Goldies Parade
Goldies Parade

» » Reviews: NPG Records

Prince album reviews

Goldie's reviews of Prince's albums from his post Warner Brothers career, as an independent and emancipated artist. When leaving Warner Brothers in 1996 and Initially entering single-album deals with EMI (1996), BMG (1998), and Arista Records (1999) to distribute his music, Prince set up his own outfit NPG Records to do the legwork himself and cut out the cost of the industry middleman. It started off successfully and after a highly successful distribution of Crystal Ball (1998), saw his financial situation improve as an independent artist. Prince would continue to distribute his future work largely under his own label. Rebuilding lost confidence in major labels, Prince would rediscover commercial success and inject new impetus to his later career.

Art Official Age

Warner Brothers Records (2014)


On first sight of the tracklisting the inclusion of Breakdown and 2013's Breakfast Can Wait did little to allay trepidation that come the release of Art Official Age was the usual fare that fans had heard before and not anything exceptional. But when listening to early releases of Clouds and U Know all fears were not only dispelled but blown aside by the return of something long missed in Prince circles – sheer joy in getting fingers onto a brand new Prince album – his first in what was a tortuously four-year wait. Click for full Art Official Age album review.

Plectrumelectrum

Warner Brothers Records (2014)


Funny thing is, and it is purely down to the sheer length of time in waiting for Plectrumelectrum (since 2010's 20Ten to be exact), the relief when this was finally released, for there were plenty of dark moments when, even the most believing of Prince fans, fought off waves of doubt that the album would ever see the light of day, was tempered only in that Plectrumelectrum came with Art Official Age the same day. Click for full Plectrumelectrum album review.

20Ten

NPG Records (2010)


20Ten is all about pleasant beats rather than forging new ground. Prince was never going to split the atom with 20Ten, but it still shows Prince working his sound, in his homage to the Linn drum machine, right from the off with the excitable opener Compassion. 20Ten is heavy on technology, low on guitar, with flavourings of backing vocals and the trusty old hornz. Click for full 20Ten album review.

MPLSound

NPG Records (2009)


Let's just sum it up: Minneapolis Sound. Released as a companion album to LotusFlow3r, MPLSound actually is the better, more accomplished, of the two. Faced with expectations of a collaborative, eclectic Madhouse-style album, MPLSound does not only surprise, it delivers ten fold too. Click for full MPLSound album review.

LotusFlow3r

NPG Records (2009)


Kicking off with a dreamy instrumental LotusFlow3r really does start with a bang, leading with the sonic Boom, laden with guitar it sets the tone for the album. Accomplished and slightly on the good side of heavy, this is as close to Prince's Jimi Hendrix tribute album as you're going to get. Click for full LotusFlow3r album review.

Indigo Nights

NPG Records (2008)


Indigo Nights is Prince's third live album, and thankfully he does not let up on attitude. Recorded at the IndigO2 Club during his legendary 21 night run in London's O2 Arena, the album opens with the familiar 3121 slash D.M.S.R. Click for full Indigo Nights album review.

Planet Earth

Columbia Records (2007)


Given away totally free in the UK, no other Prince album received as much media attention since Purple Rain. Planet Earth spawned a new first in the music industry, in that it was an album that supported the tour. His "Best in years!" critics claimed. Click for full Planet Earth album review.

Ultimate

Warner Brothers Records (2006)


Ultimate is no less than the third 'greatest hits' package from Warner Brothers, like with The Hits / The B-Sides of 1993, they knew how to target the core fan-base, rather than The Very Best Of Prince which catered to the casual interested hit-and-run crowd-pleasing listener. Click for full Ultimate album review.

3121

Universal Records (2006)


3121 became Prince's first album to strike number chart gold since Batman in 1989. It was the second of two back to back albums to peak high in the charts for many a Prince year. Commercial success, after a whole decade without it, was becoming almost a habit. There is something special about playing a new Prince album for the first time, there are so many emotions the fan goes through, namely, nervous excitement in wanting it to excel expectation with at any moment the possibility of those hopes being dashed. Click for full 3121 album review.

Musicology

Columbia Records (2004)


Musicology came as a pleasant surprise to fans and more so Prince since it turned out to be his most successful album since Diamonds And Pearls of 1991. "Music comes before the 'ology" tells Prince. So the album is intended to be an education in music - 'schools in' for Musicology. Click for full Musicology album review.

The Chocolate Invasion

NPG Records (2004)


Volume one of what was supposed to be a seven disk set, The Chocolate Invasion was only to be released with volume two, The Slaughterhouse. Click for full The Chocolate Invasion album review.

The Slaughterhouse

NPG Records (2004)


Volume two of songs earlier available as MP3s through the NPG Music Club and repackaged when the club itself was in need of a reboot. Click for full The Slaughterhouse album review.

N.E.W.S.

