Lotusflow3r and the MPLS sound

I didn’t intentionally do this, but the opportunity kinda just happened.
I did the whole comparison thing last week with the boy bands. And I’d been meaning to listen to these albums again for a while.

So interesting how with Prince you can have two completely different albums that were composed and released around the same time.
Other dualities include:
Purple Rain vs. Around the world in a day (which he did intentionally to test who his true fans were)
Sign o’ the times vs. The Black Album (and he later wrote Lovesexy to counteract the vibe of the album he pulled)
Come vs. The Gold Experience

maybe not intentionally but Musicology and 3121 could be one more example. mostly for my own benefit/detriment. I went back and forth so many times about which was better. And right now, I’m more inclined towards 3121 just because I had.
other than “A million days” (just saw an amazing unreleased video of it yesterday… not how I envisioned it personally but I knew that song was cinematic enough for a video… so good to see Prince recording the studio and laying down all those instruments).

But anyway… I don’t know what inspired him to put out these albums in a combo pack along with a protégé album (I should probably give Bria Valente one more shot, although I’m not entirely sold on her “slow jam” album)
Did he have a sudden burst of creativity? Or was he just dying to release 2-3 discs at once?
It was his last major release (20TEN, I barely count, but only because I’d only listened to it maybe 3 times… only have it digitally, not my fault… but I guess I’m just lazy… although listening to these might be that incentive I need) until 2014. That drought bordered on painful for me at times.
At least I had lots of other musical artists to keep me busy in the meantime…. oddly enough, during that drought, I was also unemployed. And 6 months after I finally got hired, he put out new music.

Okay, enough rambling… now to the point.

I’d always preferred Lotusflow3r, although I can’t 100% say why. I think I liked the stronger set of songs. Colonized mind and Dreamer especially. $ and Wall of Berlin are also personal favorites of mine.

But listening to it a couple days ago… I just wasn’t feeling it. Not sure why.
Maybe his song “Baltimore” and this unsettling political climate with the election are finally getting to me.
“Colonized Mind” is a great track, but it hit too close to home. The whole idea of having a two party system, but it’s the same song with a different name. I hate this sinking feeling that all politicians are corrupt and nothing is ever going to change.
It’s too easy for people to complain about stuff, especially when you can post anonymously on the Internet.
:ahem: moving on…

Other times, it felt like the energy was just off. Maybe it was me and I was whatever about going into work on my commute. I have some mornings where I’m moody for no reason. Yet when I get there and settle down into work mode, I’m completely fine.
But lyrically, some of it just feels uninspired.

Boom, I put up with, but never really got excited about.
Crimson & Clover, as good a cover as it is, it is a cover. I don’t get why Prince likes doing them when he’s written so much of his own material.

Oddly enough, 4ever, which I always dismissed as cheesy… I liked a lot this time around. It’s more concrete. It’s light-hearted and sentimental.

Feel better/good/wonderful, I always loved the sense of humor in it. Great lyrics, lots of fun, despite some allusions to some negative stuff. But I guess you can’t have the good without the bad sometimes.

Love like Jazz, I always kinda liked… but this time around, the concept felt good, but in a way it felt like making a predictable pun. The analogy is just a little too easy and lacking somewhat in creativity.

77 Beverly Park is a nice instrumental, but other than being a great segue way between the songs sandwiching it, it seemed out of place to me. Why add an instrumental? What inspired that logic?

Wall of Berlin and $ was where things picked up again. Reminds me I gotta look up some lyrics so I have more of a grasp of what they’re about. Both paint really cool pictures and stories.

Then Dreamer happens… great guitar, although finding out it sampled a Jimi Hendrix song kinda sucked the fun out of it. Loved that performance he did on Leno with that song. Don’t think I’d seen it since it was live. And of course afterwards, there was no song that could properly follow it.

