On 1 November Prince and 3rdEyeGirl were the musical guests on NBC's Saturday Night Live, hosted by Chris Rock. Prince and the band performed an uninterrupted 8-minute segment in the midway portion of the show (the first occasion ever on the show which normally for musical performances consist of two slots of four minutes each), a rock medley, they performed Clouds (joined by Lianne La Havas), Plectrumelectrum, Marz and Anotherlove. Their appearance was to mark Chris Rock's return as presenter of the show and witnessed an impressive ratings spike, attracting the show its highest audience since 1 February.
Art Official Age and Plectrumelectrum joint chart toppers
Prince's first albums in four years, Art Official Age and Plectrumelectrum have charted in the Billboard top 200 at numbers 5 and 8 respectively. Elsewhere on Billboard Art Official Age landed the number 1 slot in their R&B chart, as did Plectrumelectrum in the Rock & Roll chart. Selling similarly well in the UK the albums peaked at 8 and 11.
Prince has hit fans not only with the announcement of the release of Plectrumelectrum but also the double whammy in the form of his first solo album, the name confirmed also today as Art Official Age, of which both are slated for release the same day, 30 September 2014 (September 29 in Europe). The new album will mark Prince's first release with Warner Brothers since the much publicised terminating of their relationship in 1996. The announcement of two albums was made on 25 August and tie in with the Virgin Music Awards ceremony and be made live on Good Morning America by 3rdEyeGirl (sans Prince). However by then the secret was already out.
Both albums can be pre-ordered and as a gift a new song Clouds was given for free and immediate download. Warner Brothers are running a competition called the Paisley Park Flyaway for one US-based winner (plus guest) who pre-ordered Art Official Age to be flown to Paisley Park Studios to hear Prince perform the album live on 18 October. Also in the run up to its release the track U Know was released on the internet on 1 September, as was Funknroll on the 19th. Art Official Age is reviewed here and the tracklisting is as follows:
Art Official Cage (3:41)
Clouds[feat. Lianne La Havas] (4:34)
The Gold Standard (5:53)
U Know (3:56)
Breakfast Can Wait (3:55)
This Could Be Us (5:12)
What It Feels Like[duet with Andy Allo] (3:53)
affirmation I & II (0:40) [feat. Lianne La Havas]
Way Back Home[feat. Lianne La Havas] (3:05)
Funknroll [Remix] (4:08)
Time[feat. Andy Allo] (6:49)
affirmation III[feat. Lianne La Havas] (3:27)
Plectrum Electrum listening party confirms tracklist
Paisley Park opened its doors at 9:30pm on 12 July for the long-awaited listening party for PlectrumElectrum. The feedback was extremely favorable and the some of the track list is as follows: Plectrumelectrum, Whitecaps (sung by Hannah), Wow (a.k.a. Liv Warfield's The Unexpected), Pretzelbodylogic, Ain't Turning Around, Another Love, Mars, Stop This Train, and Funknroll. A release date was not mentioned, however all that was said it was imminent. It emerged that part of the reason behind the delay is that Prince is looking to release it in USB format to ensure there is no loss in sound depth when listening, but that idea appears to have been abandoned. A second listening party took place at Paisley Park at 9:30pm on Saturday 26 July, Prince and the band putting in a performance.
On the 25th of August it was confirmed that PlectrumElectrum will be released on 30 September 2014 and the same day as Prince's solo album Art Official Age (29 September in Europe). Plectrum Electrum will not now be released through Kolbalt as originally intended but with Warner Brothers - and the likely reason behind the delay of the album. The album is available for pre-order along with Art Official Age and as a gift the song Whitecaps was given for immediate download. Plectrumelectum is reviewed here and the full tracklisting is below:
Ainturninaround[sung by Hannah Ford] (3:01)
Whitecaps[sung by Hannah Ford] (3:42)
Stopthistrain[sung by Hannah Ford and Joshua Welton] (3:40)
To the sell-out 50,000 capacity show Prince headlined the July 4th date at the three day ESSENCE Festival held this year at the main stage of the Mercedes-Benz Superdome, New Orleans.
