’ll finish that week with the top songs from the 90’s.

I WILL have to do my own version of these Peach and Black lists. the top 20 Prince songs, the top Prince songs of the 90’s and every decade after that.
when I do my favorite Prince songs- and I will start with a top 100 list- it’ll be interesting to see if my own top 20 is all 80’s songs or there’ll be a mix.

so it’s Sunday and I’m finally going to be finishing this… only to launch into a brand new album tomorrow, but it’s been a good week, I think.

Starting with the Peach and Black podcast- this episode alone is worth listening to just for Toejam’s rant about “Strange but True” and how it’s his favorite song of all time. I mean, I get that excited when it’s time for me talk about The Gold Experience and MY favorite Prince song of all time.
I can pick my favorite song by him, funny enough, but not my favorite Prince album. Or my favorite song of all time by anyone. Typically, I think of Prince in his own hemisphere and all other music is the rest of it and I don’t mix up the two when I’m thinking about my favorite anything. Just because he is in that class all by himself that nobody will ever be able to touch.

Anyway- the reviews of the album overall… some of the lowest scores the guys have given out. Between 6.5-5.5. And of course Toejam has that personal connection to it, so his was either a 7 or 8.
Captain was the most optimistic, saying he likes a lot of the songs on their own, but the album as a whole is weird to him. I can’t help but agree.
Although the way I personally score my albums, it’s literally the sum of the parts divided by the total possible points. Kinda like MC’s iTunes scoring system back when he scored albums (and he actually did score this one, so it was before he “retired” from rating).

As for me…
I was up finishing the Delta Episode of PokΓ©mon Alpha Sapphire so I could possibly start a game of Pearl today… I did it as fast as I could, but I was in bed by midnight and wound up listening to Prince until 1:14am. I knew there was no way I’d be awake to score the album that night. And I’d also be dog tired today when I really need as much sleep as I can get before work on Monday.

Basically what I did- I listened to both versions of Rave back to back, The Greatest Romance and Hot with U (Un2), Tangerine, So Far so Pleased, Sun Moon and Stars, Man o’ war (In2), Baby Knows (Un2), Beautiful Strange, Silly Game (In2), Strange but True, Wherever U Go (Un2).

Most of it was because I didn’t feel like looking at my iPod just to switch between albums. But I also didn’t feel like listening to longer versions of Baby Knows or Greatest Romance.

Honestly, I think when I put together my own Rave playlist… it’s going to be just like that, but without the title track- so it’d be called “The Greatest Romance”- it just sounds a helluva lot better.
And nothing against the Winding Road cover… I just think I got enough out of it this past week and it has less impact when I’m stationary.

Ok, time to find out what my score is…
And I’ll probably run the two albums separately so there’s a little less chance of comparing remixes and original versions. And with tracks that are more or less identical, I’ll just copy my scores from Un2 to In2 and just not give the songs a second subheading.

RAVE UN2 THE JOY FANTASTIC
I don’t recall my first reaction to this song off the top of my head, but if I like it, it wasn’t a long period of time. This is a hard song to listen to just on the vocals alone. [and I had a theory about that that may wind up just being wrong- the scratchy quality of his voice sounded a lot like his “Scandalous” vocal- which I did not like for the same reason… however, Rave was recorded in Summer 1988 while Scandalous was done in October of the same year- and he had also been doing LoveSexy shows in between these two tracks… so there goes that theory].
The music overall is cool- sounds cool with that synth line pulsing through it, that guitar riff that wound up in The Max and the panning effect in headphones is cool. The lyrics- to me, they sound like nonsense. No idea what he’s talking about. Looking at them, there’s something about a good walk and a brand new position and getting u out of ur mind. If the lyrics weren’t incoherent due to the vocal, maybe they’d have more impact on me. Even if they are kinda all over the place. And other than the celebratory tone of it (that much I can gather), for me, nothing seems to justify it being the opening track or namesake of an album. That came across better in an interview where Prince explained what the title meant- but if he needs an interview to do that when he claims his music speaks for him… yeah, I should just score it and shut up because this is gotten out of hand.
Technical Merit- 4 (I gave no 0’s on this- there’s some good thoughts here and the backing vocals aren’t bad)
Components Score- 2.5 (by virtue of the music)
Total score- 6.5

UNDISPUTED
This is one of those tracks where Prince is clearly in Prince World and maybe is asking too much of us to have an open mind about it. The opening lyrics are ego-tripping and he seems to be up on this “Truth” he wants others to want to learn about. Of the songs about his struggles against The Man within record companies, this is both the most vague and most literal. It isn’t as bad when it’s artistically done with metaphors and figurative language, but here, it’s a little more obvious what he’s going for and it’s nothing particular joyous. If the first song was meant to get us off on a good note and in a good place, this kinda ruins it. And the Chuck D rap… I don’t like rap in general and it doesn’t seem to have anything to do with the song. At least the Tony M raps were somewhat related to the songs he featured on.
Technical Merit- 4 (some lyrics are good, but the music doesn’t particularly sound out and sounds plasticy to me)
Components Score- 2
Total score- 6

…yeah, in the first two songs, as much as I like the rest of the album… I think they just killed any chance of it getting a high score

THE GREATEST ROMANCE EVER SOLD
Of course I’m a sucker for Prince ballads and this is another one. This was my first taste of the album and a reason why I wanted it. To this day, I still feel the same way about it. Some lyrics might allude to the trouble with him and Mayte, but I’m choosing to ignore it because this is one song I don’t want ruined by what it’s really about. I like it too much. A great dreamy vibe, some great lyrics in the verses… (I think the title refers to The Bible- Adam and Eve being part of The Bible, and The Bible always being a top selling non-fiction book- of course I could be completely wrong)
Technical Merit- 4.5 (there’re some random vocals and sounds like record scratches- except the one on the bridge, that’s good- in the background that can be distracting at times)
Components Score- 4.5
Total Score- 9 (of my favorite Prince ballads, this probably will rank towards the bottom due to certain imperfections… it’s still one I always look forward to when I take this album out)

HOT WITH U
(I know it’s technically “Hot wit U” but I don’t feel like going through this post to fix that… I’m too lazy at this point)
Other than some lines in Eve’s rap (the “they call u The Artist” line and her saying something like “I’ll be ready to call u Daddy”… EWW! I know Prince is old enough to be my father, but I never understood why women refer to their men as “daddy” when they’re [lack of a better word] fucking… it’s disgusting) and the fact (kinda the same point) Prince is nearing 40 when he’s recording this song and some of the pretenses of it are better suited for someone in the 20’s to early 30’s… I mean, those are big negatives, but I still kinda like this song. And there are moments where I just revel in it.
Technical Merit- 4 (I also kinda don’t like how his voice is recorded here- I don’t know if it’s a vocoder or auto-tone, but it kinda takes the “hot” factor out of the song for me)
Components Score- 3.5
Total Score- 7.5 (on some days, I could give it a total of 8, but it’s not often one I skip to listen to)

TANGERINE
A nice simple little song. It’s only 91 seconds long, a tad shorter than “Sister,” but just like it, Prince is able to accomplish everything he’d set out to do in a short amount of time. And he was even taking his time on this one to let it breathe and every individual lyric to sink in. There’s actually no chorus in this one, so it almost doesn’t qualify as a song, but it has music, lyrics and there’s a little bit of a story here. At the same time, it almost doesn’t feel long enough (which is probably why the remix album version is what it is)
Technical Merit- 4.5
Components Score- 4
Total Score- 8.5

SO FAR, SO PLEASED
[still can’t believe MC listed this among the parts of the album that let it down… or called The Greatest Romance “not memorable” for that matter]
One of those early favorites on this album. At the time I didn’t really care of Gwen Stefani (I haven’t bought any of her albums, but I do like her more than I did when “Hollaback Girl” was popular… freaking hate that song!… another terrible Pharrell collaboration- although not as bad as “Blurred Lines”… anyway I’m off topic)…
This song is awesome. Great pop song. Love the whole vibe of it. Some nice lyrics. Great guitar work.
Technical Merit- 4.5 (the sound of it reminds me a little more of a No Doubt production than a Prince production- not that that’s a criticism… but a few people could have written the song type of pop song… it just wouldn’t that killer Prince guitar solo)
Components Score- 4.5
Total Score- 9

I’m feeling oddly critical of this album… as much as I like some songs, they’re not quite perfect.

THE SUN, MOON & STARS
Another nice ballad I like chilling with, especially when it’s night time. The Clare Fischer strings make the song- I don’t know what it’d be without them. I probably wouldn’t feel the same way. It wasn’t love at first listen, but after a point, it’s been love ever since. And the reggae rap- cheesy, maybe, but I still love singing it every time. Especially when I can remember all the lyrics- sometimes I still slip up, but this past week, it’s been smooth.
Technical Merit- 4.5 (some lyrics are a little too cheesy to overlook unfortunately πŸ˜› )
Components Score- 4
Total Score- 8.5 (“pleasant” is the perfect way to describe this song, but by no means is it anything groundbreaking or spectacular- and not all Prince songs need to be)

EVERYDAY IS A WINDING ROAD
Most days I find this a really enjoyable listen. I find the original version kinda meh, so I like what Prince did with this. Even if the chorus doesn’t follow the core melody, something that bugs me when Prince covers songs, I don’t mind it in this case. The one drawback is Larry Graham trying to turn the song into something it isn’t in his little section.
Technical Merit- 4
Components Score- 3.5 (this is the perfect example of my “I kinda like this” 3.5 components score)
Total score- 7.5

MAN O’ WAR
[MC really liked this one when he did his review and I liked how he reviewed it but I just can’t get on that same boat… especially when this album has two break-up ballads so close together]
There’s a lot of great things about this song. The story is very visual and you feel like you’re a part of it, especially when the music echoes the emotion so well. Like the guitar solo and the end makes me sad. Not a bad vocal performance either
Technical Merit- 4.5 (three words “Why U Screamin'”… ugh… that alone kills any chance of me being completely in love with this song- was it too difficult to put “R” after “why”?)
Components Score- 3.5
Total Score- 8

BABY KNOWS
This is a fun one. It doesn’t seem like a song a lot of Prince fans really talk about or like all that much. Love the story, all the music… and it’s kinda unique and different for Prince.
Technical Merit- 5 (the “ur stuff ain’t brown” lyric is one that I don’t particularly care for, but it comes and goes so quickly and is immediately followed by “and ur perfume- smells like the weekend”- a line I’ve always liked but don’t know why)
Components Score- 4.5
Total Score- 9.5 (yeah, I can’t believe this is the highest scored song so far on this album)

I LOVE U BUT DON’T TRUST U ANYMORE
I’ve made my feelings on this one pretty clear. I love how it sounds and it’s really well-written and executed. But getting Mayte’s version of the story… it makes things a little complicated…
Technical Merit- 5
Components Score- 4
Total Score- 9 (if I didn’t know what the truth really was… this would be a perfect 10… Mayte never cheated on Prince- she spent the better part of 1998-1999 in the house they bought together in Spain where he said he wanted to spend time with her away from everything but rarely did. meanwhile, he was falling under the spell of the JW religion and perhaps starting to have romantic thoughts for someone else- thoughts that didn’t become actions until after the divorce… the fact that he’s playing the victim in the situation… yeah, it complicates things and I just don’t want to say anymore about it cuz I think I’ve already covered everything there is to say)

SILLY GAME
Another song I’d rather not read into too much because it might be based on true events… cuz I kinda like this one…
the guys at Peach and Black said this song was a throwback to the 60’s or 70’s with the music and I can kinda see that. Another pleasant, nice little song that doesn’t have a lot to it. I kinda like the guitar solo towards the end because it’s acoustic and a little something different.
Technical Merit- 4 (not super unique to Prince and that one lyric “I was down to be ur sugar daddy, one way ticket to ghetto fame”… it doesn’t sound like something Prince would write. I also hope that this song wasn’t the reason the haters think Mayte was a gold-digger)
Components Score- 4
Total Score- 8 (I’m not over the moon for it, but I do like this song a fair bit)

STRANGE BUT TRUE
Also don’t want to read too much into this one- and I think Toejam feels the same way, saying he probably wouldn’t like it as much if he heard it more recently and put together it was about his changing religious ideals.
It’s very unique musically. It’s kinda cool that this is a spoken track, but not a rap. If there’s anything I don’t like- without reading into lyrics, which I won’t cuz I like a lot of them- it’s the sound effects like the background like some record scratching and what sounds like a man’s laugh- things that his engineer, Buff, thinks Prince put into it intentionally because he pressed him so hard to include it on this album.
Technical Merit- 4.5
Components Score- 4
Total Score- 8.5 (kinda like the case with “Fascination,” I liked it a lot when I first heard it, but over time, that fondness has waned a little bit and I don’t really know why. Maybe the novelty just wore off)

WHEREVER U GO, WHATEVER U DO
[Captain said it started with “Forever in my Life” type drum programming- I can’t believe I didn’t make that connection until now… with the sound of it and the triangle, it makes me think about the start of “In this bed eye scream”- and the guitar in the opening reminds me a little of how his guitar sounds like “Welcome 2 the dawn”]
This is another song that doesn’t have an actual chorus, but I don’t mind that. It has three verses that leave us with a nice little message to take with us once the album is over- even though it technically isn’t the last song on the album. There’s just one lyric that kinda takes away from it… one little flaw and it’d be a perfect pop song. Although maybe not a single because it’s not particularly strong or memorable or scream “this is a Prince song.” I’ve always kinda liked it, but taking into account where Prince is now, it feels like one of those songs good to look back on. Especially if you’re someone who looked up to him or looked to him for guidance in difficult times.
Technical Merit- 4
Components Score- 4.5
Total Score- 8.5

PRETTYMAN
[just heard the other day that this is Prince’s tribute to Morris Day and The Time… even in that context, doesn’t change how I feel about the song]
So this is a hidden track that some consider one of the best songs on the album that should have been a leading single. For me- :sigh: the music part is really cool to listen. I just don’t like anything else in it all that much.
I looked up the lyrics and supposedly I’d misheard one- for a decade, I thought he said “I get it down, and when nobody’s around, I smell myself”… but it’s supposedly “I get it down, hit me, your body around”… if he didn’t accent his vocals at the end of phrases so damn much, I wouldn’t have misheard that. Still doesn’t change the fact I don’t like that line (which is preceded by kissing the mirror twice). And really, some of these lyrics, they’re just not written very well. Not exactly proper English.
And his vocals overall- the accent is maybe too much at times. But on another note, it reminds me of how he sung in the Musicology era. By no means is that a negative thing. I just don’t like it quite as much as how he sang on 3121 and Planet Earth and the Lotusflow3r albums.
Technical Merit- 4
Components Score- 3
Total Score- 7

…ok, so that’s one album down…
and just noticed that the remix album is actually a track shorter… should’ve been fairly obvious cuz all the songs came back in one form another except Strange but True (replaced by Beautiful Strange) and Everyday is a Winding Road.

But at least I have 5 fewer songs to score because they’ll be the same as the above- if there are any differences, they’re so subtle that I don’t notice them at all.

RAVE IN2 THE JOY FANTASTIC
The clarity of the production on this is refreshing- with the original being so bogged down by those lead vocals. The lyrics are a little different, but they’re still kinda nonsensical to me. And maybe it runs a little long and loses its away a bit.
Technical Merit- 4
Components Score- 3
Total Score- 7 (I maybe have heard this song a total of 7 times in my life, but as of this point, I don’t mind it all that much. It’s certainly not painful to listen to)

UNDISPUTED (Moneyappolis remix)
This song meanders a little too much sometimes, but it’s kinda cool how he made this one different. Giving it a different chorus and lots of interesting lyrics I’m still getting to know that’ll make the return trips worth it. However, I don’t like the Chuck D samples throughout the song- just annoy me so much.
Technical Merit- 4.5
Components Score- 3.5
Total Score- 8

THE GREATEST ROMANCE EVER SOLD (extended remix)
I’m still getting to know that spoken part in the beginning and not really sure what’s going on there. Other than that, this song still feels like a dream. To the point where I don’t want to listen to it too much because I might wake up and realize there’s something wrong with it or worse fall out of love with it.
Technical Merit- 4.5
Components Score- 5
Total Score- 9.5

HOT WITH U
maybe the one remix that really wasn’t necessary… even if it took away the autotune vocals I didn’t like, I also kinda miss the original chorus, and I HATE that “freak of the week” sample. I may be hypercritical of his songs sometimes, but I never treated Prince like a freak. And while he is a bit of a weirdo, I don’t like people being dismissive of him because he does things different.
Technical Merit- 4
Components Score- 3.5
Total score- 7.5 (I think this is the same score- just gonna say I like the original version better and it’d be the one on the playlist if I ever make “The Greatest Romance” a thing)

TANGERINE (extended)
My thoughts are pretty much the same, but I like how there’s a little more to this one. Another point for Prince’s guitar work to show off.
Technical Merit- 5
Components Score- 4
Total Score- 9

skipping ahead to…

MAN O’ WAR (remix)
[I’m not sure if this is intentional- but the music reminds me a little of FLSM/W- so maybe it’s making a statement on the relationship]
I kinda like what he did with this. The music is refreshing and different. The new vocals match that nicely. It sucks the emotion out of the song, yes, but I also don’t want to get bogged down and sad either. Interesting different take on the same song.
Technical Merit- 4.5
Components Score- 3.5
Total Score- 8

BABY KNOWS (extended)
Again, my thoughts are about the same, although the production on this sounds a little fresher- even if it’s just my imagination. I like the extended instrumental in this version, but at the same time… I dunno if I would miss it too much if I never heard it again.
Technical Merit- 4.5
Components score- 4
Total Score- 8.5 (I mean, this score probably makes more sense for this song than my 9.5 for the original version did… I just know I get more excited when I get to the original than this one. Not sure why)

BEAUTIFUL STRANGE
I think I’m still figuring out how I feel about this song. It’s kinda cool to listen to, but I don’t get terribly excited about it. Which is strange because this is a dreamy type of song. The kind I typically like. But it’s just… u know… it’s strange, but kinda beautiful. The sound of the guitar reminds me a little bit of the Undertaker sessions, even if this was long after that.
Technical Merit- 4 (once I get a feel for what this song is about and I know how it’s put together, this score could potentially change for the better later on)
Components Score- 3.5
Total score- 7.5 (the music on its own is strong enough where I kinda like listening to it- but the rest, I’m still undecided about)

PRETTYMAN (extended)
I like this version a tad more because there’s more music to it later on. And that ending where he smashes the original Rave record (MC always thought of it as him cracking the mirror by looking at it too long- but it’s hard not to be suckered into that “myth” about the record smash)- it leaves an impression.
Technical Merit- 4
Components Score- 3.5
Total Score- 7.5

Now to find out which version is the better version of the album…

Rave Un2 the Joy Fantastic- 8.1/10
Rave In2 the Joy Fantastic- 8.3/10

kinda interesting… the big difference was the components score- I like the songs on In2 a tad more…

supposing I were to average all the songs on both albums… obviously it would be 8.2. Just wasted my time doing the math for that πŸ˜›

I swear I do like these song more than I gave them, but I guess that does say something about this album. It’s a good attempt at these types of songs and themes and so on, but it doesn’t entirely come together.

but yeah… that’s it… finally done with Rave.

Next week- I’ll be finishing up the 90’s.

for consideration in my top 100 Prince songs…

from Un2, Baby Knows, The Greatest Romance, So Far so Pleased and I love u but don’t trust u anymore
from In2, The Greatest Romance and Tangerine.

I just might pick one Greatest Romance to prevent redundancy.

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

“Prince” Album #22: NewPower Soul

The quotes around Prince seem to have a double meaning this time… not only was he known as O(+> at the time (and that’s why I have been doing his name in quotes- in case anyone was wondering)… but this TECHNICALLY/em> isn’t a Prince album, but an NPG album where Prince just happens to sing lead on all the songs AND he is the only person pictured on the album cover.

But dammit- I found it in the Prince album bin and bought the same day as Diamonds & Pearls and its corresponding video collection… I’m considering it a Prince album. Even if I’m going to give it a really low score.

The first time I listened to it- it was a very uneven listen. I got into it at first, but there was a lot of seesawing action. I’d be on board one minute and the next.. not so much. It was kinda awkward.

Listening to it again- I remember the parts I really like. Then as I listened more to the songs I typically skip (I think when I uploaded this album to my iPod, I only put 6 or 7 songs), I remembered why I did.

My fellow Purple Knight, when he responded to me tweeting about the album, he said on his last listen that it sounded to him like a more composed version of Emancipation.
If that’s a challenge, I accept. And I have found some commonalities with it as well. Whether or not it’s better… that’s what I’m going to find out.

I got to the first two songs this morning and the rest in the afternoon.
The title track and “Mad Sex”… the music is great, first off. It’s an NPG album opposed to a solo record, so it sounds as huge as a live band will let it. And the sound is great.
But time and time and track and track, it was the lyrics that let it down. At least in my view.

My first impression of NPS this time around… the music in the verses reminded me a lot of “Mr. Happy”- I said previously on part I of my Emancipation review that it sounded to me like the NPS type of sound.
Great music. But the chorus is just terrible- all it is that “get freaky. let your head bob” chant and that line that says the title of the song. I just don’t get it. It’s a very joyous, upbeat song, but stupid chorus. And unfortunately it’s not the only one.

“Mad Sex”… ugh… it’s kind of an example of how these NPG albums roll. Prince is great innuendos and figurative language and such, so he’ll usually go that route instead of coming out and saying the actual act.
This song almost sounds like an updated version of “Dinner with Delores,” but in addition to her eating like a brontosaurus and being into dirty movies… she’s having lots of mad sex and makes no apologies about it.
I like the use of horns throughout and the bridge leading to the chorus- but the chorus just rubs me the wrong way with it being so upfront. A lot of Prince’s explicit music has grown on me over the years, but this still hasn’t.

“Until U’re in my arms again”- I remember really liking and I still do. I’m wondering if it’s about a relationship or about the loss he and Mayte suffered. Because the lyrics could almost go either way. Something about the vibe of it, today, it reminded me of the ballads Backstreet Boys and *NSYNC would do a couple years after this.
And the bridge where he says lyrics like “there’s no reason to the rhyme”- it made me think of the bridge at the end of “I just can’t stop loving you” by Michael Jackson. I know, crazy. I don’t often compare these two (other than saying Prince is better because he played all the instruments and wrote all the songs himself), but that just made me think of it.

Aside from terrible choruses, this album also issues with songs running too long.
Although if I weren’t trying to fit it into my commute, I might not mind so much. But several outstay their welcome- a couple are ones I typically skip.

“To Love Somebody”- this is a celebratory track, but there’s a bit of sadness to it. It’s hard to know how to feel while listening to it sometimes. After the previous song, it feels like a nice pick-me-up. But today, when it went too long, I was worrying I wouldn’t have time to listen to the rest of it.
Then there’s a rap in the ended portion that maybe doesn’t quite work… there’s also a lyric that I remember Captain objecting to in the podcast. I’m not going to outright say what it is, but it’s a part of the body and Captain said something like “I don’t want to imagine that” or “hear about that” or something. Let’s just say it’s a visual that kinda comes out of nowhere and it takes away from the song.

“Shoo-bed-ooh”… I’ve always kinda liked, but it isn’t perfect either.
I really like the bridge, but not the lyric about the answer to the question of life being a gray-haired bitch… actually, I don’t like the lyrics in the bridge all that much because it’s not the most pleasant imagery, but the final lyric is cool- “if that’s the game you stood in line for, how’re you gonna win?” it kinda makes you think.
Mainly, I like the melody of the bridge.
Now that I think about it, I don’t really know what this song is about, lol

“Push it up” and “Freaks on this side”… they’re the core problem I have with this album overall.
It’s all about these stupid chants.

“Push it up” doesn’t even have a chorus- it’s the title repeated around the “Jam of the Year” chorus… you could even consider it a remix of “Jam of the year”… just not a very good one that has nothing to do with the original.
It also overstays its welcome.

the “Freaks on this side” chant was echoing in my head before the song even started. Somehow, it’s stayed in my head even though I don’t really listen to it.
It seems a little loud. I like the music a bit better than the other song, but overall, it’s not much better.

Then it gets better for a couple songs. Not surprising, they were both singles that got music videos.

“Come On” has the Camille voice, although not quite the same as what Prince used in the 80’s- but he did bring it back for “3121” and “Breakfast Can Wait”… funny enough, the latter also has a lyric about muffins (I tweeted a comment Captain made in a podcast about that and we both had a good laugh about it– although he hasn’t used muffins quite as often as the Adam & Eve references– there is one in “To Love Somebody” by the way).
There isn’t much to the chorus, other than it’s a shared Chaka-Camille vocal. I really like the lead line that appears in it and throughout the song. It tells an interesting story about the pursuit of a woman and there’s one point where a girlfriend is mentioned- I have no idea if it’s a girl friend or a girlfriend. I kinda like to believe it’s the latter πŸ˜‰ makes things extra interesting.

“The One”… whoa… I don’t listen to this album much so when there are large gaps like this (even though it’s been a year, but it’d been really long before that), I don’t remember the lyrics all that well.
But this song- I played it the most of any from this album. Granted, not on repeat (it’s a 7 minute song)- I was remembering it and singing with it as the song was progressing naturally. And it was head over heels all over again. It never feels too long to me because that’s got that dreamy atmosphere and I just let it wash over me in waves. And obviously I don’t listen it too much for fear of losing that.
Great lyrics, love the flute and the Clare Fischer strings… just go out! So good.
If I were listing my favorite DreamyPop songs, this would be among them- maybe near the top.

“I like Funky Music”… it’s got some issues… another stupid chant- not a great chorus. And there’s a rap.
But the verses- going into the song, it reminded me of “Get yo groove on”. It has a lot of good points. The negatives just outweigh them a bit sometimes.

I don’t know how I came across- whether I had to read about it or I actually found it myself… there is a hidden track on this album… on track 49.
I don’t know why the hell Prince had to do all these hidden blank tracks to lead up to this one.
“Wasted Kisses” is probably one of the most composed songs on the album, most fully realized. I still haven’t figured out what it’s about- if it’s another personal track about that loss or it’s about a relationship that’s falling apart. Princevault says it was recorded between May and December 1997… it could be about a number of things.

But something about it just doesn’t sit well with me personally.
I think it’s about all the sound effects. The ambulance, the hospital lobby, the emergency room and the flatline…
it’s not as if I spent a lot of time in a hospital. I went a couple of times to draw blood for an upcoming surgery and I was in the hospital for a week after going through back surgery (November 15 will mark 18 years). I wouldn’t say it was a traumatic experience, but since then, I’ve had a thing about blood and needles… and I also feel uncomfortable when TV shows have a storyline where a hospital is being compromised by hackers. Those two things are probably unrelated, so I’ll just stop there.
I’m just saying that some hospital stuff, including sound effects like this, leaves me uneasy. In other words, this song is kinda scary to listen to.

That’s just a personal thing I have… yes, I have some minor issues (my rant about Animal Kingdom is probably crazier than this… oddly I like watching shows like “The Night Shift’ and “Code Black”). But that’s ok.


Listening to the album again today… well to start, I was stressing out about work. The other day, I feel like I got slammed, having to start learning two new things the same day on short notice. I know I’ve been due for some time to learn new things, but it felt like too much too fast.
Having this music, which isn’t the greatest written by Prince… it didn’t help all that much.

Cutting ahead- I fell into my groove and also felt like I wasn’t alone. I’m not one of those people that preaches about God or even likes hearing preaching. But I felt that kind of presence with me that gave me strength and assurance that everything would be ok.

Back on topic now…
I listened to the title track trying to tune out the stupid chorus lyrics and just listen to the music. The music is really good.
Mad Sex has the potential as well- but I just don’t like the lyrics or the whole story of it.

Until U’re in my arms again- it’s a sad song, but it felt like being wrapped up in a fuzzy blanket.

This album feels like it’s split down the middle between NPG songs and Prince songs.
Songs like this where it’s just Prince with mainly backing vocals from him… it’s when things feel right. Most of the songs from this album I had put on my iPod have that in common.

To me, this song, The One and Wasted Kisses are the only true Prince songs here. They have the usual formula with him doing almost all the instruments himself, the backing vocals are all him. And they just feel like home.

