So here we are… the notorious Black Album.
Matt Thorne’s coverage on this album was minimal- I think only 6-7 pages. Which left very little room for him to annoy me as he typically does.
He talked about the Sign o’ the times movie and how the first thing Prince did when Paisley Park was completed was reshoot and re-record stuff for it because he was dissatisfied with the quality of the video shot in Europe (notably in Holland).
Prince never toured the US for this period and stayed within Europe. Alan Leeds was quoted saying he thought this was a mistake and he didn’t want to say there was backlash, but there might have been one that he didn’t engage with the American audience.
And there were a few passages saying odd things about Prince that, considering what period we were about to embark in, didn’t sound like it was too crazy. At least it didn’t sound like he was being the usual harsh critic.
What I got out of it was that Prince was struggling with superstardom and trying to comprehend that and keeping pace with it.
A few other factors that also come into this that I know about already… there was talk from people saying how Prince abandoned his black audience to pursue the white rock audience and this album was an attempt to win them back. [Maybe it’s because I’m white, but I never understood why this was such a big deal. It’s not as if Prince gave up the funk. It just wasn’t as upfront as it was with Dirty Mind and Controversy].
I also know that Prince started to become aware of hip-hop at that time and he was convinced that it was a fad rather than a new direction of music that he wasn’t at the cutting edge of. He hated it with a burning passion.
Whoever said it on that Mica Paris BBC Radio Prince documentary- he didn’t like how people that couldn’t sing manufactured beats from machines instead of playing real instruments, so he thought they were cheating.
Recently, I read it somewhere. Someone close to him said of this time period that Prince didn’t like hip-hop because it didn’t make him feel anything the way music does. Just because it isn’t accomplished with real instruments.
That part I can understand for sure. Not just because I personally don’t like rap or hip-hop all that much. But Prince lives and breathes music. It gives him life. So a “cheap imitation” wouldn’t stimulate him in that same way.
So how this album came about… well, it wasn’t meant to be an album. It was just a collection of songs he was working on at the time. Some were reflective of the mood he was in (and he was very moody about that damn hip-hop). Some were for a birthday party he was throwing for Sheila E.
The previous album was so serious he wanted to work on some funky party music. Taking everything in account, I think he wanted to also because he was maybe stressing about some things and this was a way to escape that. That’s something all of us need every now and then.
There are a number of theories about why Prince decided not to release this album. In my mind, I’ve concocted theories that could have followed the Ecstasy “rumors” told to Dr. Fink by one of Prince’s bodyguards or they could have just about the negative tone of some of the songs and he didn’t want that to be the last impression he left behind.
[He definitely left us with a high note with HitNRun Part 2… I only listened to it once ever and it was the day I got it]
Whatever the real story is, it’s not going to change anything. I’m going to understand and accept it.
The first time I played it, I did so after playing Dirty Mind and Controversy back to back, so I could set the mood. And it was the perfect move. I absolutely would recommend it to anyone.
Listening to the album today… maybe it’s the history of it, but there’s something off about it. Other than “When 2 R in Love” and “Rockhard in a Funky Place,” none of the other songs had vocals from Prince where I had that familiarity [other than maybe his signature scream a couple of times in “Superfunkycalifragisexy”]. There’s this mysterious spooky energy surrounding it.
The one impression I’ll put in for today’s posting… 2 Nigs United for West Compton is by far… I don’t want to say worst… but the most skippable for me. Yet I never bother to skip it even when it feels senseless and pointless. To me, it’s a jam session without any real melody to it. Prince is goofing around with the Fairlight and synths stabs. Sheila E is doing her thing with the drums. It sounds like a runaway freight train on a journey to nowhere.
Matt Thorne said some things about this track I’m too lazy to look up at the moment, but he had his own way of saying how it wasn’t great and I completely agreed.
If this album didn’t have that mystique and taboo thing going for it… would it really stand out in Prince’s catalog at all?
“Rockhard in a funky place” is a fan favorite and “Bob George” is a huge stand-out for a number of reasons. But all the other tracks, how do they stack up against all the other funk tracks Prince has done over the years?
…I think that’s the whole point of this post, finding the answer to that.
