Return to Lotus…

I’d actually been back on the album (while bouncing between a couple of others) for a week now and it seems like whenever I check into it while driving to/from where I’m working, I have to listen to it again both ways.
There was a time a couple of months ago that I listened to it twice within a 24-hour period. But probably because I needed the 2nd time around after hitting a rough patch with my first listen to MPLS Sound… just to hear the stuff I know he’s good at doing. (The first 2 and last track of that album drove me up a wall… I’ll see within a few days if that’s still true).

I think I was on a fine divide when listening to this album the first time. Half the tracks had me going, okay, sure… reminds me a little of The Rainbow Children (wasn’t a big fan at the time, but that’s changed a little, though I’m not ready to officially call myself a fan of it… certainly can appreciate it though). And every song had a little something that reminded me of another song that he’d done in the past. Overall, my impression was that it wasn’t all that bad. Was only extremely impressed with one or two songs (Colonized Mind & Dreamer), but could take/leave the others.

Whenever I have an album on heavy rotation, though, after a while, I find myself getting into the album’s state of mind. Namely Prince’s statement of mind upon its creation. Lotusflow3r is a nice mixture of politicial “anthems,” feel-good soft rock/jazz, and a little of that something extra that Prince can offer that I really can’t put to words.

One of the “pit-falls” some people have found with this album and I’m only going for “official” reviews by people who either don’t know much about Prince’s current path (whatever that might be, haha) or are living too much in the past…. one of the reviews I read about him supposedly “jumping the shark” said that Lotusflow3r the album was nothing more than his attempts to lend reverence to legends, his influences.

The album begins with a slightly jazzy introduction that’s all instrumental. The guitar reminds me a little of the solo towards the end of the title track of TRC, but maybe a little prettier. It could be seen as a shout-out to Santana (I’d only heard a couple of his songs, but that guitar is hard to miss) or it was just right to kick off the album.

The one thing evident about the album as a whole is that its mainly a guitar album. It might get annoying after a while for some people, but nearly every song has a guitar solo for the given occasion. The title of the first track suggest that the lotus Prince is coming from is a place that’s not only purple, but where guitar is the principle instrument. Prince can play them all (except for maybe horns), but guitar is the one he’s been working to perfect for years. Why not have an album that showcases all kinds of guitar? And also to “prove himself” as a guitar player to show that he does belong with the “legends.”
I only use quotes because 1) he has nothing to prove, and 2) how does one define a legend anyway?

It doesn’t take much to figure out what “Boom” is about. The lyrics overall though are kind of sketchy, not really having much to do with anything. The bridge has nothing to do with the other two verses and what does “worshipping from afar” have to do with, ahem?
A little odd, actually, that he should include the words “celibate mushroom canopy” in a song about everything celibacy isn’t about. It leaves one to question whether he made that particular vow before this song was created or upon its creation.
The guitar towards the end is the essence of rock n’ roll something you could associate with Elvis (me, I associate one of the riffs with Michael J. Fox on “Back to the Future” at the dance).

The album is pretty, I believe the word is eclectic, in nature, but there’s a nice segue of each song into the others. If they belong together in sequence, the music tells you so. If they don’t necessarily connect, but they must give way into one another, there’s a moment of silence. The first four songs have that working out for them. The ending note of “From the Lotus…” is the same as the one that begins “Boom.”

Even though I’d heard it probably the most of all the songs (except maybe “Dreamer”), “Crimson & Clover” would have to be one of my favorites. Also one of the few I know all the words to. It doesn’t take much to remember them. I hadn’t heard the original yet, but it might be best if I don’t. Might end up favoring it over this version and turn my back on it completely. And I’m crazy about this song. It also makes for good driving music so long as you keep an eye on your odometer and for cops (I’d been known to got to 60+ mph on this, but good thing its on a nice open road roughly isolated).
The lyrics don’t lend much to the imagination, pretty easy to tell the title is innuendo-speech.

“4Ever” was a song I was pretty skeptical about in the beginning, though I said it had potential to become a favorite. The only thing I found wrong with it was the chorus, whose sound doesn’t really connect to the rest of the song. Or so I didn’t think until I returned the album after a month or so hiatus. The lyrics are pretty catchy and slowly, I’ve started to pick them up. The theme found in this song is found throughout the whole album. Something about a love Prince is currently pursuing. So I can see it as taking over from where Planet Earth left off. But that album is more so about being a distance away and posting these “advertisements” or “want ads” as a way of putting himself out there.

In some ways the album is a great follow-up to Planet Earth, but in others, I can see some elements being continued in future albums and others being “one time only” moments. I hadn’t yet figured out which ones are which, though.

The lyrics, other than being catchy, are just plain sweet, and the guitar solo sounds either celebratory or just plain happy. The feeling you get when you’re in love.
With any song, the part I look into the most among other things is the note that it ends on. Here is got to be one of my favorite ending notes. Makes me warm & fuzzy.

“Colonized Mind” is one of two political anthems in this album and both sound like they’d been in creation for years. As in they were the final products of Prince’s pursuit in creating such a track that it would stand out musicially and convey a powerful message. “Dear Mr. Man” is the only track I can think of right now that I can connect to this song. They’re delievered in almost the same manner, but “Colonized Mind” has a repeating chorus. I dare say it is one of the better tracks of this decade that Prince can put to this name. Everything from the music to the lyrics is brilliance and the guitar is very serious and brings a lot of power, meaning this is a cause Prince believes in a great deal.