NewPower Soul, Freaks on This Side, I like Funky Music, Push it Up- to me, they’re like band performances. Prince’s spirit doesn’t really shine as brightly to me, so it’s the lesser material you’d expect from an NPG album. Plus- all those STUPID chants.

To Love Somebody, Shoo-bed-ooh, and Come On- they’re Prince fronting the band, but they all add their individual energies to it. Whether it’s a chorus of backing vocals or Chaka singing lead or co-lead.
It’s why I like these more than the previous. Except Mad Sex- it’s in this category, but beyond the music, I really don’t like it.

To Love Somebody, oddly this time around, it felt like it wasn’t long enough.
I love the musical part of the extended portion- it’s so bright with those horns (as the whole song is) and it’s like something funny to shimmy to.
I also heard a horn line in there that reminds me of the horn section in “Housequake”- not sure if that’s intentional or not.

Shoo-bed-ooh- I’m halfway on. I kinda like it, but I’m not often 100% on board with it.

Push it up- it kinda sounds like “Le Grind”- but instead of a dance party, it’s like at a concert.
Freaks on this side… the chants were starting to get to me a bit… it’s annoying how a couple of these songs get their names from these chants. Cuz if you take the chants out, the title makes no sense. And I really want to take those chants out.
I like Funky Music is the only one of these I kinda like. The music reminds me of “Get Yo Groove On” but there’s some synth stuff that’s 80’s. There’s a guitar lick that sounds like it’s from The Future off the Batman album. And other parts that reminds me of something off The Rainbow Children album- whatever song on there where there’s a high-pitched vocal that says “play with it” during a solo.

Come On is a cool narrative. Although when I get to the chorus, I like to sing “da da da’s” along with the music rather than the actual lyrics. [I know, I gave the Emancipation track a hard time because that’s a stupid title for a song… but I don’t want to tell anyone to “shake it”… unless it’s Taylor singing “shake it off”].

The One… spellbound- enough said. In fact I should find the video.
Come On also has a cool video- Prince as an old man trying to make a point that he’s the one this girl should be with. It’s kinda sad to think we’ll never know if Prince would have looked anything like his old age makeup at age 80 or 90.

Wasted Kisses- the way the piano sounds on the verses… it kinda reminds me of a Maroon 5 song… “Sunday Morning” I think. It has the same feel to me as that first album.

Also to go with this album, I listened to Peach and Black talk with Larry Graham.
AMAZINGLY- religion did not come up at all. So grateful for that because they could have easily have given him a hard time about converting Prince to be a Jehovah’s Witness and how that “ruined him” in the eyes in much of his fan base.
But talking on music on its own, Larry is a cool guy. He really knows his stuff. I don’t recall any specifics, but the way he talked about it, I totally understood where he was coming from.
I’m not going to say what it is, but it’s worth sticking around for the last minute because there is a funny bit involving one of the members of the podcast.
I can only wonder if that was his genuine reaction that was recorded for posterity or if they staged that.

The One is such an beautiful video- I don’t remember that opening bit that’s like a silent movie where Rita Moreno plays Mayte’s mother and the core of the video is taking place inside a storybook.
I just wish it was the two of them in the video without all those other backup dancers. Her dancing is so good that that should be the main highlight aside from all those things Prince does with his hands and his body language in general. I also wish that they didn’t cut my favorite flute solo- the prettiest part is at the end of the first part with all those fast notes in succession.

I could rate it now, but I want to listen to the podcast again. I think at the end is where MC flat out refuses to rate it and has since retired from rating albums and Captain nudges him saying that people have so much fun with their scores πŸ˜› and that won’t be until Sunday- I’ve got a long car ride to take it on.
and I also have some other tracks I need to listen to- some remixes as well as “The War” which also came out around this point.

Matt Thorne had 3-5 pages on it and he was oddly optimistic, saying it’s worth a revisit. But he also said half of it was crappy party music.
Supposedly the engineer said that “To Love Somebody” was a rough cut and someone in the band wanted to pay for it to be redone. It doesn’t sound bad to me at all- but I’m also not musically inclined enough to tell the difference.
Come On and The One got good comments- I think. And he called Wasted Kisses the best song Prince did in the 90’s… the production on it is great, I just have teeny issues with it so I don’t like it too much.

As for the remixes…
the Come On late night remix was pretty cool even though it doesn’t have my favorite hook from the chorus.
The One- it’s a slightly different version musically, but the vocals are all the same.


the podcast, I think I remembered it differently than it really is.
That one comment from the “To Love Somebody” rap… that was Toejam, not Captain that talked about that one lyric. It’s something about balls.

And MC did rate this album… he gave it 3.5 :falloff:
he took 5 off straight away for one thing and another point for something else… and it went downhill after that.
The consensus is otherwise is between 5.5-6.5

Hearing the podcast makes me kinda want to give the songs another chance before I do the scores.
But I’m racing into Rave tomorrow, so I don’t have time.
I did The Truth within a few listens because I was already familiar with it and already had a good idea where I stood.
Maybe I should have given this one more time- but I still didn’t want to give it its own week.
It’s an NPG album, not a Prince album. Even if I’m freaking treating it like one…

Anyway, scoring time.
and I just realized I was calling one song the wrong thing (I was just rushing to work through a figure skating post to finish it and I called someone by the wrong name… now this)…
I’d been swapping the pronouns for “Until u’re in my arms again”… and was writing “eye’m in ur arms”… BIG difference- probably would be a different song entirely.
…and then I’d been screwing with “To Love Somebody”- which is really “when u love somebody”
and “shoo-bee-oh” is “Shoo-bed-ooh” (actually I went through and I spelled it different very time…) and “I love funky music” is “I like funky music”

you can tell I really don’t care too much about this album if I can’t get the song titles right, ugh…

Kinda funny how I can’t wait for the weekend cuz then I can relax. But I wind up scheduling so much writing on the weekends that it feels like work sometimes I never really relax.

NEWPOWER SOUL
It’s a good way to start the album, but it’s not perfect, so it doesn’t get things off on the best foot either. It’d be a million times better without the “head bobbing” chorus… stupid chorus. Some good horns. I like the name-check rap.
Technical Merit- 4
Components Score- 3.5 (kinda like this one, but I’ll never be in love with it)
Total score- 7.5

MAD SEX
I’ve got issues with the lyrics, but probably one of the best examples of the music on this album. Whoever said on the podcast that it’s nice for the trumpet to get the solo instead the typical saxophone- I’ll take that into account as well.
Technical Merit- 4
Components Score- 2.5 (as good as the music is, I don’t like listening to this one- I certainly don’t skip to it)
total score- 6.5

UNTIL U’RE IN MY ARMS AGAIN
the guys were kinda harsh on this one because of the plasticy synthy sound. Someone said it’s kinda unfair that ballads like this don’t get as much love because of The Beautiful Ones, Insatiable and Adore being much better examples. and Captain hates R&B (what else is new, right?)
I feel like the emotion in this is a big part of why it works for me personally. It feels genuine and kinda personal. Which most of this album doesn’t really have- the personal aspect and that’s what I like in Prince. That little touch.
Technical Merit- 4.5
Components Score- 4
Total score- 8.5

WHEN U LOVE SOMEBODY
Love the energy in this one. Maybe runs a little long at times. It feels like one of the better realized songs on the album. There’s kind of a lame rap on it, but at least there are no stupid chants.
Technical Merit- 4.5
Components Score- 4
Total score- 8.5

SHOO-BED-OOH
another thought I had I forgot to mention- the synths in this remind me a bit of the synth moments in “White Mansion”. I wouldn’t call it the most skippable on the album like the Peach and Black guys, but it’s all right. I don’t mind it too much, even though it’s not perfect.
Technical Merit- 4.5
Components Score- 3.5
Total score- 8

now, if this album was a stock, it would start to crash now…

PUSH IT UP
another weak chorus :sigh: …there’s not a whole lot to this song I really like that much. I like to sing the “Jam of the year” part, but that’s it. I’ve usually skipped this one and I wouldn’t mind never hearing it again.
Technical Merit- 2.5 (the only plus is the vocals- everything else I marked down for some reason or another. 0 for that Prince factor cuz I don’t feel him here at all)
Components Score- 1.5
Total Score- 4

FREAKS ON THIS SIDE
Another stupid chorus with stupid chants. I kinda like some of the lyrics in the verses. And I like the vibe of it. After a while, this chant does wear out its welcome for me.
Technical Merit- 3.5
Components Score- 2
Total score- 5.5

COME ON
This has “single” written all over it and it’s especially one of the better songs on the album. Some cool story telling. Great vocals. It evolves as it progresses, which is cool. Not a lot of these songs have that kind of progression on this album.
Technical Merit- 5 (the first perfect technical so far)
Components Score- 4.5
Total score- 9.5

THE ONE
One of my personal favorites. And it says a lot when a song runs kinda long and I don’t feel the length at all. It’s songs like this that are why I love Prince so much. (It’s also the reason I got the album at all- I wanted this song that bad, even if the rest wasn’t really worth the purchase… did I write out out loud?)
Total Score- 10
…yeah, I can’t break this one down.

I LIKE FUNKY MUSIC
I don’t even care to put it in the Princebonics…
There are some moments of this song I like because they recall the Prince of the 80’s. But it has a rap that kinda ruins it for me.
Technical Merit- 3.5
Components Score- 3
Total score- 6.5

WASTED KISSES
There are some parts of this song I personally don’t like or get into. But structurally as a song, it’s great. I just wish I knew what it was inspired by so I can decide if I really like it or not. It feels like it’s going to go down as one of the biggest unsolved mysteries of Prince music.
Technical Merit- 4.5
Components Score- 3
Total score- 7.5

Ok, now songs in order:

The One- 10
Come On- 9.5
When u love somebody- 8.5
Until u’re in my arms again- 8.5
Shoo-bed-ooh- 8
Wasted Kisses- 7.5
NewPower Soul- 7.5
I like Funky Music- 6.5
Mad Sex- 6.5
Freaks on this side- 5.5
Push it up- 4

Technically, despite some issues, it did all right. Not Prince’s best, but he still gets some things right.

Total score- 82… divided by 110…

7.5/10
that’s kinda surprising…

well, it’s not the worst score I’d given… there’s two albums I gave lower scores, but everything else… yeah, it’s still not the greatest.

But it’s one of those albums I just don’t like listening to all that much.
And I just want to be done with it now.

So next week will be all about Rave… both albums…

I don’t have The Vault- but I think I might save it for another time. I kinda want to find it myself because it’ll probably be my last ever Prince album purchase.
And seeing as they’re all leftover Vault tracks, I probably won’t be missing too much if I take it out of sequence.

Anyway- it’s time to finish reading Mayte’s book and that’s going to be this week.
Don’t want to, but it’s gotta happen, and it’s gonna suck. It’s been a great read.

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

Junior Grand Prix Series 2017- Part 1

So… it’s that time of year again.
But I’ll try not to overwhelm myself by going into too much detail in these posts.

The first stop on this trip:

Brisbane, Australia
[I wonder if Toejam is aware that this spectacle is happening in his hometown right now… probably not… it’s not exactly Olympic level skating here]

Yuto Kishina from Japan was an early standout. He is so self-assured and confident and great technique. Maybe it’s because he’s Japanese and their skaters are usually immaculate… but I already have a good feeling about him. I mean, he probably won’t be crazy Yuzuru level excellence, but certainly enough to one day be in Shoma’s shoes one of these days. Bring more showmanship and he’ll have it- rumor is he’s working on a triple axel, but not quite ready to bust it out.

Eric Sjoberg is from the US and Rafael Artuniun is his coach- same as Adam Rippon and Ashley. He’s got great technique as well, although in a combination jump, he slipped off the edge of his skate when he was just finishing. Still has a while to go, but I can see him getting even better.

Joseph Phan- if not that for that damn triple axel he fell on, that would’ve been a perfect program. Really well done. I’ve seen him a few times over the years, but he really looks like a contender now. And he did that Rippon lutz with the hands over the head- nailed it!

and of course I have to comment on the newest blood coming out of Russia.
Egor Rukhin is 13 and already has a lot of potential and technique. He fell out of his final jump and his finishing position. But another great talent from this country in desperate need of a leading male skater.

Roman Savosin, I’d definitely seen before. One of the stronger skaters from last season and also from Russia. Not a perfect skate, but he did really well. Definitely has that technique and I think I’m seeing a little more expression than I had previously.

again, I love seeing my favorites year after year. That much is obvious. And it’s always great seeing Alexei Krasnozhon- originally from St. Petersburg, now skating for the US. I’d been seeing him for the past couple years. Great technique, but he doesn’t always execute the elements as best as they could be. I was super impressed with his third jump which was a combination, flip into a loop, so fast and so clean. And I saw him getting into the performance more and playing to the crowd and what a finish. The only mistake he has was nearly putting a hand down on his triple axel.

Someone else I’d seen before- James Min. The first skater I’d seen from Australia and a couple years later and it’s amazing how he’s grown. He was this tiny dude. He had a triple axel (wow! very unexpected), but fell out of it. otherwise, some good jumps and he’s always been really good with whatever music he picks and he brings that to the performance.

This playlist only had a few videos on it anyway so I won’t watch the whole thing. I think most of the stronger competitions have already gone.

Alexei is in first place with 75.04 (yeah!)
Joseph Phan from Canada has 69.30 (other than that damn triple axel, it was a really good skate)
Roman Savosin is third with 68.68 (not surprised to see him in the current top 3)
oh… James Min is in fourth with 62.46.. well done
Daniel Grassl from Italy who skated to Charlie Chaplin music (the information given to Ted Barton was not correct and he made it clear when the skate was over that it wasn’t Cirque de Soleil) is 5th with 62.35
and Yuto Kishina, who I really liked from Japan, is 6th with 59.99
then Egor Rushkin and Eric Sjoberg from Russia and the US.

Definitely a strong top 4. Alexei has a good lead, but I’ve seen him lose after bad free skates also and he isn’t so far ahead that he can’t be caught. I think Roman might have a quad and Alexei isn’t super strong with his quads, so anything can happen. And it’ll be exciting to see what does.

And there was an interview with Alexei- really good one.
He said how his focus has changed to entertaining the audience and not worrying about making one mistake and letting that affect the performance. And of course his goal is the 2022 Olympic team.
I laughed a few times at some cute comments he made, but at the end, Ted Barton appeared as if he forgot where this was being held and Alexei said into the mic “Brisbane”…
of course, best of luck to him going forward. I hope he can hold on and leave an even better impression with a gold medal here.

Okay, watching the free skate.
There’s only 15 participants, but I want to keep up with the 7-8 I’d previously mentioned.

I did not mention Donovan Carrillo from Mexico previously but I will now.
He did a cool Al Capone piece for his short program and had some flashes of brilliance.
This time he did something that was part of the “Once Upon a Time in America” medley. According to Shazam, it’s called “hasta que te conocoi” by Raul Di Blasio (there was a vocal in this version).
But the part where the music gains momentum and in Plushenko’s program, he does a sexy pose and starts to get into the choreography… Donovan did a little cha-cha or salsa set of footwork and overall, he had a solid foundation for his jumps. In a few years, his performance could get even more flair and it’ll really be something.

One way to catch my attention for sure is to do music I’m familiar with- although most of the time I’ll balk and say it won’t be as good as the skater I associate it with more. [Also didn’t take long for my first Plushenko reference… it’s bound to happen from time to time, but maybe less than before. Considering everything going with him right now- a lot of coaching and no more competing, there’ll be less references back to him than there used to be from me in the past 3 years]

Donovan got 173.41 overall and is currently in 1st.

Eric Sjoberg had a good program overall. More flashes of brilliance, but he had a few mishaps as well. He had a three jump combination (it had a half loop and salchow at the end) where he almost nailed it but fell back on the landing of the last jump. And he was also open on another takeoff and had a fall.
170.54- 2nd overall so far.

Yuto Kishina- I hope my first impression gets rewarded with another great performance
Minus that opening triple axel with a two footed fall, that was really well done. Some great moments. 182.48- first place at the moment.

Egor Rukhin
fell on his first jump, but it was about smooth sailing for the rest of it. he has great flow with the music and has good jumps already. He has a while to work on this, but I’d like to see more expression in his face with the music. Lots of potential here and I look forward to seeing how much better he becomes over the years.
185.12- he had 6 more points on the technical side of things, but that was a good start for his career on this level for sure.

James Min
that started out so well, but something happened halfway through and he was missing jumps left and right. I hope he got all the bad stuff out of the way and the rest of the season goes better for him. He’s definitely gotten better than when I first saw him (where he has the promise and potential and has grown into a better skater).
154.60- aww, he’s in 6th place- that’s sad… and with 3 skaters left, he’ll probably go further back than that.

Roman Savosin skated to a famous piece by Bach I’ve heard Vanessa Mae cover- I forget the name- something and Fugue. There was this annoying echo with the drums on this that was taking away from it for me. he had a quad, two quads, a lot of his jumps had scratchy landings, not perfectly done, ok 3 quads… that’ll give him the points he needs, but I feel like he needs more work on the technique. And I don’t get the passion from him and I want to see it so I can get behind him like I do with Russian skaters in general. I need to feel that passion to fully engage.
196.20 overall and currently in first… he got 65 and 61 on his respective marks, but I think that’s virtue of the fact he had 3 quads.

however many or few quads he has, I don’t know for sure yet, Alexei needs to nail his program to maintain his lead and potentially win and he’s up next.
134.33 for the free skate- for some reason, the video is not showing the whole competition score so I have to do my own math. but I know it’s mathematically enough for him to be in first with one skater to go.
He had a fall on his quad loop and maybe under rotated a few jumps and had another fall. But I feel like his technique is strongly than what Roman had done before him. He has a very good chance to win but it depends on the last skater. He had a 6 point advantage of him after the short program.

let’s see… 209.37 is Alexei’s total… which means that Joseph Phan needs to get 140.08 in his free skate to beat him.
But first or second place for Alexei puts him in a good position to make the grand prix final, which is the next immediate goal for him.

Joseph Phan is a strong skater overall, so he definitely has what it takes to win if this is a solid performance.
Oh man, that was sad to watch. It’s almost like the pressure got to him and he let this go. Fell on the first few jumps, got it together for some of them, but didn’t fully get it together. If he nailed this, I would have appreciated it for sure. Very talented guy.
Nobody skates to The Godfather like Plushenko can, so I’m glad that it’s often the movie version and not the Edvin Marton version other people skate to. But it’s definitely a popular one.
He got 4th place with a total of 183.67.

And we wind up with 3 Russians on the podium, two skating for Russia and Alexei in first place.
That’s pretty awesome. And for Egor (whose in 3rd place 11 points behind Roman Savosin), this offers a great opportunity if he continues to skate well and other things work in his favor.

I had to scroll further to find the winning interview with Alexei and he seemed very cool and collected. Wants to work on getting three quads in the program and wants to improve his skating skills- I think he said he wants long smooth steps like Patrick… I can only imagine he means Patrick Chan. I’m not a big fan of his, but other people seem to like him for nailing the components scores, which includes the skating skills.
I’m really impressed how self-aware Alexei is about his capabilities and what he needs to work on. He’s not perfect and knows he’s a work in progress and that’ll make things all the better down the road when this hard work pays off.

2nd competition- Salzburg, Austria

starting a little bit on Thursday night but will probably get the rest of the short programs out Friday night and then do the rest over the weekend.
I’m going to be busy through most of it… getting into a heavy part of Prince’s life…

starting with Conrad Orzel from Canada- he had a great short program up until his final jump where he popped a lutz. I think he skated to the “Secrets” program last year as well because I remember it.

I don’t recognize a lot of people from the line-up so I’ll probably watch through the whole video and just make notes on the programs that catch my attention.

and so far nobody’s been able to best his score…

the first skater I watch on the second day was Sena Miyake from Japan. He fell on his first jump, but the rest were solid and he moved well to the music with some good spins.
He’s currently in first- the first guy to break the 60 point mark and get more than 20 something on technical merit. He could be one to watch in upcoming years.

Mark Gorodnitsky from Israel, I’d seen him before. I think last year, possibly the year before as well.
Compared to some of the other skaters so far, I see more confidence. He’s trained so well that he is moving over the ice as well as any skater in the senior ranks. Not quite at the level yet, but he is very close. Maybe the components better than the jumps.
3rd place as of this point.

learned something… apparently this piece of music that played throughout “Divergent” and some commercials- it has words… and it’s called “Run Boy Run”
this skater from Hungary struggled through his program with this music… only nailed his final jump and the form on his spins tell me he isn’t very experienced.
This is such great music, I really hope I see a more experienced skater tackle it and make it something amazing. His two marks didn’t even break 20.

Another good skater and another that looks very close to being ready for the next level.
Luc Economides from France had his skater choreographed by the recently retired Florent Amodio. He missed his first jump, but he fell out of it and continued with the program as if nothing went wrong. Very strong skater, really like that jump into the final spin and just how strong that looked. Probably got a lot of good levels on that.
And a really good score- first place now- both of his marks in the 30’s.

I think this competition is starting to heat up a little.
The top 4 in the standings right now are a cut above the rest of the field.
Luc at 65.88
Sena at 61.78
Conrad at 58.23
Mark at 56.57

Ryan Dunk from the US… this is the first time I’d seen someone other than Misha Ge skate to their own choreography, so this felt like something special. Other than a messy landing on a triple lutz, it was really good. His combination was so fast you had to pay attention. Some of the parts of the step sequence were so-so, but there were some great parts and really good spins.
I really liked that a lot and will remember it.
60.85- currently in 3rd, but as far as I can tell right now, if you score in the 60s, you have a good chance to win. But there are still a bunch of skaters yet to go.
The technical mark was strong, but the components need a little work. I can get that. His music was called Firedance- which was like a different version of Riverdance.

wow- another great skate from team USA.
I think I’d seen Camden last year, but I don’t think he was nowhere near as good as he was now. He fell on his 2nd jump of a combination, but his jumps looked amazing. Great quality to his movement and all the elements. He skated to “Fix You” by Coldplay and after spending time with their “Ghost Stories” album during a time where I was watching Plushenko skate a lot (and more or less was inspired to put together a montage of him skating to “Magic”)… I have a soft spot for Coldplay programs, especially when they’re done this well.
Reminds me of Joshua Farris because he did so great skating to “Give me love” by Ed Sheeran with the same amount of musicality.
the judges took a long time to post the scores- don’t know how they got two points for deductions when he only fell once… but 66.34 for Camden Pulkinen.

final group is out now and there are a couple Russians among them.

Basar Oktar from Turkey- I’d seen him a couple times before. I don’t remember much other than him not being the best skater, but I think he might have had some moments of brilliance.
Whatever he did back over past years doesn’t really matter now because he had a strong skate for this particular short program. His first jump had a messy landing, had to do an extra rotation on the ice, but with the next few passes, he nailed them and I could see him celebrate with his arms pumping.
And big shocker, he’s currently in 3rd with 64.27. He looks surprised as well, but he should be happy with that.
Could this be a sign of things to come? That’d be great.

I’ll admit I was nodding off during the next couple skaters. It’s been a long day for me.

But one thing that’s guaranteed to wake me up is a skater from Russia- even more so he’s coached by Alexei Mishin. And it’s almost like he’s starting over because he’s working with a new Evgeni now that Plushenko has retired.
Evgeni Semenenko… their last names have the same number of letters, but this looks longer just because it has a few extra syllables.
Anyway- 2/3 jumping passes were not great. Fought to land the first and the second was a fall. But with the Michael Jackson music (Billy Jean & Beat It), he really got into character and he looks like he’ll be a great performer.
55.60 just won’t be good enough for this particular competition. But he is only 14.
Funny how Ted Barton says he’s going to be tall just by looking at his legs.
I don’t remember how old Plushenko was when he first started training with Mishin, but he had a huge growth spurt between 1998 and 2000- I can’t do the math when I’m this tired πŸ˜› I think 17-18 and 19-20 was the age he was at those times.

I’m spending too much on this… one skater left. Another Russian and another Egor, different than the one who competed last week.
That was a tough program to get through. The last jumping pass was the only good one. The program just felt like a big mess. Not what I’d expect from a Russian skater- they at least have solid technique. I didn’t really see that here. Other than good spins. 53.98

So for the final standings, the top 6 look great. Mark Gorodnitsky is in 9th, Evgeni is 11th and Egor is 14th. So I’ll keep an eye out for those skaters for the free skate.

…a couple days later…

Picking and choosing my skaters here…

starting with Egor Murashov from Russia (cuz you know I like my Russians)
I think I called the last time I saw him a train wreck… this had a few mistakes in it, but he did a lot more right. The music was 2 songs from Stevie Wonder and one from James Brown. Once the music picked it up, I could appreciate him trying to make the choreography work. His expressions aren’t quite there for me to buy into it, but it’s a start. Sorry to namedrop him again, but Plushenko didn’t start out as the greatest entertainer either and he became the best ever in the skating world.
186.76- currently in first place- he did good.

and halfway through the competition, he remains in first

the next one I’m seeing is another Russian, the other Evgeni who happens to be trained by Alexei Mishin.
For a second, I thought he was going to do Carmen based on his costume, but it was Don Juan DeMarco. Operatic Spanish music with some vocals. He fell on his first jump, didn’t get his free leg out, but the rest of his program was solid. He used the music well and I felt him getting into it a bit more.
Maybe I’m just projecting, but I’m already seeing a lot of promise in him. Too bad it’s going to be a couple more years before I know for sure if we’ll have another legendary skater named Evgeni to come from Russia πŸ˜‰
I have my eye on so many Russians that it’s hard to keep track of them all at this point.
Alexander Samarin, Dmitri Aliev, Petr Nummenik, Ilia Skirda, Artem Kovalev and I’m sure I’m missing a couple others I like a lot. But add him to the list.
And somehow his total score is less than Egor’s even though he had better technique and performance over the two programs (I don’t know by the math, this is just my opinion). 175.80 currently puts him in 2nd.

speaking of judging what the program is why the costume… everytime there’s a pilot’s uniform, it’s going to be “Pearl Harbor” and this was another example of it.
Jonathan Hess from Germany. He had some good moments, but it wasn’t as good as it could have been. I’m just getting his name down now cuz if I see him again this season, I’ll be sure to watch and hopefully he’ll execute it better the next time.
Hans Zimmer is such an amazing composer. 166.55- currently in 4th

Mark Gorodnitsky from Israel.
other than putting a hand down on one jump and one or two landings he had to fight for, this is the best I’d seen him. Really good flow and movement with the music. If he gets more into the music with the expressions and just feeling it… he could be amazing. Definitely on his way, though. I think this is enough to get him currently in first place.
Oh- currently in 2nd- 177.19

the last group has a couple Americans to watch for.
starting with Ryan Dunk, who does his own choregraphy.
I didn’t like this nearly as much as his short program. Maybe because it’s longer and seems a little more repetitive. Also because Misha Ge skated to this same music for his last free skate program as a competitor and he does his own choreography as well and he’s more engaging and more refined in his technique.
Ted Barton was saying that all of Ryan’s jumps had scratchy landings and he’s better than he showed. 170.71- currently in 4th. He scored 9 points higher on his components than technical, which pretty much tells the story on its own.

Conrad Orzel from Canada.
had maybe the craziest program I’d seen in a long time… he started very strongly with a triple axel, then fell on what looked like a quad attempt. Supposedly he had a tough warm-up as well. But he had one spin that he just completely lost, couldn’t quite get into position and lost track of where he was in the program for a few moments. Fell on the first few elements afterwards, but he started to come back and the crowd cheered with each element.
The fact he was able to come back and nail some elements after that, that’s a testament to his perseverance. I hope he doesn’t have another program like this again, but if he has issues like this again, he’ll be able to cut his losses easier.
172.74- now in 4th… this is going to come down to the final skater, isn’t it?

Sena Miyake from Japan
dang it! I wish he was better at executing that program πŸ˜› he was skating to music from “Les Mis” and of course it’s making me cry. But it’s just the music. Had his performance been better, I’d be crying for beauty and love of that.
Hopefully his next competition winds up better than this. Damn that music πŸ˜›
172.69- 5th place- aw he looks so upset with himself.

