… the time has come to move on. My trip into it last night wasn’t as good as I could have hoped, signaling to me that I need to move on before I completely wear out a good album. I read up on the history/making of SOTT and I got a clearer picture of it.
Heh, actually, I didn’t think too much of my findings when I was listening to the album. My personal life popped up occasionally, but it’s not as bad as it had been since I got back. Going back to school has never been easy for me, but this semester, there was just something I couldn’t explain. Could be because I have my own room and I might actually miss the daily interaction with a roommate. Plain and simple, I never felt more alone in my life.
If it wasn’t for Prince and this album, I don’t know what I would have done. Let’s just say it was getting a little dark after a while. And that’s all I say on that matter. I’ll follow Prince’s example, disclose a little in an artform of my choice and move onto the next thing. Leave the past behind and focus on the present. Oddly enough, following his example does keep me sane in the best possible way. And it always means a lot that I’ll have his music and have him as a close friend I can turn to in troubled times.
The vocals of “Sign o’ the times” come from Prince’s natural voice, the voice he was hesitant to use in his first three albums. How times have changed? His falsetto is nice, but there’s something comforting about his natural singing voice. I always know its him by listening and “Sign o’ the Times” goes way back for me. I had heard the song plenty of times, but it took me a while to understand it. It was on “The Very Best of…” and when I first heard it, I didn’t know what to think. After a few more listens, I accepted it as a good song. Now that I know more history behind it, its rhythm derived from hip-hop, it comes across as its own little masterpiece. Having said that, it is an appropriate title track. The best part, I think, is when he pulls out all the stops on the Fairlight keyboard. His drumming skills are shown off in an incredible way later on in the album, but here, he shows how precise his internal rhythm is. While I’ve yet to figure out the meaning of his experimentation, I enjoy it as something unique to this album.
Ironically, when I commit to something being the last time for a while, something I’ve underestimated finally makes its impact. I’d say that the music overshadows the lyrics and makes them seem insignificant. For the first time, the musicality of “Play in the Sunshine” moved me and made me feel like dancing. It actually felt like being in that sunshine and the fast-paced beat makes it irresistible. I find it odd that this is a Crystal Ball track, but it has vocals from Susannah. In the instrumental break and the duel between drums and guitar, the guitar takes on a tone that I don’t think I had heard before in his work.
“Housequake,” I may have dozed off on, zoned out on, whatever you want to call it. However, there may be another factor. This is an unusual track with an unusual beat. In the end, I think I just had a speechless moment. So much comes to mind that I can’t catch anything in my net, so to speak. It has been known to happen.
It took a few extra seconds for “Dorothy Parker” to warm up, but when it did, everything came together little by little. At first, the lyrics had my attention, so I say vocally, Prince feels like an old soul in a young body. Either that, or he’s still the same person 20 years later. Vocally, he reminds me so much of his present self. The music took a little while to make the connection, but when it did, I just chilled with it and let my mind wander. Singing along, I got the gist of his vocals and along with the storyline, that made me laugh.
“IT” was something else. I tried to incorporate my thoughts on the lyrics as well as the music. I still say this is probably the best minimalist track he’s written. It starts with a dibbling beat that repeats through the song. Then he adds sound effects from the Fairlight little by little to increase the intensity. It also brings with it a sense of searching for answers and fighting off old habits. The struggle to resolve his issues with Lust seems to dissolve by the end. At the same time, the vocals and how he brings them across adds to the intensity and adds further dimensions to the battle.
“Starfish & Coffee” has those same recognizable Prince vocals like in Dorothy Parker before it. That just might stem from those tracks being Dream Factory “sisters.” I don’t know quite all the words yet, but singing along comes with a high of its own. The musicality almost can’t be described unless you use the word “magic” at least once. My favorite lyric to sing along to was when “Lucy cried and I almost died”… his delivery of that line makes me laugh. Laughter always helps.
One strike I have against “Slow Love” is the abrupt transition. I dig the cymbal he uses to end the previous song, but I wanted to relish in its tone for a few extra seconds. I can only guess he did that on purpose to prove a point. He wanted to slow everything down immediately for this song. As it progresses, I got the feeling that its completely different from “Do me baby” or “International Lover” which I thought of as a previous influence. I think this could be the first of its kind and the steady beat is used later on as the basis of the instrumental break in the song, “Damn U” 6 albums later. Instead of worrying about the lyrics, I went with the flow and let my mind drip off, which seems to be his intention.
