Disk 1 1. From The Lotus... Boom 2. Crimson And Clover 3. 4EVER 4. Colonized Mind 5. Feel Good Feel Better Feel Wonderful 6. Love Like Jazz 7. 77 Beverly Park 8. Wall Of Berlin 9. Dollar 10. Dreamer... Back To The Lotus Disk 2 1. There'll Never B Another Like Me 2. Chocolate Box 3. Dance 4 Me 4. U're Gonna C Me 5. Valentina 6. Better With Time 7. Ol' Skool Company 8. No More Candy 4 U Disk 3 1. Bria Valente - Here Eye Come 2. Bria Valente - All This Love 3. Bria Valente - Home 4. Bria Valente - Something U Already Know 5. Bria Valente - Everytime 6. Bria Valente - 2Nite 7. Bria Valente - Another Boy 8. Bria Valente - Kept Woman 9. Bria Valente - Immersion 10. Bria Valente - Elixir

Prince “LotusFlow3r,” “MPLSound,” & “Elixer” Reviews

By Chris DeLine, Guest Contributor and Erik Thompson on March 30, 2009 in Features

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LotusFlow3r review by Chris DeLine

In describing First Avenue to someone from outside of the Twin Cites, it’s easiest to just explain it as “that club” in Purple Rain; Prince returned to “that club” for the first time in two decades as one of three shows he played in Minneapolis on July 7, 2007. Following an in-store at Macy’s and his arena show at the Target Center, the First Avenue crowd waited in anticipation for the musician, knowing that it would be a once-in-a-lifetime event. And they waited. Prince eventually took the stage at 2:45 a.m. (legally the club could only stay open until 3:00) and played until the police shut down the show some 15 songs later. The whole thing was outrageous and had it been any other artist trying to pull such a stunt, it wouldn’t have ever worked (nor do I think people would’ve cared). The same can be said about LotusFlow3r. The album comes as one of three releases, and is an elaborate recording that is as much a showcase for Prince’s extravagance as it is his talent. For anyone else, such a feat might not be possible.

Over the course of his 24 previous albums, Prince has shown that his range is slightly more dynamic than most, however it’s still easy to get lost in the transitions between the LotusFlow3r‘s tracks. From the first note the record begins to drift in an unpredictable sway, with “From the Lotus…” introducing LotusFlow3r with a gentle guitar-based instrumental. Later, “Love Like Jazz” plants itself firmly in the tacky soft rock of the Doobie Brothers or Steely Dan, adding a twist of faux-Tropicalia to the mix for a bit of flavor. Not to say the songs are bad though, they’re just so unique and separate from each other that it’s hard to form any lasting cohesion.

Similarly, the production and effects used on various songs act to distance each track rather than bring them together. “The Morning After” sounds like a shallow Flower Power throwback from the Empire Records soundtrack. Even looking beyond its lyrics (“How many times you look for happy and you never see the rich folks there… What difference does it make who got the most bank, it’s just ink & chlorophyll”—this coming from an artist who just charged fans $77 for an advanced listen to his new music from a web site that wasn’t working), “$” has a Revolution-sound funk that sounds hurried compared to the following song, “Dreamer.” “Dreamer,” which is one of the best on the album, still fails to capture the explosiveness of the live version of the song (as seen on Prince’s Tonight Show performance), with production akin to Bad Brains in the late-1980s.

But “Dreamer” still stands out as it’s a fantastic exhibition of Prince the guitarist, rather than Prince the frontman. And it’s the guitar-work that holds the album together: “Boom” lands with a crunching blow, “Colonized Mind” offers a scorching guitar solo, and “Wall of Berlin” teases a bit of raggedy blues before Prince overtakes the entire song with a blistering solo. If it weren’t for the duality of LotusFlow3r the album would be either semi-alluring elevator-rock or a firmly planted rock album grounded in hazy solos. Either way, those have both been done, and despite the irregularity between the songs, the contrast is what gives the album its flair for originality.