Camden Pulkinen from the US
He had issues with his jumps, not many clean landings, but he moved really well to the music and made the program go so quick. He already looks very confident and ready to compete with the US at the national championships. Maybe not Olympic level yet, but he’s well on his way to that.
Kinda nuts that he had a jump at the very end of his program before his final position- I hadn’t seen that before.
oh wow- he was saying in the booth “I broke 200″… he got 203.80 overall. I think the one person I’d seen get a 70 for his technical score. He’s so happy πŸ˜€ that makes me happy.

Luc Economides from France who had his choreography by Florent Amodio.
some shaky jumps, but there was a point where the music started to get really fast (kinda like Flamenco music) and he did this cool step sequence that matched the music perfectly. He also had a spin where he did one direction and then the combination took him to another spin going the other direction. Not an easy thing to do. Great stamina, though.
190.59 – puts him in 2nd place.

Basar Oktar from Turkey.
he’s had consistency issues in the past and this was another example. His first several jumps all had some sort of issue. It wasn’t until the halfway point where he got some solid jumps. His spins are good. he did start to tire, but oddly his best jumps were later on.
I think being in 3rd place going into this might have added some pressure.
aww- 4th place- 181.43

I mean, nothing against Egor. It’s remarkable he went from 14th up to 1st for much of this competition. And there were other skaters that did poorly in their free skates, but I can’t help but wonder if he was overscored a tad… or others had more taken away for mistakes. Because his skate wasn’t the best of the day/night- whenever this was.
But I think Basar had the best finish he’s ever had, which is something and hopefully he can build on that and get even better.

an interesting top 3, though.
One American, one Frenchmen and one Russian.
I don’t think I’d seen a Frenchmen make the top 3 in any skating competition I’d watched since I started again in 2014 with the Sochi Olympics.

And we’re getting an interview with Camden.
he says he wants to work more on his spins and he laughed about his free skate saying he proved with it that he can spin and he feels working on the overall performance is better than singling out one half of the score because the other half becomes your weakness.
At the end, they were wrapping it up and he winked at the camera.
Man, he’s going to be one to watch for sure. I don’t think I remember him that well from last season, but he certainly didn’t show as well as he did this competition.

Week 3- Riga, Latvia

back at Riga again… I think the first season I was watching the junior grand prix they had a competition in Riga… kinda cool to be back.

As with last week, I’ll only write about the skaters that I have something to say about them. Might not even watch all of them because I’m kinda pressed for time and I don’t want to spend all week on this.
Would rather spend it relaxing…

Some names I do recognize
Matyas from the Czech Republic- last season was his first season and he and his brother are being coached by Tomas Verner.
Mihhail Selevko from Estonia- same story, but instead of the Tomas Verner connection, I’ve seen his brother a few times and he was one of my favorites on the circuit.
back after his bronze medal from last year’s junior worlds- Tomoki Hiwatashi from the US
Roman Savosin
Ivan Pavlov from Ukraine
two guys from Japan who already competed once this season.

first time I’ve seen Nikolaj from Sweden… he fell on his first jump, but got out of it well. then he fell on a spin, so that was a little awkward. But he was a strong skater- very confident. He has the right mindset for the sport for sure, but just had an off day.
he wore a leather vest and skated 2 two songs- the first was “boom boom pow” from the Black Eyed Peas. the 2nd, I know, but don’t know the name.
49.03- not a great score

Maxim Naumov from the US… his family must be of Russian descent because he’s from Hartford Connecticut. First time I’m seeing him.
he fell on his opening jump, but the rest of the program was solid. “luck be a lady” is music that Javi skated to two seasons ago (when he won his 2nd World title) and Max did a good job with it keeping the energy of the music. His spins were amazing- I mean really good!
57.64- he got a tad more from components.
I also noticed he has an accent, which is cool

Corey from Canada- first time seeing him as well. He nailed all his jumps and made them look so easy. Great flow on the ice, but I can also see where he improve. Completing certain artistic elements and doing them better, his last spin looked like it was going a little off center.
Overall, it’s amazing that he’s only 14 and already seems ahead of the curve from a lot of others on the circuit.
59.28- technical was 5 points higher, which I totally get.

watching all of this 2nd group- which includes Roman, the two Japanese guys, Mihhail and Josh Brown from Great Britain

Mihhail had a great program aside from one fall. Skated to “Ghost Town” by Adam Lambert (and did really well with the music)- great musicality with the music.
And unlike a lot of juniors, he did a great spread eagle before his axel… I see a lot of half-hearted attempts at the spread eagles or they’re just not as nice as they could be.
49.28- not great, although he’s in 4th at the moment

Yuto Kishina from Japan- he was the one that reminded me a little of Shoma
he must have had some nerves or just felt pressure to do well because he had a rough time. his take-offs on a couple jumps were rough, so the landings were as well.
I have a feeling he’s much better than what he showed.
54.93- his components were better than technical

Mitsuki Sumoto
program went by so fast- his jumps didn’t have the best landings, but it was a nice smooth skate to “singin’ in the rain”
Ted Barton was nit-picking his spins, saying that he needs to work on small details to improve
63.25- currently in 1st… and with who’s coming next, that’ll probably change really quick

Roman Savosin
I’ve seen him do better than this. He had some off moments with his jumps and one spin looked like he might lose control of it, but he didn’t
63.95- I was right- he’s there by the virtue of the technical difficulty of his jumps

Josh Brown
45.81- he did all right, some shaky landings…

at this point I’m kinda falling asleep so I’ll do the other two groups tomorrow… it’s been a long day plus I just finished the finish to a 3 parter.

Day 2 with the short programs.

First one I really liked with someone from South Korea. He skated to “Thinking out loud” by Ed Sheeran and made no mistakes and his movements timed well to the music. It was so nice to watch.
Jaeseok Kyeong only scored 54.27 and is in 8th place at the moment. His artistry could have had better lines (although he did have a good spread eagle), but I still had fun with it.

ah, Tomoki from the US is up next πŸ˜› he has an interesting costume. Black with some ribbons of green.
the music was “Emerald Tiger” by Vanessa Mae. I’d been listening to Edvin Marton for so long that I was thinking of him- but there came a part that was very unlike- when the Asian influences were coming in.
I think he tried a couple triples and they doubled out. The only mistakes he really had. I feel like he’d gotten better in the artistry. Challenged himself more with the footwork. At one point, he actually did one of Shoma’s moves- as Johnny Weir always reminds us in commentary, a cantilever before doing a jump.
Should be interesting to see how he continues to develop as he matures.
61.35- currently in 3rd place- got a couple more points for components.

should probably add Latvia is weird- they’re playing all these popular songs in the background, but they’re completely different versions. Right now, there’s a Reggae cut of “Safe and Sound”- they did something similar with “Locked out of Heaven” and “Stay with me”… are they not allowed to use the actual recordings and had to make their own?

next is another Russian- Makar Ignatov- his first season and he’s 17
it was kinda easy to see after the first couple jumps that he was a rookie. His first jump were great, but the other two had issues. He skated to Josh Groban, which worked really well for Dmitri Aliev at the junior Grand Prix Final last year.
An issue happened going into a spin, so it was kinda awkward when he just spun the rotations in a straight up position- but apparently he got no points for it. Great spread eagle, but the jump afterwards didn’t quite happen.
Ted Barton has high hopes for him, though, saying he has great qualities. Hey, I’m not about to discount a Russian guy πŸ˜‰
64.95- first place- wow! That’s crazy… although he did have a solid triple axel to start.

I think there are three in this last group I’ll watch.
Kai Xiang Chew from Malaysia, Matyas from the Czech Republic and Ivan Pavlov from Ukraine.

Kai started with this combination so fast I barely saw- so good. Looking a triple that became a double. Worked really well with this Michael BublΓ© song “Orange Colored Sky”
59.10- 6th place- that has to be a perfect best for him.

Matyas did good. I loved his reaction at the end, he pumped his fist cuz he nailed his program.
“Chambermaid Swing” has been a popular piece for skaters these past few years.
Alexei Bychenko skated to it last season with some mixed results. But Matyas looked a bit older than the kid I saw in his first season last year. He’s only 16, but already has grown quite a bit in maturity. Him and Tomas (who choreographed) in the kiss and cry in good spirits.
60.95- he’s in 5th place- which is great. The competition is so stacked in the 60’s that it’s still anyone’s game.

Aside from the fall on the first jump, Ivan skated well. I’ve seen him inconsistent over the past couple years- never know what to expect, but I always expect good things from him even if it doesn’t always work out that way.
wow- 67.17- he’s in first place! the quality of his skating was good, I’ll vouch for that, but it’s hard to believe these two guys who had a fall placed higher than someone like Tomoki who had no mistakes. I don’t think I saw any quads… but I’m also not too good at spotting quads with the juniors anyway.

For the free skate, I think I’ll keep up with much of the top 13:

Ivan Pavlov
Makar Ignaov
Roman Savosin
Mitsuki Sumoto
Tomoki Hiwatashi
Matyas Belohrodasky
Corey Circelli
Kai Xiang Chew
Maxim Naumov
Yuto Kishina
Jaeseok Kyoeng

and Mihhail Selveko who is currently in 16th

the top 5 are particularly close- in the range between 67-63… it’s going to be a great fight for the podium.

…ok, so this is 12 guys to get through today…

first, Jaeseok Kyoeng… oh wow… I’d never heard this song before- “This is the Moment” from Jekyll & Hyde. I don’t know if he’s picking out his music or someone else is, but whoever is, they’ve got the right instinct. He needs the kind of music to match his artistry and he has such great lines and steps and spins to bring it to life.
Some miscues on jumps early on, but it got better as the program and music progressed.
I’m tearing up over it πŸ˜›
156.82 and currently in 1st overall.
I’ve got a good feeling about him as he goes into seniors. If he works on pushing himself even more than what he’s doing now… I can’t wait to see that.

Mihhail Selveko
he’s only in his first season so he’s got a while to go. It seems like he still has trouble with the basics- he’s a little off balance in the air so it’s impossible for him to nail his jumps, but he got better as the program went on. Good spins, though.
136.54- in 6th place (his two scores are half of where they should be- 40’s when they should be 80’s… although for juniors, 60’s and 70’s make more sense. In my opinion, a good skate on the senior level for men is both marks being in the 80’s)

it’s kinda crazy hearing Ted Barton talk about himself skating… I guess you have to be a former skater to commentate… maybe not crazy, just weird

Yuto Kishina
some small mistakes here and there (started again with a two-footed jump), but a nice skate overall to watch. over time, I’m sure he’s going to be a force in Japanese skating. He has that certain look about him (or that might be me thinking he looks a lot like Shoma Uno)
166.04- first place at the moment (his components score was 6 points higher than technical- imagine what he’ll be when he makes fewer mistakes)

Maxence Collett
Ted Barton has great hope for him. Max has amazing artistry, but his jumps aren’t completely together and he withdraws a bit into himself when the mistakes start to pile up.
There is something beautiful to watch in his skating. It’s just a matter of the technical rising up to the level of the components
160.23- putting him in 2nd place- his artistry mark was around 60, 16 points ahead of technical. That pretty much says it all- work on the technical and you’re a force to be reckoned with

Kai Xiang Chew
another nice skate… I think I was half distracted through some of it, so I didn’t see much to really comment on. Supposedly one jump got downgraded, but strong overall
161.41- 2nd place at the moment (his components score was 5 points higher than technical)

Corey Circelli
he started out so well. Then he popped a jump. Then he was ok for a while. but then after popping another jump, he started making mistakes and falling and it made me sad because he is so good. It’s only his first season and he’s really good at the artistry part of it. It’s just maintaining those jumps and the stamina through the whole program.
155.52- putting him in 7th at this point (decent components score, but it’s also 12 points higher than technical)

two Americans next starting with:

Maxim Naumov
some great elements in that program, but some big missteps. He fell on what looked like an opening quad attempt (it was a triple axel, d’oh! they don’t look remotely similiar) and had a few other falls along the way.
his parents were world pair champions and they’re his coaches. His technique is amazing, but it needs the follow-through.
163.66- currenty in 2nd (that seems to be a repeating trend), both marks are in the 50’s with 7 mark on the components side. Despite the 3 falls, that’s really good.

Tomoki Hiwatashi
his costume looks very similar to the one for his short program, but it’s red instead of green
oh wow! you kinda have to nit-pick to find anything wrong with that performance. Some of the landings of his jumps were not 100% perfect, but as good as throughout. He seems so confident and worked well with the music (“Last of the Mohicans”). I don’t know if he brought his own cheering section or what, but he was getting cheered for on every element he nailed.
Loved the footwork, again, where he was skated in different directions, often with one foot off the group instead of two foot skating… I think it’s the best I’d seen him skate ever.
189.89- woo! he’s in first place, both of his marks in the 60’s- yeah!

I’m watching these on a playlist of the ISU JGP channel and it keeps suggesting Mitsuki’s free skate… makes me wonder if YouTube is deliberately giving him away as the winner…

Mitsuki Sumoto
…yeah, YouTube might have done just that… he had two triple axels at the start that were solid. other than one jump where he fell out after the landing, great performance. He skated to “Les Mis” so of course it’s going to be good. The final song- also the final in the musical- I always hope to see a solid performance to that to close out the skate and he did that. At the end, he was pounding on his heart like it was beating really fast and he was bent over catching his breath, maybe some emotions coming out afterwards…
203.51- first place… yeah, unless anyone else breaks 200, he’s got this wrapped up. A whopping 75! in technical. Still needs to work on components a bit, 10 points behind, but if he continues skating like this… let’s just say Japan is going to be fine once Yuzuru Hanyu retires, which is rumored to be after this season (which includes another Olympics). Loved his reaction at seeing his score πŸ˜› pointing and clapping enthusiastically

Matyas Belohrodasky
I’m sure I’d seen him do this Pink Panther program last season. Other than one double axel where he fell, it was a solid skate with a few iffy landings on jumps. When I first saw him last season, I discounted him, but the 2nd grand prix he had, he finished in 2nd place.
I think he’s well on his way. According to Tomas Verner, they’ll be moving up to triple axels and quads soon, he’s got the basics done really well. I’m already excited– but I think I just love his reactions when he does well after a skate.
177.32- 3rd place overall- 63 for components (awesome!), but his technical has some catching up to do (9 points lower).
Tomas has done great work for him- personally I’d like to believe he’s learned some pointers after working with Plushenko as part of his “Snow King” ice show.

Ivan Pavlov
someone else using the same program as last season- “Blood Diamond” soundtrack
he has this terrible habit of popping his jumps. Instead of going through the rotations and taking the fall, he’ll pop it and let it go. But he might also have issues with getting his toe pick in the ice for these jumps. But he has some highlights throughout the mistakes. He has the skill for sure, but doesn’t always deliver it.
181.63- his scores are good, both in the 50’s with a little more on components than technical

all that’s left is the two Russians in first and second in the short program

Makar Ignatov
he had a mistake on one of his final jumps that was kinda ugly and he looked like he was getting winded towards the end. but it’s his first season, so he has to work on developing that stamina.
Personally I’d like to see more personality from him- I’d like all my male Russian skaters to be great performers πŸ˜‰
I thought it looked like an opening quad and he nailed it- that’ll help with his scoring
196.88- he beat Tomoki out of 2nd place… strong marks- both in the 60’s… although I can’t help but wonder if he’s being given a little extra for components because Russia is so close to Latvia…

Roman Savosin
skating to that Bach piece- something and Fugue (I always forget the name of it). It’s not the Vanessa Mae version, but still an updated version with some great drum programming.
He had a couple falls, so that’s going to take him out of getting first place on this.
One thing about him I noticed that kinda bothers me… when he jumps, his elbows are sticking out and I think it’s affecting his landings.
whenever I see Plushenko coaching, he always demonstrates to his students to hold your arms close to your body to rotate faster… Roman needs to work on that.
According to Ted Barton, he has negative GOEs on nearly all of his jumps, so that’s not going to bold well for him.
I say 4th place despite the quads.
187.54- I was right!- his two scores were in the 60’s despite the mistakes, though, higher on technical by 5 points (it’s the quads)

so top 3 are Mitsuki (dammit- it’s bad enough when I get online spoilers from Twitter, I don’t like YouTube doing the same thing- even though he did deserve), Makar from Russia and Tomoki from the US (yeah!)

Roman got 2nd place in his other competition, so his point total for the Grand Prix Final is 22.

Typically, the skaters that get first or second in their grand prix assignments are the ones who go on to the final. But skaters that have bad luck can sometimes still get in if the leading skaters don’t get within a certain position in their 2nd assignments.

So far, though, everyone else has only had one grand prix.

Week 4- Minsk Belarus

whenever I hear Minsk, I think about that line in the “Get Smart” movie where Anne Hathaway says something like about eating carbs and no matter how much she eats she stays “thinsk”

This time, I just picked and chose the performances I wanted to see out of everyone in the short program just based on whether I’d seen them before or the countries they’re from.

But in most cases, it’s skaters I know or they’re from Russia or the US.

James Min had a rough performance, not nailing any of his jumps. His laces were coming a little undone and might have distracted him.

Irakli Maysuradze from Georgia was leading for a while until the Russians came around. I’d seen him before and he’d given some uneven performances in the past. He skated really well. I think he was the one that partially asked to Tom Jones’s cover of “Kiss”… it’s not my favorite Prince song, but I’d still rather hear him sing it. But it seemed like this song gave him some extra energy and he was able to muster up the right amount of charisma for a good performance. Now in 4th place.

Larry Loupolover from Azerbaijan- I don’t know why I watch him when he doesn’t do well all that often. He skated to “Earned It” from 50 Shades of Grey so it was hard to not watch, even though it was kinda hard TO watch with all the mistakes he made. The performance part was good and the choreography matched the music well- but his jumps were not there at all.

Andrew Torgashev from the US, I’ve seen him a few times last season. He skated once to “Bohemian Rhapsody” and I was undecided on how I felt about it.
He did “Moonlight Sontata” and did it well. He’s currently in 3rd place.

Jiri Belohradsky from the Czech Republic had one of his best performances and it was so nice to see him so happy when he got his scores. He’s in 6th place after the short program.

the two Russians were the big stand outs because they were the only ones to break 70.

Personally, I thought Egor Efimchuk was better than Alexey. He skated with a self-assuredness that was hard to comprehend for a junior skater. I hope that this is a sign of what’s to come.

Alexey Erokhov wasn’t nearly as exciting to watch, but he had great technique and didn’t falter on any of his elements.

from the US, Nicholas Hsieh skated to a cover of “Sound of Silence” by Disturbed. I think someone else has, but I cant remember who. Really good piece of music. But because this was his first grand prix, he was nervous and the jumps didn’t come together.

Mihhail Selevko from Estonia was a surprise. He was so solid with his jumps and his artistry was good as well.
Funny moment in the kiss & cry- he had three girls with him (I assume one is his coach) and I said out loud that it was his entourage. Ted Barton said the same thing almost the same time I did πŸ˜›
His “Ghost Town” program was definitely better than I saw it last.

It’ll be an interesting free skate. I’d like to see the Russians remain consistent, but I’d like the guys from the US to perform better as well.

Men’s free skates

ok, finally posting this after I cover the free skate results in Minsk.

Probably will only watch a handful of performances like the past several times.
I’ve counted nine. Including the two Russians, two guys from the US and all the randoms in between.

Larry is inconsistent and I haven’t seen him skate terribly well the times I’d seen him. But I’ve seen a bit more from him this time. Not perfect, but I see a bit of brilliance coming out. He skated to a mix of music from the 2013 Great Gatsby and at one point he danced to the music (when it got to “a little party never killed nobody”). It’s interesting that he’s from Brooklyn, but he’s skating for this odd country of Azerbaijan. I wonder when he made the move there. Although he’s in the kiss and cry and he sounds like he’s speaking in Russian.

Mihhail Selevko, oh yeah, he’s skating to “Hugo”- I remember that costume with the gears from the last time he skated.
I don’t know what happened- he popped the first two jumps and had a few other off moments. Like he was either nervous and just had a lot on his mind.

James Min didn’t have the best skate- again- but he did better than in his short program. Some mistakes on jumps. I liked it overall, but his reaction at the end says he didn’t.
When he goes to seniors, he’s someone I hope NBC shows competing because I think US skating fans will like him.

Nicholas Hsieh from the US skate to parts 1 and 2 of “Neo Exogenesis” by Muse… which has really become a popular piece to skate to these past few years. The first time I saw it was Maxim Kovtun the season after Sochi. Since then I’d seen Sergei Voronov and Ashley Wagner use it and they’ve done it amazingly.
To me, Nicholas looks like he’s just learning how to skate and do the jumps because he’s having trouble just nailing the jumps. There were flashes of potential, but it was a mess. Very much a work in progress at this point. But it’s only his first season. I’m sure he’ll get better with time. he got 56 for components, which is great, but his technical merit severely lacking.

Jiri is skating to something by Trans Siberian Orchestra. A mix of Beethoven pieces.
To me, he felt like a skater he’s at higher level than most of the others and he has more confidence and he started so well. But he has several jumps he just fell out or just couldn’t get fully rotated fast enough. It’s really unfortunate because he’s been getting better and this feels like a step backwards.
Then I do this whole write-up and find I’m talking about the wrong skater. His name is Julian and he’s from France and I don’t think I’d reviewed him skating before. But he did seem like he had a good grasp of the basics and has some musicality, but couldn’t put all the elements together.

So this last group- Jiri goes after Irakli from Georgia, then there’s two Russians with an American in between them.

Irakli Maysuradze is one I feel I’m going to watch more now because he’s really coming into his own as a skater. I’ve seen more moments of brilliance coming together for longer stretches of times. Strong first half of the program, he had a misstep in a step sequence and has an off jump and a fall. He got a little tired towards the end, but he hung on and threw some jumps towards the end. One was brilliant and the other was less than perfect.
“Sound of Silence” by Disturbed- such a haunting cover. It’s funny- I mentioned this song with Nicholas’s short program the other day. I don’t know if this was the guy I remembered doing this cover, but he did amazing. Sad to see him disappointed at the end.
I think he could have won this if it was the best skate he’d done. 58 and 61 for his two marks is really good for juniors, but he could have gotten his technical better.
He’s in first at the moment… but we’ll see what happens when the Russians come out.

ok, for real, Jiri is skating next. (This is what I get for not watching the whole free skate video)
Funny enough- he also skated to Beethoven and it sounded like it was the same piece- with that Trans-Siberian Orchestra arrangement, but it worked more with Moonlight Sontata than doing a bunch other Beethoven pieces.
If there’s issues, they’re nit-picky ones. I think there was a jump or two that he doubled because he couldn’t get enough height. And one later on that didn’t land as well as it could have. But he has all the things I like in a skater- great artistry with solid jumps. Throw in some quads and we’re in business πŸ˜‰ but that doesn’t need to happen for a while.
aw, he’s in 3rd, he thought he was a little better than that.

I want to make sure I get the right Russian… cuz there are two of them.
Egor Efimchuk…oh bloody hell, I’m looking through this whole post… there’ve been two other Egors this season already, all from Russia with their names all spelled the same way… was 15-16 years ago the year of Egor where everyone was given that name? I have a lot of Russians to keep track of and I do it well… but I CANNOT keep track of three Egors. That’s just asking for too much πŸ˜›
I just know one finished on the podium in week 1 and another did as well, but I made a big deal that he went from 14th all the way to a podium spot and I didn’t agree with it.

This Egor, I said he was better than Alexey during the short program. but I’m not super familiar with either of them yet.
I think he had two quads in the first two jumps. The first he fell on- it was HUGE, but he didn’t quite get it. He had a couple other falls and got tired towards the end of it.
He skated to the Spectre soundtrack with some bits from “Writing on the Wall”- all instrumental. I don’t feel like this music lent itself well to the skating. Especially when the choreography doesn’t fit the dynamics of it.
not the best skate for the free with 55 and 65, but with the scores in the short program, he was obviously going to be in 1st place. I just don’t agree :shrug: but he was great in the short program

Andrew Torgashev… omg… I gasped when the music started cuz it’s been a while since I’d heard it.
“Tango Roxanne” but from Moulin Rouge (not the Edvin Marton arrangement that helped Plushenko win my heart)… he had some amazing jumps, but also a couple pops and misses. But the way he threw himself into the choreography, that was AMAZING and just inspiring to see. Not many skaters in these competitions give this much to their performances like this.
My favorite free skate with Irakli’s close behind it.
ahh- he’s in first place right now, yeah!
66 for technical, 72 for components (wow!)… his total is 212.71… that’s the highest so far this season. Alexei Krasnozhon from the US had 209+ for his and the other two winners had 203.
Andrew had a quad, that helped a lot, but that passion… phew… I’m very impressed. Can’t wait to see him again already if he does another performance like this.

last is Alexey Erokhov.
I just want a good performance where if he wins, I won’t be too mad about it πŸ˜› make me think you deserve it- especially after what preceded.
It wasn’t perfect, but probably one of the better skates of the night
He didn’t have that same passion, but he was confident and (wow- 3 quads- Ted Barton said two at the start of the program). One was brilliant, but he rotated on the ice on the two quad toes he did.
He seems very composed and strong. Reminds me a bit of Alexander Samarin. Except he skated to a more traditional piece (something by Rachmaninoff). And for that reason alone, I checked out a little bit and didn’t fully get into it.
However- among the Russians, this feels like one of the best performances I’d seen since I’d been watching all the men whose name isn’t Evgeni Plushenko to find who’ll take his own vacated throne. The technique is really strong and the performance very composed, unlike Maxim Kovtun, Sergei Voronov and Mikhail Kolyada most days.
I just prefer a skater with quads to have passion for the performance. I know it’s a lot to ask πŸ˜› but that’s how I roll.

Anyway- his score- it’s a best for this season so far- I saw 85 on technical and just went “whoa!” like there’s no way anyone’s beating that. 70 components- total score 232.79… damn!!
I don’t know if I’d seen that high a score before in any junior competition. I’ll have to check Nathan Chen’s backlog.

actually, I checked last season… Dmitri Aliev won the grand prix final with over 240 points.
Alexey was listed in the top scores as well, but this new score was at least 15 points higher than his previous.
Nathan Chen’s highest score on the junior level was 236+

Speaking of high scores, I heard Yuzuru got a new world record for the short program. So I should probably check that out.
Bloody hell, I just typed his name into YouTube and the Autumn Classic 2017 was the third listed. It must have been getting a lot of clicks.

I can’t even comprehend that… it was a perfect program, not a foot wrong. It looked like a quad loop to start and it was perfection. Triple axel out of footwork, then a quad toe-triple with the two hands over the head on the 2nd jump. That’s what made the difference.
Except I see a thumbnail for a podium and he didn’t win 😦 Javier Fernandez somehow beat him…

Yuzuru’s bringing back his programs from two seasons ago- the Chopin piece and Seimei (which was probably his best program ever- although the one last year for his free skate was so beautiful when he nailed it)
Now the comments are saying it wasn’t a loop (maybe a salchow?) cuz he has pain in his right leg.

Looking at Wikipedia for the scores, Javi beat Yuzuru in the free by 22 points. So it sounds like maybe Yuzuru made mistakes… I don’t think I want to see his Seimei program then if I know it’s not going to be perfect. Cuz when it’s perfect, my head blows up… I’m just hoping I get to see it again this season back at its finest.

For good measure, I’ll watch it now. And I’ll just end this post.
Not that anyone’s going to be reading it πŸ˜› This is just how I keep track of all these junior skaters.

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , | Leave a comment

“Prince” Album #21: The Truth

Yes, I know this was technically released as part of the Crystal Ball packaging… but I’m reviewing it like any other album. [And before anyone asks, I do not have Karmasutra, but I don’t think I’m missing much of anything- Peach & Black brought it up briefly when they were reviewing “The Plan” as part of Emancipation].

This was another of those random albums that someone offered to send me through email because they thought I’d like it. I think it was around the time I received The Black Album as well, although I can’t remember if it was the same person.
It was an interesting new release. Several songs jumped out at me right away as ones I really liked. Then there were some bumps… and things got good and it had a really strong finish.
It was refreshing and whenever I bring it out, I get that same feeling.

I thought I’d give myself a day free of blogging to spend time alone with this side of Prince. But there is something I need to address. Particularly, one song.

