There are a good many artists with whom I have a love/hate relationship. Prince would be such a case. He's in the ...nurgh... banner, has produced some of my favorite music ever, and I even bought the 1991 "Prince: Alter Ego" comic by future Milestone creators Dwayne McDuffie and Denys Cowan at full cover price. However, he also generates more unwarranted pretense and godawful filler crap than any remotely comparable artist, and I'm speaking as someone who likes "Rock-A-Hula Baby" by Elvis. He has never appeared in a good movie, very much including "Purple Rain." In fact, DAMN U, 4 EYE have seen "Under the Cherry Moon." Especially DAMN U 4 popularizing the inane alpha-numeric/iconographic interchangeability prevalent on the web, in rap, and text messages today. Also, I can't comfortable post the cover of "Alter Ego," or the album art above, because Prince is currently going all Lars Ulrich against the entire internet in a bid to remove any instances of his likeness appearing without consent or payment.
Still, I've decided he's an excellent candidate to inaugurate music coverage within the nurghosphere. "Audio Neurotic Asphyxiation" will suffocate its readers with either the dizzying highs of its track-by-track reviewers, or send them to meet Michael Hutchence, another 80's favorite of mine. Further, I've chosen to start with an album with an unpronounceable symbol for a name and a dim history of positive reviews. My own thoughts on the release?
- My Name Is Prince: A first attempt at a quasi-rap, and I enjoy it very much. If anyone has a right to swagger and talk shit, it's Prince. Again, his name is Prince. You expect humility?
- Sexy M.F. : One of the worst possible songs to hear edited, as it was in the music video. Sure, "motherfucker" is only uttered 7 times in the first 3 1/2 minutes, but another 20 times audibly over the remaining minutes, discounting the chants of same buried by production. It works great, but seriously, are you still that pissed at Tipper Gore nearly a decade on from "Darling Nikki?"
- Love 2 the 9's: cutesy, jazzy number far from my speed, but inoffensive.
- The Morning Papers: The first ballad, once again to the type of underage virgin Prince favored. Still, "If he poured his heart in2 a glass and offered it like wine, she could drink and be back in time4 the morning papers" remains a swell line.
- The Max: The first subtle but direct reference to this being a concept album. Not coincidentally, also one of the limpest tracks present. WTF guest rapping, some weak glory mongering-- ugh.
- Segue: Dialogue "skit" setting up the hero's only vocal adversary on the album, a reporter played by Kirstie Alley.
- Blue Light: Nothing special, but the faux reggae and likely anecdotal lyrics keep it palatable.
- Wanna Melt With U: A thumping, semi-industrial number that makes the mistake of recalling the classic Modern English single in title, but not in quality by any stretch. Pretty sloppy regardless of association, in no way helped by shoddy rap from NPG frontman Tony M.
- Sweet Baby: I swear, I consistently forget this song exists, even while its playing.
- The Continental: Sounds more like a parody of this period's work by Prince than a legitimate entry.
- Damn U: As above, but his time parodying 60's crooners. So blah they tacked another skit onto the end of it, and I never bothered to care.
- Arrogance: The pseudo chop-socky music at the opening is far better than the rest of this cacophonous wreck. Seems more like a bridge to more cryptic details relating to the "concept" than a song. Even still, the forced intrigue tweaks part of my lizard-geek brain, compelling me to learn more about the half-conceived conceit here.
- 7: ...muchly because of this, one of the Prince songs I've been known to sing along to without being conscious I'm doing it. I adore the imagery and hopeful feeling this song invokes, plus the engaging chorus managed to work in "savoir faire," which rates mad props. If I were a minister instead of negative creep, I'd make my congregates sing this on every sabbath day.
- And God Created Woman: I swear, I started this with the intent of bucking the trend and giving a positive review. What happened? Prince filler can really sneak up on you.
- 3 Chains O' Gold: I never have gotten my hands on the comic book follow-up to "Alter Ego." I'm sincerely curious if it managed to make more sense of the muddled concept than the album or video collection. Also, I want to see a Prince "Who's Who" entry someday. Say, did the Ann Nocenti "Ace" analogue from those Spider-Man annuals with Mark Beachum ever get a Marvel Handbook entry? Also, with his fervent assertion that he'd "sho nuff" save the princess, doesn't the repeated line "If one of us has 2 go, U will go before me" seem like Prince's equivalent to Captain America's classic faux pas "ONE of us is gonna walk OUT of here -- under his own steam -- and it won't be ME!"
- Segue 2: I recently rewatched the 80's "Flash Gordon" movie, and with Prince's fixation on "Barbarella," wouldn't it be great to see him score Robert Rodriguez's upcoming (and hopefully true-to-camp) remake ala Queen? "Baaaaaaaaah-ba-re-lla! Her juices will quench your thirst. Baaaaaaaaah-ba-re-lla! That girl's coochie... will sho' nuff save this Earth!"
- The Sacrifice of Victor: Sounds like a testimonial of import, but I'm not sure where it's going, and I myself never got anywhere. It works great as metafiction, though. "Victor" dies and is reborn as the "Love Symbol," just as Prince did. Also, while no satisfactory answer comes frok the music, I understand the Artist Formerly Known As Prince totally tapped the underage princess. Hello marriage #1!
So, okay, "Love Symbol" isn't such a great album, but I still got swept up in its mythology, because I'm a stupid dork. I will continue to defend my love of "7" and the other singles, and I'll even say it's a better album than "Diamonds And Pearls." Maybe, Tune in same (INSERT TAFKAP SYMBOL) Time, same (TAFKAP SYMBOL REMOVED per Cease & Desist Order) Channel!