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Originally released as a download to fanclub members from npgmusicclub.com on 16 October 2001, it received full commercial distribution via the independent label Redline Entertainment from 20 November that year.
The Rainbow Children is essentially a concept album, and as a result showcases Prince's most diverse work. It explores several and complex themes, such as spiritualism and racism, and although it is critically acclaimed The Rainbow Children sold only 158,000 copies. The core musical theme of the album is funk/jazz and as a result is quite an inaccessible to for non-fans. It arguably, however, represents Prince at his creative and musical peak. It does not feature a drum machine and the sound is very raw and refreshing. The Rainbow Children was released six months after its single, The Work, Part I and peaked on the Billboard charts at 109, but is notable in that it is Prince's first album released under his proper birth name since previously changing it to The Artist Formally Known As Prince.
1 Released as a single
2 Hidden track (#21)
Prince's creative peak (and his first album back again under his birth name). But perhaps The Rainbow Children is also his most inaccessible album to date, and thank god (literally!) that Prince decided to release this in stores rather than side step it as an internet only venture. Subscribers to the NPG Music Club were able to download the album as a single MP3, which as I look back on it now, took me 4 days to download the 48mb file through dial-up: this highlighted to me the biggest flaw of the club. Anyway, Prince had finally released an album that really did showcase his musical dexterity. Isn't it sublime when you listen to an album and fall in love with every track. The Rainbow Children is so beautiful, funky, yet musically inspiring, it takes music to higher levels in every sense of the word. It does not even take a second listen to grow to like it, you don't know then why you liked it, but you do and give it another go at which point its playability starts to take root. The Rainbow Children is easily one of Prince's all-time best, although probably not to the taste of the casual listener. This is a collection of songs and that could only go together on the same album, but is let down by the religious undertones which comes across as sermon like. One could hardly believe this is the man who also wrote Scarlet Pussy and Sexy MF but still, there are few albums as well crafted as this. This, like fine wine, Prince improves better over time. This could well be the album which Prince's musical genius finds its peak, a fact also underlined with the tour, his best to date. It also demonstrates the fruits of Prince's hard fought musical freedom, for he would never have been allowed to release this under a conventional label. Yet it blends funk, melody, lyrical godliness, with some truly stellar guitar work. The title track and Family Name make the album, yet it is so nice to hear Prince being genuinely enjoying the music making once again and not using his craft to bicker about the industry that made his name. Prince rediscovers music once again.
The Rainbow Children reviewed by Goldies Parade.