NPG Records (2003)


N.E.W.S. gives Prince his voice a rest and lets the music do the talking. Four rambling tracks named North (funk), East (moody), West (confusion) and South (jazz). The music here is very different and recalls if anything Holst's The Planets. Click for full N.E.W.S. album review.

Xpectation

NPG Records (2003)


For the first time as a fan, Prince's music began to concern me. Having felt him moving too far down the independent, self-indulgent, path of artistry, Prince was not only isolating himself but his fans with completely inaccessible and even undesirable music. Even Prince could not be convinced to put this music on CD. Click for full Xpectation album review.

One Nite Alone... Live!

NPG Records (2002)


Always opposed to releasing a live album, Prince finally give fans what they had been longing for since 1978. An officially released live album. Prince once said if he ever released a live album it would have to be of the definitive show and being that his shows are always so varied, we all knew there was no such a thing as the 'definitive show'. But then came along the One Nite Alone Tour, which is in my humble view his definitive tour. Click for full One Nite Alone... Live! album review.

One Nite Alone...

NPG Records (2002)


In 1998 Prince treated us to an acoustic set with The Truth, and in that vein, come in 2002 he followed that up with a piano showpiece, One Nite Alone... It is perfectly inoffensive, and can played to your mother quite without the need of editing those hazardous swear words of his last millennium music. Click for full One Nite Alone... album review.

The Rainbow Children

NPG Records (2001)


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. Click for full The Rainbow Children album review.

The Very Best Of Prince

Warner Brothers Records (2001)


Warner Brothers appear to believe Prince's career had ended when his contract with then expired. But lets face it, this disk truly showcases his remarkable Warners career. It contains all the stuff the casual fan should already have heard although it is good stuff at that. But we all know this CD just looks like a half-baked effort to make Warner Brothers squeeze as much money as possible from the Purple Reign that was running out of steam by 2002. Click for full The Very Best Of Prince album review.

Rave In2 The Joy Fantastic

NPG Records (2001)


The remix album to Rave Un2 The Joy Fantastic Rave In2 The Joy Fantastic is for all intents and purposes Prince's preferred configuration for the commercial album, since this version is superior, as would have been its prospects. Click for full Rave In2 The Joy Fantastic album review.

Rave Un2 The Joy Fantastic

Arista Records (1999)


Every artist does a collaboration album at some point in their career, and so Rave Un2 The Joy Fantastic became Prince's. Employing the talents of Gwen Stefani, Chuck D, Ruff Ryder, Sheryl Crow and the arty Ani DiFranco, it remains clear however, Prince/Prince is the one firmly in control of the project as all the collaborators are reduced to performing bit-parts. Click for full Rave Un2 The Joy Fantastic album review.

The Vault... Old Friends 4 Sale

Warner Brothers Records (1999)


The release of The Vault... Old Friends 4 Sale proved Prince's point: that record labels can, and do, release music against the wishes of the artists who created it. One minute Warner Brothers were wanting to limit the volume of output Prince put on the market, and since parting with the label, in the next minute they put out The Very Best Of Prince in 2001, and in 1999, this. Click for full The Vault... Old Friends 4 Sale album review.

Newpower Soul

BMG (1998)


Prince had not been this funky since Dirty Mind, and why did it have to take so long! With Mad Sex and Push It Up, he gets proceedings on to his favorite subject again, although from this point forward swearing is to be off bounds on Prince records. Technically Newpower Soul is an NPG, not 'Prince/Prince' album but hey, with his photo on the cover and the Prince sound on every track it is no secret whose album Newpower Soul really is. Click for full Newpower Soul album review.

Crystal Ball

NPG Records (1998)


After clearing out his new stuff for Emancipation, Prince began looking back into the vault for the less commercial material he could put for sale on his NPG Music Club website. Rather than look for B-sides and music owned by Warner Brothers, Prince cobbled together a triple album chock full of unreleased tracks, versions and demos, known only to bootleggers. Click for full Crystal Ball album review.

The Truth

NPG Records (1998)


Numerous fans had been pleading Prince to make an acoustic album and in 1998 their wishes no longer fell on deaf ears. This 12 track acoustic albumwas tacked on the back of the Crystal Ball set maybe due to concerns The Truth was unable to stand on its own feet in the commercial market. Click for full The Truth album review.

Emancipation

EMI (1996)


The chains are broken and Prince (Prince) celebrates his departure from Warner Brothers in typically abundant style: a critically acclaimed triple album, and which for trivia lovers is officially the longest pop album in history (its 60/60/60 minute running times are intentional). The reason for the quantity of music on Emancipation is due to Prince just passing on the old material to Warner's to fulfil his contract and stockpiling the new songs for this release. Click for full Emancipation album review.

The Rolling Stone Ratings

Rolling Stone Magazine Prince album reviews

© Goldies Parade, 1998–