In case anyone is wondering why I put “Prince” in quotes for this and my Come entry (one of a few things I forgot to mention)… he was going by O(+> at the time much of this material was recorded.
As I had said during my Come entry, these two albums are siblings. But more than that, they’re practically fraternal twins. Their material was recorded between 1992-1995 and certain tracks appeared on configurations for the other album before finding their current home.
I didn’t quite realize until now how much I’d been looking forward to discussing this album.
We have a really long history with several ups and downs.
[Speaking of ups and downs– my obligatory commentary about Matt Thorne’s book, which I’d been reading alongside the albums– I had a really bad feeling that, given past chapters, he was going to trash parts of this album.
I can understand the overproduced commentary. To a point, I will agree. The comments on P. Control being the wrong opening track for an album introducing O(+>… I concede the point. Calling “Now” and “319” forgettable– fine.
But when you call “Shh” a “run-of-the-mill Prince ballad”… and worse… “Gold” a “failure”… I wanted to quote Billy Sparks in “Purple Rain”– “what the *** is wrong with you?!”… but to try to temper myself, I thought about how Marvin the Martian says when he’s angry…
I was fuming over a couple tweets and over the first hour back at work after my lunch break… by the time I got back to the album in my car, I finally calmed down and his comments faded away..
Then with the ups– he called “The Ultimate Live Experience” an underappreciated tour. While the stage set-up didn’t justify the solid material, he’d welcome a live album. Considering this would have included “Days of Wild”… he makes a good point.
He also pointed out various financial difficulties Prince had during the show and how he was at war with the sound guy.
I’ll say it again- I like reading for the facts because I don’t know a lot of what happened behind the scenes. But when you start to exert an obscenely negative opinion over something- particularly songs that many die-hard fans freaking “Adore”… you’re asking for it. I’ll leave it there]
So- my history with this album… we have a very long history with many ups and downs. Probably the most insane rollercoaster I experienced with any Prince album.
Way back in 2007, the first time I’d been home and off campus since seeing Prince’s HalfTime show, talking with fellow fans online and learning about him… I was finally able to buy albums.
Saturday, I got Musicology and The Very Best of… at Walmart.
Sunday, I got The Gold Experience and 3121.
Around somewhere between then and the following week, I rented Purple Rain from Blockbuster and saw it at least 6 times- one day, I watched it twice.
Of those discs, TGE was the third I got to.
But the history started even earlier than March 2017… I was doing my research, trying to figure out what albums I wanted to invest in. I also watched whatever interviews, music videos and live performances I could find.
My first impression of this album was the “Dolphin” performance on Letterman. I have not watched it since… because I just find it too difficult to see again. It broke my heart to see him like that- not feeling the performance, “dying” in the end and Mayte dragging him off stage.
I’m sure a few people, who read my reaction, told me that he was being overdramatic because he was protesting WB refusing to release the album. But that doesn’t change the fact I never wanted to see him like that again.
Sometime later, someone messaged me with a link to “Love 4 One Another” to sell me on the album.
The one outstanding negative about that made-for-TV movie, which I didn’t piece together until I got the album… none of the songs except “Gold” was part of that special at all. That just made no sense to me at all. And I didn’t really care for much of the other material there.
Then again, that one album track… that made ALL the difference. More on that later… much more…
After L4OA, I decided that I’d get the album if I was ever able to find it.
I just never expected to find it when I did.
FYE is my go-to place for my music. It still is, even though I hadn’t been in quite some time.
11 of my albums came from the one nearby or back where I used to live.
Anyway- I’ve never bought anything used before Prince and at least 3 of my albums are used and I’d never had a problem with them glitching out on me.
that special Sunday, I went to FYE and audibly gasped when I saw TGE on the shelf. It was used for $17.99. I knew this was a super rare find. And I haven’t seen a copy of it since.
Part of me still wonders why someone sold it back. Did they pick it up and were so put off by some of the same things I was and return it right away? Or was it a quick way to make money?
So I put this album in my CD player and gave it a go… my entire body felt like it was on fire and I really don’t remember how the rest of it went…
Considering the type of person I was at that time, this album was my kryptonite. Despite the good material on it, it had everything I originally disliked about a lot of Prince’s music. I was a virgin (still a virgin, but that’s not important) who HATED rap and was uncomfortable with cursing. Plus, I didn’t like Prince’s screaming. Two songs in, I was practically dead.
I don’t recall how long it took me to fall in love with everything but the one song… but eventually, I came around. I don’t know how- but little by little, it happened.
After this last listen… I may have overcome that final barrier.
I thought about “Now” and predicting I’d be giving it 1.5 as a components score. It’s a song I’ve always skipped. I’d only heard it maybe 5 times ever and mostly that first year.
But I noticed I’d given 1.5 on two other occasions- and they were two songs that I didn’t really like anything about them. There wasn’t one moment or lyric that stood out in a positive light.
The funny thing is: I barely listen to the song, but there are certain lyrics I remembered.
Again- I hate when Prince incorporates rap in his music or tries to rap and act in the gangster guise because I don’t see him as that person.
But on most accounts, if the lyrics are good and they don’t feel too jumbled up and they seem to be saying something, I’ve been coming around.
But I have more confidence now that I could give it 2.5 and the album’s stock wouldn’t crash. Especially when there are so many heavy-hitters on it.
“P. Control”… this was my first encounter with a song where Prince had shortened the official title on the album tracklisting to get it past the censors (or at least make it seem too explicit)… I didn’t know much of anything those days about anything sexual, but I knew enough for “pussy control” for it to leave a bad taste in my mouth.
And that first lyric “good morning ladies and gentlemen, boys and MF’ing girls”… add that and the final line before the chorus… yeah, we didn’t get off to a great foot.
I didn’t find out until later that this was supposed to be a song about female empowerment. It tells the story of a girl who got beat up in school, she went on to get a master’s degree in college and hire the guys who beat her up as a kid and made them work for free. And she didn’t put up with any BS or fall for a man with no money to his name.