“Hot Thing” didn’t hit me quite the same as the other night. It wasn’t brilliant sounding, but it still had its moments. Considering how he says “hot thing,” he sounds like he’s being superficial. Even with that somewhat disturbing pretense, I couldn’t believe that I heard from his voice. Halfway through when he says, “I can’t wait to get you home,” I hear sincerity and almost a sense of desperation. This gives me the feeling that he was in a lonely mood when he wrote it and created a little fantasy for himself. I’m sure other theories will come to mind after more listens later on.
“Forever in my life” is the fourth song where I attribute familiar vocals. Sincerity is written all over his face, so to speak. I sing along and try to see what he’s trying to express. I listen to every bit of his voice to figure out what he truly wants. It’s not just hearing what he wants, but also sensing what he wants from within. Almost like I’m trying to understand him on a different level. All right, enough with the cosmic talk.
“U Got the Look” was another track on “The Very Best of…” Unlike SOTT, however, it was a song that I liked right away. It had a great beat and it was fun to sing along to. After going through its album, it seemed to have taken on a different nature when its at its home base. It still stands out, make no mistake, but it stands out less than it did on “The Very Best of…” Oddly enough, when I heard it the first time, I thought nothing of Prince’s voice. I figured that he was just being himself. I didn’t think that there was something array. I even remember discovering that to be the Camille vocal and it blew me away. I had no idea. It’s fun to sing along with, always has been, and in some occasions when the Camille voice really shows, I can’t help but laugh.
“If eye was ur g/f” seems to have lost some of its glimmer. I tried to picture Prince recording it in the studio and somehow, the vision in my mind wasn’t matching the perception my soul had of the song. I felt disconnected from it for a while and I was saddened by it. I figure its because it will be the last time for a while and its best to make a clean break. After all, if it came off like it always did, I wouldn’t be able to stay away from it. Right now, I’m debating about giving it one more spin. I know that this has happened with other songs and when I do give it, I end up expecting something that doesn’t happen. In other words, make things worse. I want to be able to hear the song for years, so I think its best not to overdo it. I certainly won’t forget what this song has meant to me and the significance of it. I’d say its Prince’s finest moment.
“Strange Relationship” had me digging the beat from the get-go. I sung along with it with a smile on my face. At the same time, I think I was figuring out just what it was all about. Unfortunately, there are no words I can remember or put together. Vocally, though, it seems like Prince has his own vocals backing up Camille’s, but in the end, his seem to overshadow those of his alias.
“I could never take the place of your man,” probably the most perfect pop song Prince has written since “Little Red Corvette.” In fact, it’s like a squeaky clean version of “Corvette.” One thing I couldn’t put my finger on before became apparent while listening to it this time around. I’ve said the beat is irresistibly catchy, but it shows one thing: Prince is one heck of a drummer! It’s not something that can be explained. I can just sense that he’s an amazing drummer from this song alone and I don’t think any other shows it as good as this. The guitar shows all the necessary emotions, but it might not be the same without Prince’s stellar drumming.
“The Cross” came off not as great as it had before, but that’s all right. This is another example of Prince’s drumming, but the instrumental effort he put into this work is unbelievable. The guitar is clearly trying to motivate the audience to follow Prince’s lead and seek the cross as a source of salvation. The choir that comes to back him up add intensity and is exactly the thing to pull everything together in the end.
“It’s gonna be a beautiful night” was a long track with a lot of time to think. It was recorded live in Paris, but Prince took it to the studio and added overdubs. I spent almost the whole song trying to figure out what were overdubs and what was already a part of the performance. I eventually got to a point where I couldn’t distinguish the two in every case, so I had to give up trying after a while. The musicality of this song is very catchy, especially the brass section.
“Adore” had me digging more into the music than the lyrics at first. I was trying to see what it was trying to get across musically. I saw it being the track to set the bar for ballads that would follow. Immediately after came “When 2 r in love” and 5 albums later, “Insatiable.” I listened even closer and thought I could hear the Linn-drum machine used in “The Beautiful Ones,” the first of his many ballads inspired by Susannah. So the past and future meet in this song? Very interesting. Love ballads are something that Prince is known very well for. I suppose Adore is the love ballad to end all love ballads. Sometimes, though, I think the lyrics in the first few minutes are too corny for my tastes. Then when his vocals change slightly, he catches my attention. I don’t go so much for his mushy falsetto in some parts, but here I hear a mix of falsetto and different love song oriented vocals. I believe its after he repeats the chorus for the 2nd or 3rd time and he goes on a tangent that starts with “Can eye talk 2 u?” The quality about his voice from there on that I can’t resist otherwise.
It’s time to leave this masterpiece behind, but now that I know it, my collection won’t be complete with it. The way I see it, had I not known the album as I do now, I think I’d be missing a huge chunk of what Prince is all about. I don’t think there’s an album out there that represents him inside and out, as an artist and as a person quite this one.