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Prince’s Triple Reviewed

Here’s a story for you: maybe seven years ago I went to see the late great Ike Turner (yes, great, he was a wife beater and a great musician: wrote the first rock song in case you forgot) at the late great Tramps on west 23rd. Pretty good set as well except half way through he brought out this voluptous blonde woman who destroyed a fistful of Tina standards. What was Ike thinking of? Did he believe his mere presense would add weight to this light weight?

And why did Prince give an album to Bria Valente? Her album “Elixir” is beyond light, it is weightless. Maybe, if I was stuck overnight at the Holiday Inn near O’hare in the dead of winter trying to get LA and I stumbled drunkenly to their piano bar and she was singing MAYBE I would sit there mesmerized. Untill that happens, this boring, averagely sung R&B album is just taking up room on my Ipod.

Of the two Prince albums, Lotus Flower is OK: the cover of “Crimson and Clover” is electric and while the rest of the album fades from your memory as you listen to it, Prince is a great band leader and when he isn’t playing jazz he’s really good here. The songs aren’t up to much and the sound is terrific. “MPLSND” is OK, it peaks higher with “Chocolate Box” (guess, just guess) and meanders pretty well. Plus he plays guitar real good.

The problem with Prince is the same as it has been since. i dunno, 91, there are so few great songs. The last real good one I can think of is “Sometimes I Wanna Die And Come back As One Of Your Tears” from “Crystal Ball”. He could do whatever he wanted if he would just write songs like “Head” or “Dirty Mind” or “Sister” or “When You Were Mine” (picked at random off one album in 1980).

Live, I catch him whenever he’s in town and I am never disappointed but I can’t take this R&B rumble for two hours interspersed with not very good ballads sold as CDs. Again, this maybe another case of utilitarianism: dance music should be danced to and you can dance to this with ease (you could put together a heart attack inducing playlist from these two albums) and so what? Is that why we love Prince?

Earlier I noted that Ike Turner was a great guitarist, an inventor of rock, and a wife beater. Does his beating his wife take away from his other abilities? Well, whether it should or not it did. Prince is a straight up nasty piece of work. He has been suing fans on the internet who post pictures of him, he is an aggressive dwarf: like Grumpy in Snow White. Prince is such an awful person he managed to make you feel sorry for Warner Bros. record (and he needs, nay, demands quality control and has none).

So should it effect your reaction to this sprawling bore? It shouldn’t and it does and I know I’ll be back for another round next year, but dag, this guy should work on his stuff. now. Prince is the Dick Cheney of rock.

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