As he’d done in the past, a serious song like this had to be followed by something light-hearted and somewhat fun. He did that in 3121 by following “The Dance” with “Get on the Boat.” This song, “Feel Better, Feel Good, Feel Wonderful” is the funkiest thing on the album. I didn’t find the Leno performance all that good, but if I can find it again, I think my mind will be changed. I was of course going through a bit of a hard time when I first saw it. The fact it was the last of 3 straight performances Prince did on the show, a bit of a sad time. And it had to follow the previous night’s “Dreamer,” which absolutely killed.

Prince chants an phrase throughout this song, and he achieves, especially after however depressed you might be after finding what a sad state our nation is in with the previous song.
The delivery of the lyrics remind me of what he did in “Guitar.” But I doubt I’d heard a song like this that made me laugh on the lyrics just because they were meant to be funny. Sarcastic is in high supply, no doubt about it.

The third verse that talks about a ball hitting three bystanders who want to sue Prince, but don’t. It ends with probably one of the goofiest lines he’d ever penned, but at this point, I don’t even care. I’m not sure if many of the fans took to kindly to the “suing” lyric since they felt robbed one way or another by Prince about something. What is it, I’m not going to say because I don’t even know/care/remember/care-to-remember.

“Love like Jazz” is a mixture between some of the lyrics from “Lion of Judah” as well as some of the delivery of the lyrics, a jazzy number you might hear in an elevator or at a dentist’s office. It might be one of the weaker tracks when compared to some of the others on the album, but its nice in its own way. The lyrics are pretty intriguing, talking about wanting a lover that can improvize, who’s reactions should be to his and not planned out (Prince doesn’t approve of crib notes, I guess, lol). The guitar here reminds me of another song he did, but now the name’s escaping me.

“77 Beverly Park” is segued into from the previous song with the repeating beat that ends it and begins this. I dubbed it as something you might hear at a fancy restaurant and doesn’t do much as a song. Now that I’m listening to it more, I’m taking it a bit more seriously and find a little pleasure in it. It sounds more like a trip to Venice, Italy on a gondola on a romantic evening. Apparently, the music fits in with his little mansion in LA which bares the same name.

“Wall of Berlin” is probably one of the sketchiest song when it comes to the lyrics. Are we supposed to believe any of this is real or was it really a figment of imagination that came to mind one random afternoon/morning/evening? The rapping delivery makes you want to learn the lyrics because they have a nice rhythm. The guitar solos are also pretty good as well, creating a little bit of excitement, as if they could create a destruction that would tear down the wall of berlin. The title, no doubt, was lifted from 3121, where he talks about the party going down like the wall.

In the same vein as far as the rapping/delievery of the lyrics goes, “$” follows this as a modern attempt at a “Camille” track. I’m not completely sold on calling it that or calling this song, as a few others have, the best thing he’s penned in the last 10 years. The lyrics might be tongue-in-cheek about Prince bragging about his riches, people in general bragging about their riches or whatever else. The music itself feels like it belongs at a small club (much like the set-up he had when he did SHOE on Leno at the end of May) and it sounds like it could also be put together in the same genre with “Courtin’ Time.” The vibes are two different ones, but they could fit in the same time period, I suppose.
I like it more than I did originally, but its way overhyped.

“Dreamer” is still one of my favorite tracks, even though “Colonized Mind” might be my favorite of the two political tracks. It begins with a funky guitar solo that someone claimed Prince ripped from a Jimi Hendrix track.
Quick newsflash: Prince is either paying tribute or the riff is by concidence. There probalby isn’t a single guitar solo that’s been played that hasn’t already been done by someone else, so you can’t just throw around “ripping off” or “plagarizing” all the time.
The same person probably made the same complaint about guitar ripping off the opening riff from U2. I’d heard the riff, but its not exactly the same, jus the first couple of notes. Big deal.

I have the lyrics, but still need to look them over. They make you think a little bit and question things. Where Prince brings up the fact that someone’s sleeping, he’s saying awake or whatever… that’s where I’m brought to question. What does he mean by “you can call me a dreamer”… as in everythin he talks about in the same is being called BS by someone else or is he actually dreaming of a better future?
I dig the guitar in this and still do. I’m in need of checking out the Leno performance again, though. I compare the guitar here opposed to Leno to driving 40mph opposed to 60mph. Where at 40, you feel like you’re standing still rather than moving at all.

As for the final track, “…Back to Lotus,” I’m still having a little trouble writing a statement about it. I originally said it was like the first track, but as if using everything he’d “learned” in the other 10 tracks and incorporating those bits and pieces into it. My attention tends to slip a little when it comes to this. I’m picking up a couple of words, but everything’s still pretty sketchy for me. Do they hint at what’s to come, are they clues?

One thing I do know about this album is that I’m getting very much used to that side of Prince and it might be a while before I can tear myself away. Right now, I need to start getting geared up to check into the whole Crystal Ball set (I might have gotten to Cloreen Baconskin and stopped after the first 8 minutes… that song is way too long and I don’t know if I can take it for much more than I already had). The only downside is that its only on my iPod and comptuer and I don’t have an adapator for my iPod for the car… the next album I can possibly attempt is NPS and I’m not sure if I’d like that on the way to work. I’d never been particulary impressed with it. Not as a whole anyway.

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