After those first couple months, I didn’t mind it nearly as much. Although Prince attempting to be gangster (and how, at this time, he really went into the black rapper street lingo)… to me, it felt like putting an act and he really didn’t talk like this. He certainly didn’t during his previous 16 albums.
But what I always take away from this song when I listen to the album as a whole– the music sets the tone for the rest of the album. That electro-spacey sound like he was coming down from the mothership from another planet. Especially that instrumental break within the last minute before he does the chorus one final time and it fades out.
“Endorphinmachine”… plain and simple… this song scared the hell out of me. The screaming, the guitar… those final 30 seconds… it took me the longest time to come around. And it was the same way it was with “Darling Nikki”… sooner or later, I just got into it and I’d been a fan ever since.
Any die-hard fan will tell you how they hate the album version because it has bloody cowbell. I’d only heard a non-cowbell version a couple times and I can see what they’re getting at. But this is the only version I have, so I’m not gonna complain.
And today, I didn’t lock in for most of it (maybe cuz I was too worried about whether I had time for one more song… and I did)… but during the second to last scream, I just let loose and it felt amazing. That final scream is probably my favorite Prince scream ever– just wow!
“Shh”… this was an early favorite on this album and early favorite Prince song because I had access to it so early.
This is quite possibly one of my favorite Prince songs ever. I’m talking top 10 here, potentially top 5 or even 3. Everything about it. Starting from the Michael Bland drum solo to his crystal clear vocal in the normal register, nicely place falsetto notes… and those guitar solos. They’re my favorite guitar solos on this album and among my favorites in all of his music. However, I do have this issue where I like them as they are on the album and any variation that goes too far away from the original doesn’t give me that same enjoyment.
However, Prince did perform it live in 2003 in Hong Kong- I have the video somewhere and I’d watched it a bunch of times. That’s the best version I’d heard beyond the album.
The guitar work is so good here because it’s powerful and emotional. Prince channels through it the words he’s unable to speak.
And for me personally- I’ll listen to this song and if everything is just right in the world around me, phew… before I habitually put “gasm” at the end of words, that was a freaking eargasm if there ever was on. I’d describe the feeling as “making love without words but with pure emotion” and to quote Automatic “we kiss, not with our lips, but with our souls”
I really don’t visualize anything but Prince performing this. I don’t see myself in this picture at all, but by the end of it, I am spent as if something physical happened. And I have cried- whether it was during the final guitar solo or when the song ends and fades out and I’m sad it’s all over. It breaks my heart, but simultaneously it feels like the best thing that’s ever happened.
Yeah- it’s going to become fairly obvious which songs I’ll give the big scores. To me, this album is kinda like a long term relationship that works. We spend all this time apart, but when we get back together, the magic rekindles as if we’d never been apart. I’d used this analogy before, but it’s like slipping on a favorite jacket.
And as I said on the previous post, I won’t count the NPG Operator segues as songs. So there are 12 songs I’m working with here. With one exception, possibly 2, every song is getting 3+ for components scores from me.
“We March”– first off, the synth notes at the beginning of this, that reminded me of “P. Control” and that’s what helps bind this first portion of the album together for me.
Occasionally, I skip this one. I don’t mind it, but when I have this album on heavy rotation, I don’t care it for nearly as much as the 10 other songs. And it comes down to the subject matter. It recalls the world of Martin Luther King, but gives it a current twist. It’s about the world rebuffing you and not allowing opportunity to improve your quality of life because of your race, class or background and people banding together to change that.
It’s kinda funny how these past couple years this song might have been appropriate to bring back into the set list. Instead, Prince wrote “Baltimore.”
Ultimately, as a white girl, I’m not going to get much out of this song. Not going to find that emotional connection.
It tells a good story and there’s some good lyrics, but as a whole… I’m not crazy about it, but it’s ok.
“The Most Beautiful Girl in the World”… there was much ado about this song. Much history. It was first Prince’s first independent release under the new name and it was a huge commercial success. But most fans will say how they hate this overproduced version.
For me- I heard this version first, so to me, the original version sounds too stripped down. The chord progression in the musical part is too subtle and feels unspectacular to me. I thrive on those bright and beautiful synth notes. Matt Thorne complained how much he hated this new version with the actual ticking clock and various sound effects.
I can concede a point that maybe we didn’t need the ticking clock and we didn’t need the shooting star effects either. But everything else- I love and want to keep as it is.
The one deciding point between the two versions- I love the ending of this version. I hate the original because it doesn’t have that beautiful downward progression- it just keeps going and fades out. A song this good- capitalize on that- do a great finale that’ll kill you, but leave you wanting more. I think about that ending and my eyes threaten to tear up- it’s one of many beautiful song endings that make me do that.
Anyway- what can I say about it? It’s a perfectly written song. The lyrics are on point without being too cliché. Prince’s vocal performance– so good! Although my favorite is when he has that spoken portion 😛
“Dolphin”… another song with much contention about overproduction… I can concede a point or two, again. Maybe we didn’t the actual dolphin sounds in the last 30 seconds… but that doesn’t change anything. The Undertaker sessions had a really good version- but there isn’t much to that. Just a verse and a guitar solo and the song ends and there’s a coda.
The 2nd verse sometimes comes off a little odd to me- almost like it doesn’t fit the song, but considering songs like “We March,” it kinda fits the album and Prince’s mindset at the time.
This is a song I’ll always sing along with in my natural voice. When it gets to that bridge before the guitar solo, I really pour into the “but you wouldn’t let me in!” lyric. Another great guitar solo. The lyrics, I can relate to a lot. It’s about wanting to be yourself, choose your own path in life and wanting to drown out (pun not intended) the voices saying you can’t. [Maybe not entirely what Prince was going for, but I get my own thing out of it and it’s a good feeling to have a song like this to always vent to if I need to].