This is a rarity- there was only one other song by Prince that I took such a disliking to that I refused to listen to it again. But oddly- after really getting into the Camille version of “Feel U Up,” I regret deleting the original cut I had from 1983. If only to hear the original music again.

“Animal Kingdom” on the other hand…
this is literally the first time I’d listened to this song since I first received the music back in 2007. Why I didn’t delete it sooner… I burned the tracks to CD before actually listening. So yeah.

And my issue with the song… it’s a personal thing and I doubt anyone who reads the following tirade will completely understand, so bear with me.

[or if you don’t want to read about my ranting, you can just skip ahead]

Prince has written about so many things in so many ways. Most notably, sex. He’s been explicit and crude at times. Several songs I took offense to at first because I didn’t like sexual content or cursing or whatever, I’ve grown to like over the years because I see the art form in it.
I have nothing against vegetarians or vegans. But some of those people can be kinda preachy about it. And I don’t like being preached to in that “it’s my way or the highway” type of way.
I know that he first got turned onto this after getting closer with Mayte, who became vegetarian after seeing a certain movie (I’d have to back track through her book to remember what it is). And I think since their relationship became serious, he’d been vegan or vegetarian for the rest of his life. Even after they eventually parted ways, which is kinda crazy to think about. But he also said something about reading scripture and it saying there’s a special diet to stay balanced in your faith and life.
I understand there are faiths that believe in reincarnation and that’s why some people don’t like eating animals because of those beliefs. But the way Prince wrote these lyrics, he’s acting like he’s among the people in those faiths. He isn’t. It kinda goes hand in hand with how he approaches politics in some songs. He doesn’t 100% know about a certain subject and while he means well, he can come off as naΓ―ve.
Probably the BIGGEST issue I have… and this is where it gets really weird cuz this is a personal thing…
him saying we shouldn’t drink milk because it’s meant for young animals who eventually grow out of it. I understand the people who drink Lactaid and Soy Milk because they’re lactose intolerant. But not drinking milk by choice… I don’t get it.
And I like milk with my cereal and with cookies and so on. Not even Prince is going to convince me not to like what I like.

[If you’re still with me by this point, I applaud you. I spent a lot of time editing this down so it isn’t overly explanative]

All this time since hearing it- still not a fan. The vocals sound a little weird like he’s using something to disguise his voice especially earlier in the song. The music is okay and it seems like it’s a well put together song.
I just can’t get past the lyrics- my mind was buzzing so much that the next couple songs were ruined for me. I definitely didn’t have that issue the first time I listened to the album, but all the same, never listening to this again.
I’m going to rate it now and move on to the others so I can really focus on why I love listening to this album every now and again.
If I ever do get to that point where I adjust my scores of the albums by excluding the songs I skip anyway… this song will contribute to that. It doesn’t seem fair, especially for an album I’d like more people to hear.

So- Animal Kingdom-
Technical Merit- 3.5 (never mind the lyric content, but certain lines come off as very cheesy; there was that weird vocal thing I picked up that was a little odd; and while I get Prince’s attitude in it, that’s all I can identify that is specifically him)
Components Score- (this is unprecedented) 0
Total Score- 3.5

yeah, but funny story- I gave “Arrogance” a total of 3… so this isn’t my most hated Prince song according to my math.

…but I think I’m going to get my wish anyways- to spend more time with the other songs before discussing them.

I will say, though, that my attitude was a little divided this morning… so I actually listened to a couple songs a second time this afternoon before continuing with the rest of the album.

All but “Circle of Amour”- I got all I needed from that song this morning and that’ll last me until tomorrow.
I don’t know how the numbers will shake out, but any given today, “Circle of Amour” and “Don’t Play Me” could be my favorite song on this album.

Granted, much of the music for this song is probably digitally created, so it’s not super impressive compared to his 80’s synth work… but I just love the sound of it. He creates such a beautiful dreamscape. I mean, this is him maybe being a pervert, dreaming as any guy would about a circle of girlfriends who meet regularly after school to become part of a circle of sex. Kinda like taking how all straight guys love the idea of two girls kissing and amplifying it. But for the sake of the art form, I’m going to forgive it.
Heck, it makes me want to be part of that circle. Not so much the sex part of it, but having that closeness with girl friends. I don’t have that many female friends I’m close with- but at this point, I’m barely talking to the guys I’m friends with either πŸ˜› unless they’re fellow Prince fans- but all of them I only know online or on Twitter (at least I’d like to think of Captain and the other Peach & Black guys as my friends…)

I still remember my first listen and falling under the spell. Then the song stops and I’m all sad that it’s over… then it has an instrumental coda that picks me back up and it lets me down more gently when it ends for real. I thought that was a nice touch. Why Prince did it, I can’t be sure. But I always appreciate those extra 30+ seconds.

Interesting thing- all these songs have no official date where they were recorded. It just says Autumn 1996.
No idea if these were all within the same week or over the stretch of a few months.
But I think Prince could have written them either while Mayte was in the hospital the last few months of her pregnancy or over the month after they suffered that loss…
it’s a known fact that “Comeback” was one of the few instances where he wrote specifically about that. Mayte mentioned these lyrics in her book and she said there were other songs he wrote about the same thing. I think there was one other where I thought it might be- but I forget which song it was, honestly.

For me- The Truth, Don’t Play Me, Circle of Amour- one of his best 3 song openers on any album he’s done. One of my personal favorites for sure.

The Truth has so many levels to it, I’d have to go through all the lyrics just to pick out all those little things. I love the sound of the acoustic guitar on it- it’s so raw.
And that’s how the album starts- raw acoustic guitar.

“Don’t play me” is one of my all-time favorites. It feels like it’s so honest and personal, but Prince tries to take the higher road and not come off as bitter that he isn’t being played on the radio or that people are playing him (different definition).
I read an article about it, saying it’s actually about him listing reasons why he isn’t being played on the radio. And U2 came up in the conversation somewhere- maybe Prince is still bitter than The Joshua Tree won Album of the Year over Sign o’ the times (I’d be too… other than maybe 2 songs, I don’t like U2 at all).

Then with the first listen… it was such an amazing start.
Then we get to “3rd eye” and it fell off the track for a little while.

nothing against the song… I just don’t get it. I can look at the lyrics and not understand what the hell he’s talking about. I doubt years later I’ll get anything out of it.
I get something about a serpent appearing between Adam’s thighs and another Garden of Eden reference (I didn’t even realize before Matt Thorne mentioned it how often Prince made Garden of Eden references). And something about him resigning and being resistant to the notion that “yours was the potion I was to die for”… I don’t know if this had to do with him and a lover or him and WB or what.
And “the only one that can save you is you”… I get bits and pieces (and this is from memory right now), but no idea what the whole song is about.
But it is where he first said 3rd eye, which led him to name his all-girl backing band 3rd Eye Girl.

Dionne brings it back a little bit.
it’s funny to read him answering a question about who inspired it and he says pretty much “she knows whose heart she broke. all Dionnes are heartbreakers”… must be an old flame.
there’s a musical bit in the bridge that kinda bridges (yeah, ha ha) it and the next song. And it’s that fake bugle sound. Although it might not be a bugle in this first song.

Man in a Uniform- I didn’t know that this song was unliked in the Prince community. I’ve always liked it. Sure, it has the fake bugle sound and really cheesy lyrics. But I really like it. It’s so much fun. Not just to sing to, but listen to.

The others- I think I’ll wait until a proper listen (without that OTHER song in the way) before I give my thoughts, so for now this is good.

Except “welcome 2 the dawn”… that’s always good. with him talking so much about The Dawn over the years, it’s so great he finally turned it into a song.
Of course some are still waiting for the non-acoustic version… I’m fine with this one, but I’d like to hear more of it.
It feels so triumphant in the heat of it. I love how it starts- the guitar on just the right note on that first chord. Then that ending- where he ends with that “thank you”… it makes me laugh, smile, and even cry cuz that’s the end of it. and also cuz it’s such a nice little detail.
It probably means more to me than other people and people reading this will think I’m nuts.
I just had to say that again πŸ˜› I mention it every time I talk about this album.

I also wanted to get one listen in before reading the 5 pages Matt Thorne wrote. Forbid he say anything negative about Circle of Amour… I’m sure he’ll balk at the umpteenth Garden of Eden, though.
And maybe give a little note on “Comeback” and its significance.

…yeah he called Circle of Amour “silly” and seems to take issue with Prince turning school days into a sexual metaphor. At least in this case, it kinda makes sense. They’re in 10th grade. Unlike the song “Schoolyard,” which I’ve only read about.
But I totally called him complaining about the Garden of Eden reference.
And I think Peach and Black also said that “Welcome 2 the Dawn” was disappointing after Prince had spent all these years alluding to it. I still like it- I don’t care.

Today, I didn’t go through all the songs. Because I did the first two twice yesterday, I figured I could skip out on them today.

Now for the other songs I meant to discuss but couldn’t get in the right head space.

“The other side of the pillow”- something about Prince on that guitar in this song- it just makes me think about Elvis, but I have no clue which song. I’ve always had a soft spot for it, even if it’s very elementary for someone like Prince.
But there’s a lot of simple stuff on this album too. I like that. It almost feels like he’s going back to formula- or at least back when he did songs like “Crazy You” and “Still Waiting”

“Fascination” is the only band performance on an otherwise one-man-band record.
So much is going on, it’s hard to keep track of it all.
I hear a little Middle Eastern influence in there (so I can’t help but picture Mayte dancing to it even if she wasn’t doing that around the time this song was being recorded).
Honestly, looking at the lyrics, I have NO idea what he’s going on about πŸ˜›
there’s something about a dream being better than the life you lead and a rapper giving head that will thank his manager before the Lord. And a headache feeling better than the treatment, which leaves a side effect that needs another pill to correct… and you’re still high.

Someone is high throughout this song- and these past few times, I’ve gotten into just saying the line “and you’re still high”…
I think he had another lyric in another song where he talked about pills and side effects- it’s always kinda fascinating (ha ha- pun not intended) to take all that into account. And his own issues with addiction or whatever doesn’t figure into this at all. I just like the conundrum the drug and side effect lyrics have.

“One of your tears”- it’s probably the one other song I listen to in the context of the album (the other being “3rd eye”) that I don’t really get into.
And no, it doesn’t have to do with the used condom lyric (I have a thing about weird lyrics, but this isn’t one of those times).
To me, it feels like a solitary thought that’s been stretched over 3 minutes. And after a certain point, I kinda fall out of it. But it’s probably because I haven’t been in that kind of place- that post break-up place.
What I do get from it is the music- and it makes me think of where his sound was during Rave. In my mind, this is the album that comes right before it, so there are some similarities.
The one interesting thing musically- there’s something in the percussion, I think, that clicks on and off throughout the song. Not sure what it is, but it sets it apart from the rest of his music.

So tomorrow… I’ll get to Peach and Black and finish this up.
I know it’s it’s own album opposed to being just another disc in Crystal Ball. But NewPower Soul is also billed as an NPG album- and it’s also not one I want to spend a whole lot of time on, so I’ll tack it onto the end of the week.

It’s also a good time to pick Mayte’s book back up… it’s getting towards that time where things start to fall apart. Which is going to suck so bad to read about. I just hope that by the end of it that my feelings about her and Prince (separately as well as a couple) don’t change from where they are now.


yeah, THIS is why I listen to Peach and Black in the car… some random comment could happen that makes me lose it and people at work will ask what the hell is wrong with me.

Crazy thing is- I’d heard this podcast before- a year ago in fact, and I didn’t remember this part.
And it wasn’t Captain for the million time. It was Player.

Lots of love for the album so far. Then Circle of Amour comes and most of the guys aren’t really into it. Toejam is the only one saying he doesn’t mind it and likes the atmosphere (atmosphere came up a lot in this podcast).
Captain’s known for mishearing lyrics, but Player misheard something that completely changed the song.
He heard it was “Mary, Claire, Denise and BILL”… and his accent came out full blast saying how he thought it was one guy that got three girls and how lucky he is.
Not that I don’t hear the Aussie accents all the time with these guys anyway- but it just becomes so super apparent when they get super excited about something like this.
I swear- I was going to die laughing. And I’d get taken aside and ask what the hell my problem was.

But yeah- never forgetting that one.

Toejam was the only person that really echoed my thoughts on Animal Kingdom. Like the Rainbow Children, the music is great, but the message is hard to digest.
Captain had a funny comment- disbelieving Prince saying no animal ever did anything to him. “He wasn’t stung by a bee or anything?”

Comeback had a long bit of commentary. The guys never really go into detail about these things, but we all know what they’re alluding to.
I think it was MC who said that it’s about moving on from a loss rather than not pretending that it happened- much like Prince did with interviews around this time.

Then Welcome 2 the Dawn got slammed by the majority- Captain said he’s waiting for the non-acoustic version and we may never find out “how great it might not be”- nice little play on words.
He also said that he should listen to the lyrics in “Fascination” cuz he had no idea what it was about, but hearing the guys talk about him, it piqued his interest.

There was commentary about Mike Scott’s guitar playing I remembered as soon as Captain started ranting.
Then there was the dare of not using the word “cool” to describe the “other side of the pillow”… everyone but Captain failed miserably.

Meanwhile, I listened to the first two songs, Man in a Uniform, The Other Side of the Pillow, Fascination and Welcome 2 the Dawn today.
I think those are all the songs I need to get where I need to with this album.
Which is to score it.

And I think, in this case, give two scores. With and without that one song. Because it doesn’t seem fair for one song to kill the whole album.

THE TRUTH
Raw, clean vocals and guitar to kick off the album and give you a taste of what’s to come. Prince poses many different ideas- each as interesting as the last.
Technical Merit- 5 (this is one of those albums I’d love to share with people who don’t know Prince that well or unwilling to give him a chance… I won’t take points off for it, but “MFing piece of pie” line and the way he screams it the 2nd time around- it might be a turn-off to some)
Components Score- 4
Total score- 9 (a standard good Prince album opener seems to be a 9- if history is to be believed…)

DON’T PLAY ME
While The Truth was looking outward, this song is about looking inside and staying true to oneself, being honest and secure in that. To me, it feels like one of the most candid songs Prince had written and put on an official release. Very honest and true and I love it. Every time I listen, it’s like having him right beside me.
Technical Merit- 5
Components Score- 5
Total Score- 10 (yeah, maybe some of the added sound effects seem unnecessary- but I still like this song enough and feel it’s compositionally a 10)

CIRCLE OF AMOUR
Yeah, just love this one. It tells an interesting story about the friendship between girls and women and what that can entail. The music overall sounds great, lots of nice moments throughout. And I like that Prince gave it that minute-long coda at the end. I’d thank him for it if he were here because I feel like the song isn’t completely done by the time he stops the music the first time.
Technical Merit- 5
Components Score- 4.5
Total Score- 9.5 (this seems to be the typical score I give to my personal favorites- but ones I don’t feel wholly comfortable with giving the perfect 10. It doesn’t scream “masterpiece”)

3rd EYE
for me, this is still a weird one and I haven’t fully gotten it. [Kinda funny how the Peach and Black guys even mentioned the Adam & Eve reference being a common thing with Prince… I guess this is something I just had to read about in a book for it to actually click]
The music has some interesting moments in it. Strong guitar strumming that gives it dynamics and sets it apart from the other songs so far. But the lyrics lose me every time- except for the final lyric.
Technical Merit- 4.5
Components Score- 3
Total Score- 7.5

DIONNE
This is another bit of an odd one for me. I feel like I get into it half the time and the other half, it doesn’t feel as strong to me as the rest of the album. It tells a story of heartbreak, starting very simple in lyric, but gets more intense and complex as it goes on, so it’s a nice progression. If I could change something, it’s the production on the chorus. It’s too damn loud sometimes. Too many backing vocals at once, the harpsichord and the strings at the tail end. I could do without those strings being so loud. The verses, I do like a fair bit, though.
Technical Merit- 4
Components Score- 3.5
Total Score- 7.5

MAN IN A UNIFORM
This is such a fun one. Whenever I hear that fake horn, I always shift my body back and forth to the beat. I see choreography for it in my head, but it’s kinda fuzzy so I don’t remember what the heck I see him doing to this. It’s not quite a cha-cha step, but it might be in that vicinity.
Anyway- funny story, Prince’s sense of humor at work. And also- love the bongos. It’s something different.
Technical Merit- 5
Components Score- 4
Total Score- 9

THE OTHER SIDE OF THE PILLOW
I think the Elvis song I was thinking his vocals remind me of- “Blue Christmas”
Anyway- a nice little listen, nothing too complex. It’s all about the vibe and it’s great. I love the workout he gives the guitar on this, especially in the final minute of the song where he repeats “cool as the other side” multiple times. Although sometimes when I listen, I keep expecting some lyrics from “Mellow” to come into it. The songs have a similar feel to them for me.
Technical Merit- 5
Components Score- 4
Total Score- 9

FASCINATION
So much happens in this song, it’s crazy. This is an acoustic album, but this is the most filled out song on it. Lots of different percussion, subjects broached in the lyrics. This was a big highlight on the album and one of the standouts for me after the killer 3 song intro and it peters down a little while after that. But now- maybe I like it a little less with each listen, maybe because I love certain other songs from it so much more.
Maybe I still need to figure out the lyrics before I fully get back on board
Technical Merit- 5
Components Score- 3.5
Total Score- 8.5

ONE OF YOUR TEARS
this being the 2nd break-up type song on the album, makes me wonder it and Dionne were inspired by the same person. “Fascination” always felt- to me- like the predecessor to “Strange but True”- but this song feels like a precursor to a lot of the slower songs on Rave- Sun Moon and Stars, and Silly Games come to mind.
from what I gather from the lyrics, Prince lost his girl and can’t help imagining her with this other guy she’s cheating on him with. And he wishes he could disappear and to do that- he’d come back as one of her tears. So he’s there and gone and not having to feel that pain anymore. Most of this song is instrumental rather than about the lyrical story, but that’s where it kinda loses me. If there was another verse that kinda resolves things, then maybe I’d like it more.
Technical Merit- 4.5
Components Score- 3
Total Score- 7.5

COMEBACK
the guitar is so strong in this one, like he’s strumming on it hard to keep himself on track and not giving way to sorrow. Nice multi-layered vocals. It feels like a gospel refrain “they’ll come back, yeah”… although to me, a lot of the vocals on this album feel like that gospel side of Prince is coming out.
Nice short simple song that accomplishes all it needs to. But it can be a hard listen. Especially now. But it’s also because of this song and a certain lyric, I never use the word “gone” to describe Prince these days. Because most days, it doesn’t feel that way to me at all. But it also helps that I listen to him all the time. I’m holding onto what I swore to myself on April 21st when “1999” started playing on the radio- I was going to celebrate Prince’s music and his life instead of mourning the fact he’s no longer here. But I’m sure every April 21st going forward, I’ll let my guard done and reacquainted myself with that fact. There’s also a good chance I’ll just crumble when I finish my post on the final album… anyway, moving on…
Technical Merit- 5
Components Score- 4
Total Score- 9 (I always listen to this within the context of the album- but it’s not a song I feel good enough about to listen to on its own)

WELCOME 2 THE DAWN
After first mentioning the Dawn back in the 80’s, we’re finally here. I get what the song is about as a whole- but I think some of the lyrics are still piecing together in my head. It’s maybe a little too vague at times- if there’s any criticism I can give it.
Technical Merit- 4.5
Components Score- 4
Total Score- 8.5 (ah, my only 8.5 for this album… scrolls up… oh wait, I have 2, d’oh!)

Wow, maybe it’s because I really didn’t wear this album out, but it’s so technically good. Probably one of the best technical albums he’s done.
And it starts out so well- but it gets a little lost in the weeds.

So in order:

Don’t Play Me- 10
Circle of Amour- 9.5
The Truth- 9
The Other Side of the Pillow- 9
Man in a Uniform- 9
Comeback- 9
Welcome 2 the Dawn- 8.5
Fascination- 8.5
Dionne- 7.5
One of Your Tears- 7.5
3rd Eye- 7.5
Animal Kingdom- 3.5

yeah- even with Animal Kingdom included, one of my strongest technical scores ever…

Total- 99, divided by 120… 8.3/10

If I took Animal Kingdom completely out, it’d be closer to 8.7… but I think I might keep it in the conversation anyway- even if I never listen to it aside from the first time and the one time this week just remind myself why I hate it.

For such an obscure release, that’s a really good score and I’m happy to see that.

Next: NewPower Soul- while technically an NPG album, it’s the beginning of the end of Prince as everyone knew him… the rude boy musical genius that occasionally wrote music about his faith in a non-specific way everyone could relate to.

But for me personally- it marks the start of the version of Prince I first got to know- the 40-50 year old Prince that physically pass as being 30, but had the maturity to seem like he was at his current age.
And in some ways, the 00’s version of Prince was even more of a unicorn than he was his 80’s heyday. Because he was no longer in the limelight and his music was no longer mainstream, when he came out of the woodwork, you had to pay attention because you can never predict what he’s going to do.

…now I’m just getting ahead of myself πŸ˜› The End- for now

I’ll take “Don’t Play Me” into the competition for my top 100 Prince songs. And maybe “Circle of Amour” as well.

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

“Prince” Album #20: Crystal Ball (1998)

From one Monster album to another…

But CRYSTAL BALL is a special case.

It’s technically a compilation and not an album in the typical sense… but I’m still considering it as such (complete with its own number, yeah!) because it’s officially released material by Prince (known as O(+> at the time of its release).
I’ll be honest– I have no idea how many Prince albums I own because there are so many and I don’t have physically copies of all of them. Giving each album a number will finally give that answer.

Unlike other compilations or “hits” albums, the material contained is previously unreleased and for the sake of the several fans that didn’t have “connections,” it is NEW Prince music plus remixes and alternate versions of O(+> material (as far back as the Symbol album to Come and The Gold Experience).
The Hits Collection contained commercial hits from Prince’s albums up to 1993, B-Sides and 2 new songs (Peach & Pope).
The Very Best Of… it goes without saying- it’s all the radio hits complete with radio edits- not reviewing that (although it was the second Prince CD I bought).
Ultimate- same as The Very Best Of but with another disc full of remixes and alternate version (the person kind enough to send me copies of Dirty Mind and Controversy also included that second disc in the package)
4EVER- “Moonbeam Levels” is the only new, previously unreleased song. The rest, all die-hard fans already have on previous albums.

Now that that’s cleared up…

Having said all that, I won’t be breaking Crystal Ball down into its 3 discs.
Emancipation had 3 discs of material, but each disc felt like its own album.
As far as I can tell, there is no rhyme or reason to why Prince sequenced this set the way he did.
But while I won’t be doing 3 separate entries, I’ll be going through it throughout the week.
My game plan is to do the first 10 songs (disc 1) over today and tomorrow and do the accompanying Peach & Black podcast over tomorrow afternoon while I drive home.
But how much it I get through will depend on where part 1 ends and part 2 begins.
Yeah, it’s a triple disc compilation, but the guys broke it into only 2 parts. Captain answered my query, saying it’ll become clear when I listen.
So tomorrow I’ll find the answer to that for sure.

Of course, there’s also the LONG history of this album that dates back to 1986.
Prince’s follow-up to Parade was Dream Factory. But amidst his break-up with Susannah and him breaking up The Revolution, he abandoned the project.
Then his next planned album was to be Crystal Ball- a triple disc album.
The triple disc album that Warner Bros refused to let him release unless he cut it into two discs.

Much of the Dream Factory material was on Crystal Ball, but there were some new songs as well.
Then Crystal Ball became the 2 disc album known as Sign o’ the Times.

I don’t know if Prince revisited this concept (a 3 disc album with this name) to fulfill a dream he couldn’t understand recording contract or because fans had been clamoring for it since they heard about the album’s ultimate demise.
Whatever the case is, it’s a fair statement that THIS version of Crystal Ball was not what the fans wanted. With few exceptions, the majority of the material was recorded between 1992-1995 or remixes of songs recorded during those times.

The way I see it personally (and I just made this conclusion moments ago)- this album is a representation of the material that Warner Bros wouldn’t let Prince release. Not so much the songs themselves, but they were parts of original configurations of albums Prince presented to WB and they wanted him to try again. Crystal Ball being too long and WB refusing to let Prince release Come and The Gold Experience at the same time.

One final note on how I’ll go about this- I’ll listen through the songs two times each and score them afterwards. If I don’t feel confident enough about my feelings, I can always bring them out for another listen later in the week. But there are several I’m already clear on.
I’ll score the individual songs, but not the separate discs. Meaning the entire album will get a score.

Disc 1 begins with the two legendary tracks from the legendary Prince albums that never saw the light of day.

Crystal Ball is reminiscent of the Parade era with the Clare Fischer strings and Wendy & Lisa on backing vocals PLUS the Camille voice. Yeah… Camille is here too.
And… wait for it… this song runs for 10 minutes 28 seconds.
If the three discs wasn’t already a monster in its own right, this is the biggest part of it (on this disc… yeah, there’s another song that goes longer than this on disc 2).
But something is happening every second that you can’t get bored. If you do, you need to open your heart and your mind bigger and just go along for the ride.
It’s simply mesmerizing.
I started playing it as I was leaving work, getting into my car and getting settled before I took off for the drive home. The first couple minutes is all music- so the vocals didn’t come in until I got in the car.
Whatever happened, I’ll never be able to replicate if I tried. The music fit in perfectly with the flow of traffic. There’s a light at the end of the street from my work place. It stayed green long enough for me to get through and keep pace with it. It was the perfect sweet spot.
…also, I’ll probably just give it the one more listen tomorrow and give it a rest until the weekend… but it seems impossible to give it a score at this point. I want to say 10, heck even 11. But it’s all on the feeling I get when I listen to it.

Dream Factory was supposedly a dig at St. Paul Peterson who decided to go solo, a move that broke up The Family. Prince pretty much saying he was a “sucker for the Dream Factory”- which is LA or Hollywood. It’s another Camille vocal, but the music sounds like a cross between Mutiny from the Family album and something from Sign o’ the times. (I need to check lyrics on this one)

Acknowledge Me was easily my favorite outtake from The Gold Experience. The more I listen, the more I like and really see myself in it. It’s true- after spending time with Prince, you kinda feel like there ain’t no other fish in the sea and other songs and artists don’t satisfy quite the same way he does.
There is however the one lyric that ruins it… I can see myself giving this song a 9 based on that alone.
There are 2 raps on this song and as far as I remember about the Beautiful Experience version, the 2nd rap with the line wasn’t in it.
Basically, he says he doesn’t care if it’s “that time of the month, cuz it’s 4th and goal and I’m not about to punt”… I don’t care if he is Prince or O(+> or whatever… I cannot imagine having sex with anyone when I’m struggling through PMS. But I’m just a virgin- what the hell do I know about all that anyway?
The song is so close to perfect and that just keeps it from getting there.

Also gotta say how fun it was coming back to spend time with Slave era O(+>. Come and Gold were amazing albums with great material and much of the material from that time was great as well.

Rippopgodazippa- I’m still figuring out as well. It’s a reggae song that reminds me a bit of “Master Blaster” by Stevie Wonder. It has a cool horn hook after every chorus- I can’t remember what it sounds like it now, but each time I get to it in the song, it just feels right.
The rest of the song, I don’t know quite yet. I just don’t like it as much as the last song.
It was apparently part of “Show Girls” but not on the actual soundtrack.
I definitely heard Mayte in the background in the final minutes of the song- after listening to her album a bunch of times, it’s hard to mistake her for anyone else πŸ˜‰
there’s a mention of “pink plush” in the lyrics- I thought maybe he wrote around the same time as Space… nope. Same year, but months apart.
But reading up at the lyrics… DAMN THIS IS HOT… the reggae is all chill and stuff, but they’re freaking doing the nasty in this song. :sizzle: I need to listen to this more closely sometime- preferably without distractions and in my room by myself (so my thoughts stay confined in the space and nobody else can catch wind of any of it… I have this weird thing where I think people around me could tune in and hear my thoughts when I listen to Prince and trespass into a space where it’s just me and him- and it’s not like I’m getting hot and heavy to his music either).