I’ll preface it by saying this is one of those albums I don’t typically listen to a lot. But when I pick up for the first time in a while, it does impress me a bit.
Day 2… and had another one of those days at work where I question myself and hope I’m doing things to the best of my ability or doing enough to contribute. That’s what happens when I only have 3 main tasks to worry about.
Anyway- having this album waiting for me was pretty awesome. I can just let my mind go with while I try to dissect what all the instruments are, trying to connect the songs to others Prince had written. Then after a while, I lost myself in the sheer craziness of it all.
And this album is freaking insane- in that it kinda plays mind games with you.
I’ve said a few times in recent months how my brain’s energy waves feel like they’re on a different wavelength when I listen to him.
But the lyrical content and the various nuances found in the music- to quote a song recorded a bit later in his career, “this isn’t music… this a trip.”
Some songs more than others, of course.
“Le Grind” kicks things off in that respect from the first few notes of the backing beat. Beside the drums, I’m pretty sure the gurgling and all those sounds that sound like they were recorded underwater was accomplished with the Fairlight. The mere quality of it already feels like a trip– couple that with the really deep voice he uses to introduce the song and the entire album.
This is the first time I’m actually seeing the words myself.
“So U found me
Good, I’m glad
This is Prince
The cool of cools
Some of U may not know this
But some of U may know
Some of U may not want 2 know
We r here 2 do service
Please don’t try 2 stop us
4 we come regardless
4 we r strong as we r intelligent
So come vibe with us
Welcome to the Funk Bible
The new testament”
I heard as far as “this is Prince” and a lot of nothing and then “the Funk Bible, the new testament”
I have no idea what kind of accent Prince is trying to do with his voice in this song, but it’s just weird. I know Prince is weird, but for even him, it’s out of character.
And since when he is the one who invents the new dances? That schtick is Morris Day’s thing.
The beat continues through the track in the background. We have our lead horn line that chimes in every now and then- it’s one of the cooler aspects.
The crowd aspect (getting a little ahead of myself with this) that comes past the halfway point when Prince says “Slammin” the second time and someone says “Serve it up, Frankie!”… that’s what immediately connects this to the opening track of “Lovesexy.”
Before that, I was thinking how this kinda feels like a “Dance Music Sex Romance” type jam where everyone gets together and parties. Only this time, there’s an actual dance involved.
And that’s basically it… it’s a good way to introduce the concept of the album, but there isn’t a lot to it. The beat, with all of the aspects in its make-up, it feels fairly basic.
“Cindy C”- this is one of those sing-along tracks I like getting behind whenever it comes on. Such a catchy chorus. It also has a story I can get behind… although it’s another oddball addition to an already oddball type album. It’s supposedly inspired by an encounter Prince had with Cindy Crawford, the famed supermodel and she blew him off and this is about it. The oddball thing is that he’s painting this girl as if she’s a prostitute. “I will pay the usual fee.” [whenever I see Raymour & Flanigan commercials advertising Cindy Crawford home collection, I always pick and say “Cindy C!”
It starts very playful, but as time goes on, Prince gets more serious and more twisted and more unbalanced. Like he loses his mind.
Sheila E features prominently as the percussionist (with some great solos) and also backing vocals.
Then Cat raps a rap that Prince apparently didn’t know was by someone else. But these past few times I’d dared myself to nail it. I remembered a good amount of it yesterday, but was a little clumsy.
Today, except for one or two words, I freaking nailed it and it was awesome.
I have no idea what it all means- but it’s just fun to say. Especially when you hit it just right.
“Dead on it”… oh boy…
yeah, this is Prince trying to be like Run-DMC and all those guys doing the hip-hop.
he kinda nails it, but at the same time… these are among the stupidest lyrics he’s ever written. The same guy who wrote (sorry for being so cliché) Purple Rain wrote lyrics for this like “all the sisters like it when you lick ’em on the knees”
…I like some of the lyrics, but not all of them are super brilliant.
If you take it as a parody, it’s perfectly fine. But I’m pretty sure Prince’s intention for it was serious- seriously wanting to prove how hip-hop is a fad that was never going to catch on.