“Now”… the standout for me is the lyrics. The way he starts the verses with numbers, it might be a little cliché, but I don’t really care. They make for good rhymes. I’m half hoping I’ll one day be able to rap this as good as Prince (who isn’t the best rapper to begin with) cuz there’s some cool stuff. The music is kinda… meh. It sounds like a “Days of Wild” knockoff. I don’t care for “Days of wild” much to begin with, but I can appreciate it for what it is and I know “Now” is just a cheap imitation meant to be a more commercial number.
The two parts I really don’t like– the dope reference (not because I don’t like drug discussion in music but it just feels like it comes out of nowhere) and when Prince screams his head off at the end… it feels like he’s trying too hard or that it’s just unnecessary. Maybe he just didn’t know how else to end the song.
“319”… this number is a bit of a joke as in it’s not meant to be serious, so I have fun with it. There are some hilarious lyrics in between the verses where Prince does commentary on what’s going on at the moment. And of course it’s one of those numbers that Prince ingrained into my brain. I see 319 and I can’t help but think of him and this song.
“Shy”… I’ve always liked this one. It’s a cool change of pace. Prince is great at storytelling yet again. The question is how much of the story is true. Really, I could care less.
the “passed my initiation” lyric- I always think of that line from “Purple Rain”… what initiation? but then she tells us.
When I first heard “Walk don’t walk,” I immediately thought of “Shy” because it has the same opening percussion bits.
It’s one of those great chill-out tracks. And the coda, maybe it lasts a little long sometimes, but other times, when I’m in it, it’s all good. It’s not one of the big flashy numbers on this album, but I love it all the same. That’s why Prince is the best. He can win people over on quiet little numbers like this one.
“Billy Jack Bitch”… this was one of those songs I had a problem with in the beginning just on the title alone. It’s kinda weird that I liked “Irresistible Bitch” despite the title, but I hated this one.
But it had a lot more to do with that “BITCH!” sample put throughout the song. It’s at the point now where I’d all but tuned it out. But I really didn’t like it and found it offensive and annoying. The song didn’t need it to succeed.
This was Prince hitting back at a journalist who made fun of his new name. And what a kiss-off this is. The delivery alone makes this song so catchy and fun to sing along to. The backing vocals from the NPG in between the choruses and verses and throughout the song… they just do a chorus of “whoas” but they’re among my favorite backing vocals ever.
I’ve always thought of it as the last big party before the album gets serious. So when the NPG Operator tells us to “choose another experience” I always go “awww…” like “do I have to?”
“Eye Hate U”
…phew… this song is a monster. It made a big impression the first time and each time, it always does. Great vocal, heartbreaking lyrics. Then things change and we’re in court– that’s a cool change of pace. Then things get really out of hand, the emotions escalate…
Today, I really got into that final line “I hate you because I love you”… I did it at the top of my lungs (although I was in at full blast starting at “did you do to your other man the same things that you did to me?”)… that guitar solo pours so much into it… yet another great guitar solo.
But this one… I freaking kills me… you have no idea… the whole song is so emotionally charged that when I get to the end of this one, my heart is beating a million miles an hour, I’m panting…
I don’t care for segues in general… but I am so grateful to have the one between this and “Gold”… there’s no way I’d be able to bridge that gap unless I just put the album on pause until my vitals return to normal.
It’s all been building to this…
There are so many good songs on this album, but there are times where I block this out because I don’t want the album to be about waiting for it to come on. I want to appreciate everything in between before getting to the big finale.
I’ll never forget the first time I heard it. It was the final performance of L4OA.
From the first note, my ears perked up and then the opening chords… the first note… something extraordinary happened. And now it’s hard to put into words, so I’ll come out and say it:
“Gold” is my favorite Prince song. I never have a good solid answer what my favorite album is, but I knew very early on that this was my favorite song.
And it had been there for me many times where I felt like I needed answers. There was always a word or a lyric that sang to me and that was the message I took away from it. And whatever I was stressing about or depressed about, it made everything feel better.
That first week with these new albums- I had an episode where I was experiencing overload. I was overwhelmed by all the music I already had (and it wasn’t much). I was overwhelmed by the lyrics in this album and how much I disagreed with them. And I felt uncomfortable about the sexual side of Prince’s music.
To call this song a “failure”… I can understand why people call it a “Purple Rain” rip-off or copy and that’s fine… and it wasn’t just putting in the same sentence as “Graffiti Bridge,” another song that tried to do the same message but not quite getting there. Yes, the lyrics for “Gold” are cliché…
but if it wasn’t for this song, I would have failed as a Price fan. I might not have progressed beyond those first few albums.
All I can about what happened… it felt like divine intervention happened. I felt like I connected with Prince and I heard his voice giving me advice on how to go forward. Mainly doing things at my own pace, doing what I was comfortable with and not worrying what everyone else was saying (people were telling me that I was stupid to get myself into this when there was so much about his music that I wasn’t comfortable with… they were on Housequake… I didn’t spend much time on there after that beyond watching the videos- until the site got shut down by the WebSheriff)…
and it was like reassuring me everything was going to be okay.
Go ahead and call me crazy… but even these days, I connect with Prince through this song one way or another.
I don’t think I got anything from the lyrics– except the “ocean of despair” and I thought about how all of us were so sad when he died. I wasn’t sad before hearing this song today- but there was a moment somewhere where I wanted to get in touch with him and again, he reassured me everything was going to be ok.
And I typically do cry during this song, if not from the beginning, then certainly as it’s ending and for moments afterwards.
Then there came a point where everything just felt like it was back to normal, but I felt almost enlightened, without a care in the world.
Needless to say, I need to be sure not to listen to this song too much this week.
I think I’ll play the album twice, hear it in L4OA, and then maybe one last time when I hear the album once more. I never want to lose the feeling it gives me, so I don’t play this album terribly often.
day 2 was a rollercoaster and it ended on a downer…
in the whole time I’d been spellbound by “Gold,” I’d never had a listen where I got nothing out of it. I just felt like something was missing and it made me sad. I was tempted to restart the song at a point, but I didn’t have the luxury of time to do so. And I figured I’d have other opportunities.