Lovesign (Shock G’s Silky Remix)- other than the music video, this is the only version I’d heard of this song (I believe it was originally released on 1-800-NEW-Funk- another Prince compilation I still don’t really know much about).
I like this song a lot. It’s very cool and smooth and the hook is so catchy, I can’t help singing along to it.

Hide the Bone- I think this was the first time I really listened to it and understood what the title meant… apparently he’s rockhard in a funky place again and playing hard to get is getting harder to play as time goes on. Now that I’ve got that figured out, I think I might warm up to the song a bit more than I have in the past.
I’ll admit- I’m not crazy about songs where Prince is talking on this subject matter, but he’s also one of the few artists that DOES. At least does it while not making it sound derogatory. Speaking as a woman and virgin, I wouldn’t know much about this, but I’m sure the guys listening to this song, some of them might have been in an awkward situation just like this. So I should at least give him some credit.

2morrow- I need to look up the lyrics, I cannot understand what he’s saying in this song so I don’t really like it at this time. But I heard it’s the only song that was recorded after Emancipation that is on this disc.
according to Princevault, it has linear notes that says it’s inspired by Cory, a girl from Love 4 One Another and an NPG member had a crush on her… and supposedly Prince recorded it in November 1996 around the time Mayte had him in studio rehab (there’s been no mention of that in her book so far)

Speaking of Emancipation… it was SO WEIRD not having it in my car after 3 weeks where I always had one disc to accompany on my commute… I kinda miss it already.

So Dark… I’ll admit, I completely forgot about this one. I turned the music off for a little while cuz I figured I’d take Moviestar and the last song on the final route to my house.

I have a lot to say about this one.
This is a remix of “Dark” from the Come album. The original had a church organ keeping the beat and horn fills throughout with Prince’s vocal.
The remix takes out the church organ and replaces it with a different musical backdrop- which sounds a little like the late night version of “Eye Hate U” or it just reminds me of it.
It wouldn’t be so bad except Prince kept the horn fills, backing vocals AND the lead vocal from the original.
I’m sorry, but it is impossible for me to hear this song without thinking of the original. And I feel like the music really doesn’t match the lyrics the way they’re being delivered. The situation doesn’t sound as desperate or desolate as it ought to be.
If Prince had recorded a new lead vocal and took the horns and backing vocals out, this would be a different story.
Although that didn’t stop me from singing all over the track like a feature, complete with all the high notes πŸ˜› yeah, I had earbuds in, but I still think I sounded great.

Moviestar is another old song taken out of the vault. It was never meant for any album, but maybe Prince was feeling nostalgic the day he made the decision. (Okay, my bad… it was on a previous Crystal Ball configuration and was included because it was D’Angelo’s favorite bootleg… he did namecheck D’Angelo on the Emancipation album, so there was some love there, I think).
Anyway- you need to have a sense of humor (and not take Prince too seriously cuz he certainly doesn’t) to really get into this song.
The fact it had some old school 1999 synth lines and Linn-drum made ME all nostalgic.
The dialogue is hilarious- it sounds like it was meant for Morris Day because he’s playing that type of character (very full of himself).
My favorite part comes at the end where he says “do you like environmental records? they’re supposed to make you horny… they make me wanna go to the bathroom”… I’d fall over in my chair if I wasn’t driving πŸ˜› so good every time.

How U Wanna Be Done- is basically the 2nd half of The Continental, but remixed by Kirk Johnson. Complete with the Carmen Electra “rap”…
the new music (with some inflections from the original cut) really isn’t anything special and the vocals are all the same…
I’m sure Captain would say something like “well, he put more thought into this than Orgasm where he just copy and pasted Vanity’s vocal from “Vibrator” and the guitar from the end of “Private Joy”…”
either way, it’s not saying a whole lot. I like it, but another song could’ve gone here.

Another thing I found yesterday… each disc has 50 minutes of music… Prince could’ve put all this music on 2 discs, but instead chose to do 3… go figure…

Day 2 and yeah… the first day of listening to Peach and Black review this monster (ok, last time I’m using that word) of a set and it didn’t go as planned.

Well, within 4 minutes of listening, I found out how this review is being done in two parts.

I’m not going to give away how they’re doing it, but they are doing the set out of order.

I decided that I’m going to proceed with the Disc 2 material as planned- listening to it on the drive home from work tomorrow. But I will only give the songs scores after I’d heard them twice and Peach & Black has given their thoughts.

I currently have 30+ minutes left of Part 1 of their review and because of their particular sequencing, I can only score three songs right now.

Yeah…
now I’m not faulting their logic. I think it’s brilliant. But at the same time, had I known about their methodology beforehand, I still wouldn’t have gone out of my way to create a playlist just to suit them either.

This just makes me seem like an unreasonable crazy person or something, but they had their way of doing things and I have mine.

As for listening to the album today, I started playing it when I had 10 minutes left in my lunch break. I had to put some stuff in the car anyway, so I just sat in there listening with the doors locked and no key in the ignition and just grooved with my earbuds in. If anyone saw me, I wouldn’t have had any idea and I don’t mind it. I groove with my earbuds at work if the music is right for the mood (usually it’s just Prince and Depeche Mode and other songs that remind me of figure skating- so maybe 5 others) and so far nobody in the upper department positions has made a comment. Which means they either don’t pay attention or it’s still ok. I still get my work down and my productivity is still excellent.

Listening closely to the lyrics, it sounds like a precursor to “Sign o’ the times”- talking about the ills in the world, but it has the 1999 attitude where all that matters is “the love we make tonight”… kinda tuning all of that negativity out.
It’s still a mind-blowing listen, but also a song I don’t want to exhaust, so this might be the last time I do it for the sake of this album.
[I also realized a few hours ago that Matt Thorne wrote a chapter on this compilation and I totally forgot to read it… I don’t like his opinions a lot of the time, but I still need to finish the book]

Dream Factory, I’m finally getting with some lyrics. There’s talk about drugs in the first verse and in the second it’s about going off with somebody else and the guy’s friends are kinda stunned that he’s deserting them for this other person.
Like being famous and living in LA changes people.

Rippopgodazippa- I finally got that horn line remembered. Very cool. It always bugged me that there was the final line of the chorus I had no idea what he was saying… “etc, etc. so”… it’s hard to make some lyrics out on it, just sayin’
but I was getting into it more this listen.

Hide the Bone- I had an a-ha moment. Something about it sounded so familiar. There are differences, but it sounds A LOT like “Sledgehammer” by Peter Gabriel. It just doesn’t have that surge before he says the titular lyric, but it’s very similar musically.

2tomorrow… opinion hasn’t changed… I just hope the Peach & Black guys back me up on my opinion.
So Dark… same deal… he doesn’t use all the horn fills from the original, but enough of them where I can’t help recalling the original

The rest of the disc… not much to say.

So I guess I’ll go ahead and score the only three songs that I can at the moment:

CRYSTAL BALL
yeah, the guys went wild on this one. The review was almost as long as the song itself, probably twice as long. they still had plenty of superlatives (MC has used this word a couple times where he says he’s run out of them to describe a song) to go around.
And the praise and the name “masterpiece” is richly deserved.
Technical Score- can’t give it anything but a 5…
Components Score- …
Total score- 10
…I know, I totally gave into peer pressure with this one. I could have given it 4.5 for components, but other than the length or not being able to listen to all that much, I can’t detract from it at all. It’s just impossible. Please, it’s such a trip, it’s ridiculous…

DREAM FACTORY
Captain opened with the review on this one and called the chorus “shouty”… and I didn’t mind him saying that because the first time I heard it, I felt the same way. Sometimes, I still do, but other things I choose to ignore it. The guys more or less agreed that the mastering of this song were not great.
I don’t mind it, but after something like Crystal Ball referred to by many as a masterpiece… you can only go downhill unless you’re following it with Purple Rain or When Doves Cry. It’s that simple.
Technical Merit- 4.5 (for sound quality, I’ll take half a point off)
Components Score- 4
Total score- 8.5 (I like it, but I’m not 100% in love with it like the previous song)

MOVIESTAR
the guys just loved this one and it’s hard to imagine why not… unless you’re me as a newer Prince fan who really didn’t like when he used this type of humor in songs, acting more of a goof than his usual serious reserved mysterious off-stage persona…
If any track is unique to Prince, this is it.
Technical Score- 5 (I mean, it isn’t quite a song, but there are a couple parts where he sings and there’s a beginning, middle and end to it)
Components Score- 4
Total score- 9 (yeah, these days, I just have fun with this one)

that’s it for now
…I’m just hoping that my listening schedule and the podcast will able to sync up at some point. I’d hate to get through another big chunk of the podcast where they’re talking about songs I haven’t listened to yet and by the time I do, most of those parts will be gone from my head, so it felt like a waste to do the podcast so early when I can’t even compare opinions properly.
I will however be making notes on the songs they get to before I do… whatever I can remember by the time I get home and to my laptop

Day 3… new game plan.
I WAS going to do Peach & Black tomorrow and start the third disc Friday…

I may be creating a haphazard situation for myself, listening to 20 Prince songs with a degree of frequency, trying to figure them out and score them.
But I’d like to go into Peach & Black at least knowing what they’re talking about.

So- Thursday- I’ll be listening to Disc 2 again tomorrow afternoon at work and Disc 3 for the drive home.
Friday- I’ll listen to Disc 3 again that afternoon and redo the first part of the podcast (scrolling past the three songs I already reviewed) at work… then I’ll begin part 2 on the drive back.

If I’m still unsure on any of the songs, I’ll check back into them over the week.

So for today’s part of the journey…

while Disc 1 started with two potential title tracks from the creative peak that resulted in Sign o’ the times plus a bunch of random Slave era tracks (plus the outliers of Moviestar and the post-Emancipation 2morrow)…

Disc 2 was kind of an 80’s burger- let me explain.
The first 4 tracks are Slave era tracks- this is followed by several 80’s tracks including Cloreen Baconskin… and the final track is back to the Slave era.
The whole metaphor, I thought of it just now- but you know how a burger usually has a big top of the bun and the bottom bun is skinny in comparison. The 80’s burger is probably half a pound, it’s so stuffed with 80’s music. Most of it is the same song.

…yeah, confession time…
Cloreen Baconskin is the reason why it took me FOREVER to listen through the entirety of Crystal Ball… my memory was that the song was 18 minutes. Apparently it’s closer to 15. Either way, as a relatively new fan at the time (it was either spring 2008 or 2009- so I was only a couple years into this tenure of fandom), I did not have the attention span for it.

Listening to again- first I’m gonna need the lyrics to even know what the hell Prince was saying through the majority of it. If it wasn’t already clear through this whole series of rating Prince’s music, it is a pet peeve for me when I can’t understand lyrics. I downgrade songs if I can’t understand what he’s saying (which is a big part of why I was so harsh on the earlier records).
All I get from the lyrics is that the namesake of the song is the first wife of the character Prince is playing and she’s the ugliest woman he’s seen and he asks why she won’t take a bath. Then he meets her brother Alfred and they go to his place and they need to get stuff and go.
Maybe this will go better when I’m listening to it at work- will be able to hear a lot better when I don’t have the sound of my car (not that it’s loud, but just in the general sense) drowning it out. And I sure wasn’t going to crank the volumes to make my ear drums bleed either.

However, one good thing about listening to it on the radio was having that momentum and the song doesn’t feel like it takes forever.
What kept me focused on it was just Morris Day keeping the beat. Everyone talks about what a great drummer he is and sure enough they weren’t lying. He has a certain style that kinda has defined the Time sound even though Prince was the one playing drums for the albums.

So the first few parts of the top burger bun of this disc…

Interactive- one of many Slave era tracks fans had been clamoring for since Prince removed it from the configuration of Come AND The Gold Experience.
It has a signature bass hook that’s hard to mistake.
I’ll have to come back to this one cuz I was getting into my car while listening to it so I was distracted. Going back to the times I’d heard it previously, I wasn’t a huge fan. At least not the same way I have of the music that made those albums.

Da Bang- I got lucky on Monday with the flow of traffic for the first outing of Crystal Ball… I didn’t get lucky with this one.
I feel like I’d only discovered it a couple years ago when I was compiling highlights of this set (but truthfully I’d only heard Disc 2 once or twice before).
It’s got a very mellow cool beat in the verses, but the chorus just explodes. The sound of it reminds me a bit of another song. “American Girl” By Tom Petty may be among them.
There isn’t a whole lot to this song thematically. I think it’s about sex. But I really like this one. If only for those invigorating choruses. (In my head right now, I’m recalling bits of pieces of the final minute of “Rock n’ Roll is Alive”- so it does remind me of that too).

Calhoun Square- I really like the music for this one. The synths in the chorus remind me of “Rock n’ roll is Alive” also so Tommy Barberalla had to be involved somewhere. [According to Princevault it was recorded the day after the Undertaker sessions]. But the lyrics- I don’t know what they are so at present they’re not doing anything for me. Reading them, it sounds like it’s another Uptown type of track, but everyone of all colors and crews are gathering here- which is a shopping area in MPLS.

What’s My Name- I know this was considered for come… and once I got to it, I remembered it immediately… for not such a good reason.
He whispers the verses, so I CANNOT HEAR HIM. I love u, Prince, but I’m not killing my ear drums by cranking up the volume on my earbuds in my car.
That bass and stop-start chorus is hard to forget as well- but for a better reason.
I did catch him saying something about coffee and cream, but that was it. and I thought he said live 4 love… and he does

“live 4 love without love u don’t live”… love that song!

now onto the 80’s…

Crucial- the production was easy to pick up. The falsetto vocal is vintage 80’s Prince and it’s great. There’s a hook that runs through it that sounds so familiar… I don’t know if I thought that when I last heard it. But these days, I hear that sitar-laden hook and I’m thinking about the chorus for “This could b us”. That song wasn’t out the first time I heard Crucial.

Sexual Suicide- Eric Leeds was easy to pick up. The sound of his saxophone sounds very similar to the line he does before the lyrics “he tried so hard not to go insane” in “Girls in Boys”.
I really liked that beat and overall sound of the song.

An Honest Man- the vocals sound nice, but then some instruments start to come in and the song just ends too soon.
The guys didn’t really get why this song included (and of course Toejam wondered by Cloreen Bacon Skin was included when it was so long and a few other great songs could have fit in its place)- personally I see it as an intro to Sexual Suicide because they were from the same era.

The final 2…

Good Love I already went into during the Sign o’ the times post where I was talking about the Camille album.
I like it more than I did, but I still prefer Strange Relationship and If eye was ur girlfriend.
But I also need a little more time with this one.
I swear it sounds like a LoveSexy outtake rather than something he recorded in 1986.

Strays of the World- I recalled within the first few seconds. It had this part after the chorus where Tommy Barbarella’s organ goes all over the map with varying solitary notes carrying a lot of weight.
I finally realized that it’s talking about “strays”- but instead of stray cats and dogs, it’s about uniting people who feel like they have no place that they belong.
I might get into it more as I listen more times. I imagine I will. It’s another Slave era track. And I think it was considered for Gold… nope, Come, recorded the same day as Space, What’s My Name, Interactive and Solo…. what a great day that must’ve been.
It’s funny that the linear notes (according to Princevault) say it was originally intended for a Broadway musical because that’s EXACTLY what I thought. It was like Prince the Musical Part 2. And it’d be the grand finale- or at least the Purple Rain or Still Would Stand All Time of the production.
It was also part of the Glam Slam Ulysses shows- opening it and perhaps closing it.
Parts of it reminded me of “We are The Champions” by Queen- it has that same epic quality to it.
I also feel like I need more time with it to really grasp it because I feel it might really deserve it.

I’m not in the business of rating individual discs of this set… but I think Disc 2 might have the best quality overall. Even with the overly long Cloreen Baconskin and the really short “Honest Man”

[Side-note: Someone shared the video of Prince’s appearance on the Muppet Show. I have one scene saved under favorites on YouTube so I started with that. Other than it and the “Starfish & Coffee” scene, I hadn’t seen any of it before. It was so great. So cute that the Muppets were totally fans and into the music. One conversation sounded like his HalfTime prophesized 10 years before it happened but he wanted to do a simple performance with a piano and angels (“She Gave Her Angels”- which I’ll get to tomorrow). There was a goofy scene earlier where it was talking about him before he became famous and he was doing all these different voices in random scenery and there was this alligator they put ears on and it kept chasing them into the next set.
And the whole “Starfish & Coffee”- he was bragging he could make a song about anything (that’s totally not how the actual song got made, but whatever). Rizzo bet him he couldn’t do it again and he did “Raspberry Sorbet”… so hilarious Rizzo had to give him $5 over that.

Then I saw the Chris Rock interview, which I should’ve watched during the THREE WEEKS I had Emancipation in my car cuz there was much about Emancipation in it. As well as a dozen other clips I had to scroll through cuz I did not want to go backwards through his catalogue when I’ve come forward all this way.
Just so awestruck seeing him and wanting so badly to see him in concert. And the pain in my heart that I’ll never get that chance… yeah, I’ll be saying that until the day *I* die. sorry to be such a downer, guys]

After listening to 20 songs within the span of 2 hours, I hope I can get everything straight πŸ˜› but I gotta say it was fun times in Prince World.

I’m not entirely sure why I didn’t like “Interactive” all that much. I mean, it’s no Eye Hate U, Shh, Gold, Space or Dark… it’s not masterpiece worthy. But it has a cool beat and sense of momentum. Reading into the lyrics, it presents an interesting concept (heck, he named a whole CD-Rom game after it… back when those were in). It feels almost like a tease rather than a fully realized song. What it would’ve be like if he extended out to 10 minutes with a spoken breakdown section…

Da Bang- he’s pretty much saying he’s like a puppet on a string that’ll do anything if she brings [titular lyric]… it’s very simple and not really imaginative, but I still enjoy the momentum of the chorus. So cool to listen to.

Calhoun Square- the bass is the stand out instrument. Very funky. The sound of the verses reminds me of this song called “Use Me” by Bill Withers… I realize the song’s a lot older than the movies I’ve seen it feature in, but it’s very funky with a memorable bass line.

What’s your name- I cranked up the volume at work so I could hear it. Great bass in that as well. The sound effects in the chorus- there’s a bunch of weird record scratches and stuff and sirens. The record scratch type sounds remind me of the score in Tropic Thunder- if you watch the movie, you heard a little bit of that in the scene where the actors are flying in the helicopter to the jungle (as well as the song during the credits).
Just wanted to say I do like the song, but I need to listen to it in a certain environment (earbuds/headphones with no loud sounds going on around me)- cuz those silky smooth speaking parts :sigh:

Crucial- quoting another song “something happens and I’m head over heels”… this sounds like something he recorded in his home studio with these loud unfiltered falsetto vocals. But as I kept listening, I just fell in love. Considering “Adore” mentions “Crucial,” this should have been released as a B-side. If “Adore” was released as a single that is.
I like this better than “Adore” (at least at the current moment- remember from my Sott review that I really don’t love “Adore”… to me, it’s just ok, but I’m not in love with it) and the vocals remind me a bit of “Do Me Baby”… but an updated version without the spoken section break down.
Oh man, if this song had that… I’d be dead πŸ˜›
the only lyric I kinda don’t like is when he says “Old Man River” is knocking on the door… I don’t need that clichΓ©d innuendo in there. Everything is perfectly fine.

An Honest Man- I just feel like it’s not long enough. I feel like I’m actually kinda close to some sort of emotional explosion (another type of eargasm), but it stops so short that I don’t get there.

Sexual Suicide… I’m looking at the lyrics and they are not telling me what the hell he means by the title… that is bothering me a bit. Suicide is not something you make light of. Even if you feel like you’re dying when you climax, you don’t say suicide in a song about sex.
I like the music a lot with Eric Leeds in tow, but the lyrics present a challenge (yeah I know, I’m impossible)

Cloreen Bacon Skin- this is one of those songs you just have to be in the mood to listen to and you have to not mind spending 15 minutes listening to it. Today, I didn’t mind. I listened a bit more to the bass line (Peach & Black said it was similar to “Irresistible Bitch” and I can totally hear that). At a couple lines, I was smiling and almost cracking up.
But the best part is probably still Morris Day on drums. [I still can’t get the sound of it out of my head, actually and it’s been 3 hours now]

Good Love- love that chorus “cherry pie apple kisses, everything is cool”… it’s kinda cheesy and lame, but with the Camille vocals, it sounds amazing. So many great lyrics in this. Creates a nice visual and the lyrics sell it.

Strays of the World- I got nothing to add beyond yesterday. I can’t decide if those epic notes at the end of the chorus wow me or scare the hell out of me cuz they’re spooky, but I like how they sound.

…so that’s Disc 2. I think I’ve got a good grasp of those songs, but I might listen to “Crucial” again to see if I really like it or it’s because it’s still kinda new to me.

Now for Disc 3… this was an interesting one…. there’s really no pattern to it compared to the other two…

I started listening to it as I was leaving the parking lot (instead of previously when I had started before I even left or turned the car on) and I actually did have enough time. Maybe my commute is closer to an hour than I thought it was…

Anyway, it was cool to hear Days of Wild (I have come around with that song quite a bit), but it was worrying me a bit when it just kept going and going and I’m like “ok, I have 9 other songs I need to get to, hurry up and end”…
it was live and sounded great. Although I could do without the background croaking sound in the chorus. I don’t hear that in any of the live versions I’d seen. I’ll confess that I don’t like the vocals on the instrumental chorus or the “hold onto your wigs” sample. They’re grown on me a bit, well the first thing. The second, I can just ignore that. It sounded just weird to me. Then I read Mayte saying that Morris Hayes wanted to be the funkiest person of the night (that was an ongoing contest throughout whatever tour that was) so he agreed to let Prince shave his head. Throughout the different TV specials promoting Come and The Gold Experience, he’s always wearing a different wig.

Last Heart- it reminds me so much of another 80’s song by someone else- maybe “My Prerogative” by Bobby Brown- but I think Prince wrote his song first. It was considered for the Dream Factory. It isn’t a bad song, but for Prince, it seems a little pedestrian.

Poom Poom… I don’t know if I wanna listen to this one again. It’s an oddity that only Prince could come up with. It wouldn’t be so bad if not for that stupid chorus. I found some things to justify “Da Da Da” on my Emancipation review, but this song gets sunk by having one of the stupidest choruses ever. Not to mention, considering this is Prince, you can’t translate that as anything else but sexually related. I don’t know if it’s him alone or with this woman (when she finally gives him the time of day- and he is mentioning what time it is at the start of every verse, so time is a factor)… and I’m not going out of my way to visualize anything. But at the rate he’s saying all those Poom in the chorus… however it’s been done, the sex sounds like it’d be painful if it was matching the pace of those lyrics.

yeah, moving on…

She Gave her Angels- I just heard this last night for the first time as part of the Muppets… oh, it’s so sweet. The Muppets showed someone in bed and someone at their bedside and angel Muppets. I thought he was the one who died, but she was the one who died and she gave up her angels to those she left behind.
It sounded like an Emancipation track so I looked it up- it was meant for the children’s album he wanted to release alongside it, but didn’t when his and Mayte’s baby died.
Such a beautiful song- when it stopped, I was going “awww” and then it started up again and I got the treat of an instrumental solo led by guitar. At times, it almost screeches and there might come a point where I think it does. But for now I’m just loving the song.

then we get to some more remixes… unlike “So Dark,” some of these are good.

18 & Over is an alternate version of “Come” with different lyrics, but some old ones. It’s too early to figure how much I like it compared to the original, but I do like it.
The only negative- the chorus “18 & Over, I wants to bone ya”… just no…
that being said, it doesn’t completely ruin the song for me. It’s just an inconvenient inclusion.

The Ride sounds live- like it was taken from “Love 4 One Another”… it’s cool to listen to again, but in its original form, I like it more. Even if this is the shorter version on Crystal Ball.

Get Loose is pretty much a different song from “Loose!” off the Come album… I don’t know if it’s even really a song because other than him saying “get your body loose” there aren’t many lyrics… ok, it’s “let me see your body get loose”
…interesting thing is that it has the record scratch in “Race”- you hear it before the “Face the music” sample and throughout the instrumentals. (not the record scratch that’s in “The Continental”) that appears a few times. Some passages have the record scratch every fourth beat. But the one part that gets me excited- some of the passages end with the same end of phrase from “Loose!”- I don’t know what to call it or how to describe it. But it’s a little less produced than the original version (sounds more like the version using in “The Beautiful Experience”).

Crystal Ball offers so many cool possibilities for Slave Era playlists… if I’m getting high on “Loose!” I definitely wouldn’t rule out listening to “Get Loose” immediately after.

“P. Control” makes another appearance as well… and it was like welcoming back an old friend-as odd as that is to say… it’s an oddball of a song anyway, but I was so high on waves of euphoria that I didn’t care. Omitting a couple curse words I refuse to say, I was singing it at the top of my lungs πŸ˜›
the only negative- the music isn’t anything special. (Although with my singing, I couldn’t hear much of the music anyway, lol).

“Make your mama happy”- I need to give it another listen cuz I’m not sure what most of the lyrics are. it’s about the importance of education, it seems.
I just remember the lyrics weren’t a major part of the song- most was instrumental and it went longer than it probably needed to.

“Goodbye” sounds like an older song from the 80’s. It has some Clare Fischer strings. It’s a nice song and it did make me kinda sad because it means the end of the album.
the lyrics seem to tell the tale of a relationship he doesn’t want to end and doesn’t understand why it must. Again, he uses a lyric talking about suicide… damn, what the hell was going on with you, Prince? (I don’t think I heard him use “suicide” as a lyric before and there are two songs that mention it… not inferring anything, but I find it a little unsettling)
it was originally recorded in 1991, was considered for Emancipation and was later replace by The Holy River.

Anyway- that’s it for now.
Tomorrow… it’s this disc one last time (although to be fair, I think I’d only listened to the entirety of it ONCE ever- see my earliest comments on Cloreen Baconskin… so I think I’ll be listening to these songs a bit more before I decided how to score them. It’s still too early)

and then spend the rest of the afternoon (at work and driving) with Peach & Black.
Oh yeah… yeah, nothing kicks off a weekend like Peach & Black- I like doing them towards the end of the week as something to look forward to.

So I’ve got a lot to cover and although I was looking forward to it, it was kinda nice that the junior grand prix is off this week so I can focus on finishing Crystal Ball. Cuz there is still a lot to cover yet.

Firstly- the final listens (as of this point) of the Disc 3 contents.
now to remind myself of the actual songs…

Days of Wild could have been trimmed down to 5-7 minutes. It gets a little long and repetitive for me personally. On disc, it doesn’t work as well as it would live because the visual gives you something to occupy your attention if you’re me and you don’t like jams that go on too long with little differentiation.

Last Heart, I still like a lot. Again, it’s kinda simple for a Prince song and doesn’t go too deeply into much of anything. But it’s a fun listen all the same
Poom Poom :sigh: never again… I’ve had enough.

She Gave her Angels… I had a freaking moment with this song. I’m listening at work and I almost become a puddle of tears. I mean, I can tear up just from listening to the right song on the radio or getting into that perfect final note and nobody would notice the difference because I’d been staring at a computer the whole time working.
I almost think it’s too short, but thanks to that guitar solo, I go all the places emotionally that I need to go to get everything I want from it.
I see it becoming a personal favorite in years to come.

Didn’t really get anything new from the remixes. The Ride was good and cool.
Make Your Mama Happy, I don’t think I’m going to have too much to say about it. It’s a nice sentiment and it sounds good. But its overall sound doesn’t appeal to me personally. That’s all.

The main attraction is Peach and Black from the next point forward.

The podcast has been super entertaining. Almost more than usual because it got a little heated towards the end of part 1.
Listening to it again to lock in my feelings on the songs (now that I’ve actually heard them) with theirs… yeah, maybe it would’ve been better if I had known their process beforehand or just waited until the end of the week (as I do anyway).

Let’s see…

Sexual Suicide was a 3 vs. MC situation. The others thought it was good, but not great. Player didn’t like how the drumming was mixed and it really ruined the song for him. MC went last and was in disbelief about everyone’s thoughts and he said how funky it was.
No talk about the lyrics, though… there’s one lyric I said before that bugged me.

Make Ur Mamma Happy- Captain “it’s throwaway, but it’s good throwaway”- and Toejam said he’s not sure if the instrumental is a replay of the whole song without vocals. I didn’t really notice, but it might be worth another listen just for that.

