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Prince’s “Indigo Nights” Reviewed

From the opening tubular blowing “Alexander’s Ragtime Band” through the best “3121” ever, through a fast and furious “Delirious,” a three song blues blow out, all the way  to the too witty by half rework “All The Critics Love You In London” Indigo Nights is the best live Prince album I’ve heard. To be fair, the competition is a little on the lame side as Prince never offered up a three hours greatest hits album of peak power. The only one I know that is this ones equal isn’t an equal, it is the “Sign O’ The Times” DVD and even that isn’t as good. For one of the great live performers to not release an outstanding live album (One Nite Only had its moments, just not enough of em)  is truly bizarre, and so with very few options open to us, let’s go with Indigo Nights. Per Wikipedia: taken from he aftershows at the indigO2 night club in London in 2007. It contains eight live versions of previously released Prince songs, four cover songs, two new songs, and a monologue.] The CD is only sold coupled with the 21 Nights coffee table book which was released on September 30, 2008.

I completely missed it at the time, and caught up with it a coupla months ago on Tidal, It is a surprisingly  swift footed, agile, crafty and very smart album. Including a monologue that reads like one of the few fame is hell stories he’s ever told. During the “Just Like You” monologue, “Summer time in New York, walking around having a good time, looking at all the girls….” a pleasure Prince hadn’t had in decades. It is sort of sad, the entire prince story is sad and not just because 57 was very young to die and the feeding frenzy after his death was the opposite of what you might have hoped for, but there is justuing so much that is profoundly depressing: the death of his son, the embrace of Jehovah’s Witness, his death for one of the most preposterous reasons imaginable: his high heels. It all comes together as tragedy. As the one black artist who bypassed the wridness of james Brown and Michael Jackson, actually didn’t do anything of the sort.

Indigo Nights, his 35th album, isn’t a masterpiece, but it has seeds of masterfulness that cements his legendary status. a new song, “Beggin’ Blues Woman” is just pure blues, it is blues and that’s all it is, with dynamic punctuation, and blasted soulfulness, “I don’t know what you’re looking at, I’m tired of trying.” It reminds you of “Yer Blues” -it sounds like parody but it isn’t, the pain is real. “Rock Steady” is yes, indeed, that one, and when he says “Tell me that isn’t funky” and it is true, it is funky. Aretha must have been pleased. Is that Shelby J taking over the vocals? I wish the instrumental  “Whole Lotta Love,” had singing and even still it is among the best solos of Prince’s career -and, really, if you know how his skills as a riff monster are,  you know this is gonna kill it and it does. It is like guitar from outer space. Some people consider prince the best electric guitar player since Hendrix -I don’t but if I did, this would be exhibit one. The album falls off with an also ran “Alphabet City” after that, and while the rest is fair enough, it isn’t that explosion.

It is such a pleasure to discover this one, I consider it a magnificent add to the legend and you should get your hands on it as soon as you can, when you get bogged down in some of these NPG albums, it is easy to forget that he isn’t (sorry, wasn’t) great because people said he was great, he was great because he was great. A superb live album, a real find, it is among his best …

1 – Purple Rain

2 – Dirty Mind

3 – Sign o’ The Time

4 – Parade

5 -Indigo Nights..

Maybe? Maybe I overrate it (looking back, I underrated The Black Album a little), but I really do love it.

Grade: A


1 Comment

  1. Dan on December 14, 2017 at 12:02 am

    You know what this album does to me every time I hear it? Regret deeply that I never got to see him live. Such a masterful band leader.

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