Skip to content

Prince’s “Xpectation” Reviewed


Let’s go along with the cognizant who are impressed with the effort on Prince’s 2003 27th release, Xpectation,  an instrumental jazz album that fails in its attempt to… do what? Be an instrumental jazz album? Well, not so much experimental as derivative but, yes, it does do that. But what else? A way to expand his musical palate through his NPG Music Club, who were given it New Year’s Day (it was never officially released)? Well, it does that as well. Perhaps even this was Prince spreading his wings in the face of his Warner Brothers years, assessing and accepting the freedom to do quite anything he damn well pleases… and it does that.

But use the usual litmus test for these kinda things, if it was not Prince would you listen to it? Maybe, if it was playing in the background, but you could follow There’s A Riot Going On with Sign O’ The Times, and you couldn’t follow Bitches Brew with Xpectation, it just isn’t good enough.  Remember when Michael Jordan decided to become a baseball player? That’s what this is like, Prince has the skills for jazz undoubtedly, and even manages to add more groove than we are used to towards the end It is admirable that Prince was using his freedom from major label interference to expand his horizon, yet  from the silly use of one name beginning with a compounded “x”- avariant on princes endlessly irritating “eye” and “u”, to the slow fuse jazz sleepers that litter the album, there was no reason to bother. Not that it matters because the names mean nothing whatsoever.

If the first two songs,  “Xhalation” and “Xcogitate” are borderline ambient snoozers, like getting stuck in an elevator while they pipe in music to keep you calmer than the carpenters could. After that the proceedings become jazzier and smooth: he should have piped in the sound of cutlery crashing and glasses tinkling because this is the definition of supper club music. It ranges forward from be-bop but doesn’t quite arrive, and while the horns are more virtuoso  than the average jazz band for sure, the average jazz band at a restaurant are covering “Take Five” and nothing here compares.

I guess this is a genre exercise but it doesn’t really add Prince’s voice to that of the genre. There seems to be no reason for it, and it is hard to recommend it…except for the final track, “Xpedition”  Finally, Prince takes off the gloves and performs a loud and energetic bopper: the track actually swings and the sax is a psud-Davis hard track with everything running at full steam, when it explodes it hints at what Prince could’ve done with jazz if he was interested enough. In my imaginary post-WB Prince greatest hits album, I could fit it in.

Grade: C


1 Comment

  1. Michelle McCance on December 11, 2016 at 11:34 pm

    I love his versatility and disagree with the assessment written here.

Leave a Comment


Support Let Me Help Inc by shopping at

Creem – America’s Only Rock ‘n’ Roll Magazine, Reviewed Issue By Issue – August 1986 (Volume 17, Number 12)

By Steve Crawford | April 1, 2023 |

“I used to read CREEM like the stuff in it was really gospel. Lester Bangs and all that stuff. And it was so important.”

UK Top 10 Albums 3-31-23 – 4-6-23

By Iman Lababedi | April 1, 2023 |

Lana grew old and boring…

UK Top 10 Singles 3-31-23 – 4-6-23

By Iman Lababedi | April 1, 2023 |

cliches farming out the same two dozen hooks for decades…

Press Releases For March, Here Are The Artists

By Alyson Camus | April 1, 2023 |

uplifting synthpop single

The Early Bird: Top New Recorded Releases 3-31-23 – 4-6-23 Reviewed

By Iman Lababedi | March 31, 2023 |

Where are the songs?

Best Of 2023: Songs In Order Of Preference Through March 31st

By Iman Lababedi | March 31, 2023 |

electronic variants to perfection

Creem – America’s Only Rock ‘n’ Roll Magazine, Reviewed Issue By Issue – July 1986 (Volume 17, Number 11)

By Steve Crawford | March 31, 2023 |

it’s a freak show

Looking for that entire Taylor 2023 Concert On Youtube? Universal Took It Down…

By Iman Lababedi | March 30, 2023 |

good karma…. now gone bad

If They Were The Man: Now We Can’t Afford Tickets, Let’s Stream The Concerts For Three

By Iman Lababedi | March 30, 2023 |

At least you know what you are missing

Creem – America’s Only Rock ‘n’ Roll Magazine, Reviewed Issue By Issue – June 1986 (Volume 17, Number 10)

By Steve Crawford | March 30, 2023 |

Nobody understood the world of music journalism better than David Lee Roth

Scroll To Top