Last Heart- Toejam said it was a nice pop song, the rest said it was kinda filler- 80s?

But things got REALLY good when we got into “Good Love”
I stopped the podcast on Tuesday as soon as the title was announced and I heard Captain rejoice in the background.

This was probably the most epic 3 vs. MC situation yet. He did not get the song and there was a whole chorus of “what”s and “no”s and whatever else in the background. The other guys thought he was crazy. I said before they did, but I knew they’d say “you’re off the show!”
There was that much of a division between the two schools of opinions.
I think the song has grown on me a bit over every listen. But I’m not going to say it’s my favorite Camille track (“If eye was your girlfriend” still wins that prize for me).

There was twice on the show- the first part and second part where Player was really teasing MC and ribbing him. For me, he’d always been the one member of the podcast that wasn’t over the top in his reviews of songs. He was very laid-back and chill. But as I’d gone further into their shows, that personality has been coming out more and it’s just about the right situation I think.
Supposedly there’s been an instance- a Prince “Cream” party that’s happened in Australia where all the guys are there with Prince music playing. And MC was on the dance floor getting down to a song he said on the podcast that he’d hated. So Player teased him saying that he’ll be doing that with this song soon enough and MC’s pleading innocence “I don’t know what you’re talking about”
But everyone just lost it and I almost did at work.

That’s part of why I listen in the car.
That one comment Captain made to Prince wound up becoming the reason for it. I’d never come closer up to that point of losing it at work and everyone looking at me and asking what my problem was πŸ˜› and I’d just gotten too comfortable voicing my opinions along with theirs that it’s better to just listen on my drive home. Which kinda sucks in a way because they’re a great way to pass the last hour or so of work.

Then the final song on part 1 of “Crucial” and I’m thinking “please nobody hate this song”… everyone loved it.
Fun fact: it was ditched for “Adore” on Sign o’ the Times and it was actually recorded first.
And everyone agreed it was a shame that it’s a Prince song most people will never get to hear because it’s on such an obscure out-of-print album.

then it came up about how the album wasn’t mastered very well and the volume is too loud to the point of distortion. My ears are not so keen and I’m not so familiar with these songs that I wouldn’t really notice the difference anyway.
And the last 10 minutes was devoted to the whole “Crystal Ball fiasco”- as Captain put it. I’d read bits and pieces of it, but it’s great hearing from the guys what really happened.

The story goes that Prince took all these pre-orders beforehand and the album showed up in stores before most people even got the albums they ordered.
Toejam said how he found his copy in a discount bin and marveling that it was a Prince album he’d never heard of- he was a relatively new fan at that point.
Also there was an event at Paisley Park where fans could vote for the songs they wanted for Part 2 of Crystal Ball… something else that never happened and may never happen. I doubt the “Estate” is in a rush to get that out.

So if anything, thanks guys, for the history lesson for those of us who weren’t fans at that moment in time to know all those things.

I’ve still got an hour left in part 2. but it’s in an odd order. Not the same way the last disc was, but all songs similar in theme were grouped together.

That of course meant the remixes would be all taken care at once.
And the common opinion across the board was “why?”
However, Captain did like “Get Loose” a lot and MC, I think, called it most skippable. I like it a lot too.
Player said “why?” about “Love Sign” and everyone agreed on that with “P. Control”
“Tell Me How U Wanna B” done- apparently was the song MC got down to on the dance floor that Player teased him about after the fact cuz he didn’t like the song when they discussed it previously.

Another controversial point was “Strays of the World”- I think it was another 3 vs. MC situation, but Captain called it one of his favorite Prince songs ever. Nobody really cared for the lyrics too much, but he said it was a perfect song where he could find no fault in it.

All the outtakes from The Gold Experience were handled with the same type of response- why these weren’t on the album or released as B-sides because the content was so good.
As much as I love Come and Gold, I will have to make my own playlists some time. In particular, of original configurations because I think I have all the songs now to do it.

Had another moment where I was in the driveway sitting in my car (did turn the power off this time) where I actually went through all the songs in my head and tried to figure out what they hadn’t done yet.

The Ride, Days of Wild, She Gave Her Angels, Poom Poom (oh man, can’t wait for the guys to really light into that one- although Captain is probably crazy enough to like it), and one other… 2morrow… oh man, among all this material, that’s a forgettable one for me.

It’s going to be so fun ranking all these songs when I’m done.

But yeah, after listening to the whole podcast, I’ll admit when they were summing everything up, I was kinda over it.
I think them not caring for “She Gave Her Angels” and liking “2morrow” really took the wind out of my sails.
It’s okay to not like the same stuff, but at the same time… I dunno, I had a moment with that song and to hear no one feel the same way is depressing.

The Ride and Days of Wild got similar reviews- they’re good, but there are other version they like better. Undertaker version for “The Ride” and “Days of Wild”… I dunno, someone said “The Beautiful Experience.”

Poom Poom had so-so reviews- Captain and Player liked some parts of it, but not the whole song.
They mentioned something about the lyric about “what’s your doctor’s name” and “let me see your papers”… MC alluded that it’s about “you know what”… no, what? About whether this girl has STDs or something? That lyric almost worries me more than the chorus of the two songs that briefly mention suicide.
Maybe it’s after reading the 50 Shades trilogy… of all the things to get out of shape about, I didn’t like him telling her she was the one who needed to be on birth control (specifically a version that is good for an entire month opposed to a daily pill) because he didn’t like wearing condoms. This whole weirdo arrangement is HIS thing: why should she have to do all the precautions? I guess it’s different because the two of them are exclusive so there’s no worry about STDs- but STILL.

As weird as that side rant was, I oddly like the books- even Christian Grey himself I have some big problems with. [And honestly I wouldn’t have been interested in reading them at all if it wasn’t for Prince… he inspired a story I’m writing and I figured it might inform me on S&M a bit or at least give me some ideas to include… ok, that’s enough of a sidebar]

Da Bang got somewhat slighted- not a whole lot of love. Captain gave the most props to it, which I appreciated.

I don’t think I forgot anything… Captain’s all excited to put together his own version of The Gold Experience so I might have to ask him if he ever got around to doing that.
At one point, I’ll have to as well, but it probably won’t be for a while. Gotta finish up with this first… and boy, there is a lot to consider.
I already reviewed 3 songs from the 80’s, but I do have 27 left.

As a little recap-

Crystal Ball- 10 (cuz I just couldn’t give it anything else)
Dream Factory- 8.5
Movie Star- 9

now for the rest…

Disc 1

ACKNOWLEDGE ME
I really like this one. Being a fan of the Slave era (which covers songs recorded for Come and The Gold Experience), I gravitated towards it right away. I’d also heard a few other versions before this. There’s one “time of the month” lyric I take personal issue with, but the rest of it is great.
Technical Merit- 4.5
Components Score- 4.5
Total Score- 9

RIPPOPGODAZIPPA
I’m still warming up to this one a bit, but each time, I like it a bit more. Cool reggae vibe. Lyrics that get even interesting as they progress.
Technical Merit- 4 (how unique it is to Prince is another thing I question- some other R&B guy could probably do a similar type of song, but maybe not this cool of a title)
Components Score- 3.5
Total score- 7.5

LOVE SIGN (Shock G’s Silky Remix)
Really like this one. I didn’t listen to Crystal Ball much other than the first disc. And this was the song I played the most, I think. I recall a few times where I’d be walking to/from campus with it playing. It’s a nice sentiment, cool laidback slow jam. The sample running in the background is barely audible so it doesn’t take away from it and it’s probably the one thing that makes it different from the original- I don’t know… I’ll listen to a performance from YouTube after rating it.
Technical Merit- 4 (again, the music and some other aspects might not be unique to Prince, but he does this R&B stuff so well)
Components Score- 4.5
Total score- 8.5 (it’s not one of the big stand out Prince songs, but this is a song I particularly like and seeing as I’d been giving out a lot of 8.5’s, that might get it in the conversation. It’s sentimental value)
Speaking of the original version- saw a performance of the NPG with Nona Gaye (and Mayte on the side holding up various cue cards with lyrics from the song). I remembered what was part of the original- I kinda miss the female backing vocals on the chorus in this version. And there’s also a bridge [pop pop pop go the pistol, bang bang bang go the gun]- I don’t miss it, but it’s another cool sing-along element.

HIDE THE BONE
Another Slave era outtake that I’m still warming up to. But after my previous reservations, I don’t mind so much what the overall message is. The chorus is pretty catchy that it’s hard not to like it. (Also- can’t believe none of the guys said it sounded like “Sledgehammer”- I don’t like that song that much, but still… don’t they sound similar).
Technical Merit- 4.5
Components Score- 3.5
Total Score- 8

2MORROW
…still not a fan… I think I’ve said all I wanted about this song.
Technical Merit- 4
Components Score- 2.5
Total Score- 6.5

SO DARK
much to my relief, the guys didn’t care about this remix either… it’s such a good song, why mess with it? (I think it’s one of my perfect 10’s- yeah it is). Now, if he did a new vocal on top of this music, it’d be a different story)
Technical Merit- 4
Components score- 2.5
Total score- 6.5

HOW U WANNA B DONE
…going from bad to worse… there are some great remixes on other mp3’s I have of Prince, but none of them are on Crystal Ball, which kinda sucks.
Technical Merit- 3.5
Components Score- 2
Total Score- 5.5

Disc 2

INTERACTIVE
Definitely one of the Slave era outtakes. I like Acknowledge Me a tad more, but I’m liking this more than I did when I first heard it. Great music, interesting premise, sick vocals…
Technical Merit- 5
Components Score- 4
Total Score- 9

DA BANG
…I think at this point I’m just going to drop the summation and just give the scores. I don’t have much more to add. [one of the guys said the chorus sounded like “Walk like an Egyptian”- I can hear that]
Technical Merit- 4.5
Components Score- 4.5
Total score- 9

CALHOUN SQUARE
Technical Merit- 5
Components Score- 3.5
Total Score- 8.5

WHAT’S MY NAME?
Technical Merit- 4.5
Components Score- 4
Total score- 8.5

CRUCIAL
Technical Merit- 4.5
Components score- 5
Total Score- 9.5

AN HONEST MAN
Technical Merit- 4.5
Components Score- 3.5
Total Score- 8

SEXUAL SUICIDE
Technical Merit- 4.5
Components Score- 3
Total Score- 7.5

CLOREEN BACONSKIN
Technical Merit- 4.5
Components Score- 3
Total Score- 7.5

GOOD LOVE
Technical Merit- 5
Components Score- 4
Total Score- 9

STRAYS OF THE WORLD
Technical Merit- 5
Components Score- 3.5
Total Score- 8.5

…at a later time, I’ll probably revisit a bunch of these songs and maybe I’ll know for sure whether I really like them. I feel kinda bad cuz I even gave the songs from Chaos & Disorder more time than this and I just got that album a month ago. Maybe a bunch of these I should just put a ? next to so I can listen to them again later tonight.

One disc left…

DISC 3

DAYS OF WILD
Technical Merit- 4.5 (it goes a little long and the chants and the other background noise, I’m not crazy about)
Components Score- 3
Total Score- 7.5

LAST HEART
Technical Merit- 4
Components Score- 3.5
Total Score- 7.5

POOM POOM
Technical Merit- 3.5
Components Score- 1.5
Total Score- 5

SHE GAVE HER ANGELS
Technical Merit- 5
Components Score- 4.5
Total Score- 9.5

18 & OVER
Technical Merit- 4.5
Components Score- 3.5
Total Score- 8

THE RIDE
Technical Merit- 5
Components Score- 3.5
Total Score- 8.5

GET LOOSE
Technical Merit- 4.5
Components Score- 4
Total Score- 8.5

P. CONTROL
Technical Merit- 3.5
Components Score- 2
Total Score- 5.5

MAKE YOUR MAMA HAPPY
Technical Merit- 4
Components Score- 3.5
Total Score- 7.5

GOODBYE
Technical Merit- 5
Components Score- 3.5
Total Score- 8.5

So before I actually do the month, I’ll just a list of the songs I’m not sure about. And I’ll listen to them later tonight (at least after I finish watching La La Land- it’s on HBO and I’ve wanted to see it again since the theater- we had sound problems so I feel like I missed a lot of what’s going on- I did get the general idea, though).

Dream Factory
hearing it again, I can definitely hear the distortion. the chorus part of it has some vocals that sound a little out of sorts. the verses sound perfectly fine, though.
*No Change

Rippopgodazippa
this is one I might have to downgrade. there are bits I like and other bits I don’t care too much for. Plus, some lyrics are still hard to hear- I feel like I need to have the lyrics memorized to really get into the song. The one highlight is really the horns section. I also kinda like Mayte’s little vocal parts- like where she says she wants to call his name, but doesn’t know what to say. Another clever way to talk about the name change.
* -0.5 from components- total score- 7

Hide the Bone
yeah, liking this a bit more each time, but I’m kinda not liking the shouty vocals. Must be how it was mixed because it’s maybe a little abrasive to get into in a big way. [I love that little chipmunk laugh at the end, didn’t mention that]
* no change

2morrow
gave this one another shot and I might upgrade up a bit. there are some parts I kinda like. the horns remind me of material on the Come album. And all the vocal bits beyond the chorus, I like a lot. He sounds great.
* +0.5 technical for music; +0.5 for components- total score- 7.5

Calhoun Square
I’m not overly enthusiastic about this song. The music and everything else technically is really good. I just don’t get into it a whole lot.
* -0.5 for components- total score- 8
(also the music in this- mainly the bass, kinda reminds me of a Maroon 5 song from their first album)

What’s My Name?
maybe in a few years, I might give it a little more for components. but for now, I like it, but I’m not super in love where I feel like it’s short of a masterpiece and I’m not as crazy on it as the rest of the Slave era material I like
* no change

An Honest Man
I don’t know if I can give it much more. Just when it really starts to get good and I start to really fall in love with it, the song’s over, which is kinda sad to me.
* no change

Strays of the World
I’m still not ready to give it more for components… if I hear it another 10 times, maybe. But over time, I see myself like it more and more.
* no change

Sexual Suicide
There are some elements I like, but I’m not over the moon for it. The title kinda ruins it for me.
*no change

Last Heart
*no change

The Ride
maybe because I’d heard it once a day these past few days… but I think I’m liking the song less… or maybe I’m just getting over this album really fast πŸ˜› 10 minutes was a lot on the Undertaker, but this feels a little too condensed and less spontaneous. I guess because that other version came first.
* -0.5 for components- total score- 8

Make Your Mama Happy
I meant to say that with Eric Leeds as part of this, and the bass in this… it reminds me a lot of “We Gets Up” in parts- particularly the chorus. The 80’s synths are kinda cool. The finger cymbals kinda remind me of the coke bottle thing in “Cool”. I kinda like the sentiment of it overall. I just thought maybe it didn’t need the extended coda at the end
*no change

Goodbye
Another song that reminded me of a Maroon 5 song- I wonder Adam Levine owns Crystal Ball. This song reminds me a bit of the sound in “Just a Feeling”- a melancholy ballad on Hands All Over- which contributes to me not liking the album or it just depressing me the first few times I listened to it. [the delivery on the verses is very similar]
the layered vocals and the strings are the real highlights that I REALLY like about it.
I think over time I might give this another upgrade, but for now, this will do
* +0.5 for components- total score- 9
And listening to this, it just occurred to me… yeah, it’s going to happen a lot… I spend so much time with Prince that I forget he’s no longer here. That came back and hit me right towards the end.
If this was a song I had had on regular rotation before April 21st, it’d be impossible to listen to now. But I suppose if I put towards the beginning or middle of a playlist, it might not hurt so much, especially if I have plenty of good positive songs (like Positivity and Love and Whitecaps to follow it)… wow…

and some I might listen to again because I want to… although as I’m doing this, my iPod is slowly dying… that’s what happens when I play three discs full of 50 minutes of music, plus 3.5 hours of podcasts, plus one I listened to more than once, and then a few other albums.
between this week and last, it’s taken a lot of abuse πŸ˜›

So this wound up being a good idea… and for some more listens later on, more could change. But for now, this is good.

Scoring time!

240/300… oh bloody hell! what is with these multiple disc albums?
All of them have gotten 8.0… that’s freaking insane.
Even crazier is that I can take it to another decimal place and the scores are still identical.

Kinda speaks to the strength of this material, huh?
Even with the latest stuff, it’s only one point difference and it would have to round up to 8.0
just crazy…

Now for ALL the songs, in order…

Crystal Ball- 10 (the only perfect score)
Crucial- 9.5
She Gave Her Angels- 9.5
Acknowledge Me- 9
Goodbye- 9
Movie Star- 9
Good Love- 9
Interactive- 9
Da Bang- 9
Love Sign- 8.5
Strays of the World- 8.5
Get Loose- 8.5
Dream Factory- 8.5
What’s My Name- 8.5
Hide the Bone- 8
An Honest Man- 8
Calhoun Square- 8
The Ride- 8
18 & Over- 8
Cloreen Bacon skin- 7.5
Days of Wild- 7.5
Last Heart- 7.5
Sexual Suicide- 7.5
Make Your Mama Happy- 7.5
2morrow- 7.5
Rippopgodazippa- 7
So Dark- 6.5
P. Control (remix)- 5.5
How U Wanna Be Done- 5.5
Poom Poom- 5

Hmm… nearly all the remixes are towards the bottom, what does that say?

Anyway- I’m beat…

As far as the best I’m going to take forward…

Crystal Ball
Crucial
She Gave Her Angels

Hopefully next week will be a little less crazy.

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

β€œPrince” Album #19: EMANCIPATION [disc III]

Finally coming to the end of this MONSTER album…

Because today is Labor Day and I probably won’t get another opportunity to do this the same week, I decided today I’d do my video game speed run alongside the album.
I don’t remember what the final time was the last time I did it, but I’ll have it down in case I do it a third time.
IF I do, it won’t be quite some time…

So- Spyro the Dragon is a game I’ve had for nearly 20 years (I know, crazy, right?) and have beaten countless times (once I figured out how to actually beat it and get all 117% of it finished).
It’s gotten to the point where the ultimate goal for me is a perfect run- getting through it cleanly with no deaths, no hits taken and no water hazards.
The last time I played through, it was stretched over a couple months with the Depeche Mode albums. I remember that I died three times, one was a complete glitch during a cutscene and the other two were stupid moves on my part, gliding when I shouldn’t have or not turning around when I knew I wouldn’t make the distance. But as a personal victory, one hit the entire game… and it was in Dark Passage, the impossible first portal in World 5 I’d never had a clean run of.

So for my Emancipation speed run… I got hit 6 times and died 3 times… all of these incidents according, not sure if it’s coincidental or not, when I was on Disc III of the album- the first time I’m listening to it on this current run.
All of these were the result of my own stupidity, admittedly. Choosing the wrong place to land, having to get a key a second time because I exited a level before using it so I had to go back to get it and wound up in the water- the other two times, I just didn’t care anymore. The World 5 boss always gets me at the end of his run and he nicked me twice. There was also another where my hands were starting to feel symptoms of carpal tunnel and I didn’t get to an enemy before he got me. And at the very end of Dark Passage, the last two enemies (where I gotta time when to flame one and charge the other) got me… my perfect run of that level SO CLOSE
The deaths- didn’t turn around on a glide I knew I wasn’t going to make, not getting enough height before doing another glide (on the same level), and then another missed glide in the boss world.

So anyway… just for my own recollection, my total time (not counting cut scenes or the final bonus level) of game play was 3 hours 7 minutes and 41 seconds.
I could have shaved some time off if I hadn’t had to turn around a few times for gems I missed (these speed runs include getting all the items, beating all the levels and bosses, etc.) and I had finished the flying levels in times closer to my personal records (I think for one I had to redo it cuz I ran out of time).
With the bonus level, the total time was 3 hours, 13 minutes and 50 seconds (the final level is supposed to be fun so I don’t like to speed through, but just for my own curiosity, I figured I’d see how long it’d take me).

…now onto the actual Prince music…
Disc I- I think I was over most of it, but when the music matched the atmosphere of the level, I’d rush through trying to get the level finished before the song ends…
Disc II- oh man, still in love with this one, but the baby tracks gave me some mixed feelings.
Disc III… well, that’s why I’m here… it’s not that I was super distracted by the music that I was screwing it, the last couple worlds of the game are difficult for me and I was nervous in some parts while trying to get that perfect run that remains futile.

now enough with the video game talk and some actual Prince talk…

Disc III

It was so long ago that I can’t remember how long I was listening to these discs individually before moving to the next one.
But with Disc III, it was the one fraught with the most mystery. Because it’s the one I’ve listened to the least and to a degree, I’m still figuring it out.

Going into the actual songs, dates and guest stars and so on…
Slave- mid 1995- never live (given out as a cassette single 12/9/1995 at Paisley Park, drum pattern from the chorus was sampled from “Ain’t no place like u”)
New World- late January 1994 (originally planned as a b-side for TMBGITW)- never live
The Human Body- early 1996 (may be recorded around the same time as C&D cuz they had the same engineer)- never live
Face Down- late 1995-early 1996 (Poet 99 did “Dead like Elvis” sample, jeep horn from Steve Parke) performed 1996-1999
La La La Means I love U- April-May 1995 (only done live in 2002 during the ONA tour)
Style- March 1996 (not confirmed)- Eric Leeds on horns- never live
Sleep Around- early 1996 (hornheadz)- live during 1996-1997
Da Da Da- assumed March 1996 cuz Scrap D did raps on C&D at this time and he’s on this- never live
My Computer- late 1995- early 1996 (Kate Bush on backing vocals)- never live
One of Us- late 1995- NPG line-up plus Mayte- live 1996-1998
The Love We Make- mid July-Sept 1996 (Kathleen Dyson on guitar)- live in 2004, last done Feb 2016 (one lyric was believed to be inspired by Jonathan Melvoin’s death of an overdose)
Emancipation- 1995- live in 1996-1997

Makes you kinda wonder how far in advance Prince had this album planned, all three discs of it, because nearly all of the songs predated 1996… but it kinda takes the shine off of things, knowing now that this album really wasn’t “what freedom sounds like”… it was about the dream of freedom and imaging what that could be.
Taking all the upcoming albums into account, really the first time I hear any instance of true freedom is the Rainbow Children album- as crazy as that sounds. Not only was he Prince again, but it was the first album he’d recorded since getting his name back and achieving that freedom.
But even now just thinking about it scares me because it reminds me that there’s going to come a time where I’ll be done with all of Prince’s albums…

Now some initial impressions of the songs…

The first time I listened to this album, I had it on my iPod during college and was taking it with me on my trek from my on-campus apartment to the actual campus… I can’t remember if it was the very first time, but the first time that really sticks in my head…
“Slave”- the first listen I remember of it- I was rushing to get out of the rain to campus and I was on my way to present at a 6pm class. And it was coming down quite a bit. So not just this song, but the majority of the album, it sounds the best when it’s raining outside.

“Slave” I knew I liked right away. The whole beat. I loved the fast paced portion after the chorus. I can imagine Prince recorded this with no light but candlelight to get the full atmosphere of it.
Now it’s crazy to me to read the mention of “Ain’t no place like u”… that’s one of my favorite songs off Mayte’s album and it was for that portion in the chorus that is IN “Slave.” I had no idea that I’d heard it before- maybe because I just hadn’t heard these songs all that much.

“New World”- it’s fascinating to see it was recorded in 1994- so it could have been done during any of the Come or Gold recording sessions… it might also explain the techno sound of it because Prince had experimented with techno in “Loose!” (well, it’s more likely closer to the time he’d recorded Eye Hate U and Gold, most of the Come material was recorded in 1993).
Another song I’ve liked a lot and enjoyed when I listen. Lots of cool stuff happening music. Intriguing lyrics.

“The Human Body” is basically a techno track with maybe 2 verses, no chorus and lots of music and sex sound samples.
It’s not the type of song you can share with your friends (unless all of you happen to have an odd fetish for this sort of thing), but continuing with these songs in sequence, I’m still enjoying the album at this point and riding that wave.
I guess you could call this track a guilty pleasure for me. I can chill with it even though it’s one I probably shouldn’t be. There are no credits on princevault about who provided the “backing vocal samples” on this… for all I know, it could be part of a record of sounds where Prince also got the sound of waves and street traffic for “Free” and “Lady Cab Driver” and the crowd noise at the end of “Pop Life.”

“Face Down” has everything going for it and it’s a fan favorite. But I have one gigantic problem with it that just RUINS it for me and frustrates me to no end.
Especially now– may not have been a bathroom floor, but Prince died similarly to Elvis. So even more so, I wish I could rip the “Dead like Elvis” out of this song…
I’ll have to look up the lyrics sometime this week just so I can figure out what else to take away from it other than the negative. Prince’s rap isn’t bad- although the “ain’t it kinda funny when u c the dawn” lyric bothers me… this album is ultimately leading to the Dawn and freedom, but this makes it sound like he got that freedom and it’s nothing like he expected.
Doesn’t exactly carry the greatest sentiment.

There are two more covers on this set… and they’re both on this disc (there’s oddly no covers on Disc II, the only one without them, but other than the sequencing of the final few tracks, it shouldn’t be touched).

“La La La Means I love u”… I can’t take anything away from this because I’d never heard the original. But it’s really sweet, like something from back in the Motown age of the 60’s and 70’s. Vocally and musically, it’s so nice to listen to.

“Style”- this was an easy standout early on when I first picked up this Disc. I think it’s still my favorite. Style is so many things, some things you’d expect and others you wouldn’t. Some lyrics are deep and other are funny. I think if I gave it proper time, I’d have a long discussion on why I like it so much πŸ˜›

“Sleep Around”- the one flaw it has is that it runs too long. (Although today with my speed run, I didn’t mind it at all). Very catchy. The hornheadz sound amazing on this. It should be noted that it’s the 2nd longest track on the whole set- 10 seconds shorter than Joint 2 the Joint (the longest) and 4 seconds longer than FLSM/W (the 3rd longest). Maybe a lot of this was extra padding, but most days I don’t mind it. It’s only when I have to/need to get through the whole album in a given time period. It sounds fresh and excited and everything this album should sound like (freedom!).

“Da Da Da”… this title always makes me think one thing- #2 of internet cartoon StrongBad’s Bottom 10 list… “Songs that try to pass off ‘la la’s, na na’s and doot do’s as legit lyrics”
stupidest title of a Prince song ever… and it’s not even a Prince song. He raps one verse, plays all the music, but Scrap D raps the rest of it.
Every time I ask: Why is this here? What is the point? Again, Why?
Is this Prince selling out to the hip-hop market? – because he has done MANY better examples of this.
Is the only way for Prince to channel this type of anger through a rap and hip-hop track? -again, several better examples.
Most skippable by far. If I ranked ALL of Prince’s music, this would be MY bottom 10 without question.

“My Computer”- the R&B nuances in this is so 90’s. It’s an interesting concept and maybe a little ahead of its time. I’ve heard Kate Bush mentioned on this song, but she is so low in the mix that I can never hear her. I have to read her name in the credits to even know she’s there.

“One of US”- his 2nd best cover on this set after “betcha by golly wow”… the one thing that kinda ruins it– “what if God was 1 of us, just a slave like 1 of us”… I’m sure all of the really religious folks would take issue with that if they even dared to listen to this album.
God is the Almighty, ruler and creator of all things… it’s impossible for him to be a slave to ANYTHING or ANYONE. [I’m not even one of those types of people and that bugs me].
Writing “slave” on your face is one thing, but this takes it too far.
Musically, it sounds amazing and the vocals are great. Great live sounding guitar.
I once saw a live version of this with the symbol guitar and I’m sure I saw Mayte as part of it. But I have no idea when that might have been. Princevault mentions a November performance, but she couldn’t have been there because she was still in a depression after the personal loss she and Prince had the month before.