I almost gave into despair and got upset about it, but I rationalized it a couple of ways.
Prince was in spirit with me very strongly yesterday and just maybe someone else was missing him more than I was and he was with them instead. And that’s ok.
It could also be that I had such an amazing moment with him earlier in the day that it was too much to ask.
I had the best experience with “Shh” I’d had in a long time. And by that, I don’t mean it hadn’t affected me very strongly in a long time. What I mean is that I hadn’t had the perfect set of circumstances for the absolute perfect listen in a long time.
It didn’t put me over the top, but it met the top at the perfect angle. It didn’t make me tear or get overly emotional and I wasn’t sad.
It kinda felt like the best sex ever, but we made love without words. Or rather he did and I was an extremely willing participant.
…I’m not making much sense, am I?
It was the best experience with any song of his in a long time… I’ll end it there.
It’s an odd song on the album because, unlike the rest, where I can picture Prince in the current time frame… when I listen to this, I picture him as he was in the early 2000’s when I was first getting to know him. Mainly because of that 2003 performance in Hong Kong I have saved somewhere and had seen a bunch of times.
I finally had the opportunity to really let loose with Endorphinmachine- it just hadn’t been working for me 100% in the morning. I get maybe 70% of it what I really want to. And it’s usually within the last two minutes with the guitar solo, the bridge and the screams.
So I found a couple live performances on YouTube- although one was the prize you win if you beat the Interactive game. Either way, really cool… the second one, he looked like he was wearing ample eyeliner and shadow, but he wears it so much better than most girls do.
He was very feminine during this time period in his look- between when he did The Beautiful Experience up until he filmed L4OA and was doing these live appearances.
Going between the two songs I like the least on this album…
I think that We March might actually be at the bottom with Now just above it.
…it’s to the point where I actually don’t mind “Now” and could give it 3.
The technical side might actually be the Achilles’ heel. The music isn’t terribly original and there isn’t much of it. Prince’s screams at the end are over the top and hard to listen to. The lyrics are ok.
as for We March, the technical side is ok- the music is good, it’s put together well… but I don’t know how much of it is particularly unique to Prince. I don’t get much of his particular brand of energy in it at all.
There are also a couple of lyrics that are odd to me.
First of all- the whole rhyme of “dammy” and “mammy”… it’s worse than rhyming “moon” and “June”… because “dammy” isn’t even a word. And because “mammy” is a word that’s part of African-American culture, that takes me out of the song immediately and it’s hard for me to hook back into it.
Also- the 2nd verse is completely irrelevant to the rest of the song- it’s about a sister you call a bitch who will leave your broke ass in a ditch and not being able to find a reason to call her… that’s all I got.
The first and third verse all relate to the reasons for marching- but this thing about the estranged sister… I don’t get it. Maybe Peach & Black can explain that one to me.
I’ll be spending the next two days with them on my commutes home… I figure I’m good with the album for now and I can always play songs that catch my attention if I so choose.
“Now” is probably one of those big joke tracks where Prince likes to go over the top, but there are little bits of truth in there… I think…
the funny thing is- when I try to rap along with it, I feel like my level of expertise is level with Prince– in that, his rapping really isn’t that great, but at least he’s trying?? …I dunno.
I also noticed he used the lyric “and that’s a fact”… he’d used that before… in the same song where he said “work this mother to the max” and in “Now” he says “the booty pumping the max”…
oh yeah… Housequake… I wonder he realized that when he wrote this song he’d used some lyrics before.
“Now” also has a nice tie-in to P. Control- the 2nd verse sounds like it’s talking about that character.
I know the first 2 verses pretty well, though not perfectly. But I lose my way in the next 2.
it’s so weird how the music and mood changes in the 3rd verse- I only remember the 2nd part where he says “would you rather die alone- if you change your mind, you can reach me on your video phone” and then the “2 bloody cents” lyric- which is why .org had a :2cents: emoticon.
Then I look up the lyrics and the lyric is “would you rather DINE alone”… I thought since the “death” of Prince was a big thing at that time that “die alone” made perfect sense.
It’s kinda cool to think how Prince was talking about video phones… we got that on our cellphones some 25 years or so after he wrote that line.
By this point, I have a really good idea of how these songs will rate with my whole system. The majority of the technical scores will be high. Several 5’s.
I know certain songs I feel like they’re a 3.5 or a 4 or a 4.5. And which ones will get a total of 9 or 9.5.
But there are a couple I’m still on the fence about. Very few, though.
Prince is probably the most underrated guitar hero in all of rock music.
I can’t think of an album that’s a better showcase of that.
Nothing against the Purple Rain guitar solos- they’re all awesome.
But in this album, I feel like there’s a lot more range emotionally. It gives them another dimension.
Endorphinmachine is the standard.
Shh has power, but also comes somewhere between joy and sadness. It often strikes me as sad even though it’s a song about seduction and the rapture that comes afterwards.
Dolphin is conflicted with flashes of anger.
Eye Hate U… omg… forget it… that’s furious and emotional and it just kills me every time.
And Gold has a very celebratory feel to that final solo. Considering my personal relationship with it, this might sound strange- but I’d rank it below Eye Hate U and Shh. I think seeing him perform that solo on L4OA won me over more than the actual solo itself.
Billy Jack Bitch- I wanted to comment on this earlier… I love that keyboard hook that plays throughout the song, usually before the start of a verse and it also ends the song. Maybe it’s because I saw him perform this one while wearing a hat- he also wore this hat during the “Jam” performance in L4OA… it sounds either country or something that you’d do a Texas two-step to. When I hear that hook, I move my hips back and forth to it like I’m doing a cha-cha step in place.
I’ve always done that and it’s still fun every time.
This is maybe my favorite track that features a Tommy Barbarella solo- his work throughout this track is so great. Take that and the horns away and it’d be very boring.