Accompanied by a stellar line-up which included the legendary Chic front-man Nile Rodgers, 3rdEyeGirl plus Lianne La Havas and Janelle Monáe, the set list performed was as follows: Let's Go Crazy, Let's Dance (with Rodgers), Let's Go Crazy, Take Me With U, Raspberry Beret, U Got The Look, Cool / Don't Stop 'Til You Get Enough, and then the sampler set (When Doves Cry, Sign O' The Times, Hot Thing), leading into the the final portion of the show: Controversy, 1999, Little Red Corvette, Nothing Compares 2 U, Kiss, Sometimes It Snows In April (with La Havas), Funknroll, Act Of God, What Have You Done For Me Lately (Shelby J.), Which Way Is Up?, Dancing Machine, Partyman, It's Alright, The Bird, Jungle Love, The Glamorous Life and the encores Purple Rain and Days Of Wild.
New Prince album through Warner Bros later in year
Prince's new album, his first to be released following his recent reconciliation with Warner Brothers, is not only in the can but was previewed at a Paisley Park listening party attended by Prince himself on 22 June. The new album, as yet untitled, is due for release later in the year and is the possible cause of the ever continuing delay to 3rdEyeGirl’s release of PlectrumElectrum. The new project, focusing on electro-funk, is an unnamed solo album and will contain the songs The Gold Standard and This Could Be Us. Warner Brothers will also be releasing the re-mastered Purple Rain Deluxe around November and likely to coincide with the release of the new album. More details to follow as and when they come in.
Prince and 3rdEyeGirl are to return to the UK for another hit n' run series of tours. Billed as Hit And Run Part II this time upscaled up to arenas and gives fans the rare pleasure to pre-book their tickets, albeit for £130+. The shows will be mainly in the Northern UK are to start in Birmingham at the LG Arena on 15 May. The run will visit a total of 6 venues between 15 and 27 of May. It is anticipated more shows will be added. The full schedule of the tour thus far is listed on the 2014 tour page.
Warner Bros. to release remastered Purple Rain Deluxe
In what is without doubt the most significant (and utterly tantalizing) development since Prince's acrimonious split with Warner Brothers in the mid-nineties, 18th of April 2014 saw a surprise joint announcement from Prince and Cameron Strang (Chairman & CEO) of Warner Brothers Records. It confirms a series of releases which involves the reissue and re-mastering of Prince's albums recorded during his time under the Warner Brothers label, from 1978 to 1996, in which encompasses all his biggest hits. Prince reunites with past nemesis Warner Brothers to reissue under this label the re-mastered deluxe editions of these albums - as well as the inclusion of various out takes and previously unreleased tracks. The deal acknowledges the 30th anniversary since the 1984's 25th of June release of Purple Rain which is to be the first reissue from this re-mastered series, which, therefore, looms fairly imminent. Significantly, the deal involves Warners' return to Prince the master recordings of all his albums - the catalyst which led to his bitter and eventual separation from the label in 1996. News of Prince's rekindled relationship with Warner Brothers comes within a fortnight of his founding of NPG Music Publishing to administer the commercial licensing of this music. Prince, therefore, marked this rather unexpected announcement, with the release of a brand new single, The Breakdown – which became available on iTunes hours after the announcement and is under the Warner Brothers label. Welcome 2 The Dawn, Prince. Your fans salute you.
NPG Music Publishing to oversee Prince's music legacy
Prince has created his own in-house publishing arm for his music legacy. Formally managed by Universal Prince has created NPG Music Publishing to independently administer key songs from Prince's huge back catalogue in order to include them into movies, television, video games and other commercial mediums. The new outfit will administer the fees and grant rights for others to use his songs commercially. The deal will not cover all songs, but mainly the hits, some of which include the most familiar songs of the 1980s and 90s. The first job of the new arm, announced on 4 April, was to grant rights to Fox to feature the song Fallinlove2nite in the New Girl television show what was aired on 2 February. Prince promised that the team behind NPG Music Publishing will be headed "by some of the best talent in the industry."