With the music, it’s mostly Fairlight with Prince doing some rhythm guitar.
I guess you could say this is one of those “so bad it’s good” type of deals, but it feels mostly bad and not so much good.
“When 2 R in Love”… considering this song is on both of these albums, I really hope I don’t get sick of this one. Because I quite like it.
I knew nothing about this song’s existence until someone gifted me a download of this album. I was aware of “Le Grind” and “Superfunkycalifragisexy” from that BBC radio documentary.
This was a complete surprise and it was nice getting this breather on the album. Something to go away from the dark funky stuff. Prince kinda did the When Doves Cry treatment here- no bass line. Although I think I heard some stand-up bass. Mostly, it’s a lot of empty space, some live drums, keyboards and vocals.
I kinda want to say it falls right between “The Arms of Orion” and “Scandalous”- the two ballads on the Batman soundtrack. The moments with the strings and such bring the first to mind and of course the drums and the falsetto make it feel like a precursor to that beloved ballad.
The concept is fairly straight forward with the occasional Prince touch of innuendo and figurative language.
This is the type of ballad where my mind just wanders and goes to another place.
“Bob George”… it’s hard to decide sometimes if this or the next song is the trippiest on this album. But this song is like it’s from another world… a very dark underworld.
My mind gets completely absorbed into this that I have to remind myself every now and then to breathe 😛
a dark distorted vocal from Prince being absolutely gangsta. a little electric guitar that makes its presence known a couple times. But mostly, it’s the Fairlight creating the beat and the atmosphere.
you sucked into this story and your hairs stand on end.
supposedly this was Prince trying to get back at a couple of people he felt wronged him. I don’t know what Bob Cavallo (one of his managers) did, but Nelson George (a journalist) did have some mean things to say about him.
Or he was just trying to take out everybody who criticized him in one fell swoop.
“Superfunkycalifragisexy”… anyone who came up with that title… either there are screws loose or they were on something. I’d hate to go there, but this song just gets out of hand after a while.
There’s talk about this drug “squirrel meat” that makes you very horny and all kinds of S&M happens in the lyrics. Halfway through, it gets very awkward to listen to. I can handle “Do me baby” and “Insatiable” where everything’s handled beautifully and it’s kinda romantic.
Here, it doesn’t sound the sex is enjoyable. Not for the girl anyway. It doesn’t make me comfortable, let’s put it that way.
I do like the beat and the occasional Prince screams. But it wears out its welcome after a while.
I already did my piece about the instrumental. There is something of a structure to it. There are at least 4, maybe 5 different sections. But it’s basically a jam session that doesn’t grab me. If it had some sort of melody to it, it’d be a different story.
“Rockhard in a funky place”… oddly, on this album, it’s the lesser of a couple evils. This one has some uncomfortable lyrics. Dude comes to a party and there’s so many hot girls there that it’s impossible to contain himself.
Then at the end, Camille’s like “I just hate to see an erection go to waste” and the instrumental at the end tells you all you need to know.
But the past few times, I’ve been able to gloss over the lyrics and focus on the music, which is Prince and Eric Leeds.
I hadn’t liked it maybe ever because of the lyrics, but since putting the Camille album together with all the tracks I had lying around, I’m starting to come around.
I also like it a lot more when it doesn’t come after that instrumental track. I’m so over this album after getting through it that this last song isn’t enough to redeem it all as a whole.
I got through a little more than half an hour of Peach & Black. The first three tracks.
Captain loved the first two so much that he was 55/45 on them. Then pretty much said everything fell flat when it got to track 3.
One of our notorious divisions of the panel occurred on it and as if often the case, it’s Captain & Player against, Toejam & MC pro. MC had another of those epiphany type moments like he did with “The Cross” where he listened to it a little while before recording the podcast and found something in it that he hadn’t before.
Granted, it wasn’t this long crazy rant like he’d done with “Still Waiting” or “The Cross” or “Annie Christian” but he did have some things to say about it I kinda agreed with.
Even funnier because Captain started trashing the song and I was ready to defend it… 5 seconds later, I’m like “wait a minute, what am I doing?”