And going by princevault, I’d already seen the lip-synched performance at the AMA’s. The performance I saw where he wore that hat was at Wembley for a live TV appearance.
Another interesting thing- he premiered this at Paisley Park along with Eye hate U, Days of Wild and Now… and he had recorded “letitgo” earlier that same day… he doesn’t waste any time, does he? 😛
some other random comments I’m picking up while going through princevault… it actually talks about how the fans disliked the overdubbing on Endorphimachine cuz they’d heard it live before the release (they said Fury and Zannalee had the same thing happen)
I don’t ever want to hear the Tevin Campbell version of “Shh”… I like it Prince’s way and no one else’s will match it. [I also find it interesting that the last live performance was 2013… Endorphinmachine was last hear in 2014]
TMBGITW- he performed this at his last concert… there was a performance at Monaco I remember rather well- he and Mayte were completely in sync… I found it…
Shy was only performed live once… wow… I know it’s not a big bombastic number, but still… it’s good for acoustic sets, I think.
back to that TMBGITW performance (the world music awards in Monaco)… I don’t remember it all that well- because back then I didn’t like Prince having this feminine look. Everything about this worked. So what if it was lip synched? The performance of it was what mattered. He and Mayte together- this is the best I’ve seen them so far. The chemistry makes it so obvious that they’re together at this point. And I actually saw her do a little ballet at the end- I learned from her book that she had a lot of ballet training. It was nice to see some good comments about her. But there’s always a couple of jerks. One called her a backstabber… they have no freaking idea what they’re talking about… I haven’t finished the book yet so I don’t know exactly what happened after it all, but I have a good idea just from the snippets of interviews and such.
But I just fell in love with Prince all over again after that… and that’s always a good thing 😉
and Gold was last performed in Sydney in 2012… other than those 5 songs, the majority didn’t make it out of the 1993-1996 period, which is kinda sad. But I think all the ones that got brought back were the best from the album.
I don’t know how much further I can take this without giving the scores… so I’ll call it quits for now and return with some Peach & Black comments.
I’d been looking forward to this podcast for a long time- I know it’s one of MC’s favorite albums and he’d brought up Dolphin, Endorphinmachine and Shy in other album reviews… and I’m curious to see how they’ll go into the tracks I don’t particularly care about- see if they feel the same way or they like them- in which case, I’ll try to keep those comments in mind for my next listen.
so it’s been a couple more days and I finished the podcast.
It’s kinda disappointing how the guys didn’t hate some of the moments I did (Prince screaming at the end of “Now” and the “bitch” sample on the other song… I still hate that)
But some bold proclamations…
firstly how everyone (even MC was still rating albums at this point) gave it a 9 or higher, which is pretty awesome.
I think when I wind up doing the rankings for these albums at the end of it at all… just to determine what my favorites are, I will drop the lowest scoring track to even things out.
In the old ordinal system of figure skating, I think they would sometimes drop the highest and lowest score. And there’s a good chance I could do that and it’ll work just as well.
I might test both and see just how much I’m willing to give away- but with albums where there’s more than one perfect 10 track, it’s going to be irrelevant
I was also a little disappointed reading Mayte’s book because there was very little on this album at all. I could only do a page or two and then we were in Emancipation territory.
That section’s probably going to be so long that it’ll span the three weeks I’m working through that massive set. But it’s not as if I have a lot of free time to read at work and there’s other stuff I’d rather be doing at home.
“We March” and “319” got passed over as album tracks… they’re not singles or filler, but they’re just album tracks.
I’m surprised the guys didn’t go into the lyrics of “We March” and brought up my previous point about the 2nd verse not making much sense in the grand scheme of things.
Then with 319, MC said it’s not the greatest, but he had so much fun with it. He talked about how if you took off We March and P Control and maybe one other song, it’d be a solid album. And Toejam was like “really?” when he didn’t put 319 in that category.
“Shy” got a lot of negatives… love for the music, but hate of the lyrics that kinda spoil it. They didn’t quite get why she says she’s shy but she also killed someone and told a random stranger (aka Prince) about it at a bar.
Then they said something that kinda blew my mind cuz it was something that should’ve been obvious that I didn’t figure out until the same time they revealed it.
“The girl was rough but he called her bluff”… they said that she probably made that whole story up to make herself look cooler than she is. And “fact to fiction he wondered” could just be them in bed together where the “rain and thunder got wetter”…
I always read that line as him trying to picture how to turn this real life experience into a fictional song.
I still like “Shy”- that storyline never bothered me.
Player made some funny comments- one was talking about seeing Showgirls and the other guy in the theater.
He said how they played P Control at a club and this girl was digging him, but she left cuz she hated the song (I kinda realized then that’s why he has that name… but I’m kinda disappointed that Captain didn’t reveal that he got his name from the “this is your captain with no name speaking” lyric in that song… maybe it could have just been because he’s a Trekkie)
He was the one who seemed to be the most in-the-know at this time because he was aware of nearly all the songs and had heard them before the album came out. And he was kind hard on Endorphinmachine… but there was a funny reason for that too.
He thought Prince had ripped off the riff from “Smoke on the Water” and he joked how Beavis & Butthead did that riff all the time… I can’t believe he knows about Beavis & Butthead. Or how that even made it out of the US. That was such a great show 😛
Toejam was a little tough on Dolphin being overproduced. Captain was harsh on several… he didn’t like my favorite part of TMBGITW which is the outro…
the last time I heard the song, I actually only listened to the music cuz that’s my favorite part. The lyrics are good, but they don’t grab me nearly as much as some others he wrote.
With Dolphin, they wondered if it was the first time he addressed reincarnation of a song.
I thought about and said “guys, you forgot 7… you know, the ’12 souls from now’ lyric”
Toejam said how fans tend to overrate it… I’m not sure if it was this song or Gold where someone joked that .org was gonna get him for having an unpopular opinion.
The final three songs got a lot of praise.