I like the unity of the album with the opening and ending instrumental works (77 Beverly Park isn’t even in the middle of the album… if he was really going for unity, that would have made more sense… although it fits perfectly between those two songs and we kinda need Colonized Mind to be followed by Feel Better/Good/Wonderful.

But what really bugs me… Prince says stuff in the final track, but I have no idea what cuz his voice is all distorted and the Internet has NOTHING. It isn’t purely an instrumental, guys! Help me out here.

I can’t remember the last time I heard MPLSound, honestly.

I mean, both of these albums would probably near the bottom of the barrel for me when it comes to Prince albums. I have a handful I really don’t like, but above that is them because they’re decent, but they’re also forgotten too easily. Buried by so many stronger, more memorable albums.

But I enjoyed myself a lot more than I thought I would.
Of course, he could have made some of the songs a little shorter. Luckily, I stopped after the third song because there’s no way I could have gotten a 4th song done before I show up to work. [I put on music maybe 20 minutes in- after I lose the signal for the local radio show].

Maybe I was craving what the title entails… the MPLS sound. All those Linn-drum beats, all that bass and great synths and guitar. I felt completely reenergized. And it also felt like Prince’s spirit was back with me. I wasn’t feeling it as strongly (or really at all) when I was playing Lotusflow3r.
Again, not sure why.

Maybe this is just my way of carving out my own version of Prince. What I choose to remember him for and I kinda don’t want to remember his present-day political commentary because I don’t fully agree.

What I definitely picked was that I loved the beats in MPLSsound. Early in the morning commuting, it helped walk me up and got me grooving in the car. Three fun dance songs in a row. I knew “Dance 4 Me” was one of my favorites from this set and it really had me enjoying it.

Then when I was driving home, I got the rest of it and I remembered quickly that it was a 9 song album.
Only 9? okay, then.

He put two ballads in a row, which I really didn’t get why he would do that. It slows the album down quite a bit. “Ur gonna c me” I remember was an original ONA track and redone for this album. I have that in digital, but like 20TEN, I really don’t know it too well. In fact, I think I’d only heard ONA through once since I got it.
It and “Here” are two very different ballads and I get something different from each. But I think I need to have them in my headphones to really hear and appreciate the lyrics.

“Valentina” is a strange one. Musically, it is brilliant and so much fun. Lyrically, it rubs me the wrong way a little bit. I mean, he’s addressing Salma Hayek’s baby and trying to use her to get her mom.
Ew! I’m sorry, Prince, but there’s a major ick factor there.
There’s a lot of conflict. I want to really love it, but the lyrics kill that chance every time.

“Better with time” I think that the title itself will apply to the song. I might prefer it the more I listen. But I need to sit with the lyrics before I can appreciate it.

For the most part, my car isn’t a great place to hear new albums for the first time. I need to focus on driving and I can’t really put up on lyrics without picking up the volume a lot and I’d rather not.
That’s why I used to spend a lot of alone time at college listening to Prince. So I could really absorb the lyrics. I miss those days.

And “No more candy 4 u”- it reminds me a little bit of “Jack u Off” from Controversy and maybe one other song I can’t recall at the moment.
fans on prince.org thought maybe he was writing about them. But most of the ones there are haters so that doesn’t surprise me too much. I wasn’t one of those people. I had songs I didn’t like, but I never gave Prince a lot of grief. Other than the fact he never toured the way normal artists did with tour dates scheduled months in advance. Not often anyway.
The only time he did when he was in my world- it was 2010 and I just didn’t act when I should have.

So I guess at the moment I prefer MPLS over Lotusflow3r.

Just to be fair, I decided to give myself another week with both albums.

I liked Lotusflow3r a lot more this time around. Maybe I was just having an off morning.
Or it’s the type of album where I have to be in the mood for it or receptive towards it.

“Boom” is probably going to be one of those weird tracks Prince fans like to compile and discuss whether they like or hate them. Maybe not as weird as “Poom Poom Poom”… but he takes his favorite subject, sex, and approaches it from a weird, different angle. Maybe laid it on a little thick with the metaphors.