I think there’s something in me that just does this with Prince music. Even if it’s a song I’m fairly neutral about, I feel like a lot of them are so good that I had to see anything really talked down to.
But then again, I also flip out when people don’t like tracks I freaking love.
I’m so weird 😛 but if you’d been following along with me going through these Prince albums, you know this.
…now that I think about it, I don’t know if there’s anything I can add, so I might end this for today and continue on tomorrow.
I have no other music in my car other than this album and the radio. So these next few days, I’ll be listening to little by little of the album in the morning (after I get the traffic report) and in the afternoon (same thing- plus to stretch out the podcast further).
I enjoyed Le Grind a lot this morning. Maybe not to the point of these last few goes with Housequake. It’s trying to recapture that, but it doesn’t quite get there. If, like Toejam said, the music could be remixed, it could be even better. I’d get rid of the gurgling underwater backing beat and bring the horn line forward because that’s a highlight for sure.
In the afternoon, I did the next two. And I don’t think I got fully invested in either. [The fact I had to pull over because the cars wouldn’t led me merge onto the highway despite the fact my damn blinker was on… it put me on edge and was still shaking that off].
So I got back to the podcast and they were finishing up the “Dead on it” discussion.
Like Le Grind, it is highly quotable and has a lot of potential, but doesn’t quite get there. The first for other reasons and this one… I just don’t like all that much when Prince raps. Or in this case, trying to be something he isn’t- when he isn’t very convincing. It is meant to be a parody, but I… I don’t know what I’m saying. I prefer Prince when he’s being genuine, okay?
“When 2 R in Love” spawned a couple of conversations that were so intriguing and fascinating… I wouldn’t have turned my laptop on at all today if I didn’t have these tangents to follow.
Never mind the whole discussion about how this song is on two albums- but that is worth mentioning after I make these other points.
First- MC said to imagine if this album was released and how Prince loves ballads and this could have possibly have been the single. And think about all the people who would have bought this album for that song and the reaction they’d have to the album where none of the songs are anything like it.
…all kinds of crazy would happen, that’s what. Some people would have dug it, I think, but it would have alienated others too.
Second- someone asked if Prince had any idea when he withdrew this album that it would create the bootleg legacy his career has. After this happened and several people wound up getting the album anyway through those means, they started looking into his past and found about Crystal Ball and Dream Factory and all the tracks he’d written over the years, but never officially released on an album.
I was totally against owning any bootlegs when I started all this because he didn’t approve of them. But sure enough, people kept sending them to me and I had no choice but to acknowledge that treasure trove of music.
So at some point… I will have to do a post exclusively on bootlegs. Particularly which of the ones I have are ones I couldn’t dream of being without.
I hadn’t done that yet, so that could be something special. Assuming by that point, I’ve compiled enough to talk about.
Back to When 2 R in Love- I think Captain called it a “poor little orphan” that just never belonged anywhere. The guys said how they’re so used to hearing it on LoveSexy that it’s weird hearing it here.
…speaking from personal experience, I had this album at least 4 months, probably more, before I got LoveSexy (or to be more accurate, I agreed to take my fellow purple knight on his offer to gift it to me– the physical CD and he snuck The Rainbow Children in there as well… I’m pretty sure that I will never see a physical copy of The Black Album in person).
Anyway- I know this track as the odd man out, but I think I feel this track more on this album.
Although I will have some good things to say about it on my LoveSexy review.
Player had some nice things to say about it, so I’m excited to get the full story from him on that podcast.
Bob George- the guys went all out and loved the hell out of this one. Everything about it. The voice (which apparently was heard previously on a Brown Mark Prince-produced track), the lyrics, the “death laser” (always good when Captain says it so epically).
Easily one of the most quotable songs on the album.
with this song, I don’t know, I like it a lot, but something about it just creeps me out. when Prince said this album was evil, it had to have come from this character and this song. If anything’s proof of that, it’s how he uses it in the LoveSexy shows.
I know it’s a fictional story and all that, but it makes me wonder- what was Prince’s exact mindset- when he wrote it and when he performed it… even if he was alive and I could physically ask him, he wouldn’t tell simply because we’re talking more than 30 years ago and he doesn’t like looking back. I’m sure this is a period in his life he’d rather have forgotten, even if it took him to some of the good places he wound up going.