“The Love We Make” is the biggest part of why this disc is an elusive mystery to me.
I have NO IDEA what it’s about and that bothers me. The lyrics are deep and appear to be saying nothing, but I just haven’t a clue. And I feel bad because this is a fan favorite as well. At least with “Adore” and “Scandalous” I can pinpoint my misgivings.
I can have the lyrics in front of me and still not get it.
Hopefully this week I’ll get something out of it other than the final lyric “the only love there is is the love we make”…

“Emancipation” is the song all of this had been building up to. But it wasn’t even written after he got that freedom. It’s basically a lie, an aspiration and a dream yet to be achieved.
It basically follows the Purple Rain blueprint and he’s completely unapologetic about it. But that really doesn’t bother me all that much.
I’m sure there are plenty people who take issue with this song about how lazy he was about putting it together. I just accept it for whatever it is and move on with my life.
The only lyrics I remember are the chorus and the bridge and his final declaration “Free! Don’t think I ain’t”… cuz it makes me smile. Even if he hadn’t actually achieved said freedom yet as of this song’s recording.

Overall, it’s going to be an interesting week, getting to know these songs better.
Wouldn’t it be funny if this scored higher than Disc I?
Non-legit lyric track 8 is the one thing really standing in the way of that, I think.


it’s kinda ironic that I say the first few tracks of this album sound amazing to me when it’s raining outside, but I don’t want to have to drive through heavy rain while doing so.
Tomorrow I might have to do just that…

I listened to “Ain’t No Place like U” in an attempt to find that part of “Slave” sampled from this song… it took a little while, but I did find it.
I was so busy marveling at Prince’s guitar solos that I didn’t notice it lingering in the background. I had to listen for it specifically, but I found the same exact beat.
So that was pretty cool.

“New World” is a song I liked a lot anyway, but I’m liking it even more with each listen. I just wish it lasted longer. Those 3min40 something seconds go by way too fast.

I’m looking at the lyrics for “Face Down” and can’t make heads or tails of it… I get that it’s him laying some smack against his record label and the constricting contract he signed, but the lyrics just look like nonsense to me.
:sigh: it’s going to be so sad that all the good I can say for this song is the music and Prince being able to rap in good rhythm. The initial reason I didn’t like it was it being a rap and the foul language in it. Now- I have plenty more to dislike and only a couple bright spots.
At least up to this point.

speaking of nonsense lyrics… and the stupidest song title ever…
The way this comes off- Prince had no fricking idea what to call this song, so that’s what he came up with.
Take out the chorus and there is something of a story going on here. But it seems to be more about Scrap D than Prince. And when Prince shows up, he’s like the angel on his shoulder trying to keep him on the straight and narrow.
I still don’t quite get it, though, why this song is here? Is Prince and Scrap D trying to tell a story that’s somewhat relevant to what it is to be a struggling artist dealing with the imperfect world around him? Not that Prince should always be self-involved when he writes music…
yeah, this is just me hating on the hip-hop. There are some legit points here. And I like the beat in the background. The tone of the bells reminds me so much of some other songs. I’m not sure if I’m just thinking “Hells Bells” by ACDC or something else. And of course that bass is cool.

And while I’m on lyrics, I gotta learn the lyrics for “Sleep Around” because it has such a catchy melody and sense of fun about it even if it’s about preventing cheating…
it’s a little hard to make out what’s really going on between the lines, though.
Considering that this was one of the later contributions to the album, it’s a little concerning… where the heck did the inspiration come from? Especially since he and Mayte recently got married. It can’t be about her. Just doesn’t make sense to me.
It sounds more like a friend of his is being cheated on and he’s giving them advice.
Maybe it’s just fictional and I’m reading too much into it.

“la la la means I love u”… it’s interestingly similar to “Betcha By Golly Wow”… I don’t know if these were just songs Prince adored and always wanted to do covers of. Or his relationship with Mayte got him in this state where he feels like he doesn’t have the words to describe how he feels.

“Style”- I just gotta look these lyrics up and note all of my favorites.
Most I already have memorized.
the first I recited when I heard it yesterday “is not lusting after someone because they’re cool. … is lovin’ yourself until everyone else does too”… that’s a cool lyric and one I can get behind, although it’s hard for me to love myself most of the time. Bundle of insecurities.
my favorite part is where he says “style is a clean mouth, style is puppy breath, style is no fear of death…” (the puppy breath line was often at the top of .org where there’s a different lyric or movie quote every refresh and finally founding it on this album was just a fun moment)
and then he says “style is hailing a cab” and giving “them the finger when they pass your ass”… as Captain would often say about the comedic Prince songs, “that’s just funny”
Also- Style is a song that has what a lot of others on this album I’d previously mentioned don’t… you don’t have to look up the lyrics to understand what it’s about and it’s cool to discover something new every time.

“The Love We Make”- I think I’m finally getting somewhere.
Just from this last listen, I’m getting a few references to Jesus and maybe a reference to the End of Days.
As for the titular lyric- Prince is talking about there being a New World where all there is is the love we make… what I’m getting is that he’s talking about the End of Days and the love we make can simply be a love between man and woman. But it could also go further, saying that children are the products of love, so this New World will be populated by that.
One lyric I noticed that used to bother me- “put down the spoon”… I didn’t know what the hell that was about. I thought the lyric before it was “put down the knee”… so it’s about praying. And there was a line about purifying and cleansing oneself, so I thought this was about the Second Coming or Lent where you’re fasting and preparing for Easter.
But the lyric is “put down the needle”… gotcha…
now I feel like I’m getting somewhere.
Among Prince’s religious and spiritual songs, this is kind of a quiet storm. The music sounds like it’s really important so you prick up your ears and listen. But the lyrics being hard to understand has left me unsatisfied.

“One of Us”- I just want to listen again sometime just to listen to the music in the 2nd half of it. For whatever reason, I’m thinking of the guitar solo in “Crimson & Clover” and how there are similarities.
I just take issue with that one lyric- otherwise it’s amazing.

did I forget anything?…

didn’t have any new revelations with the title track or “My computer” or “the human body” or “slave”

having one of those days where listening to a podcast and an album is just what the doctor ordered… life was so much easier when nobody was vocal about politics.

“My Computer” had a few lyrics in the first verse that really spoke to me today.
Talking about seeing the same old thing on the news and having enough of it. Too bad these days going online doesn’t always get you relief from the negativity.
Love the music- it reminds me a little of “in this bed I scream”- the different synth sounds and such.

I browsed through the lyrics of “Sleep Around” and managed to remember some for today’s listen. That just made the song so much more enjoyable and it made it feel more like the sun was coming out than just me driving with mist clouding my vision from the cars in front of me. Put a real smile on my face.
I also timed it- the first 4 minutes 30 are where the song actually is. the additional 2-3 minutes is just padding and not really necessary.

earlier in the day I got my wish and got some rain for the first part of the album- but at this point I was so stressed out about it not getting heavy and being paranoid about the cars around me, I couldn’t really enjoy.
“The human body” is a guilty pleasure, but it’s also a good place to hang when you don’t want to think too much about anything. But as it went on, I decided that I probably couldn’t rate it too high because the novelty does wear off after a while.

It’s an odd record because half the songs really feel like Prince songs and there are a bunch that kinda don’t.
Style is cool, but it almost feels like he’s putting on a persona, just like with the hip-hop songs.
Sleep Around and My Computer resonate a bit more as Prince tracks. Sleep Around especially could make a top 100 list- maybe not my personal one, but certainly of underrated or overlooked Prince songs that non-fans could get into.
What I’m ultimately saying is the songs where I feel Prince more strongly in them… they feel like home. Nice and cozy.

So now I’m done with the podcast and with the album… phew, what a ride that was.

As always, everyone at Peach and Black was great. Lots of hilarious moments and food for thought. Like whether Kate Bush was thrown deliberately into the far back of the mix of “My Computer” to get back at her for completely redoing a song given to her by Prince for her album…

“Da Da Da” had the most hilarious part- Captain was hyper critical, saying it was nothing and not even a Prince song. MC more or less agreed.
Then Toejam had to go and ruin everything by saying he didn’t mind it and he liked the idea of it better than the song itself.
I can’t believe I’m saying this, but I agree with Toejam on a song I had dismissed for having the stupidest title- not just for a Prince song, but ANY song EVER. If the whole idea of it was to let Scrap D vent about how unfair his life is while telling him to “love 4 one another is the only way”- I totally get that. The album booklet somewhat confirms this- I’m paraphrasing, but Prince writes ‘you got that off your chest, now what?’
Player was on Toejam’s side. Meanwhile MC was saying “I can’t believe I hear what I’m hearing” and he feels ill and so on… it’s crazy…
and even crazier that I’m not raging or feeling ill myself.

Ultimately, though, this song would have no place in any Emancipation compilation I’d put together. Easily the last song I’d consider… it and Facedown would be bottom of the barrel.
And it felt good that the guys didn’t completely like Facedown either. I think Toejam was the one that said it gets more praise than it deserves and he pretty much nailed it.

Odd thing about My Computer- Toejam again, tied with “White Mansion” as his favorite on the album… that blew Captain away, couldn’t believe it.
Even more odd that the guys like the “Better Life” repetition at the end. That’s when I zone out and wait for the next song to start.

Captain had his fair share of hilarious bits- my favorites- him doing the samples from “The Human Body”- everyone just lost it.
And when it’s time to rate the album and MC goes to him first- he says “oh crap…” he was still thinking at the time πŸ˜› but still I laughed so hard at that.
Am I the biggest dork ever or what?

And my memory did serve me, one of the few things I remembered from listening to the podcast a year ago- the title track got shade.
But the guys also had some odd nit-picks about “Sleep Around”- saying how Prince’s vocals were not very manly and the drum programming not being that good (both from MC). Toejam and Player liked it and Player nailed it by saying that it had commercial potential if it was cut down.

…I think that’s all I wanted to say. Now for the big finish… rating the final disc…

First I’ll go through the tracks and give them labels: Great, Good, Skippeable, Filler

Slave- good
New World- great
The Human Body- skippeable
Facedown- skippeable
La La La Means I love u- good
Style- great
Sleep Around- good
Da Da Da- filler
My Computer- good
One of Us- good
The Love We Make- good
Emancipation- good

yeah, that’s very non-committal of me, isn’t it? πŸ˜›

It’s good overall, but not a whole lot of it, I particularly find exceptional.
At least not compared to the scores of other material he’s written.
Ok, getting my spreadsheet open and finishing that one workbook…

SLAVE
maybe not a strong album opener, but I really like this song in general as a Prince song. Great moody atmosphere (like I said, it sounds great during thunderstorms- when I’m not actually out in them)- killer drum pattern after the chorus. It’s hard not to think of this album without it, but only because it’s the antithesis of the album’s ultimate goal. [The guys at Peach and Black, some of them, didn’t quite get its placement here until one of them said it’s the start and Emancipation is the finish… I had a thought on that further- what if this album had the music rearranged? More on that later]
Technical Merit- 4.5 (the only bit I don’t like- the lyric he deliberately sings out of tune “like fashion statements, they lie”… what the hell does that even mean?)
Components score- 4
Total Score- 8.5 (by no means a masterpiece, but I like it a fair bit)

NEW WORLD
Other than the song feeling too short, it’s perfect. I didn’t mention this earlier, but it’s an interesting take on gender fluidity and perhaps a method to Prince’s name change madness is revealed here. What I got from Mayte’s book was that part of the symbol with no name was to transcend being called something and just being and perhaps that’s the future he envisions. Sick beats all around. [Favorite musical part- the synth hooks, you hear them after the “love 4 one another” in the chorus, but also throughout the song. Someone at Peach and Black suggested maybe Prince had read “Brave New World” and did his own take on its futuristic vision… going into the lyrics, it’s very 1984… heck, I’d love to see this get the “Prince the Musical” treatment so I’d see the whole vision for this. 3 minutes 42 seconds just isn’t enough to contain those mind-blowing implications]
Technical Merit- 4.5
Components Score- 4.5
Total score- 9

THE HUMAN BODY
To say the least, this song is an interesting one… I think I’ve already summed up what I think about it. [just looked at the lyrics- the final part of the verses is him saying how he’s thanking God for the human body… I’m guessing because having it allows you the sensation of orgasm… yeah, I just typed that with a straight face because it’s Prince]
Technical Merit- 4 (gets a little long and repetitive and some parts of the falsetto were hard to figure- that’s why I had to look up the lyrics)
Components Score- 3.5 (which is me saying I kinda like it, but I don’t want to commit to much more than that)
Total Score- 7.5

FACEDOWN
Even without the Poet 99 sample, there isn’t much I like about this song… at least I can understand its inclusion on the album.
Technical Merit- 4 (this is the mark that kinda salvages it… music, how it’s put together and how it’s so very Prince… the vocals take a hit from that damn sample and the lyrics- half are good, the other half don’t make sense to me)
Components score- 2 (for the 2 bits in the song I kinda like, which isn’t saying much)
Total score- 6

LA LA LA MEANS I LOVE U
Well done all around- really sweet song, very old school.
Technical Merit- 5
Components Score- 3.5
total score- 8.5
(I like it, but I’m not head over heels for it either)

STYLE
if anyone had it, Prince certainly did. Enough said 😎 [listening one last time- I found the “wa wa” out of nowhere that Captain mentioned- never noticed that before πŸ˜› ]
Technical Merit- 5
Components Score- 5
Total score- 10
(I haven’t looked up at the other tracks on the workbook, so I have no idea if this is the first 10 I’ve given out. I just can’t detract anything from it. I’m not as crazy about it now because I’d heard it a lot this week, but it’s one of the first tracks that comes to mind when I think of this album. The only big highlight for a while that I had on this Disc. But I’ll put it this way- when I’m putting all the songs in order for my top 100 Prince songs, this will probably at the bottom of the perfect 10’s)

SLEEP AROUND
It feels fresh, upbeat and fun. Despite the subject matter not being particularly positive. I’m still a bit conflicted because I want to know what this song’s inspiration was- whether it was autobiographical or not and if so, who’s the girl and who’s the other guy?
Technical Merit- 4.5 (a little too damn long)
Components score- 4
Total score- 8.5 (seems to be a popular score for this disc…)

DA DA DA
…:sigh:… let’s get this over with
Technical Merit- 3.5 (I was SO tempted to give this a “0” for that Prince x-factor… then he showed up and did his thing on his one verse… but yeah, not great marks)
Components Score- 2
Total score- 5.5 (yeah- I may have come around a bit on this song, but most days I’d much rather skip it cuz I can think of better ways to spend 5 minutes out of the day)

MY COMPUTER
interesting take on technology before it REALLY became a thing like it is now… oddly Prince was ahead of his time here and when time caught up with him, he went around saying the Internet is dead… always kinda liked this one, but it’s not among the first songs I remember either. Not on this disc or this album
Technical Merit- 4.5 (that coda- too damn long, I’m over it after the first 30 seconds)
Components Score- 3.5
total score- 8

ONE OF US
Aside from that one lyric change, this is a good one. Great live sound. Amazing guitar solo. What’s missing for me is the melody… I’m sure that the chorus has a melody to it and Prince just does the first part of it and leaves it hanging…
Technical Merit- 4.5
Components Score- 4
Total score- 8.5

THE LOVE WE MAKE
…admittedly I am STILL figuring this one out. Maybe in a couple years I’ll be more confident in my feelings on it so I can give a proper score. But until then…
Technical Merit- 5
Components Score- 3.5 (non-committal mark- that’s me saying “I kinda like what you’re doing, but I still need to get to know you better”)
Total Score- 8.5

EMANCIPATION
[finally, the last song, woo-hoo!]
Maybe not as strong an album closer as it could have been, given the name and what it’s all about, but I like it enough. [So funny that the guys said that the image of Oprah running on her treadmill while listening to this and singing to it is seared in their brain and it kinda ruined the song for them… makes me wonder more than ever how they felt when Oprah brought her audience over to Australia… my family and I were in Sydney a week before that and it was already going nuts there… anyway, I digress…]
Technical Merit- 5
Components Score- 3.5 (just cuz I love singing the titular lyric in the chorus at the top of my lungs doesn’t mean I’m head over heels for the whole song)
Total score- 8.5

…yeah, this is going to be an interesting rating for sure… the average seems to be 8.5, but it also has some higher peaks and some big valleys to transverse…

first I’ll rank them from highest to lowest:
Style- 10
New World- 9
Slave- 8.5
Sleep Around- 8.5
One of Us- 8.5
La La La Means I love U- 8.5
The Love We Make- 8.5
Emancipation- 8.5
My Computer- 8
The Human Body- 7.5
Facedown- 6
Da Da Da- 5.5

(would’ve been crazy if there were 8 8.5’s- but there are 6)

so out of 120 points… 97… 8.1 out 10…
this puts it 2nd overall, beating out disc I by a bit.
It was tied with Disc II technically, but my personal feelings about the songs was its downfall.

Two top songs:
Style
New World

So to order all 36 songs… yikes, my mind is blowing up just thinking about it… I need to get both my other posts open in order to do that…

quick glance- Style is the only perfect 10 I gave out of these 36 songs… I don’t know if that’s telling or not of where this will end up…

Style- 10
Somebody’s Somebody- 9.5
Curious Child- 9.5
Dreamin’ about U- 9
In This Bed I scream- 9
Sex in the Summer- 9
Betcha By Golly Wow- 9
The Holy River- 9
New World- 9
Joint 2 Joint- 8.5
Get Yo Groove on- 8.5
Slave- 8.5
Right Back Here in my arms- 8.5
Emale- 8.5
Sleep Around- 8.5
One of Us- 8.5
La La La Means I love U- 8.5
The Love We Make- 8.5
Emancipation- 8.5
Let’s Have a Baby- 8.5
One Kiss at a Time- 8
Jam of the Year- 8
My Computer- 8
Saviour- 8
White Mansion- 7.5
The Human Body- 7.5
Courtin’ Time- 7
Friend/Lover/Sister/Mother/Wife- 7
Soul Sanctuary- 7
Eye Can’t make u love me- 7
Damned if Eye Do- 6.5
We Gets Up- 6
Facedown- 6
Mr. Happy- 5.5
Da Da Da- 5.5

[and no, I did not forget one- The Plan isn’t listed because I didn’t rate because it’s more of an interlude than a song in my view]

phew… that’s a lot of music…
the top 9 that I gave 9 and higher are pretty dang solid… and are a good representation of this album and also of why I like much of it.
The rest… it depends on the day.
Add Joint 2 Joint and that’s a great top 10.

Now to average everything together… oh boy…
92+92+97… 281… divided by 350…

I gave Emancipation a solid 8.0 out of 10…

wow- that’s surprising… I mean, taking the whole body of work into account, I think I only really love the top 10 and the rest is a matter of give and take. Meaning I could take them certain days and other days, maybe I’m not in the mood.
And the bottom 3 as it stands… three Prince songs I wouldn’t mind never hearing again.

I have 2 remixes of Facedown ( :groan: ) on my iPod that I’ve yet to listen to. But I’ll post this first and get there.

Up next is Crystal Ball… I know it’s technically a compilation and not an album, but I still want to go through it again and see how I feel about the songs.
I’d only gone through it once completely and it was when I was talking about high and low lights for a book I was writing on Prince music… a book that may never get published, unfortunately.

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

“Prince” Album #19: EMANCIPATION [disc II]

This album is a MONSTER… so this post will inevitably be split into 3 parts…
***

When I think about this album, this is the disc that comes to mind as my favorite of the three. On it are a couple of my favorite songs that Prince had ever written. But at the same time, it’s also one of the toughest albums to listen to all the way through. This is for a number of reasons and for one of them… sadly, it’s going to get harder to listen to as the week progresses and I get further through Mayte’s book.

My game plan was to follow her pregnancy in the book as I listen to this album. But I’m still figuring out whether to continue onward after it ends or to save that part for the third disc or simply after I’m done with the album.
With the knowledge (and I’d had this knowledge when I decided I wanted this album) of how the story ends… yeah, plain and simple, it will get harder.

As much as I love this disc, I don’t often listen to it all the way through. And if I do, I don’t enjoy it all the way through. There’s a cut-off point somewhere when I kinda stop having fun and other emotions start to take place… and one of those emotions is actually boredom.

Again, I’ll go through the songs and see when they were recorded and see if that’ll offer more clues about where Prince was at this point.

Sex in the Summer- summer 1996 (I’m guessing that’s how he came up with that title- it was originally “Conception”- for one obvious reason… the drum fills were sampled from a George Clinton song- Ramon “Tiki” Fulwood played them on this song, also had Rhonda Smith & Eric Leeds- why not?)- never live
One Kiss at a Time- late 1995-1996 (live a few times in the 2000’s, often with Pink Cashmere or Satisfied- last time 2007)
Soul Sanctuary- written originally by Sandra St. Vincent and given to Prince as part of an agreement for them to work together and he added more music and lyrics later. Spring 1995 (only done live in 2002 a few times)
Emale- 1996 (Eric Leeds again) never done live
Curious Child- late 1995-1996- never done live
Dreamin’ about u- summer 1996 (Rhonda Smith on bass guitar, Eric Leeds on sax) done live in 1997 and 2009 (latter was instrumental only)
Joint 2 Joint- early 1996 (Hans-Martin Buff is the driver in the dialogue and was his engineer during these sessions- the same engineer Matt Thorne interviewed, Savion Glover did the tap dance portion- Prince saw something he was in and was impressed enough to commission him for this and rap from Poet 99)- never done live (a travesty!)
The Holy River- late 1995- 1996 (only performed live in 1997)
Let’s Have a Baby- late 1995-1996- never performed live, but Prince played this song to Mayte on their wedding night and also showed it to Oprah when he did that appearance
Saviour- late 1995-1996 (has the NPG band, Ricky Peterson and the Hornheadz)- never live
The Plan- recorded between late 1994- early 1996 (the full version is on Karmasutra as the opening track)
Friend Lover Sister Mother/Wife- never done live, but played during Prince and Mayte’s first dance as husband and wife

It’s kinda nuts that most of these songs were done late 1995-early 1996 and not many during that happy period he and Mayte had as husband and wife and anticipating having a family.
And it makes me sad that my theory about “The Holy River” that I just came up with today didn’t fit in with when it was recorded.

I went into full detail in the ongoing post I’m writing on Mayte’s book, where I pick out my favorite parts and noteable parts so I can add comments later.
But there was a really difficult part I just got through of another overdose he experienced… and I had hoped that he wrote “The Holy River” afterwards so it seems like he’s making an effort to get better…

Even now and having all this time to process how he died, I can’t get mad at him for what happened and those around him that didn’t do more to help him. It doesn’t do much good now. And it’s hard to know how the story would have gone if an intervention did happen- would it have changed the course of history or would it have made the end come sooner than it did?

I’ll put it like this- getting through that part of the book put a damper on what is my favorite part of the album- between Emale through Joint 2 Joint.

I guess I’ll start with The Holy River, then.
For a number of reasons, this is a tough song for me to 100% get on board with. The music is amazing, no question. Some interesting lyrics and some great ones. It has a lot going for it that I like.
What I can’t fully get into… the fact it’s a long epic song like Purple Rain. Like it’s another attempt to recapture that lightning in a bottle. And the song runs too long for me.
But I don’t usually find myself in a situation where I can appreciate it at full length- the past few times I’d been in my car and I’m trying to make the trip last for the whole album.
I think what I need to do is print out the lyrics and spend time looking over them so I can really figure out what they mean.
Today was maybe the first time I listened to it and got something major out of it. The one part I always locked into was the final verse where he proposed to Mayte… so romantic and beautiful.
I don’t want to spend so much time with it that it loses all sheen, but I need to spend some time alone with it one of these days to see if I can get more out of it.
Taking all the things I know about Prince now into account- I can appreciate certain lyrics more. At the time he performs this, I’m sure he’s serious about them, but it’s great to hear him acknowledge that he isn’t perfect and he sees this relationship as a way to rectify that.

Sadly, it didn’t turn out that way, but to be in it for that moment and believe in that for a short time… that’s a feeling I’d like to hold onto.

Two other songs on this album can be dodgy listens depending on how hard you’re really listening to them.
Personally, I anticipate “Sex in the Summer” getting harder to listen to as I get further into the book.
In the backing beat, you can hear the heartbeat off the ultrasound. I’d always been aware of it and I acknowledge it’s there each time. But this was the first time I’d really been sad about it- but it’s from getting to know Mayte through her book and how this meant to her. I really like listening to this song during the summer time because of the title. It makes me think of being at a beach in California where a highway runs alongside the beach and all the people mentioned in the song are on that beach. (I don’t know if this is a real place, but it’s always what I’ve imagined and it’s a nice place to visit).
I will add, though, that as much as I like the final few minutes of this song, it sounds like it’s obviously tacked on so the disc can be made an hour long.

“One Kiss at a time”- I’ve always had a fondness for this song. And it wasn’t until hearing the Peach & Black podcast that I heard about anything being wrong with it.
Overproduced… every moment of the song has something happening in it. That never annoyed me personally, but some other people, maybe so. And Captain made me laugh so hard because he misheard some lyrics on it. (Honestly, I misheard lyrics on it too- but they were different than what he misheard… it took me a few listens or even a few times in the chorus the first time, but I did have an a-ha moment where I finally figured out what he was saying).

“Soul Sanctuary”… I’ve never skipped this song, but I have one big issue with it that keeps me from fully enjoying it. It’s very sweet and romantic and beautiful and so on.
But when he revisits the first verse and does the chorus again for the final time- his voice sounds like it breaks and it just makes me cringe. I don’t get why nobody else has made note of this (or the vocal in “Scandalous”- I feel like I’m the only one who doesn’t consider it a perfect vocal cuz some parts make me cringe too).

“Emale”- to this day, I still don’t quite get what the song is about, but I love it every time. It’s very mesmerizing. Some of those songs I like listening to when it’s either cloudy or rainy outside (while songs like “Sex in the Summer” I like hearing when it’s summer and it’s perfectly sunny).

The combo of “Curious Child” and “Dreamin’ about U”… THAT is my favorite part of this album.
When I heard this disc for the first time, it was such a surprise. One of those great surprises I love finding in Prince albums when I hear them for the first time (and sadly, unless some material gets released out of The Vault, I’ll never have that moment again… that’s an entry onto itself, some of my favorite “surprises” over the years).

Curious Child sets the scene like it’s something from the time of Shakespeare ala Romeo & Juliet. Just magical with all the musical nuances. There’s nothing like it in any of Prince’s music, before or since.

Dreamin’ about U- it may be kinda unremarkable next to all the other things he’s done… but it’s one of those DreamyPop type tracks I love every time. I fall under his spell, complete bound, and I just soak everything in for however long the song lasts.
Also, like it was with “Somebody’s Somebody”, it’s a song I’d rather listen to in bed while I prepare to go to sleep… I don’t like having the distractions of driving take me away from it. [But also this time, the last thing in Mayte’s book was taking me out of it- and hopefully tomorrow that won’t be the case]
My favorite part about it is just how it’s put together. The chorus is sung so beautifully and the verses are spoken. Oh, the sound of his voice- I could melt. I’d call that his “Mr. Goodnight” voice, but that song wouldn’t come for another decade πŸ˜›

Joint 2 Joint- as crazy as it sounds, it’s the longest song on the album, not helped by a spoken scene tacked on the end of it. I’d thought for years that “The Holy River” is the longest on the album… but this is almost 8 minutes. That’s freaking insane.

But every minute of this song is used to the best.
I’d break it into three parts- the first couple verses, then we have a series of musical interludes with a different breakdown each time, then we have Prince kinda in crazy mode where things get weird and “Joint 2 Joint nothing comes for free- if u show ur love, u can get with me” is the name of the game.
This Disc is such a Prince & Mayte 4ever type deal, yet this song is the only thing that breaks that up. All I can figure is that it demonstrates the promiscuous type of lifestyle Prince lived (or was rumored to live) until he decided to settle down.
But I don’t mind it. So much cool stuff happens in this song. Whenever he says “Joint 2 Joint” in the bridges between verse and chorus in the first part… I always jostle my hips left to right on the beat- I do the same thing when I listen to “Space” and it’s on the chorus lyric “boom of the bass”… I don’t know how I picked it up, but I’ve done it ever since.
My favorite part is part 2- that killer synth line and the repetition of “Joint 2 Joint” throughout… the sense of momentum feels so cool.
The only thing I don’t get is Poet 99. Is that sample with or without a comma? “Sex me?” or “Sex, me?”… and that rap, it just feels so random. Nothing to do with the rest of the song or album.