Overall, the music is better than most of the lyrics. In that it’s the bigger selling point of the album.
His guitar gets a chance to really shine on certain tracks. “Crimson & Clover” is obvious. “Dreamer” as well. But “Love like Jazz” has some really pretty guitar riffs and exhilarating moments. or maybe that’s the commute talking.

“Wall of Berlin” is probably my current favorite, mainly because I had a cool moment listening to it. And I’ve had a few occasions where Prince’s music kinda fits the pace of my surroundings. I was heading down a stretch of road where I only had to focus on going straight ahead and I had a good breadth of speed limit where I could keep pace with the music without going overboard. (I watch my odometer like crazy- on certain road ways, I make sure I’m no more than 5 miles above the speed limit). And it was ebbing off as I was slowing down towards an important merge.
The lyrics I also heard differently this time. It seems like this is a relationship that’s been going on for a while, but this girl is unpredictable. Even though they’d been together for a while, they’re acting like they’re a new couple.
and just maybe the title is innuendo… which puts a whole new twist on the song… one I kinda don’t want to put on it because I enjoy it so much without that kind of “filth” [if you don’t get it- think harder… if you dare]

“Dreamer” I’d always liked, but I think this was the first time I really listened to it. The title might be alluding to MLK’s “I dream a dream” speech. Also things he mentioned on his Tavis Smiley interview (chemtrails, the 8 presidents before George Washington) came to mind during certain lyrics.
The chorus changes throughout the song, but by the end of it, he seems to be saying that the world is dissolving into chaos and he no longer wants to be ignorant about it. He wants to be awake, but he also wants to dream that the future could be better.

That’s some pretty deep stuff.

MPLSound… I worried at first that it might not hit the same as it did a week ago.
It just took a little while longer.

But I was getting such a cool vibe from it as a whole… I just got sucked into it and I really didn’t want to leave or want it to end.
“Ol’ School Company” was where that moment happened. I was really jamming out and cruising to it, loving the vibe and just feeling it in every part of me. It’s a good mix of old school (the rhythm guitar harkens back to the early 80’s and maybe a little of Musicology) and new school (maybe his Jay Leno performance where they had a DJ with LP’s on turntables was coming to mind- where this was like something playing at a club).

“Dance 4 me”… OMG… the whole song is so much fun. Great catchy lyrics, great music, the Camille vocals.
Easily one of my favorites from Prince in the 21st century.

And to be honest I also got suckered into the vibe of the ballads. Really trying to hear the lyrics (I will look them up later so I can comment more) and making that connection.
When I thought Prince really didn’t do love songs anymore, I had completely forgotten about those guys.

Finally looking up some lyrics here.

“U’re Gonna C Me” I knew mostly already. But one lyric always eluded me “gimme me a page on my 2-way”… do we even have 2-ways anymore? …what the heck is that anyway? Does that technology outdate me? Or is that a weird way to call a cellphone just to get a rhyme?
With the strings, I’m reminded a bit of “Scandalous”

“Here” has some nice music to it that reminds me a little bit of “The Truth” album.
Looking at the lyrics, I don’t quite get it… why doesn’t he want her here? Actually, the whole chorus doesn’t make a whole lot of sense.
And I accused Lotusflow3r of having lazy songwriting…
But the one part that always drew me in was when he spoke. I miss hearing that deep voice of his.

“Better with time”… first of all, I can’t help but wonder who he wrote that song about.
second… he has an interesting set-up and paints an interesting picture, but it just feels like the song doesn’t really go anywhere… like it’s supposed to go deeper and more complex and reach some sort of conclusion and doesn’t.

“Ol’ school company”- I’m loving more each time I listen to it.
One thing I noticed- he listed a bunch of drummers he’d worked with, but Bobby Z wasn’t one of them. I just thought that was a little odd…

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