More than ever before, I’m really thinking that the fame from Purple Rain got to him so much by this point that he really needed to have whatever crisis that happened in order to rebuild and press forward with clearer focus.
Whoa, that got deep…
Superfunkycalifragisexy- we had those deep moments on previous tracks.
This had one of those classic Peach & Black moments. I’d been waiting for this one in particular and it finally happened- well, going chronologically through the albums, it’s the first time it happened.
Toejam was giving his review, kept talking, then Captain tried to butt in and finally got to say “Toejam, stop reading my notes.” He kept going and I thought I heard a voice crack when he laughed “stop reading them!” To my memory, this was one of 2 or 3 occasions where that happened. At least the podcasts I’d heard once already.
I think Player went first and his review and Toejam’s, I wholeheartedly agreed with. Toejam said it was most skippable (aside from When 2 R in Love- I don’t get why that would be) and Player said that it got long after a while.
I’ve made my thoughts on this song pretty clear as it is.
I think someone made a comment about the beat being the same as Housequake, but sped up and Shockadelica did the same with it slowed down. It’s an interesting concept. Using the same beat for three songs, but at different speeds.
One of these days, I should listen to all three in sequence and see if I pick that up. I don’t know Shockadelica quite enough to do, but hearing this one, I get it.
Someone also said that it’s like Automatic, but taken to a crazy other level. I totally get that as well.
Overall, the track is good. I would just take out one or two backing vocals and just eliminate the part later in the track with all the sex noises and the girl in question saying “ow!” like the sex hurts or is uncomfortable or… just something else I don’t want to even go into.
Prince is all about sex in his music. That much is clear and I’m quite aware of this and I honestly don’t mind it. But it needs to be handled the right way. Where it feels like it’s an art form or, plain and simple, it’s a turn-on.
If it isn’t pleasurable for both parties, that’s when I take issue. I think I hated “Extralovable” for the same reason. That’s why I deleted every version of it that I had. [The version that was eventually released on one of the HitNRun albums had the controversial bits removed- to align with Prince’s current spiritual beliefs].
And this post still seems to be a respectable length, which is great. After the last album (that I had to split into multiple entries), this feels nice. And I feel like a lot of good material has come through.
I guess the question that’ll be answered at the end of this post– what’s more interesting about The Black Album: the music or all the mystery and questions that it raises?
I should probably tweet that out: that sums this up perfectly.
All right- can’t wait for the weekend, just one more day.
Weekend’s here and I think I’ll finish the podcast before entering my final thoughts on it.
I’ll give it a listen tomorrow night and then… maybe I should do it tonight so that’s out of the way… although I did listen to a bunch of them today too…
Podcast first, comments second.
I almost hate to say it, but this was a phrase that was thrown around at .org at Prince fans that thought Prince could do no wrong…
when MC was summing up this album and talking about what he might rate it even though he’d retired from rating them, I was just thinking “he’s gotta be drinking the purple Kool-Aid on this one”…
I’m not dissing the album by any means or Prince for that matter. I just don’t think I’m going to sing its praises. He hadn’t listened to it for a while and it blew his brain when he put it back on rotation to gear up for the podcast. So I think maybe he spent too much time with it. Or maybe should compare it to some other albums and might not like it as nearly as much.
The other guys- two 8’s and a 7. Player gave it a 7, saying the drawback is how it’s mixed and it could have been improved and remastered. Which led to the question why it wasn’t remastered when it was officially released in 1994. Of course the answer was he wanted to get out of his record contract so badly that he agreed to let this one go.
As for the last two songs-
Toejam made the comment, again, how he wished the songs were mixed better. He would have tinkered around with “2 nigs united for west Compton”
I agree that could have helped improve on the song and I’d be curious to hear it.
But in its current state, it doesn’t offer me much of anything. Hearing the podcast again, I remember how I balked at all the guys agreeing it was super funky and they liked it.
The funk can’t be denied- I just don’t get it.