“Let’s have a baby”- I had so many feels listening to it today. I don’t like to listen to it that much. Unless only when I listen through the album as a whole. I don’t go out of my way to listen to it.
I can just imagine Mayte hearing this on their wedding night and falling so head over heels for her new husband that they just skipped out on the reception.
I can still remember a comment I got when I said I wanted this album and someone was making comments and recommendations based on the albums I wanted. With this album, whoever it was cautioned me about this song in particular just because I’d made comments how I was a little sensitive to certain things that happened to be commonplace in Prince’s music.
Most of which I’ve grown into enjoying and the explicit stuff, if it’s done artistically, I can get into it… sometimes a little too much for my own good.

…there’s one notable reason why this song is a particularly difficult listen for everyone who knows how the story ends… I will address it at a certain point, but I think I’m waiting either to reach that part of the book or it’ll just be at the end of this disc.
I also hope to find the footage of the Oprah show where the two of them appeared so I can see that again and incorporate it into my review.

I did see some of it last year (which was the first time since the first time years earlier)- OWN was showing it as part of all the networks paying tribute to Prince.

I think there’s also a clip on YouTube- I think it’s still there- I’ll have to check that out. And there’s also a “Holy River” live performance I hope to get to sometime this week (and that it isn’t taken down before that).

so right around “The Holy River”… either during after it, that’s when the album kinda falls apart for me.
Knowing how the story ends makes “let’s have a baby” kinda sad and the whole mood gets brought now…
Then we have “Saviour” which is a very big song, beautifully done, some great guitar work. But it’s hard to fully engage when the mood is brought down so much by the last song.
But I do like this song a lot. [also- another instance where it feels like the extra long ending was tacked on to make the disc an hour long]

Adding insult to injury- track 11 is an interlude if anything… I don’t think I can even count it as a song… it connects the album in the physical sense, but to me, I’ve never fully gotten the concept of it for myself.

And the final song- Prince and Mayte’s wedding song.
My problem with it is that “Friend, Lover, Sister, Mother/Wife” is way too similar to “Saviour”… the only difference between the two (aside from the basic aesthetics)- is the tempo with this song being constant and smooth and “Saviour” having more peaks and valleys. And this song has stylings from “Adore” in the falsetto vocals.
It’ll be interesting to see if I give this song a higher score than “Adore” or if they’re going to be the same. I wasn’t a big fan of “Adore’… as crazy as it sounds, it’s true.

I think I also need some more time with this song– and during a time where I’m not on the last 5 minutes of my drive home and worrying whether I’ll be able to finish it before I get there. That kinda puts a damper on things.

It’s so sad how the wheels come off this disc- so much promise, but due to some unfortunate events and odd choices for songs, I can’t fully enjoy it.

This album was released in November, a few weeks after that happened… I can’t believe or understand how or why Prince kept in the songs that he did or didn’t just pull Emancipation entirely. for “Sex in the summer” and “let’s have a baby” in particular… I guess maybe he’d put so much effort into this album that he’d be in big trouble financially if he didn’t release it. Since this was his first fully independent release.

This might have also been the one time in the Emancipation set where Prince might have gotten screwed by the parameters he set for himself.
He needed 12 tracks for this disc and it had to be an hour long… I wouldn’t have put these two similar songs so close to each other and The Plan doesn’t really feel like it has a place here other than to take up a minute and change.
But maybe that’s just me…

Ironically, day two… the two “baby” tracks did not get harder to hear. Instead, I was able to get out of my head and enjoy them for what they were.
Although it helps that the ultrasound heartbeat is harder to hear in my car unless I crank up the volume. “Sex in the summer” may not be at the level of “let’s go crazy” or “1999” but it’s an album opener I enjoy nonetheless.

“Soul Sanctuary” had me in a dreamlike state and I was really enjoying it… then that one note came and it ruined everything… so close to loving this song, but I have to settle for like.
Also- the bridge before the revisit of the first verse… I don’t care for those lyrics. Not because of the “Garden of Eden” imagery- but the line “mango and nectarine, sweet honeydew, I beg your pardon, my mouth runneth over with ectasy, it’s true, I love the taste of u”… uhhh… I don’t know why, it kinda makes me cringe. Either it’s too cheesy or it’s just a set of lyrics that doesn’t fit in my mind as Prince lyrics.

I got my wish with “Emale”- it was raining today and the atmosphere fit for it perfectly.

“Dreamin’ about u”- I’m still feeling out of step about- but only with “Mr. Goodnight”… the sung portions just made me melt… repetitive or not, I don’t care. It was swoon central πŸ˜‰

I printed out the lyrics for the “holy river” and was looking them over earlier that day… so it figures that trying to actually remember the lyrics was taking me out of the song… yikes… I had a better time with it the other day when I was just going through the motions while not knowing or caring too much about how much I got right.

“let’s have a baby”- my mind just imagined the scene unfolding as Prince played this for Mayte… it kept me from feeling sad about it… but depending on how far I get into Mayte’s book this week, this could become impossible to listen to come Friday [or a future date when I do the whole album alongside a video game speed run].
Assuming I do what I did last week- do 3 tracks in the morning and 3 in the afternoon over Thursday and Friday so that counts as my third trip through the album.

“Saviour”- I didn’t feel all that much. I didn’t feel that lingering sadness from yesterday.

I’m getting a little more out of “Friend Lover Sister Mother/Wife”… but I don’t know if I’ll ever love the song.
Got the lyrics in front of me now.

The first lyric reads as a contradiction to me… “if I ever held a hand, it was only because I never held your hand”… yeah, I’m reading too much into this… but on the surface, I’m reading that if he held a hand it’s because he never held hers. It reads as him holding a hand before her.
Maybe it’s just a complicated way of saying that he hadn’t held a hand before hers… super complicated…
Mayte wrote in her book about how Prince didn’t shake hands with people because his hands were his instruments, but the fact he shook her hand when they greeted each other in rehearsal meant that he wanted to show affection to her without doing anything PDA-related (like making out in public, that sort of thing).
This lyric probably made sense to her right away.

Then he says how he wanted her to go on a higher trip with him. Him sharing a bed only to live up to the rumors about him (although this lyric seems to be over the top- I’m sure he’s shared beds with women before).
The next lyric is really sweet- “now I’m livin’ instead everyday just to say you’re the only one who’s in my head”…
the next is self-explanatory (if I ever made you cry, I just have to think about it and want to die). But another great lyric after that… although it seems to repeat what he said in “Saviour” just previously (I wonder if he realized this redundancy)… “how’d I ever make it by without you I don’t know, I hope I never have to try”… it’s romantic, but it’s also super sad because he does have to get along without her and he was the one who made that choice ultimately.

So I am warming up to the song a little bit more… but I’m not holding out any hope that it’s going to be a top 100 or even top 200 Prince song for me.

So I found the answer to my question, when I would stop reading the book…
I read “It’s a boy” and slammed the book shut.
I’m going to need all of Labor Day weekend to not only read the rest of this chapter, but to absorb the blows that come with it.

Back when I was figuring out which Prince albums I wanted to own, I didn’t have any interest in the “Slave” era albums because I didn’t want to hear from Prince during an angry and unhappy part of his life. Come and The Gold Experience are two albums I would have definitely missed, had I not gotten them when I did.

Emancipation on the other hand was promoted as… well, I’d said that key phrase already… it was just the product of a happy part of his life. So I had my own idea of what that was like.
While most of the music was recorded before her pregnancy and their marriage, reading Mayte’s book has taken what I had had built up in my head for 10 years and… maybe not destroyed it… but it’s nothing like I imagined it.
I’d already gotten into this in my upcoming post on her book and all the things I’d been taking away from it. So I’m not going to repeat myself because it was a bit of a rant.
[But while on the subject, there’ve been a few negatives I’d called red flags in my own head… but for the positive moments, they surpass anything I could have imagined on my own]

I’ll just say it has put a damper on some of the romantic tracks I love on this album and I had trouble fully engaging. I’m just hoping it doesn’t develop into a pattern…

Some positives, though, I listened to “Curious Child” and my mind wondered into a fantasy world about him and Mayte meeting the first time and just him at the studio working magic with the piano and all the other instruments.
“Dreamin’ about u” was the best it’s been all week, but I felt like I was hanging with a fantasized version of him opposed to seeing him as he is during this time period. Maybe to make up for some red flags that have been popping up, I’m trying to keep fantasy and reality separate.
Mr. Goodnight had a calming presence and I just ate that up.

As for the podcast…
Captain’s misheard lyric in “one kiss at a time” is one of the best moments in the podcast. That and the whole “c’mon get ur c’mon” discussion– I don’t think that’s an American thing, guys. And I’m pretty sure it’s not a thing I’d get as a white girl.
Anyway, the guys were laughing so hard and I was as well.

Captain surprised me with some of the songs he liked- Curious Child, Dreamin’ about u, and Emale… even though he doesn’t know what the lyrics mean.

I still don’t, but I’ll try to come up with some kind of hypothesis.
What I get is that there’s a love triangle and there are two gangs and he threatens to do to her what he did to her lover if she doesn’t entirely devote herself to him. I don’t know what point it really has on this album– but I really don’t care. I like the song a lot despite that one gigantic question mark.

Not surprising was Toejam saying “Dreamin’ about u” was his favorite on the disc… someone who talks about there always being a dream song on a Prince album… why not?

But funny enough– as often as there are 3 vs. Captain moments… or the occasional 3 vs. MC moments… this is the first time I remember there being a 3 vs. Player moment.

he didn’t care of “dreamin’ about u” but MC was also so-so on it.
“Curious Child” was the 3 vs. Player track… just doesn’t get it.
And that’s fine, we don’t have to agree on everything. [Says the same person who flips out every time Captain says he doesn’t like a song that she does…]

Dang it… I wish I had more to say, but I don’t. The guys ran through these 6 songs so fast yet more than half the podcast is still left.

I might make the decision at the precise moment whether or not to listen to “let’s have a baby” because it’s going to be tomorrow morning 10 minutes before I start my shift for work.
My gut feeling right now is that I won’t… I’ll save it for the Oprah interview if I’m able to find it… and so far, no luck.
I reached out to some friends and they have posted some hard to find stuff in the past. But part of me thinks it might be doing more harm than good to revisit that.
I already have heard a few things about it in snippets online who posted tidbits from the book.

So, I guess this is it for now… this time tomorrow I’ll be wrapping this up.
I already have a good idea of the scores I’ll be handing out to the first half of the album. On the components side, I think I feel better about it than Disc I.

Finished up the podcast and it was a good one. It’s always a good time- what am I saying? πŸ˜›

Joint 2 Joint was another 50/50 type effort. Other than Poet 99’s contributions, Captain really liked it. Toejam and MC said it was overstuffed and overproduced possibly. Called it the Crystal Ball of the 90’s, but it’s better… I forget if the whole was better than the sum of its parts… I think that was it.

The Holy River got praise.

Saviour got a lot of praise- you’d think Captain called it his favorite on the album because of the NPG, but he only found about them being there from doing the actual podcast. And how it is overlooked and underrated and nobody ever talks about it.
On the other hand, FLSM/W was called a nice sentiment, but everyone was “over the album” by the time it came around. And Saviour gets lost on the album because of it.

I completely understand that.

As for the rest of my listen… I skipped the baby track, but listened to the guys talk about it. Interesting bit- no backing vocals. You never notice it unless you pay attention πŸ˜› so much of it being impressive, but maybe a little too personal .

This morning started a little off with Joint 2 Joint- my head was too full of the not-so-good feelings I’d been having about Prince this week.
I started to get a little of that back with “The Holy River”… and I breeze through the lyrics without having to think too hard about what they were. I would have been completely sucked in if I hadn’t been eying this guy behind me who was texting while we were at a red light. [I’d been super paranoid driving today- nervous about impending holiday traffic and tailgaters].

I’ll say this about “The Holy River” and this will be my summation of the track.

Usually when I listen to Prince’s music, I look at it from his perspective and try to figure what might have inspired him.
But every now and then, I do put myself in the mix… and I don’t mean putting myself in the role of the female he’s seducing (except for the tracks on this disc obviously written for Mayte- then I’m just a casual observer)…
like with “Gold,” I take something away from some songs and this is one of them.

My life is in a good place right now- solid job I enjoy doing, making some good money… but sometimes I wonder if my life could be more. If I should move out of the house and live on my own, if I should start trying to date… all this kind of stuff.
I’m really insecure with myself, though. Sometimes life is good and I’m thinking that I should be stressing out about something because if I’m not stressing, then I’m missing something important.

So I listen to the lyrics- and I hear that you shouldn’t run from your problems and you should confront them… the sentiment where people who love want to help you, but they can’t unless you help yourself and the more they say they love you, the more you want to die.
I totally get that. I have good family around me and a large one at that, but I don’t feel comfortable with discussing my insecurities with them. Or my friends who I barely speak to anyway.
Sometimes I feel like spending this time with Prince had made me even more of a loner than before. And considering that he died alone, mainly because he chose to isolate himself and not allow people to help him… it’s a cautionary tale I should probably take to heart.
But most of the time, I just don’t feel like it, honestly.
And the part he scoffs about “self-analysis” and wanting to distract himself with a glass of port and listening to a local band and the next falsetto part is telling him how he’s just distracting himself and needs to listen to the voice inside… I kinda do that myself, doing random things to distract myself from pressing matters.

At the end, it all goes back to God’s plan and the truth will reveal itself in time.

and Prince comes to this realization that he’d rather have fun with only one- like he wants to settle down.
Mayte said how she’d love to believe his proposal over the phone was of that sentiment and not relating to some other things going on with him…
but I’ll choose to believe that this song came out of this realization and the proposal came about in this fashion.

Considering how much of the illusion I’d built in my head about this album and Prince’s 1996 period of happiness and how some of it got wiped out reading the truth from Mayte… there’s some of that illusion I want to hold onto for myself.

I got to the end of FLSM/W and was kinda sad that it was all coming to an end… because I’m going to get through that difficult part of the book next and I’m afraid that I’m going to get really mad with Prince and Spooky Electric will be my boss for the rest of these album reviews.

At least I’m taking it in a little at a time, right?

I guess the only thing left now is to rate this disc and either today or tomorrow to read that part of the book.

So I’m deciding now that I’m going to take “The Plan” out of the discussion because it’s going to be impossible to figure a scoring system for it. Not just cuz it’s an instrumental, but it doesn’t feel like it goes anywhere. An interlude more than an actual song.

I also have a video where he performs “The Holy River” on the short-lived Rosie O’Donnell show… but that was done in early 1997… I think it might be good to watch it after reading that part of the book.
That way if I still don’t feel good about him afterwards, I could use that in an attempt to make a rebound for myself. Like seeing him might make it better than just listening and having negative thoughts patrolling in my head while I’m trying to visualize.

here goes nothing…

SEX IN THE SUMMER
This is one of the songs I always look forward to when I take out Emancipation. It’s a great example of his sound around this time. As of this point, the heartbeat being part of the song hasn’t taken all those good feelings away, but maybe the next time I listen after I finish reading Mayte’s book, it might be…
Technical Merit- 5 (there is not one thing about this song that I can cite as a negative or that I would personally change)
Components score- 4
Total score- 9 (I have a feeling there isn’t going to be a track on this whole album I’ll be giving a perfect 10, so by that reasoning, this is a very solid score. I’ve always liked it, but I can’t quite give it that extra boost. I tend to reserve the 9.5’s for something that’s not quite a masterpiece and I couldn’t go that far with this one)

ONE KISS AT A TIME
It seems like a pretty standard R&B love ballad, but Prince does his thing with it (namely, killer vocals… some of his best ever… the guys over at the podcast were saying how great his voice was in this point of his career… now that I think about it, they’re right. I remember being back at the 80’s albums, saying how his voice is getting strong and more confident. Now it just feels like a given that his singing has peaked and is at a solid level… makes me sorry I missed when that moment happened… although if I had to guess, I’d say D&P between Gett Off and Insatiable, possibly Still Would Stand All Time… now I’m way off topic)
Technical merit- 4 (the musical aspect is solid, but nothing super special. And Prince puts his personal stamp on this type of ballad, but he’s also done better ballads)
Components score- 4
Total score- 8 (another one I like a lot whenever I listen to it, even if it isn’t the best he’s done in this genre)

SOUL SANCTUARY
…do I have to say it again- a perfectly nice sweet song ruined by one vocal moment that hurts my ears– and this is coming from a guy who screams a lot and that doesn’t bother me nearly as much.
Technical Merit- 3.5 (yeah, I was pretty harsh… I took points off the vocal, the lyrics, and again, it doesn’t feel terribly unique to Prince, this song)
Components score- 3.5
Total score- 7 (all things considered, that’s a good score. Odd thing is- I think it scored higher than “Adore” using this system, but I like “Adore” a tad more. At least I could listen to that on repeat, unlike this. Also- parts of this song reminds me of another, but I can’t think of which one, just how it sounds after the chorus, the music)

EMALE
It usually bugs me a lot when there’s a song that sounds cool, but I have no idea what it’s about. That’s kind of important to me. But this one, as much as I’d like to know what he’s talking about, it doesn’t kill the song for me. Neither has the title, never figured that one out. [Thinking of this now, some of the horns on this remind me a little of, maybe, “Dark” off the Come album]
Technical Merit- 5 (I feel like I should be taking a point away from it somewhere, but I can’t figure out where… so it’ll have to be components)
Components score- 3.5
Total score- 8.5 (it might fall through the cracks with the amount of material on this album, but I like it enough just for the intrigue alone)

CURIOUS CHILD
Oh man, this is a good one… it’s not the longest song he’s done, but there’s just something so nice about it. Very atmospheric and dream-like. And thinking now, I can’t help but feel some of the lyrics are referring to the past lives Prince and Mayte had together. “If memory serves us, we will align to the truth that we most often shared”… beautiful instrumentals that take over the final minute or so of the song.
Technical Merit- 5
Components score- 4.5
Total score- 9.5 (I can’t quite call this a masterpiece, but it’s really well done. And I get the feeling this song isn’t talked about all that much, but I’ve always had a love for it)

DREAMIN’ ABOUT U
I hope I can listen to this later tonight and just fall back under Prince’s spell. I don’t think I’ve fully gotten there with it this week and I had every other time.
The duality throughout is really cool. Not just the difference in the delivery from the verses and the chorus, but the 2nd verse where he talks about his “sane twin” and his “lustier twin”
This is one of those songs that’s just a key example of the effect Prince has had on me since the first moment I saw him perform. And is ultimately what led me here. [This is where I get all sentimental and nostalgic and mourn the fact I’ll never see him perform live, so I’ll spare all that and just do the scores]
Technical score- 4.5 (so close to perfect… but I kinda don’t like how it ends… just stops… this song could continue for another 5 minutes and I’d love every second of it)
Components score- 4.5
Total score- 9 (yeah, pretty shocked this didn’t at least tie its predecessor… but that was something that’s always bothered me, but it is a personal choice πŸ˜› never wake me up)

JOINT 2 JOINT
The longest song on the album, but it doesn’t feel like that at all. It always goes by way too fast. So much happens in it, it has three parts with their pluses and minuses. It gets really weird towards the end, but I don’t mind it all that much.
Technical Merit- 4 (the sample and the rap kinda take me out of it. I can ignore them over time, but there’s always those first few moments where I’m just asking why…)
Components score- 4.5
Total score- 8.5 (final comment: him saying “you don’t love me, you’re a faker, you just want me for my acres”… maybe he does have a farm and I was way too harsh about that “right back here in my arms” lyric… such a funny line and he’s eating cereal live while recording this)

THE HOLY RIVER
I’m not sure if it has to do with Prince no longer being here or these past few years where I’d gotten more in the habit of praying every night and appealing to God on behalf of others… I feel like I’ve been getting more into Prince’s spiritual works over this past year. Some of which are songs I didn’t really like until now.
This is another example. Mainly because it’s a long song and it’s a lot to take in. But over the past week, I think I’ve taken plenty in.
Technical merit- 5 (yeah, I can’t take one negative thing away from this song)
Components score- 4
Total score- 9 (so close to giving this 4.5, but I’m only just getting into this song now. If I were to revisit my scoring system in a couple years, I might feel more confident in giving it that benefit.

LET’S HAVE A BABY
Typically when I skip a song when I go through an album, I don’t give it a high components score. But the thing with this one… I like this song a lot and it’s really well put together and it’s beautiful and genuine and heartfelt and so much more. It’s just a hard listen sometimes because this dream Prince had of a family never happened. [I’m also glad that when all those potential heirs were coming forward, none of them were a DNA match. It’s one thing for Prince to have children he didn’t know about, but it’s another if they existed and didn’t come forward until after his death… it would add insult to the injury of the family he was never able to have. And in that end, that could have potentially saved his life]
Technical Merit- 5
Components score- 3.5
Total score- 8.5 (reading over the lyrics, I’m feeling waterworks coming so I’m cutting this short… one lyric that stood out, him saying “if anybody in the whole wide world ever thought that they could do that for me, they are one mistaken girl”… Prince wrote a letter to Mayte that she put in her book talking about that, how other women want his babies, but he says that those children aren’t meant to exist because it’s about the two of them together… As in love with Prince as I’ve been, that thought never crossed my mind… I’d fantasized myself as the object of his seduction/affection in songs, but never to that point. If I’m meant to procreate with anyone, clearly I haven’t met them yet because that’s never been one of my life’s goals)

moving on…

SAVIOUR
a big closer for the disc, except it’s not the final song. It feels like a great tribute to his and Mayte’s relationship and thinking back to where he was in his life when they met, the title feels like it’s very fitting. (although that sadly didn’t prevent him from having some moments in the early months of their marriage that were a bit alarming to read about… I just gotta stop with all these negatives or it’s going to change the tone of this whole post).
Technical Merit- 4.5 (it just runs too long for me at the end… and it feels like that part doesn’t go anywhere. It’s a wonder if it was never done live because that part screams “live performance” to me)
Components score- 3.5
Total score- 8 (the bridge- forgot to mention this- reminds me of “3 chains o’ gold” where he asks “is this love?” and it’s right before things get big, heavy and dark… someone on the podcast said this song sounded similar to “Dark” and to listen to the two songs back to back. I gotta remember to do that…)

FRIEND, LOVER, SISTER, MOTHER/WIFE
I get why these two songs are on the same disc, but did they have to be so close together, plus “Holy River”- too many similarities so close together.
Anyway- I’m warming up to this song a bit more after looking up the lyrics and years later, I might give it more than I’m about to.
Technical Merit- 4 (again, runs a little too long… but one big thing… this has always bothered me… I get that these other titles are in reference to past lives the two of them had… “Mother” is the one part I never understood. I can’t conceptualize that they were related in this way in another life. Brother and sister, yes, particularly if they were twins- then that would explain a lot)
Components score- 3
Total score- 7 (again, I’ll revisit this in a couple years and I might give it a higher score… I might just need more time to warm up to it. I’m certainly open for it)

And that’s that… now to add everything together…yeah, this is definitely scoring higher than the first disc.

omg… that’s hilarious… the total points is the same as Disc I, 92… but I also took away a track… which again is an interlude and not a proper song…
92/110…

8.4 out of 10… wow, that’s up there with a lot of my favorite albums…
Now I can’t help but think that maybe Prince should have just released this one disc instead of the three because it feels like the most solid of them.

But I still feel like it falls apart at the end and doesn’t entirely hold up after I take the baby track out…

So I’ll probably add a little more once I watched the “Holy River” performance, but otherwise that’s almost it for this week.


Okay, final thoughts for the week…

I got through that part of Mayte’s book and managed with just a tear in my eye. I go into it more in my post on her book, including the good and bad moments with Prince. But considering the off vibes I’d been feeling about Prince, I found a lot of good and that makes me hopeful that things will wind up ok.
Maybe not in the book, but just me, him and his music… it’s been an odd week.

so I was listening to “Dreamin’ about U”… oh man, I wish it could have lasted longer than it did. It was like Prince had me under hypnosis and was hovering over my head whispering and singing to me.

Funny thing- though. It’s not as if I listen to this song and I’d always dreamed about Prince afterwards (I’d only dreamt about him maybe 7-10 times and they pop up very randomly)…
but that night I had this really vivid dream with Mayte.
I had a family gathering or something happening and I invited her as my guest and she actually accepted this invitation. I can’t imagine how or why, but she came and we hung out. I don’t remember what we discussed or how I introduced her to people, but Prince didn’t come up until later on. I took her up to my room because she was tired and let her sleep in my bed. When she got up, she saw my dresser where I have all my Prince albums on display and we talked a little about him, although she seemed a little uncomfortable about it. And maybe I had come off too strong at some point- can’t remember what the heck I said. But she was really sweet while seeming to question at some points why she accepted my offer at all.

I think after I finish reading her book, I’m just going to write her a letter, trying to sum up how I felt reading it and just thanking her for writing it and just being overall amazing. Not just what she was to Prince, but her talents as a dancer and her selflessness with her animal rescue.

I forgot the other day to go through the songs on this album and say whether I think they’re filler, good or great. And also nominating the ones to go forward in the top 100 songs.
Oddly, this disc feels like the most cohesive of the three discs- when I used to think it was disc I, but if you read the last post, you saw it was a bit of a mess.

Sex in the Summer
Curious Child
Dreamin’ about U

Those are the top 3 for sure on this disc. Although “Dreamin’ about U” is probably the one I personally like the most because it allows me to fantasize. And with Prince being where he is now, much of what I do with his music is the fantasy, whether I’m the object of his affection or I’m imagining seeing him perform live when I’ll never get that chance.

As for great, good, skippeable, filler…

Sex in the Summer- great
One Kiss at a time- good
Soul Sanctuary- good
Emale- good
Curious Child- great
Dreamin’ about U- great
Joint 2 Joint- great
The Holy River- great
Let’s have a baby- good
Saviour- good
The Plan- skippeable filler
FLSM/F- good

There’s just the one video to watch and I can finally end this.
I’m half thinking of going into Disc III over the next couple days I have off from work.
Crystal Ball is another long 3 disc album and it’ll take a while. And I kinda don’t want to spend too much time on it.

…I think I can do it… listen to it Sunday and Monday… then I’ll spread the podcast over Tuesday and Wednesday… then I’ll go into Crystal Ball starting Thursday and Friday and do the podcast over the weekend.

Maybe that’s just me being too eager to finish Mayte’s book and rushing to the ultimately unhappy ending… but after reading some of those good things in the book, I just want to spend more time with Prince. [Don’t have any big Labor Day plans either… so I’m kinda desperate to find something to keep myself busy… although I do have a junior grand prix competition to finish tomorrow too]

I actually found a couple of videos on YouTube I want to see.
There’s one part of the Oprah interview on her YouTube channel. She’s asking him about doing normal stuff and if he thinks of himself as weird… but I’m looking at him and the look in his eyes… I think I see pain and he’s holding himself together, but he is upset about what had recently happened. It was a short video, but I had my hands over my mouth, keeping myself together.

I figure since the Holy River performance was from the Rosie O’Donnell show, I should watch “Somebody’s Somebody” as well- it’s still the same album, so it’s not like I’m going backwards. But it made me sad because it just made me think about him not being here and it felt like past tense opposed to being in the moment.

There is a part of the interview with Oprah with him and Mayte… I’ll see how much is in this video and I’ll avoid the comments section cuz for better or worse intentions, it’s just going to be too much.
…the video was just him performing “Sleep Around”- kick-ass performance as always. Funny she asks how many songs he has left in him and he says “one a day until the day I die”… so true.
but they ran all these photos during the credits. One was Oprah playing with Mia, Mayte’s dog. Just read about her in the book today and she was a little hero at a very dire moment.

And that’s all I can find… just this one last video and I can finally post this.

But like with the previous Disc, I’m already imagining myself listening to some of these songs again for the last time… at least for this week.

The video wasn’t the best quality cuz the music and I think Rhonda Smith’s vocals were a little too much louder than his, so I couldn’t fully get into it.

And for some odd reason I just remembered now two other podcast comments- there was an instance of Whammy bar on a song, the first time the guys mentioned in going chronologically and Captain doesn’t mind that use of it. And there was one other comment… oh yeah, “anytime there’s Top Fret, you get my attention”… talking about The Holy River.

So that’s finally it… 2 disc down, one final one to go… starting tomorrow.

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment