Prince Album #13: Graffiti Bridge

I’m going to open with a couple random comments having to do with numbers:

Yesterday was 7/7/17.
The radio station I listen to in the morning [it has music from the 60’s thru the 80’s] had a theme for requests (as it does every Friday)- songs with “7” or “17” in the title… and it was killing me because, in all likelihood, they didn’t have “7” or “17 days” on file.
I would’ve called in a) if I wasn’t driving and b) it wasn’t pouring really heavy.

10 years ago on that day, I bought the most music I ever had in one sitting. Over $100- and this included 4 Prince albums, 2 of which I got used and two others used- but one was free.
It was a satisfying shopping spree that yielded 3 albums I’d never find again: Rave Un2 the Joy Fantastic, Sign o’ the times (used), and O(+>. But I was wiped out afterwards- maybe feeling I overdid it. It was the first time I bought more than 2 Prince albums in a single day [my first weekend home from spring break, I bought 2 on Saturday and 2 on Sunday- more on that another time].
Then it blew my mind when I heard Prince did 3 surprise gigs in MPLS for 7/7/07.
As anyone who knows Prince as his most devoted fans do, it’s his favorite number. And we both did something special to mark that particular date. What I’d give to be in MPLS that day/night…

Now onto some numbers with Graffiti Bridge…
I checked my gift receipt [a birthday present from my fellow purple knight] before watching it last night… it was 7/7/17, I had to do something special, and it was the first time I’d really spent time with Prince [beyond hearing Peach & Black just talk about his B-sides in two amazing shows] since the previous Saturday or Sunday.
I watched it at the shore house the day after I opened up the package.
According to my receipt, that was back in 2012. I hadn’t watched it since.
The numbers thing I was getting at… as stupid as it sounds that I’m even bringing this up… I got Graffiti Bridge 5 years after my fandom officially began in 2007.
It had been 5 years since I watched the movie. I just thought that was a funny coincidence worth sharing.
yeah, I’m a total dork πŸ˜›

So Graffiti Bridge… where do I start?
Maybe I should address that 5 year gap… I don’t think it had to do with the quality of the movie so much as one notable detail: I hated Morris Day so much in this movie that I just didn’t want to deal with that. At least not for a long time.
Also- some time after that, Morris Day and The Time were coming for a concert very close by. I decided I had to go. And I wanted to enjoy myself. So I deliberately put distance from that movie for that one reason. [And the concert was awesome and nothing from it aside from a couple songs- I think “Shake” and “Jerk Out”- neither I have recollection of from said concert].

And I think I just forgot to really get back to the movie. Or I just wasn’t in a hurry.
Watching it again- it was an interesting experience in that I really didn’t remember a lot about it. The placement of certain songs wasn’t lost to me- particularly how I didn’t like how “The ? of U” was placed in the movie and how “Still would stand all time” was the “Purple Rain” number that made everything okay in the end.
And I also remembered that there was only one scene that really made me laugh. It was Morris Day and Jerome with Aura (The Kid’s love interest- played by Ingrid Chavez) at his place, Prince turns the lights off, and Morris accidentally gropes Jerome in the dark and their reaction afterwards when they realize this and the lights come back on. I was falling over laughing- that’s how much I loved that part.

One thing that bothered me, but I now understand- what Aura was really supposed to be to the plot. She’s not just the Apollonia character or token love interest the two guys would spar over. She’s human, but she’s also kind of a muse or angel that’s not only to inspire The Kid not to give up on himself, but also to save Morris Day from going further down this “greed is good” road he’s on.
And supposedly, this inspiration and this reconciliation finally comes about because she’s told by whatever spiritual being sent her to walk in front of a runaway car and get herself killed. It was hard to know whether she was human or an angel because those lines are so gray. But also- if she’s an angel, how can she die as she did? And just the way she was run over… it didn’t look fatal to me. [But then again, “Chances Are” had a similar deal where Louie gets run over at the start of the movie and dies, but it doesn’t look nearly as bad as it does in the movie… I guess it was just the way they did it in 1989/1990].

My problem with Morris Day is that he’d just gotten such a big head. He wants to own all the clubs at the 7 corners like it’s goddam monopoly. It just doesn’t make sense. And he really isn’t good to anybody. In fact, there was one point in the movie where I swear even Jerome was thinking he’d gone off the deep end. [Or maybe that’s just in my head after seeing how Lefou in the latest “Beauty and the Beast” changed sides at the battle at the castle after seeing Gaston descend into that madness].

Watching it again- I can understand why The Kid is in this place with a different band and his club Glam Slam isn’t pulling in the same crowds. And also why he was writing letters to his dead father- his voiceover while writing these letters were his way of telling us what was happening without breaking character- where The Kid really is a man of action and not words.
But I thought his thoughts wrestling with suicide- he’s considering it at least 3 times during the movie, maybe 5. But he mentions it so dramatically in the voiceover at points that I have trouble believing it.
“Thieves in the Temple”- I’ll give more thoughts on this song later on- but I find the placement in the movie a little odd. He performs it on the street when Morris and Jerome are driving Aura home. He’d seen her around a couple of times, but they’ve yet to say a word to each other. So how exactly are they stealing her from him? It was maybe too soon in the movie.
“The ? of U” plays while he and Aura are making out against this brick wall by the club where he’d painted lyrics and trash is blowing everywhere thanks to a wind machine. This song is SO GOOD- the video depicting it just didn’t do it any favors.

Several Graffiti Bridge tracks were songs reworked from 80’s recordings.
Joy in Repetition, The ? of U, Can’t Stop this Feeling I got (which- by the way- was NOWHERE in the movie- aside from a few non-vocal sound bites and he’s putting the song together on his computer at the start and end of the movie. But according to Matt Thorne’s book, a performance scene was shot, but somehow wound up on the cutting room floor).

Tick, Tick, Bang was among those tracks from the early 80’s. I think between 1981-1982. It was completely revamped for this eventual release.
More on that later…
but within the context of the movie, it was the “Darling Nikki” scene. Not so much attacking his girlfriend in a public setting, but it was a performance at a critical time in the movie. Where he was already on thin ice and he did a song that nobody but him would get.
Darling Nikki is a kick-ass song. Tick Tick Bang, while it’s not exactly subtle, the way Darling Nikki wasn’t… I’m sorry, but the performance was kinda painful to watch. Because nobody really understood it and he come off as the submissive in an BDSM type of relationship. He didn’t assert control of his situation.

After that tumultuous time I had with LoveSexy, I can wrap my head around plenty of the movie and Prince’s character and stuff like that.
And there were two moments where I felt genuinely invested in him- where I felt like we clicked and were on the same plane.
One scene- probably before Tick Tick Bang where he and Aura are talking by the Graffiti Bridge and he’s very discouraged- I really felt bad for him.
And “Still Would Stand All Time”… that was such a big important scene for the movie as a whole. But the first time I saw this movie and every time I’d heard the song (which isn’t often)- I never felt anything. And in the movie, I found its inclusion super cheesy and following a little too closely to Purple Rain with a song just not as good.

Maybe it’s because I’d been away from Prince for some time [yeah, about as long as Anastasia had been from Christian Grey before she wound up getting back together with him… I think that was also 5 days] and was getting back on that same plane as him again- or maybe it’s just getting to understand this character he’s playing… but it felt like there was a wall there.

It’s also possible that I’d put so much distance between myself and this particular project… that I’m half struggling to think of it within the narration of his career while half struggling to keep it from assimilating into that… and so many other thoughts in my head from hearing Mayte’s book and looking ahead to Diamonds and Pearls and the albums that follow that I’m really looking forward to.
Someone at .org, someone I was friends with and who had sent me mp3’s of the first Madhouse album and a couple other things- including the original cut of “Strange Relationship” with Wendy & Lisa’s contributions in full.
He also sent me the Prince tracks from Graffiti Bridge with the exception of “New Power Generation Part II” because it had rap on it. And at the time, I still didn’t like Tony M’s contributions to Diamonds and Pearls.

I had the album on my iPod years ago and listened to it through maybe twice.
Then I was only listening to “New Power Generation,” and “The ? of U” and “Joy in Repetition”- then those last two songs… that kinda gives you an idea of where this album review is going.

I can’t remember the last time I’d heard either of those songs, but it’d been a really long time.

Matt Thorne titled this chapter “What’s Wrong with Graffiti Bridge”… so I thought maybe he was going to come to its defense.
Nope… but he also wasn’t more negative than any other person who’d discussed this project with disdain. He didn’t like “New Power Generation”- which I was unhappy about, but I can kinda understand why.
Tick Tick Bang, Graffiti Bridge- both songs got a bad rap and justifiably.
He also talked about it being in continuity with LoveSexy.
And I half thought about the original idea for the LoveSexy-Rave-Graffiti Bridge trilogy. How that would have come across if he was able to do that.
But considering this “what if” is almost as pointless as the original Dream Factory/Crystal Ball… it’s something that never happened, so why dwell on it?
In my head, I’m considering whether there was a better way to address the narrative within Prince’s albums so the continuity makes more sense.

It’s kinda cool that Prince is the type of artist where there’s enough material to have these thoughts about… but it can also be exhausting.

Now for listening to the actual songs… and I have quite a few thoughts on them. Mostly on why certain ones just plain don’t work for me.
When it comes to Prince, I hate to be negative or to really criticize his music. I’ll try to address the album the best I can in a positive light, but let’s just say I can’t make promises.

And to be honest- I’m only going to be reviewing/discussing the 10-11 songs from the album I have- that someone from .org was kind enough to send me. All the Prince/NPG tracks with the exception of NPG Part II.
Speaking on that really quick- it was a funny running joke throughout the movie. This one dude from the NPG kept saying how much he wants to rap. Or, at one point, how he never got a chance to rap. I asked myself if that was Tony πŸ˜› which would be even funnier, given his notoriety among the fan community. But of course I’ll get into on D&P and the next album.
But it’s TC Ellis in the movie and I believe he was signed to the Paisley Park label and he did a cover of a Prince song. But I forget which one.
And he does finally get his chance- during the credits.

The album as a whole has 17 tracks, which means I’ll only be going into 10 songs for this post as well as my ratings system. And to be sure, strapping down the number of songs won’t hurt the overall score too much. It makes for a more compact package.
But I also haven’t had a super long album yet to really affect the ratings in that way. Sign o’ the Times was the longest with 16, but everything so far has been between 8-12 tracks.

So anyway… some thoughts to dispel with early regarding these tracks.

It was an interesting start. And I’m not talking about the voiceover (though it was kinda cool).
Can’t Stop This Feeling I Got- it reminded me very much of later efforts where Prince tried to recapture that 80’s sound with the Linn-drum and all that [some stuff from MPLSound and 20TEN]. It’s among the songs he resurrected from the 80’s and revamped/rehashed. According to Prince vault, it was originally from 1982, re-recorded in 1986 and finished up in 1989.
Makes me wonder how much of the original song is still in this final version.
And taking that date into account…
See, my biggest criticism about this song (and I swear I’ll only bring it up now and that’s the end of it)… IT SOUNDS LIKE “FOOTLOOSE”… I always found that so distracting. And I don’t think it’s going to go away- even though it seems to be more likely Prince didn’t rip it off or wasn’t listening to it and subconsciously layered down a track with a similar beat.
I’d say “I dare the Peach and Black podcast to bring this up”… except for the fact they recorded their GB episode ages ago πŸ˜›
Also found it interesting that there was a lyric or spoken line where Prince says “pardon me for living, this is my world”… because that sentiment returns in the second song. Kinda cool how that ties them together.

New Power Generation
This song is so damn catchy, I cannot help but sing along to it. There’s not much to the lyrics, but there’s a lot of cool sentiments in it. Although I don’t know how well it represents the actual band… Prince might not have believed in it as much as he did at the start because he’d never performed it live. Kinda crazy.
Also- I just found out today that Morris Day played the drums on the track. That’s pretty neat. Especially since it’s a rarity for him to play drums on any Prince song. “Cloreen Baconskin” is the only one I know off the top of my head.
This song itself- it might not carry the impact an anthem named for a famous backing band needs… but as a pop song, I just love it. [Also- to be noted- this was one of the later songs recorded- in 1989]

The ? of U
Looking at the article, apparently the title is “the question of U” but it was changed to this shortened version when he started doing it live in the 2000’s in a medley along with “The One” and “Fallin'”… but I’ll still do it this way.
This is one of those songs much beloved by the fan community and for good reason. It’s just something special only Prince could do and do brilliantly.
It’s also in VERY good company- recorded during the same sessions as Girls & Boys, Love or $, Do U Lie? and Venus de Milo. Although not considered for any Parade configuration, that would explain why it’s beloved. Certainly why I respond to it like I do.
There’s not much to it as far as lyrics, although they are deep lyrics. What I mean is much of the song is solely instrumental (with occasional outbursts from Prince, multiple voices calling out at once). My one criticism about it was that its usage in the movie didn’t do anything for the song. Prince’s “make out choreography” is already kinda awkward to watch, but with these deep lyrics, I don’t feel like the chemistry (or lack thereof) between him and Ingrid Chavez stood up to that lyrical standard.
I’ve got plenty more to say about this song, but I’ll save for another time. As you can figure out, my inability to shut up offers a positive outlook.
Also- his track record with the songs so far haven’t been great- didn’t bring them back to concert, if at all. This one he loved quite a bit late in his career, in the 00’s. And he last performed it on March 2016. [I’ll have to go through all these album posts and compile a list of the songs he performed in 2016- because it shows how much he still enjoyed performing them and maybe a pattern will develop and I’ll get a better idea of where his head was at in those last few months. And by no means is this meant in a negative way, in that particular context].

Elephants & Flowers
I think my initial reaction to this song wasn’t positive. Namely, figuring out what the title meant- how they are representatives of male and female body parts.
I’m not quite sure why… it’s much more subtle than other innuendos he’s used in the past. The performance number in the movie helped it make more sense for me. Particularly how everyone was dressed and the colorful makeup (almost tribal colors). It kinda speaks to that hippie movement about free love and all that [the 2nd verse has lyrics that sounds like this is being performed in the middle of an orgy].
But it’s surprising to find it’s a bit of a spiritual track. The chorus ends with the line “for those who love God a lot”… while it sounds like a weak lyric anyone would have written, I get what he was going for. And it furthers the idea that started to brew in my head while listening- this is a bit of a spiritual album. Not to the same caliber or level as the LoveSexy album, but I’m getting those types of vibes.
[On that front, this song was recorded while he had time off from the LoveSexy tour, along with one other… which really explains ITS spiritual message… and holy crap, he played this song on April 14 2016 in Atlanta… it seems like it was one he also grew fond of in the 00’s because it made a heck of comeback to the live sets…
then going into that- the ? of U might actually be about God, not a woman… lots of new possibilities]
this song also reminded me of some other Prince did… I think it’s the melody he sings in the verses, it reminds me of a part in “4ever” [where he says “I can be your future lover, you can be my future girl”] as well as “My Computer.”

We Can Funk- went through a lot of changes, starting with the verb in the title being changed from something a lot racier [that version is now officially released as part of the Purple Rain remaster]- 1983 as the start, title change in 1986 and finally re-recorded in 1989-1990.
So… I hate when I have these moments with Prince songs where it say one little thing just kills the song for me… but maybe I’ll spend enough time with this album where I’ll just “grow out of” that… I hate the chorus. I get the notion of “testing positive for the funk” like a urinalysis test… but then the cup overflows… it’s not a pleasant image, especially when he keeps going despite already testing positive.
I think the chorus might’ve come out of the fact Prince and George Clinton passed this song to one another, taking turns “peeing on it”… his words, not mine.
there’s a scene in the movie where Morris and Jerome are leaving Glam Slam and Morris says a house plant looks thirsty and he pees on it and lights it on fire. Firstly- ew! Second… that’s just mean.
Lots of funky stuff happening with the music, the horn line and other things. If I can keep my mind off that damn chorus… there might be hope.

Joy in Repetition
…yeah, there’s a reason I love this and “the ? of U”… they’re so hypnotic and I almost hate for them to end. Plus, kick-ass guitar solos.
It was recorded in 1986, the day after he reworked “I could never take the place of your man” and… didn’t know this… Susannah does backing vocals. That’s pretty cool.
At one point, it was considered for Crystal Ball, but dropped from the track listing when he was forced to just do 2 discs for the album.
It’s an interesting story he tells- really cinematic and the movie does a really good job with this. Although I prefer whatever visual comes into my mind. [I had my own visuals for these songs before I saw the movie and I hope to keep it that way– not a knock against the movie, but I like having that bit to myself].
This song came out in the movie this last time and I swear the hairs on my neck stood up.
[also part of that April 2016 set list… and a song he brought back quite a bit in the 00’s, including a live cut for the ONA Live album]

Tick Tick Bang
…here we go…
yeah, this was originally recorded in 1981 and completely redone for this new version.
I really like the original version and I listened to it a bit before getting the GB tracks. Then hearing what he did to this… I’m thinking… just why…?
Today when it began, I actually said the line with him “oh, I can’t hold it, ow!”… maybe because I just wanted to say something after that previous song was so wow. Or Lady Gaga opened a song once where she said “I don’t speak German, but I can if you like, ow!”… the “ow!”, thinking about it now, it might be a Prince reference. I heard her “Born this Way” album was influenced by him.
I don’t care much for the music, how he tries to incorporate it into the sound of the rest of this album… just doesn’t work.
Then listening to the lyrics- they start out okay, but the metaphor he’s pushing just gets to be too much.
“I can’t hold it… getting all over me”… I’m sorry, but ew…

Dang, this is gonna be the “ew!” album, isn’t it?

Thieves in the Temple
I loved this song on “The Very Best of…”
I knew the song wasn’t going to be enough to sell me on the album (I already knew of its reputation too well). But every now and then, I’ll take it out and hear it and just be blown away. The most disappointing thing is how it was shot as a music video (and in the movie). It’s nothing like how I imagined. I imagined it being inside a tomb filled with gold, something from Aladdin- the Cave of Wonders. With all kinds of Egyptian, Middle-Eastern artifacts.
Early in my time with Prince’s music, it was one of my favorites, but over time, it’s gotten buried a bit under all his other music. The musical content is so unique and different from anything he’d done up to this point. The lyrics tell an interesting story and, again, so cinematic.
the last song recorded for the album. and he performed it in March 2016 also.

Still would stand all time
it’s very mesmerizing and you kinda want to hold your breath to keep from disturbing the atmosphere.
it was recorded the same day as elephants & flowers. originally considered for the batman soundtrack, but later replaced with scandalous. It doesn’t really make sense for that last album, but considering some of the spiritual undertones of this album, it’s the perfect cornerstone.
it’s strange that it’s about as repetitive as the ladder, but I feel like I’m getting more out of this one. even stranger that he didn’t bring it back after 1991.

Graffiti Bridge
I’m still undecided as to whether I hate this song or can be okay with it. The different vocalists make it sound so cheesy and broadway. as does the music.
funny enough, the bridge where he talks about “the love of a boy, the love of a girl”… it made me think of a bridge from “Resolution”… another song just as hated in the fan community.
I’ve got my own thoughts for it further down the road, much further… but I don’t think I’ve listened to it in years. The last few times I’d played Planet Earth, I stopped after “lion of Judah”

day 2- and maybe it’s because this is still a roughly new album for me, but I’m starting to “get it” a lot more. Maybe it’s because it has the movie, but it feels like another trip into Prince world. Where you get a certain feeling or vibe and it stays with you for the whole album.
Parade and LoveSexy are the two off the top of my head that give me that same feeling and it’s a good feeling for sure.

The trick yesterday was trying to figure out the volume on my iPod while driving and having to troubleshoot without being able to look at the volume gauge. so that took me out of the first song for the first couple minutes.
Today, I lucked out and it was near perfect.

I got the “Footloose” out of the song and was able to get into a bit more. The delivery makes it very catchy, but not all of the words come clearly.
I hear a bunch of different Prince songs within it, but it’s hard to isolate which ones. Also what parts he added and which were from the original. The drumming certainly sounds older- kinda like “Jack U Off” except that was on Linn drum and Bobby Z performed that. The really fast drumming part sounds like early 80’s, but the guitar and the air it gives off in the beginning of the song, that feels new. The synths that vacillate- they remind me of some song he did, but it’s hard to isolate that. But when there’s a breakdown and he says “pardon me for living”- that reminds me of that break in “Play in the sunshine” where he says to Susannah “let’s get out of here.”

“New Power Generation”- I just tried to remind myself that Morris Day did the drums on this one. With so much going on, it’s hard to pick that out. But I want to add I love the bridge before the chorus- favorite part of the song. The melody, the rhythm of delivery and of course all the vocals on it. Rosie Gaines’s first credit as part of the NPG πŸ˜‰ and what a debut it is.

“The Question of U”… there’s too much in this song to talk about. I love the use of space. The swampy sound of the drums- they sound muddy, but that gives the song character. By no means do I mean that as a negative thing. Great guitar solo, of course. It sounds like it was recorded live. I think my favorite part of it are the hand claps in rhythm and ending with a “ha!” with a multiple vocal track. Such a unique quirky thing.
And all things considered, it’s funny that I never referred to Prince as quirky- EVER. And he really is that.

“Elephants and Flowers”- if it wasn’t already such a perfect album, I’d definitely put this on LoveSexy because it feels like it fits in that particular dogma. One of Prince’s most signature things within his music- his combination of sexuality and spiritualty and this is a prime cut example of that.

It also got me thinking about how I see the album’s structure- how it starts with him in his current mindset and the next few songs are flashbacks that eventually led us to the Lovesexy concept… GB has that a bit too. “Can’t stop this feeling I got” is about what’s found and the next few songs are sifting through that mystery and arriving at a conclusion.
Only this album doesn’t do that as cleanly. There’s a little meandering and some songs that don’t fit into that concept [We can Funk, Thieves in the Temple, Tick Tick Bang]. It takes until “Still would stand all time” to reach that ultimate prize of this album. And I guess “Graffiti Bridge” is how everyone wants to achieve what Prince has.

“We Can Funk”- I thought about this yesterday and didn’t get around to saying it until now. The synth hook that goes throughout- it’s a slower version of the synth hook from “My Drawers” By The Time. Also another bridge I like within this album because it makes me feel like something’s about to happen. [It might also be hearing Wendy and Lisa on backing vocals].
The song really becomes a jam as it goes on and it goes for a while. It ends before it starts to feel too long. But as the backing vocals build up, I get more into it.
Considering the timing of everything, I’m super curious about how I’ll like the original version of this song via the Purple Rain deluxe edition. Before Prince and George Clinton peed all over the chorus and ruined it for me [nope, never letting that go].

“Joy in Repetition”… I get so into this that I stop breathing and I have to remind myself when the song ends. That’s the biggest compliment I can really pay to Prince. Not the suffocating part, but just being so in awe part. I’ve had that experience a bunch of times watching Evgeni Plushenko skate [been a long time since I’d blogged about him or even mentioned him…].
It’s almost like breathing would disturb the calm peaceful whatever you call it vibe I’m getting from them.
This guitar solo just goes on for days and it’s crazy. Love how different things are happening in both ears, so you feel like you’re right in the middle of the action. It probably sounds even better in a dark room.
There’s a trend throughout the song where you hear three notes played. One time- it’s two notes the same and the third is a step higher. Another, it oscillates- the first note is in the middle, the 2nd goes down a step and the third goes a step higher than the first. That second variation is my favorite- I’d say I wish that he did that the whole way through, but then I might get sick of it. Either way, having those nuances in the song give it that something extra.

“Tick Tick Bang”… I almost don’t know if I dislike the new music or lyrics more. I don’t think anyone could have made this song work. It almost sounds as bad as the cheese of 90’s music or really the things about 90’s music people who lived for the 70’s and 80’s hated.
To me, it feels as bad as people felt about Prince trying to incorporate rap into his music- like a sell-out.
I have a feeling, though, that Captain might be crazy enough to like this new version of the song. I’m sure he likes the older version because it has that rockabilly thing going for it.

“Thieves in the Temple”- at times, this song almost feels too short, but it’s also just enough to get the point across.
I really like the hook that you first hear after the lyric “come save me from all this cold despair” that pops up throughout the song. All those Middle Eastern things in the song that really set it apart from anything he’d done before. Almost like it’s the final product of what he started with the song “around the world in a day”… just coming away with a completely original idea that’s his own [how’s that for redundant?]
I don’t like the extended version for one reason- the deliberate skipping on “kicking me in my heart”… I find it jarring and it takes me out of the spell the song puts on me, which is getting swept up in the cinematic nature of it.

“Still would stand all time”… the Steeles make their first appearance on a Prince album [they show up once in D&P and Symbol] and really give the song the extra weight it needs. Plus it needs to be different enough from various attempts at Gospel he’d made over the years.
I really like the piano on this song. I don’t know if Prince gets enough credit as a piano player and this is a prime example. That added emotion you can’t help but gravitate towards (although I did resist for a long time– I did a complete 180 on this song since I last listened to it ages ago)

“Graffiti Bridge”– I think I’m going to go on record and say that “Resolution” is worse than “Graffiti Bridge.” Because this song about the hope of achieving an abstract concept and it’s more internalized. “Resolution” is a blatant and naΓ―ve call for world peace. Its lyric lacks gravitas to validate the attempt at the concept.
At least with GB, you can kinda dream and hope for something better. Even when it doesn’t come across as well as it could have.
It’s growing on me a bit, I think. I’m not going to give it a high components score, but certainly not something in the basement.
The one thing I don’t like that kinda makes me grind my teeth a bit- the 2nd part of the chorus where it’s all accapella and it sounds like everyone is falling down the chromatic scale to achieve some “great effect” but it comes off super cheesy.
Among Prince’s massive catalogue, it doesn’t really seem like much and it doesn’t really have anything that exemplifies him as a musician. But I take away from the optimism and positivity and that’s something he brings his music frequently enough and I enjoy that.

I’m a little leery about going into the podcast after only hearing this album through a couple times… I like to have an album hashed out before I take in other opinions and I don’t want my feelings for some things tarnished by certain opinions.
I mean, some of these songs aren’t the best in the world and I’m not going to fight tooth and nail to defend them. But they’re good enough for me- the ones I like.

Kinda crazy how resistant I kinda was to this album at first, already looking ahead to the next few albums as well as the time when Prince and Mayte get together… but now I’m in the thick of it and having a good time.
I guess it’s good I did take that break from Prince’s music last week… I needed a good refresher and getting back to enjoying this time I spend with Prince instead of feeling like going through the music and doing these posts are becoming a chore. I may be sharing these posts on social media, but I’m doing them mainly for myself. Just to go through these songs and figuring how I feel about them and so on.
And I should stop this for tonight before I meander too much more…


It’s Friday and I’d finished listening to the Peach & Black podcast. between this that and the other, I just haven’t gotten back to my laptop to keep writing. And that’s probably a good thing.

I honestly don’t know where I’m going to stand with this album by the end of this whole thing… but I have a good feeling that I’m not going to pan it like so many other people from .org have. In fact, if they heard I might give it a good score, they’d revoke my membership. But I hadn’t been there in several years, so it really doesn’t matter. I already got crap for liking Planet Earth when everyone else hated it.
If my not like “Adore” or “Scandalous” didn’t get me kicked out of the fan community, this certainly would.
But who cares? I always felt free to like or hate the songs I want to and not give a damn what everyone else says.

I should really extend that to the guys, but I will still give Captain a hard time for not liking the same songs as me and the majority of fans πŸ˜› or most of the guys on the podcast for that matter.

So, wanna know how crazy Captain is? He actually doesn’t mind “Graffiti Bridge” the song… the rest of the panel panned it (ha ha), but he actually came to its defense. How it does what he wanted it to do. And how it’s considered one of the worst Prince songs ever.
He likes the most oddball songs by Prince, but this takes the cake.
Yeah, even more so than him liking “Release It.” Yet another “battle” between him and MC over whether Morris Day’s delivery was good or just lazy.

The guys went into ALL the songs on this.
Toejam actually confessed to burning a mix of the album with JUST the Prince songs. And MC had done the same, but omitted the final two tracks.
The protΓ©gΓ© tracks pretty much got ripped apart.
Someone commented that maybe Prince intentionally gave The Time the bad songs to get his revenge on the years they were 1-uping him in concert. You gotta admit, it makes sense.

Then there was the part where the podcast almost died toon-style… check out the Graffiti Bridge podcast around the hour 15 minute mark… someone makes a comment about Tick Tick Bang (Toejam) and he nearly killed the whole panel. They sounded like they were literally ROFL. And they almost didn’t recover.
Beforehand, Captain said the song could blow your head off in another way, MC took a while to figure out where he was going with him and once he did (he and I had our aha moment almost at the same time) and Captain’s like “Took you long enough”.
Unlike the guys, I think I’m gonna be harsh with that song in particular. I’ve just heard a better version of it so this sounds pedestrian and way too explicit for my tastes.

Some more Captain comments before moving on… I’d said way too much already.
He didn’t like “We can Funk” when it got so much love from the rest of the panel.
“Still would stand all time”– one of his favorite Prince songs ever and one of few that can affect him on a persona level.

It’s my personal experience [and a couple of people I’d been in touch with] that a good number of Prince songs really hit me at the core. Of course there are several I adore.
Maybe my tendency for emotional response to more than a few Prince songs just comes down to being female and just being me [I can tear up if a song ends on the perfect note- that’s how ridiculous I am… like the final second of “Separate Ways” by Journey, I half wanna cry, half wanna scream and pump my fist in the air- SO GOOD!]

No score from MC on this one, but he did call the album underrated. Which is kinda nuts, but at the same time, I think I might be agreeing.

I realized today that I didn’t really listen to any other tracks from this era… so I might give them a chance now. Just to say that I did.

I got an NPG remix… supposedly two of these other songs are from the NPG maxi-single.
A lot of extra sound effects in this, but not adding too much to a killer song [for me anyway- it’s such a great song to have as a single]
Lubricated Lady [dude, I don’t even wanna know what that’s supposed to mean, lol]- it sounds like the same backing beat, but with a guitar and most of the other instruments stripped away with different lyrics. And “get off” keeps being namedropped πŸ˜› he keeps saying how he’s quick with a whip. Then after a while, it just becomes repetitive.

Geesh… the 50 shades references keep coming to mind and I can’t stop them πŸ˜› there’s something wrong with me.

Loveleft, Loveright- I hear a vocal delivery from him very similar to “Sexy MF”
not much to the beat in the background, but I really like the lyrics and the vocals on this. The bridge & the chorus especially 😎 great energy
although Robin’s backing vocals are a little annoying.

There’s a remix of The Latest Fashion here… kinda of a cool beat. there’s a sound effect here, like a hammer hitting an anvil, I’d heard this in some other Prince song.
Kinda of a cool party track with a bunch of references from previous Time songs.
It makes me wish he wasn’t so vain and mean in Graffiti Bridge. I tell ya, power changes people…

there’s a cool Thieves in the Temple remix that sounds like an Arabian techno track. The tight drumming and my favorite bit was taken out, but it kept my attention all the way through. A cool ride 😎
and “clap your hands and stomp your feet” from the LoveSexy album was sampled a few times. not enough to become annoying, though.

“heaven is keeping score” was planned for the maxi single, but remains unreleased. it’s a piano piece where Prince speaks with it. it sounds like it was recorded that way initially. kinda cool.

all that’s left is a live recording of “Still would stand…” but someone says “will” and Prince calls them on it.
even when it’s acoustic, you can just tell when it’s Prince playing guitar. He has such a special unique sound.
he’s singing it in falsetto, but it sounds like he’s adding different lyrics.
He calls them out just after the 6 minute mark πŸ˜› it sounded like someone in his band [Boni Boyer, maybe… not sure… the guys at Peach and Black kept calling her the “late great Boni Boyer”… I had to look it up- she died of a brain aneurysm in 1996 at age 38… so sad 😦 and apparently she was in “The Adventures of Ford Faraline” somewhere- I sat through that movie once cuz I found out Morris Day was in. Kind of an oddball movie].
Then after 8 minutes, he rips into this outrageous electric guitar solo that lasts maybe 30 seconds.

I want to see the movie again at least one more time… but I’m not gonna have time tonight. Not to mention- I mean, Prince can be like caffeine to me sometimes- but I don’t want him to have to keep me awake. I want to actually be awake.
So maybe I’m thinking earlier tomorrow, I will. And then that night, I’ll go through the album once more and give my official scores.

Still deciding whether to watch the movie and listen to the album or just the album…

I’d been reading Mayte’s book throughout the week- the little time I have during lunch time at work and a little when I get home… so many other little things going on and distracting me. But I also don’t want to rush through. It’s another companion book to this long journey I’m taking through Prince’s discography.
Anyway- the point I was going to make was that she saw Graffiti Bridge at her high school homecoming. Most of her classmates laughed it. She could understand some of the stylistic choices he made and didn’t think it was nearly as bad as everyone else did.
Then when they talked over the phone about it, she tried to be diplomatic, but he said something in response that was kinda deep and cool.
Saying how people start to live through you and when you do something they don’t expect, you’re the one who gets the blame.

So Prince acknowledges that it’s not something everyone would get. If he was ever good at anything [besides the musician and performer thing, of course], it was staying true to himself and not changing to suit anybody else. [Although incorporating hip-hop and rap into his music might be another story…]

I’m really loving this book…

anyway, back to Graffiti Bridge… no matter how this comes out at the end of the night, it’s definitely been one of the cooler journeys I’d been on with an album so far on this whole thing. Very unexpected…

I left my decision of what to do up to a coin flip. Heads, I do both the movie and the album. Tails, just the album…
It’s gonna be another Saturday night where I’m up until 1-2am with Prince while math determines how I feel about his albums…
yeah…

the movie is 90 minutes long… why does it feel like it’s longer than that?

…then I watch it and it kinda flew by.
Yeah, the people at prince.org would definitely revoke my membership if they read this. Not that I’m going to praise the movie and call it a bloody masterpiece.
But aside from some cringe-worthy moments, it certainly isn’t God awful like the majority of the fan base there seems to think.

I said I wasn’t going to rate the protΓ©gΓ©/associated tracks as part of my system. I hadn’t done any of that business for The Time, Vanity/Apollonia 6, Madhouse or anyone else, so why start now?
On the album- there are 17 tracks. 11 are by Prince and the NPG (but mostly Prince). The other 6 are:
Round and Round- Tevin Campbell (I think it’s a fun 90’s track good for an R&B artist just starting out)
Melody Cool- Mavis Staples (man, when she talks/sings in this movie, you can’t help but listen. She is so cool. An established artist Prince was a fan of and wanted to work with. Along with the Steeles with backing vocals. Always a cool number to watch. All about that attitude).
and 4 by The Time…
Shake is probably my favorite just because I really like the beat and the keyboard/synth riff and the vocals sound good on it. The lyrics just aren’t anything special.
Love Machine- the female vocals on this are just awkward to listen to. Especially with Ingrid Chavez lip-synching to a voice that isn’t hers. It just sounds too cutesy. And I just can’t see Morris Day being a quote “love machine”. I mean, he’s cool, but that just makes it sound like he’s full of himself. Like in the entire movie.
Release It- it has that classic James Brown beat [either sampled or stolen, I have no idea], but beyond that, there isn’t enough in for me to get into.
The Latest Fashion- I don’t remember it at this point, but hearing the extended mix the other night, I liked it enough.

So it’s definitely going to be past 1 am by the time I finish this. Gotta listen to the album.
Just can’t help but wonder if Prince had those moments of doubt like he did in the movie or if that was just part of a character he was playing. Reading Mayte’s book and how he and her got on, there might be more truth in there than he lets on. But some parts are overdramatized in an attempt to make a “creative” picture out of it.

I’ll amend one thing I said earlier… there isn’t even any kissing in the “? of U” scene in the movie. But the choreography of them in the alley, him spinning her around and changing how he’s holding her in his arms… it just distracts from the song. Not exactly brilliant acting. and doesn’t really make us believe there is chemistry.

Now onto the music… and final comments…
oh man, this is gonna be a long night…

It’s been a crazy ride.
I went from not thinking of this as part of the catalogue, dismissing the idea entirely- now it’s been a solid part of it.
But like with most of the albums so far, there finally came a point where I’d just had enough. But I’m not usually the type of person who likes hearing the same songs twice in one day either.
when “joy in repetition” is lulling me to sleep, you know it’s time to move on.

CAN’T STOP THIS FEELING I GOT
…speaking of not feeling like a part of a whole…
This song is only heard in song bites early in the movie and there’s no performance number. But while wracking my brain, I think the last time I’d been blown away by an opening track was “Let’s go Crazy”… since then, the case has been that the opening track is good, but it doesn’t get me super excited for the rest of the album.
I thought this the other day and only just got around to writing it… the vocals and the drum beat sound like they’re from a home recorded demo tape. They have that 1982 feel. The other elements are now, but the two meld together really well where neither feels out of place.
Technical merit- 3 (the music is great, but everything else, I just find very average. It runs a little long and meanders about. Some lyrics are hard to make out cuz the vocals… I can only remember the damn chorus, okay? πŸ˜› I’m sorry)
Components score- 3
Total score- 6 (I feel bad that the guys at Peach and Black liked this song, but I just don’t feel the same way. It’s an ok album opener and an average Prince song all around. Nothing really stands out about it).

NEW POWER GENERATION
…now this is a start to an album- if this was the opener and part II was the closer- perfect bookends. But I don’t have part II, so so much for that theory.
This is a good, all-around fun track. It comes off as the funkiest letter of intent ever. And what an adrenaline rush whenever it comes on.
Technical merit- 5 (I don’t really want to show favoritism, but I just can’t help myself. One of the catchiest songs Prince has written, I think. Certainly memorable).
Components score- 4.5 (I wouldn’t call it masterpiece material, as the other 5’s I give out, but it’s just such a good song, I gotta reward it for just making me happy whenever it comes on).
Total score- 9.5

THE ? OF U
…my username DreamyPopRoyalty came from the fact Prince just puts me in a dream-like state when I listen to him and the right song is playing… this album has two prime examples of that and this is the first.
The lyrics are written almost as a sonnet- 14 lines of text if you write them down a certain way. Full of rhetorical questions that could be asked of anything or anyone. I think Prince might be asking them of God, but it could be someone or something else.
In the podcast, someone said how this song was often played in concert in sequence with “under the cherry moon”… it makes sense in so many ways that it’s ridiculous and it’s mind-blowing.
Then there’s the music as well. Then the instrumental portion that takes up the second two thirds of the song. The melody is replayed on live electric guitar, so beautifully. There are hand claps, a harpsichord. So many little things happening, slowly leading you along, spell-binding you until the end finally comes.
…I don’t think I can take a point from it anywhere. It’s just so good, I can’t take it πŸ˜›
it’ll be very interesting to determine where this will fall in my favorite Prince songs of all time- whenever I get that list together.
Total score- 10
#Masterpiece

ELEPHANTS & FLOWERS
…talk about a 180…
I didn’t like this song when I first heard. Now, I’m getting like it more and more each time because I get more out of it each time.
Prince talks about being lonely and wanting to find someone. A shy angel in a city so bold. A savior in a city full of fools. But it’s not about sex, it’s about going beyond the flesh and pleasure and about finding God within that unity. He’d written so many songs about this very idea and this is another good one. It would’ve been perfect for the LoveSexy project, but I still wouldn’t change anything.
Technical merit- 4.5 (just that one lyric- “there will be peace for those who love God a lot”… it just seems pedestrian compared to a lot else on this song, which is brilliant)
Components score- 4
Total score- 8.5

WE CAN FUNK
…aw, funk… things were starting to go so well…
Prince is a master lyricist, but I’m pretty unforgiving when something just doesn’t come off right. I’m not going to go through it again. But there’s a lot to give credit for as well. A funky jam with some elements from different times in Prince’s career because he’d take this song out of the Vault numerous times to work on it. Great synth hook, love the horns from Eric Leeds and Atlanta Bliss, backing vocals from Wendy & Lisa… but that damn chorus…
Technical score- 4 (only took half off those certain lyrics and from the song as a whole cuz it runs a little long at the end)
Components score- 3.5 (there are a bunch of elements I really like, as I mentioned, but as a whole song, I’m not over the moon for it. I just simply like it despite some misgivings)
Total score- 7.5

JOY IN REPETITION
Prince’s storytelling and blistering electric guitar work at, possibly its best… in a single song.
Another mesmerizing, dreamy track that transports to another place. And it’s given me goosebumps on multiple occasions.
Total score- 10
…whether it or “the ? U” rank higher than the other will depend on the day. This past week, I’d rarely been over the moon about both songs on the same day. But they’re both masterpieces because when they hit, they kill me. They’re both so good. I’m really glad Prince brought them back from the Vault so we can experience them like this. Even if it’s on an album not often appreciated within the fan community.

TICK TICK BANG
…it’s just a rollercoaster, isn’t it? Thankfully this is the last bump in the road.
I’ve already given this song a hard enough time. I should probably just give my scores and press onward.
Technical score- 3 (the music sounds cheesy with not enough soul, the only lyric I like is “…chain around my hip, I want a 24 karat relationship”, and I gave a full point for Prince just being ballsy enough to release this on a major soundtrack. But it’s nowhere near as masterful as Darling Nikki)
Components score- 2
Total score- 5

THIEVES IN THE TEMPLE
…this song is something special and I wish the radio would play it. It falls within the confines of the general length most radio stations allow. It’s catchy, poppy, great storytelling, and cinematic. I just wish the music video reflected the vision I had in my head when I have “the very best of” on heavy rotation.
Technical merit- 5 (the music is so unique in this point of his career- nothing else like it, great lyrics, vocals as well as great backing vocals, really put together well… need I say more?)
Components score- 4.5 (I can’t really want to call it a masterpiece, but it’s definitely one of my personal favorites)
Total score- 9.5

STILL WOULD STAND ALL TIME
The truly gospel songs Prince had done so far are The Ladder and The Cross. This one is better than both of them. In that, it tells a compelling story, uses the same elements over and over, but it never gets boring. It gets emotional. I think what had been missing for me from this song until I recently got to this album… I need to experience moments in my life where I felt alone or hopeless and I needed something to believe in. If I knew then what I know now, I’d have played this song so much and given myself more peace of mind over things.
Technical merit- 5 (again, just can’t fault it)
Component score- 4.5 (I’ve felt a personal connection with it, but it doesn’t run nearly deep enough to give it full credit)
Total score- 9.5

GRAFFITI BRIDGE
…we’ve finally reached the end.
And I like this song. I’m not over the moon in love with it, but I like it a lot. I kinda like having this bright hopeful song after the last one to leave off the album (at least the way it was given to me) on a better note.
The message is fairly simple and who doesn’t want to find something to believe in, a reason to believe there’s Heaven, someone who makes you laugh when you want to cry… those are lyrics I really responded to because of where my head is at right now.
Technical merit- 4 (I took a little off for that descent of notes down the chromatic scale, it’s just really predictable and cheesy. This also is a song I can’t imagine only Prince being able to write. Positivity is one thing, but it’s not something only he would be able to put out there)
Components score- 4
Total score- 8

Okay, now for the math… and it’s almost 2 am now. Geesh… I can’t wait to sleep after this… if I can.

The ? of U- 10
Joy in Repetition- 10
Thieves in the Temple- 9.5
Still Would Stand all time- 9.5
New Power Generation- 9.5
Elephants & Flowers- 8.5
Graffiti Bridge- 8
We can funk- 7.5
Can’t stop this feeling I got- 6
Tick Tick Bang- 5

Total score is 83.5. Since I have 10 tracks…

yeah, my score for Graffiti Bridge is 8.35, possibly to be rounded up to 8.4.

I had such a hard time getting albums to break the 8 point barrier within my system… and Graffiti Bridge managed to get through.
That’s insane.

Of course I want to take my two 10’s along for the ride, but the material on this album is so good… I gotta throw the 9.5’s in to the mix too.

So going forward…

The ? of U
Joy in Repetition
Thieves in the Temple
Still Would Stand All Time
New Power Generation

I won’t go through all the details again…
but I have 6 albums scoring 8.0 or higher… and this is one of them.

Call me crazy if you want, but I can’t help how I feel.

Now hopefully I can break away from this album well enough so I can go onto the next.

I’d say for when the really good stuff starts to begin… but this one was a lot better than I expected it to be.

Biggest surprise so far, hands down.

And when I hit publish, this would be my 7th and finish revision on this particular post. But to be fair, a bunch of the saves were from the last several hours πŸ˜›

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