And the last song got praises and some slightly awkward moment from what the song is about. MC talked about the set-up and how it starts with this girl who shows up in this odd place like a fish out of water and then it focuses on the guy.
I know this is a Camille song, but I never interpreted it that way. Why would there be two different characters? Nothing is said to make that distinction. “That’s what you get for being cute” could apply to a guy and Camille as well.
Lots of interesting chatter about why this album came to be. Captain took the reins and said it was about winning back the back audience because people said he lost them along the way. And others saying he wasn’t funky anymore and how his best efforts come out when he’s out to prove something.
I don’t know what it is, but it’s hard to me to think of this album and the songs within the discography sometimes. It’s a weird album. And also- it was never going to be released so in that aspect, it comes off like a lot of the bootlegs I have. A supplement to the overall body of work.
But a couple of these songs are important to Prince’s character arc and his life.
“Dead on it” being his first attempt at hip-hop, even if it was a half-hearted parody or satire.
and there’s the whole “Bob George” thing.
But it’s also full of songs I don’t consider personal favorites, not ones I have any fond connection to. The Batman album may have that same issue (although I do love 2 tracks a lot… more on those in 2 weeks).
As for the guys’ scores… I don’t see myself giving this album an 8.
If it’s lucky, it’ll get 7.5, but I’m predicting something like 7.2 or .3.
I also heard something kinda interesting. They were talking about remastering the album and how poor a choice it was to not remaster this. Someone said something about remastering the podcasts and MC talked about the echo on the Skype being annoying.
…is that how the podcasts are recorded? The guys are on Skype with one another?
I know it’s a “virtual round table” so they’re not in the same room when they do it (especially with Toejam being in Brisbane), but I thought they were just on the phone dialing in.
Again, while I’m curious about what they look like in real life, I kinda don’t want to know and have whatever “magic” ruined by that.
I have seen one or two pictures of them as a group, but not with any of them identified. I’m sure one day I’ll wind up saying that each of them looks like [insert celebrity name here]
Again- I swear I’m forgetting something, but nothing is coming to mind.
tomorrow’s the big day… giving this album and each track a number.
Not to say it’s bad, but it’s just not how I roll.
I did forget something!
There was talk amongst the panel about the opening dialogue of the album in “Le Grind.” How it’s possible that, had this album been released, it probably would have been done anonymously the way Madhouse was. So that when people heard it and dug it, Prince got to them and say (in Captain’s words) “Haha, you can suck it, I’ve still got it”… for all the people who doubted that he’d lost the funk.
So many possibilities, but yet, this was how it all wound up going.
I always seem to have this plan of giving the album a final listen when I’m done for the week and it’d be sometime in the weekend, usually 10 or 11pm.
It’s never gone well. At least so far it hasn’t… the two Sott discs, I was listening at those hours, but mentally I wasn’t fully in it because I was tired.
Today, my timing was just terrible. I started this afternoon hanging outside. But like an idiot, I tried to carry on conversation while listening with one earbud in and it just didn’t work.
And with Father’s Day tomorrow, I’m just not going to have time to do it. And I don’t really want to do it twice in one day either.
I will say, though, that I liked “Le Grind” the most I had since the earlier days I had the album. Then everything came and went and I just wasn’t fully in it.
But if I’m going to stay on point and on schedule, I need to get those scores done tonight.
If the opportunity comes up, maybe I’ll give it a go tonight when it’s really time for bed. I don’t think the scoring will change, though.
But I think it’ll get a little more positive.
THE BLACK ALBUM- in a nutshell, is a funky party album with a little “social commentary” and one ballad.
But because we’re talking about Prince here, it’s also unconventional and unexpected.
And sex and innuendo needs to come into play as well. He just can’t help himself.
The funky party gets started and everyone’s off to a good mood with this brand new dance. Prince can write a good jam and this falls in line with the others with all the usual tricks. He introduces the concept and inserts himself into the mix. Great horn line that falls all the way through. Quotable lyrics that could rival some from Housequake. But after Housequake being the monster it was on the previous album, is this able to compete?
Technical Score- 4 (the music, while well executed, could have been mixed better and doesn’t always have the endurance to stay compelling all the way through. While only Prince could make a “new dance” out of grinding and making it French, it ain’t Housequake. That doesn’t pack that extra punch)
Components score- 3.5 (I’ll give it the benefit of the doubt- it’s not one of my favorite jams by any means, but there are some times I do like it a lot. Just not often enough).
Total score- 7.5
I don’t know why, but I always imagine that “Le Grind” happening at Prince’s house (like where the Housequake happens) or at Paisley Park. This song, I imagine more as a cocktail reception at a slightly classier dance club.
Anyway- it tells a fun story about trying to get the attention of this model. And according to the lyrics (I had the look them up because, I hadn’t addressed or really took notice of this before, they’re hard to hear sometimes), he wants to “unlock the secrets of her mind” by having her sip some elderberry wine. Hmm… you could take that a certain way and I’m not going to explain just what that is, but it doesn’t set a good precedent.
So it’s a funky jam with a little satire, a little comedy, and there’s a rap. A very cool one by Cat Glover (who apparently stole it from J.M. Silk)
Technical Merit- 4.5 (the music is so funky and so great that it draws my attention a lot. And for someone who loves lyrics, that’s important to note. Meanwhile, the vocals are kinda low in the mix where I could only understand half of what Prince is singing in falsetto. For me, that’s not good. But everything else is great, music, lyrics, how it’s put together. And I can’t imagine anyone but Prince pulling this off. It’s so good)
Components score- 4 (I like this one a lot. Probably will be among my favorites on this album by the end of it. I like this whenever it comes on and I do go out of my way to listen to it sometimes)
Total score- 8.5
DEAD ON IT
Prince’s first attempt at hip-hop. He pokes fun, but at the same time makes it clear that hip-hop isn’t real music that has nothing to do with the funk and rappers put up a false façade he finds simultaneously hilarious and repulsive.
Or maybe I’m just making up my own shit and that’s what I take away from the song.
Technical Merit- 4 (the music’s decent, good vocal and it’s well put together. but there are some stupid lyrics in here- sorry, Prince- and of course since it’s a take off a Run-DMC track, it’s not wholly original)
Components score- 2.5 (there are some moments in this song that I like, but there are others I don’t. even if it’s poking fun at a genre I hate, I’m not crazy about Prince trying to be something he’s not in what feels like a half-hearted attempt)
Total score- 6.5
WHEN 2 R IN LOVE
A ballad that seems very out of place on this album, but it’s kind of a nice break from it relying heavily on one genre. It’s one of Prince’s more sensual ballads, but it also doesn’t go the extra length his other ballads typically do. Where it’s the foreplay, then the spoken part, action and we have a finish. Had it not had this identity crisis, not quite belonging on either of the albums it’s on, it might be thought of more.
Technical Score- 5 (I have no choice but to give it a perfect score. Everything’s well executed. While I wish sometimes it was a little bit longer, it does its job in those 3 minutes and change. Yeah, Prince is just that good)
Components score- 4.5 (I’ve had some great moments with this song and even though it’s out of place, it’s one of my favorite parts of the album)
Total score- 9.5
(Makes me wonder if I’ll just carry this score over to the LoveSexy review or I’ll wind up giving it something else and I’ll average the two for the next step where I got through all the songs)
This isn’t a song so much as it is an experience. An insane one that wound eliciting a lot of personal baggage for Prince. It tells a story of violence about a dangerous character who wants to get even with somebody. What and who these character represent is anyone’s guess. But it’s highly likely this is one of the big reasons Prince had that crisis of conscience and decided at the last minute to stop the release of the album.
Technical score- 5 (the music creates such an intense atmosphere, like the theme music that follows a villain around. the dialogue lyrics paint a picture to match the music. well put together, the vocals are distorted to “protect” Prince’s identity and it was a wise choice for a track like this. It’s super unique in his catalogue where he never attempted anything like this again and only he could do a good story with kick-ass music and all the other things I mentioned)
Components score- 4.5 (it totally sucks me in whenever I listen to it. I’d give it a perfect score if not for the fact, despite how much I admire how it’s put together, it gives me the creeps. And clearly Prince felt the same way once he got out of that character by the time he finished putting the track together)
Total score- 9.5
We’re back in party mode and this time we have something to kick it up a notch- Squirrel Meat! This is as insane as a rave. Super crazy lyrics. Vocals that are completely nuts. But it’s not something for everyone- especially if they’re not into the side-effects that come with it.
Technical Merit- 4.5 (all the factors are met. but there are some vocals that don’t quite work- particularly some backing vocals)
Components Score- 2 (I can’t help but wonder if this is another song that had Prince wondering if he should release this album. Never mind the drug references, but how he portrayed himself and his attitude about sex. The music is great, but I’m personally conflicted with this one. After a while, it’s an uncomfortable listen. It’s just not my kind of party)
Total score- 6.5
2 NIGS UNITED FOR WEST COMPTON
Nothing short of an instrument jam. This has been a record full of funky jams so it falls along those lines. But for me, it’s always felt like an odd addition. It may go with the theme of the album, but what purpose does it have? What does it bring that the others before it haven’t already? The opening dialogue could have easily have been put at the start of the previous track and we’d cut right to the final song.
Technical merit- 3.5 (I need to come up with a system for instrumentals where there are no vocals or lyrics to speak of– but this one has dialogue at the start. The music is hard to argue with because Prince is brilliant at music, period. There is something of a structure to it, but there isn’t enough to this track to warrant it a spot on this album)
Components score- 1.5 (this is the lowest components score I’d given out so far. the only reason I don’t skip it is because the album would feel kinda weird skipping from the previous track to the last one. I hate to say it about Prince, but most of it sounds like noise to me. It’s a bunch of instruments playing stuff with no real rhyme or reason to it. I don’t see a reason this belongs on an album- not even one as oddball and underground movement sounding as this one)
Total score- 5 (the last time I gave a score this low was “Annie Christian” on Controversy… if you disagree, please don’t take offense. This track just is not my thing)
And this album is just about killed- I’d been very harsh with certain tracks.
However, there is one song left.
ROCKHARD IN A FUNKY PLACE
Possibly the oddest way to end an album (and even Prince seems to agree, judging by the last few seconds).
Camille makes a comeback and paints an interesting picture of what seems like an after-party “get-together” (it’s hard to imagine what it is, but you could fill in your own blanks. I have my own idea- a lot of sex is happening. Insert word here). An uncomfortable social situation, but possibly one that isn’t often addressed. Not just in music, but anywhere really. It takes balls to write a song like this. Let’s just say that.
Technical Merit- 5 (taking the lyrics into account, I definitely wouldn’t have given it a perfect score a couple years ago. I guess you could say now I can kinda see the humor in the situation and what he meant to accomplish with it. Great guitar work- I think this was a track where I thought the guitar sounded like it was doing a precursor of the “Gett Off” guitar solo.)
Components score- 4 (yeah, no pun intended here, but this one has grown me a lot… and funny enough, this all started with my Camille playlist and suddenly getting this song on my brain on Prince’s birthday this year so it was among his songs I listened to that day).
Total score- 9
Okay, moment of truth… and it’s not going to be pretty.
When 2 R in Love- 9.5
Bob George- 9.5
Rockhard in a Funky Place- 9
Cindy C- 8.5
Le Grind- 7.5
Dead on it- 6.5
2 Nigs United for West Compton- 5
Total score- 62… divide by points possible (80)… oh wow… 7.8
After all that, it’s tied with Controversy. That’s kinda insane.
In the future, when I’m listing all the albums in order from my favorite to my least favorite, I figured I’d be using the components average to break the tie.
Even then, I like this album a tad more than Controversy… if I was to go by the math.
I still have time to figure that part out.
But it makes me wonder- in the grand scheme of things… will this album and Controversy mark the halfway point or will it be at the start of the half where my favorites are?
I won’t find out until much later, but this is a surprise.
As for the tracks I’m taking forward…
When 2 R in Love (I have a feeling that the material on LoveSexy is going to be so good, it’s not going to come nearly as close to the top)
and maybe Rockhard in a Funky Place too…
So another album down…
and in the epic battle between good and evil, it should be interesting to see what next week brings. Whether LoveSexy can beat its dark counterpart…