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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.
HITNRUN Phase One
NPG Records (2015)
What is clear from the outset is Prince’s hands off approach with HITNRUN, since it is evidently, judging by its almost total departure in style, more the work of co-producer Joshua Welton. Yet that’s more of a plus than a negative since that partnership has delivered Prince’s most accessible album this side of 1993.
Art Official Age
Warner Bros. Records (2014)
Prince was given new lease of life when returning to the studio to work on his first solo album since 2010. Fans’ pre-release anxiety was immediately blown aside when Art Official Age revealed it was packed full of energy, style and a hell of a lot of substance in what is arguably Prince’s best album since 1995.
Warner Bros. Records (2014)
For over a year Prince fans lived in continuous fear that Plectrumelectrum would never see the light of day and along came two albums on the same day, ending what was a tortuously dull four-year wait since 20Ten. This first outing for Prince’s new backing band 3rdEyeGirl shares also writing credit and the freshness the band inject in his music is palpable throughout.
NPG Records (2010)
Prince was never going to blaze any trails with 20Ten but it did show Prince developing his sound in this humdrum homage to the Linn drum machine. 20Ten is heavy on technology, low on guitar, with flavourings of backing vocals and the trusty old hornz, there are a couple of gems but with the last track all its shortcomings are forgiven.
NPG Records (2009)
Let’s just sum it up: Minneapolis Sound. Released as a companion album to LotusFlow3r, MPLSound actually is the more accomplished of the two. Faced with expectations of a collaborative, eclectic Madhouse-style album, MPLSound does not only surprise but delivers ten fold on the music front and with some serious Ol’ Skool bite.
NPG Records (2009)
Kicking off with a dreamy instrumental LotusFlow3r really does start with a bang, LotusFlow3r is as close to Prince’s Jimi Hendrix tribute album you’re likely to get. Released in an exclusivity license to Target stores this sharp album was robbed of a worldwide release.
Indigo Nights / Live Sessions
Simon & Schuster Ltd (2008)
Indigo Nights is Prince’s third live album. He thankfully does not let up on attitude. Named after the club at which it was recorded (the IndigO2) during his legendary 21 night run at London’s O2 Arena, the album superbly captures the aftershow experience.
Columbia Records (2007)
Given away totally free in the UK, no other Prince album had received as much attention from the British media 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 exclaimed; the tour it supported set a 21 date single-venue record.
Warner Bros. 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, Ultimate contains plenty of lost to vinyl gems.
Universal Music (2006)
3121 became Prince’s first album to chart number one since Batman in 1989. With new the lease of life given with Musicology the previous year 3121 became the second of these back to back albums to peak high in the charts for many a Prince year. Commercial success, after a whole decade without it, was a surprising return to older times, mainly because Prince too rekindled the style of music than forged his pre 1993 success.
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. It became his long awaited post Warner Brothers commercial comeback. “Music comes before the ‘ology” tells Prince and the album is intended to be an education in music – ‘schools in’ for Musicology.
The Chocolate Invasion
NPG Records (2004)
Volume one of what was supposed to be a seven disk set of songs from The NPG Music Club only The Chocolate Invasion and volume two’s The Slaughterhouse would ultimately materialise. Many of the tracks are from Prince’s aborted High album.
NPG Records (2004)
This is volume two of an album’s worth of songs earlier available as MP3s through the NPG Music Club, repackaged into vols 1 and 2 at a time when the club was in need of a reboot The Slaughterhouse therefore makes eclectic listening.
MP Media (2003)
N.E.W.S. gives Prince his voice a rest and let the music do the talking instead. Four rambling tracks named North, East, West and South the music is very different to what you would be used to and is more akin to Ja Ja Binks than Purple Yoda.
NPG Records (2003)
Prince had not only isolated himself but also his fans with this completely inaccessible and even undesirable music. Even Prince could not be convinced to put this music to CD, releasing it instead on his website as an MP3 album, some music is best left in the vault.
One Nite Alone… Live!
NPG Records (2002)
For ever and fervently opposed to releasing a live album, Prince finally gave 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 his definitive show and being that his shows are always so varied, there was no such a thing as the ‘definitive show’ and fans turned to bootlegs instead. But along came the One Nite Alone Tour and the long awaited definitive show.
One Nite Alone…
NPG Records (2002)
Prince treated his fans to an acoustic set with The Truth in 1998, and in that vein come 2002 he followed up with a piano showpiece, One Nite Alone… This is easy listening Prince style and you can do no better than to chill out to this album on which he channels his favourite artist, Joni Mitchell.
The Rainbow Children
Redline Entertainment (2001)
This is the moment when Prince discovered his creative peak and his found that through his most inaccessible album to date. Subscribers to the NPG Music Club were able to download The Rainbow Children as a single MP3, thank God he had the courage also to give this outstanding album a proper commercial release.
The Very Best Of Prince
Warner Bros. Records (2001)
Warner Brothers appear to believe Prince’s career had ended in 1993 when his contract with them expired. But lets face it, this album showcases his remarkable career with that label. It contains all the stuff casual fans own already, although it is good stuff at that. But we all know this collection is a half-baked effort to have Warner squeeze as much money at a time when Prince’s purple reign was running out of steam.
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 release, since this version is sharper and far more superior – as would have fared far better in the charts and explains why Arista Records received only a one album deal.
Rave Un2 The Joy Fantastic
Arista Records (1999)
Every artist does a collaboration album at some point in their career, and thus Rave Un2 The Joy Fantastic is Prince’s. Employing the talents of Gwen Stefani, Chuck D, Ruff Ryder, Sheryl Crow and the arty Ani DiFranco, it remains abundantly clear that Prince is the one firmly in control of this highly varied project as all collaborators are reduced to bit-parts.
The Vault… Old Friends 4 Sale
Warner Bros. Records (1999)
The release of The Vault… Old Friends 4 Sale proved Prince’s point: 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, they are returning to the master tapes to put out The Very Best Of Prince in 2001 and in 1999, this.
Prince had not been this funky since Dirty Mind, albeit technically Newpower Soul is an NPG, not ‘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.
NPG Records (1998)
After clearing out his new stuff for Emancipation, Prince began to look back into his vault an dust down the less commercial material he could put up 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 previously the preserve of bootleggers.
NPG Records (1998)
Numerous fans had been longing for Prince to make an acoustic album and out of the back of the Emancipation recording sessions of 1996 their wishes had no longer fallen upon deaf ears. The Truth is cherished by all who hear it and has gathered pace in recent years to be considered one of Prince’s best albums.
EMI Records (1996)
The chains have broken and Prince celebrates his departure from Warner Brothers in typically abundant style: a critically acclaimed triple album which, for trivia lovers is officially the longest pop album in history (its 60/60/60 minute running times is intentional). The reason for the quantity of music on Emancipation is due to Prince refusing to give new material Warner Bros. stockpiling hew songs for this incredible album and his first of many under a different label.
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