Toejam was the only one who didn’t rave about Gold or had anything negative to say about it… saying that Prince tried too hard to follow the Purple Rain template.
I can concede that point…
I had this tremendous fear that someone would say something bad about it or that Captain would say it’s just overproduced like much of the album… he said it was ok.
Then he and MC made a bold statement that MC actually responded to when I tweeted about it.
They said that Gold was better than Purple Rain… I couldn’t believe it.
Here’s my take… Gold is my FAVORITE Prince song- it had been tattooed on my soul since I first heard it and it’s been my special connection to Prince.
But with Purple Rain… it’s hard to disregard it. It’s a solid power ballad with so many good points to it. But it doesn’t carry that personal stamp- the first time I really felt that special connection was seeing the movie after his death… all the words just fit how I felt at that moment and I’ll never forget it.
MC’s reply to me was you never know what to expect on the podcast and I replied back saying that’s what makes it good.
Then there was a lengthy discussion with a lot of Captain’s ranting… first about what could have been with this album if it was properly promoted by Prince and WB… then he asked multiple times “what’s that guy gone?”- the one who played new music at concerts instead of the hits.
Oh man, if this album got the proper promotion… that would’ve been it 😛 and I mean that as a good thing.
Then Captain moaned how this was the last great album or the last of bad-ass Prince. Then he got married and it went downhill from there…
Geesh! I mean, no longer having that bad-ass NPG line-up is one thing… but the marriage itself didn’t ruin the rest of Prince’s career. And I don’t like hearing that mentality from anyone… that’s why .org and I started to move in different directions.
If nothing tragic had happened and they remained together, things would have turned out fine. Heck, Prince might have even retired from the business if he wanted to and his so-called “legacy” would speak for itself.
But it’s because the tragedies happened that he sought out religion, which changed his whole method of musical production. And may have led to some other consequences in his life.
I mean, I might not give Emancipation the best score, but I’m not about to call it a failure when it was THE album I was dying to own because it represented so much about his life.
Had I been unable to find Gold… I think I might’ve been ok with it until I heard this podcast 😛 then I’d be dying to get it and wouldn’t be able to find it.
Like I said, my copy was used at FYE for $17.99… I checked my receipt and it said the date was 3/11/07… add those numbers together, you get 21… I’m not reading too much into it, but I think kinda cool. It was fated to be.
It would have killed me if Gold got passed over as a Purple Rain rip-off…
then Billy Jack had another funny moment from Player who said how CJ is an idiot for cheering that he wrote a song about her and seems to have no idea it’s a diss.
Since the first time I heard the story behind it, I couldn’t help but think of Rita Skeeter in the Harry Potter universe… exact same thing.
I’m amazed how much this song got praise. Not that it’s bad, but it was surprising.
I figured that it’d get lost among the bigger numbers, but it is just as good.
I had thoughts on what I’d give Endorphinmachine…
the odd thing is that unless I’m in the mood, the half the song passes me by and I don’t really get into it in the 2nd half.
But the 2nd half also has three moments that drive me insane. I listened to it at work and it was almost a disaster 😛 I can’t help but almost scream my head off when he does. I had to keep all that energy inside or I’d just look like a nutcase.
If they don’t already think I am because I don’t engage conversation that often.
What I mean is that I can’t give it a lesser score in order to be fair to the other albums when it has 3 “blow-your-head off” moments. It’s just impossible.
Yesterday I did the late night mix of “Eye Hate U”… I don’t know what the heck happened, but it just wowed me so much. I’ve always liked this version, but I think I just missed the courtroom scene. As the dialogue got towards the end, I just got so suckered in that by the time it ended I was in utter disbelief.
He’s just SO GOOD at this. It’s crazy.
I think I also have a plan for this last listen… I think I’ll go through the whole album, but stop before Gold… then I’ll watch L4OA and listen to Gold at the end of it… then I’ll do the number game.
Unless something shakes loose in the final listen, I think my scores are pretty much set as they are.
But now I have one final obstacle in my way… which hopefully won’t dismantle everything…
The Revolution have their concert tonight and I’m going… still doesn’t feel real yet, but when it happens, I think I’ll just die 😛
The Revolution was the best concert I’d been to, but that’s another post in the making.
“Gold” had been calling out to me earlier today, so I’m gonna give the album one final go. I’ll listen through the whole thing on my laptop… stopping at the end of the final segue… then I’ll watched L4OA which ends with “Gold”…
then… I’ll make my final judgements and see if this album can beat Purple Rain or at least stack up against its predecessor, Come.
So on previous listens, I’d laid in bed listening to these albums one final time and I’ve had issue with staying awake (nothing against Prince- my work schedule and my sleep schedule are always in conflict)… this time, I had the album going in my laptop with my headphones on and grooving in my computer chair, sometimes tapping my fingers to the beat.
From 319 onward, sleep deprivation was starting to take hold, I could feel, but I kept everything in rhythm to stave that off.
Finally, I got to “Eye Hate U” and by the time the final 45 seconds came, I was wide awake, going through the motions.
The scoring is going to get extra interesting because I might be changing some things that I thought I was positive about. And if that shows I cannot be unbiased with this album, so be it.
Now onto Love 4 One Another- which I don’t think I’ve seen in a couple years.
Other than that first time where I decided I wanted the album, I’d only seen it one other time.
I really loved the storyline of this special. And of course I felt like I could relate to it, although it was way too early to say I’m his biggest fan and I never will be. There are many other people who went to great lengths to see him in concert several times and had been to Paisley Park and so on. I never did any of that and some things I won’t ever get to do.
I loved the interplay between him and Nikki (loved the name cuz it was a reminder of “Darling Nikki”- probably was intentional) with the dictionary definitions. I don’t care how cliché it is, I’m a sucker for that stuff, especially the way he spins it.
So the setlist was:
Rock n’ Roll is Alive
Days of Wild
I think I liked the version of “Days of wild” better in the Beautiful Experience, or whatever version has the organ hook in the chorus more audible than it is here.
and of course after hearing The Undertaker sessions a few times, this version of “The Ride” just won’t cut it.