Could the deal to distribute PlectrumElectrum through Kobalt Music Group now be dead? There has been much gossip during and since the hit-and-run shows in London in February that the Kobalt deal has been kicked into the long grass because that a dissatisfied Prince returned to Hollywood to shop for a new distribute, hence the long silence over the album's release. Having been previewing the album to the press in recent weeks, and getting their hugely positive reviews as well as promotional traction, the album is clearly finished so why the delay? Well on 17 March Prince will release his new single Fallinlove2nite, which was the song premiered in the 2 February showing of 'New Girl' episode featuring Prince's cameo. This release, which is noteworthy for two reasons, 1) its extremely radio-friendliness (as well as features Zooey Deschanel), and 2) raises questions about a possible deal with Epic for the album itself. This new single joins the dots to the topic of Prince's meeting with Epic's CEO, L.A. Reid, during the album's listening party in NYC at the beginning of February.
The distribution for Plectrum Electrum is likely to remain with Kobalt, since it is essentially a 3rdEyeGirl project, however, if the deal with Epic holds true for his next solo album's release Prince’s return to a major label raises hope for its broad promotion and potential success. And what a prospect that would be.
Details about the London shows are, were to put it mildly, a little too 'organic', adding to much confusion, and if to make matters worse, entry to gigs are purchased only at the door, and a max of one ticket per purchase applies; rather than booked even if a few hours in advance. It might sound chaotic, because it is, but other more larger venues being looked at included the 4,000 capacity Brixton Academy, but chaos is exacerbated by the lack of information. Prince said he will stay for as long "people like us", so a more structured series of shows is hoped to evolve. He is looking at playing at landmarks too, with Trafalgar Square one of those looked into. With fans waiting outside in the rain since for several hours and with excessive queue jumping occurring, many are questioning the wisdom of the management coordination and hope they improve for later shows. Indeed, tickets were available for the two Manchester shows. These and other dates are listed on the dedicated 2014 tour page. A 'secret' show was announced at 8pm on the 14th of February, giving fans only minutes to race to the venue, where Prince played an acoustic set and it was confirmed he would be widening the tour to include Manchester. On the 19th Prince and 3rdEyeGirl appeared at the BRIT Awards to present the award for best female solo artist, which they handed to a stunned Ellie Goulding.
After then playing the two shows in Manchester the tour concluded. Although Prince is expected to return to the UK after the release of Plectrum Electrum when it is slated he will be headlining two shows in London's Hyde Park in the summer.
London tour begins with living room press conference and surprise rehearsal gig
A closed press conference was held at La Havas' flat in Hackney, what Prince earlier billed 'The Living Room Experience', where Prince made an exclusive announcement of a tour of London venues. Two songs were performed by the band: acoustic versions of Pretzelbodylogic and Funknroll. It was anticipated the ticketing information was then to be given at an open sound check where the band decamped to Camden's the Electric Ballroom. Instead the band played a short set until about 2am and although initially invite only,it was later free to all that braved the wind and wet weather that waited outside. The series of shows, which are to mark the release of Plectrum Electrum, began with two nights at Camden's Electric Ballroom. Capacity at this and other venues on the tour are small and demand for the mere £10 entry is therefore likely to be extremely high. Whether there will be advance confirmation of further dates, because it is apparent the shows are being organised on the hoof, will be known only as and when. A full tour schedule announcement is thereby unlikely.
Plectrum Electrum listening party in NYC unveils (part of) new album
The Plectrum Electrum listening party (albeit just two songs) began at 11:30 on the night of February 2nd, at The Darby, 244 West 14th Street, New York City. Right after the Super Bowl it was also the after party for the airing of the New Girl episode which featured Prince. Filmed on December 12th Prince appeared as himself in the sitcom as a cameo, imparting relationship advice to characters Jess (played by Zooey Deschanel) and Nick (Jake Johnson). The listening party after the showing also marked the release of the first single from the album, Prezelbodylogic, which was made available on iTunes on the stroke of midnight. A notable detail about the new album is that it's recorded in analogue and with all the band performing together, rather than tracked individually, to hark back to the same listening experience of the rock LP's of the 70's.
Donna, Hannah and Ida, Prince's 3rdEyeGirls were present at The Darby, later joined by Doug E. Fresh to DJ. Prince himself showed up at 2am and a second song from the album Funknroll was also played. The group did not perform live and left the party past 4am to catch a plane to London for that all important announcement of a UK tour he was anticipated to make on the 3rd. Probably due to the flight no announcement was made, but is expected in the evening of February 4th instead.
London Prince tour to kick off after 3 February press conference
Prince, who is set to make his debut US sitcom appearance in New Girl, on Fox on 2 February, is on the 3rd to appear in London no less for a press conference about the launch of the new album Plectrum Electrum as well as the tour to support the release. Prince, in a press release issued on 24 January, said he will be performing at a number of "iconic venues in and around London" backed by 3rdEyeGirl. The details of which he will announce at a press conference from the flat of soul singer Lianne La Havas.
Prince had met 2012 Mercury Prize nominee Lianne La Havas during his tour of America in 2013 and invited her to perform at Paisley Park Studios. She in return invited Prince to make the announcement from her living room in London, which to her surprise he accepted. "It's pretty unbelievable that Prince is coming to my house but it is true!", remarked a stunned but very excited La Havas. More details about the shows are expected to be announced at short notice. Prince earlier in the week scotched rumours of an appearance at Glastonbury.
Prince sets stage with three arena shows ahead of Plectrum Electrum release
Three resounding shows at the Mohegan Sun Arena in Uncasville, Connecticut on 27th, 28th 29th December closed off 2013 in as typical purple fashion as we can come to expect with Prince. Performing along with a staggering 21 member strong NPG (11 of which on horns) and of course the 3rdEyeGirl trio, he showcased the full range of his catalogue, in a full 7,500 seat arena. The set list included old and new as well as many from his side projects from The Family, The Time, Vanity 6 and Sheila E. The full setlist from the first show was: Days of Wild, 1999, Mutiny, The Sweeter She Is, Something in the Water (Does Not Compute), Let's Go Crazy, She's Always in My Hair, Musicology, Extraloveable, Nothing Compares 2 U, We're a Winner/Satisfied, Housequake, The Bird, Jungle Love, The Glamorous Life, When Doves Cry, Sign O' the Times, Hot Thing, I Would Die 4 U, Let's Work, U Got The Look, before rounding up with Purple Rain. The support was Janelle Monáe.
If these shows were anything to go by 2014 looks to be a full-on year in the purple calendar, in what promises the new album, Plectrum Electrum, London concerts, and even a very rare TV appearance. Yes Prince is to put in an appearance on the Fox sitcom New Girl which is set to air on 2 February ('Super Bowl Sunday'). Although billed as his debut appearance in a sitcom, it is not strictly his debut TV guest appearance; his last surprise slot was alongside Kermit the Frog on Muppets Tonight back in 1997.
If that is not enough, Prince is to headline the ESSENCE Festival in New Orleans which is held across the weekend of 3rd to 6th July. Prince's appearance is on the 4th and to mark the 20th anniversary of the event, for which the tickets for the entire weekend range from $130.50 to $2,700 although day tickets will be available nearer the time. He will be joined by Chic frontman Nile Rodgers.
Plectrum Electrum is to receive a full CD release early on part of the year. Stay tuned for updates and the track listing will be shown here when known.