I liked the set-up of Rock n’ Roll is alive with everyone dressed in snow attire. Especially Mayte with her cute little earmuffs.
The Purple Medley, the first time was absolutely insane. I didn’t know any of these songs yet so it was kinda cool to see this years later and be able to pick out all the songs.
But Gold… that is something else.
I think what the problem I had the other day was… whenever I’d hear this song, I was always going through something and one lyric helped me make better of that situation. And I don’t grab the record and put that song on in those situations. The case usually is that I’ve already had the album with me that day and it just came in handy.
This time, I didn’t respond to any one lyric, but the song as a whole- listening to the nuances in the music and really getting into the performance. I just knew that it felt like home.
And when I feel at home with Prince, everything is right with the world.
Also wanted to add- Nona Gaye’s song was really nice. I didn’t like her quite as much in The Beautiful Experience (a bit annoyed in fact that she doesn’t think she’s beautiful cuz guys don’t approach her… she is gorgeous… I’m not and I have that same problem, but I also have walls up a lot of the time so it’s hard for people to get close enough to know me that way).
And I half wondered if Dave Chappelle’s stand-up was written by him or by Prince- because he talked about hypnosis and going through past lives. Prince did that with Mayte and vice versa.
The very end with Mayte with the ribbon- that image hasn’t left my mind since I first heard the song. And when I saw “Friend” as the circled dictionary word, I was like “awww…” but also kinda sad she and Prince never met face to face.
So… moment of truth… so crazy that I listened to these starting 2 hours ago. It feels like forever. And another day gone.
I thought about this one the other day and realized that Prince might have wrote some of it after Mayte told him about her childhood. She used to get beat up in school because of her Puerto Rican heritage and this producer recorded her singing a song she wrote and wound up not making her a star. Then after getting closer to Prince, “So Dramatic” was getting airplay and she thought how the janitor at the record company made more than she did (at least at the time).
But the rest could be representative of all women who want to stand on their own and make their own way without riding on someone else’s coattails.
While the story is great, the way it is showcased with the music makes for some mixed results.
Technical Merit- 5 (the language can be a little harsh in places but if you can get around that and appreciate what the story is… it’s all good)
Components score- 3.5 (it’s a fair start to the album, although I’m with MC in saying it’s gotta be the weirdest start to a Prince album ever… and this was my 2nd album, really. But the thing is I like it fine… but I don’t get super enthusiastic about it nearly as much as some things coming up next)
Total score- 8.5
After seeing a few live versions, it’s hard to get Mayte’s dancing out of my head. That is a compliment- I love a good visual while listening to Prince.
Lots of great guitar work, some cool lyrics, the rhythm of the lyrics is always on point… the screams are insane. Best Prince scream ever is the last one on this song. I don’t know if this song so much fills me with endorphins as it does adrenaline.
Technical Merit- 5 (cowbell be damned, I ain’t taking anything away from this mark)
Components Score- 4.5
Total score- 9.5
I thought about this one a lot- more than anything so far… there are some moments that are ok in this song, but there are some tremendous highs. I really like the 2nd verse and the breakdown, the guitar solo halfway through and the two killer screams. I cannot get behind those killer screams and not reward it for that. Typically 4.5 and above for components means excessive enthusiasm.
One of Prince’s best bedroom ballads ever. The vocal is like silk with just the right amount of ad libs to keep things engaging all the way through. Amazing instrumentals. The guitar solos- both are out of this world, among his best ever. And the impact at the end… it almost always leaves me breathless and occasionally in tears (not since that first time of the week, though, but that’s fine). The only thing I don’t like are Nona Gaye’s contributions… but I can tune her out and put myself in her place and get everything out of this song. Well, almost everything.
Total score- 10
(I don’t have to break anything down for this one… pun absolutely intended)
This strong start is about to stumble…
Like Peach & Black said, there isn’t quite enough here for me to lock into the song after the first listen in a while. I really like the beginning, but when the verses start to come, it gets a little… I’ll get the numbers to speak for me.
Technical Merit- 4 (the music and vocals are good and it’s a well put together song… some lyrics are solid, but as I’d explained before, there are some duds (rhyming “dammy” and “mammy”- c’mon, man…), and while this is making positives out of a negative situation type of song, there isn’t enough here for me to feel like it’s a Prince song. Where is he in all this?)
Components Score- 2.5
Total score- 6.5 (there are some moments I do like, but not enough of them
THE MOST BEAUTIFUL GIRL IN THE WORLD
this last time around, I really fell back in love with this song. I’ve always liked this version a lot. I’ve had some off moments with it this past week… I just love the musical production on this a little too much to give it anything less (beyond the sound effects, I’d strip those away- I love every other addition).
Technical Merit- 5
Components score- 4.5
Total score- 9.5 (It’s like Endorphinmachine- I feel strongly enough about certain points of a song, I need to reward that… but if I put this up against some other love songs Prince has written, it probably wouldn’t rank as high since the competition is fierce)
Despite the performance where he dies at the end on David Letterman, this was one of my early favorites when I first got the album. It and TMBGITW helped me through those first few confusing listens with all the other crazy stuff. It’s funny how Come looks like a dark album, but Dolphin is angrier than anything on the album… but it was also meant for that album at one point or another.
I don’t care for the 2nd verse quite as much as the rest, but that’s not going to change much of anything.
Technical Merit- 4.5 (okay, I took half a point off for the 2nd verse…)
Components score- 4.5
Total score- 9 (not quite masterpiece status for me, but very solid- should’ve been a single)
…now another dip…
I’d come a long way since I started this journey- when I hated any attempt Prince made at incorporating rap to his music. Like with P. Control, I can admit that some parts of his raps are good. This one might be a little less successful. (Also the kind of music in the verse that starts with “40 45 snakes alive”… the backing vocals remind me of “Fame” by David Bowie… not sure if that was intentional or not).
Technical Merit- 3.5 (ouch… the only musical component I like are the horns, don’t like the verse about drugs- someone on the podcast found that odd also cuz Prince never promoted that stuff in his music before… and the crazy screams at the end… was that really necessary?)
Components score- 3
Total score- 6.5 (if pitted against “We March,” at this moment, I’d take this one. Some parts I kinda like, but other parts I really don’t. Probably will stop skipping this one and maybe skipping the other. Kinda amazing they both got the same score in the end)
side-note: the NPG Operator is saying to access another experience and is stuck on commitment… I hear voices of pleasure in the background. First time I picked that up.
This is a fun one, but after repeated listens… not all of it is getting me excited anymore. The story is great, though. It’s full of great humor. But it gets a little lost among all the heavy weights on this album
Technical Merit- 5
Components score- 3.5
Total score- 8.5 (P. Control would win in a head to head against this one. Also- it’s funny how the podcast said how this reminded me of Robert Palmer… I totally get that now)
Prince storytells so well. The visuals are very strong with this one. I’ve always liked this one and it feels a little underrated. A little forgotten sometimes too. This is one of those scores that was predetermined a while ago.
Technical Merit- 5
Components Score- 4
Total score- 9 (it’s nothing really special in the context of Prince’s work, so it can’t get a really high score. That being said, I like it enough personally where this feels like a solid score)
BILLY JACK BITCH
Lots of great stuff on this one. Prince is firing back at someone who spoke/write ill of him in style- his own personal style. The best band mentality song on the album- lots of participation and solos from everyone.
Technical Merit- 5
Component score- 4
Total score- 9 (this would rank higher than Shy because it is so bombastic with its mob mentality and such. But I don’t get super excited about this one nearly as much as what’s to follow. Plus- that damn “Bitch” sample is still annoying and, I think, unnecessary)
EYE HATE U
I had a lot of back on forth on this one. One of my favorites on the album. Easily a highlight and should be a classic “done me wrong” Prince song. The one thing holding it back is the final… sometimes it is just too much that I can’t handle it. Too many emotions Prince is channeling here.
Technical Merit- 5 (again, solid all around… several of these tracks are and have been)
Components score- 4.5 (I just can’t do it)
Total score- 9.5 (this is so close to being a perfect 10… nothing wrong with the song itself. I just can’t handle it sometimes. And that feeling makes it a tough transition to the last song if there was no segue separating the two.
…you know what’s coming… and I’m not going to be super cliché and give this song 11/10 because even that is too high for any Prince song.
Total score- 10
So here we are…
Eye Hate U- 9.5
The Most Beautiful Girl in the World- 9.5
Billy Jack Bitch- 9
P. Control- 8.5
We March- 6.5
This has to be the top technical score so far. And it is… the components score, though… it’s not bad, but not the top so far…
Okay, combined total is… 105.5… divide by points possible… 120…
it didn’t even make 9.0 😦
I mean, it’s third overall and not too far away from Come either…
but that still makes me sad that what feels like my favorite album ever isn’t reflected that way.
And as much as I want to avoid the Purple Rain cliché, I don’t think I have an album left that can beat it.
I’ll have to revisit this another time with maybe that method of dropping the highest and lowest from every album to come up with my official favorite album list.
Shh and Gold are easily two of my favorite Prince songs ever. Gold is #1 without a doubt and Shh could make the top 10 or even 5.
I’m very happy with those.
Meanwhile, it’s 2:31 am… and I’m so freaking tired… and almost feel like staying up to do all this wasn’t worth it…
not too much left to add. I have some remixes left and I’ll go watch that VH1 performance of P. Control.
There was one good R&B remix of TMBGITW that I liked a lot. But there was an extended dance mix version that had me going “why???”… it was just unnecessary. Maybe Captain’s theory was right- WB let Prince release only one song independently so he recorded 18 different versions of it 😛
I have Rock n’ Roll is Alive- I’m always going to refer back to L4OA cuz that’s where I heard it first.
The breakdown towards the end of the song reminds me a little of something in The Rainbow Children- “Last December”- but it’s something that stuck in my mind in the time between when I saw the special.
There’s also one mp3 I had named after that song, but it has some others on the back of it.
“Bambi” from The Undertaker Sessions, which got me SO excited. And then “The Ride” from L4OA.
Also heard the Purple Medley remix- not so much a remix, but the same idea with different Prince songs.
It started with an odd version of Pop Life that kinda sucked the authenticity out of it, then it got better with Housequake, When Doves Cry (with some cool vocals that sounded like they were brought up from the back of the mix) and it ended with the 2nd part of “The Continental”– which probably became the version on Crystal Ball.
So this leaves for an odd situation…
for the first time, not counting any NPG (band or music club releases), the next album in sequence is one I don’t have.
I do not own Chaos & Disorder. Years ago, I think I heard the album through on YouTube, but it didn’t stay up there long. I don’t remember all that much about it- but it was years ago.
Which means there will be a small piece of the puzzle missing… unless I can scrap together some of the songs and performances on YouTube.
And then there’s… I’ll have to check the site to see IF Peach & Black did this album. I’m pretty sure they did. Yeah, they did.
But in all likelihood, there will be no review of this one. Maybe some comments, but no review.
I think tomorrow I’m going to listen to Mayte’s Children of the Sun album because that’s the next thing she talks about in her book.
And after that, I’ll listen to Captain’s podcast with two people who saw The Revolution live… just so I can relive that feeling again and compare notes.
Then when I get home, I’ll try to find a couple C&D tracks on YouTube and do the podcast over a couple days.
With the music in my car, I don’t know what I’ll do these next few days.
But Emancipation will be a huge undertaking and a really thick part of Mayte’s book.
I hope I’ll be able to go to it while it’s still summer- just cuz I typically like playing Disc II in the summer time just cuz of the name of the first song and it kinda reminds me of that season as a whole.