Often, it’s the Prince that plays until the Police shut him down that people have come to know. That’s the version of Prince that we hear about in the media. The Prince that made news for controversial statements on gay marriage last year—that’s the Prince that unfortunately gets all the attention. But LotusFlow3r is unique in that is expels any thought of Prince’s public persona and allows the music to flow unaltered by general bias (personal bias… as we well know is another story altogether). No matter how much of that static gets in the way, LotusFlow3r is a dynamic reminder of how skilled a musician Prince is.

 

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MPLSound review by Erik Thompson

Prince’s MPLSound is an obvious nod to his hometown and the roots and sound that got him to where he’s at now. It’s a party record from start to finish, and an album that finds Prince back on familiar territory (as if he ever left) with sultry, R&B heavy, souled out songs that, while they tend to drag on a bit in their outros, are bound to bump on car stereos and fill dance floors across the country.

The album starts out fittingly with “(There’ll Never B) Another Like Me,” which finds Prince just waking up in the late afternoon and finding out where the party is at for the night. There really is only one pop star that can get away with the lyrics “Slipped into the bathroom, put some olive oil in my hair,” and that is Prince Rogers Nelson, and he knows it. The lyrics are a bit goofy (referencing e-mail, Puerto Rican DJs, and, somewhat narcissistically, his own new music) but the beat is right, the hook is tight, and the party is properly underway. “Chocolate Box,” which features a guest spot by Q-Tip, is a funky, upbeat, high-octane dance track that never really slows down it’s pace or sexual undertones. It’s reminiscent of “Dirty Mind” on a much bigger budget, and should please old-school Prince fans and new listeners alike.

The party continues with “Dance 4 Me,” which finds Prince’s voice heavily processed and sped up to keep time with the LinnDrum “When Doves Cry”-ish beat, which is in full effect throughout this track. This song will surely find its way into dance clubs and strip clubs alike. Slow jam “U’re Gonna C Me” is next up, and it sounds too similar to “The Beautiful Ones” for it to make any lasting impression on me. The lights are still turned down low for the next track, “Here,” which works a bit better due to it’s more original, freaked out calypso beat and understated subject matter. And the line “Wine don’t taste the same when you’re alone” is quite insightful. But still, as a listener I long to go back to the party that we were introduced to at the start of the record.

And we’re brought back to that soiree with the next track “Valentina,” a funky but bizarre open-letter to Salma Hayek’s daughter Valentina telling her how hot Prince (and everyone else, women included) thinks her mother is, and how she should give him a call some time. It’s audacious, cocksure, and again seems like something only Prince could really get away with. “Better With Time” is another slow song, along the lines of “U’re Gonna C Me” and again it doesn’t resonate well with me, and only detracts from the soulful party atmosphere of most of the album.

“Ol’ Skool Company” is the most solid track on the record, with a mesmerizing, funky keyboard riff that rides throughout the song, and finds Prince not only self-assured and haughty, but also soloing on the guitar for one of the first times (audibly, at least) on the record. It’s the standout track on the album, long before he gives the shout-out to the Minneapolis sound and how it can’t be beat, but that kind of love certainly doesn’t hurt. “No More Candy 4 U” closes things out in a festive, upbeat manner, with Prince taking shots at all of his detractors while keeping things lively and smooth. “Too much fame causes spiritual decay” Prince claims, which is a bit odd, since he’s been intentionally in the spotlight more than usual promoting this release, but it’s hard to find fault in a song this funky. It’s best to just dance along.

So, Prince is back in a major way, and MPLSound is a revitalized and refreshing party record from someone who’s been making them for years. The slow jams seem a bit out of place on a record so upbeat, but otherwise this album is a perfect Saturday night record for anyone hoping to get loose, get free and forget the ills that plague our headlines. The Purple One has returned to the old-school flavor he’s perfected in the past, and is bound to fill the dance floor once again with this album. And, as always, it’s up to us to try and keep up with him.

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Elixer review by guest contributor Taylor Carik

Okay, here’s my recommendation for the video for a single off of Elixer.

See it with me.

We’re looking through the windows of a penthouse condo in a downtown metropolis, probably Minneapolis. To keep it real, we can maybe work in First Avenue deep in the background somewhere. The decor is sparsely modern and we come with a shot of a stereo with Elixer sitting on it, right next to the other two new Prince albums. (We really make sure to get that crazy-ass album art into the frame, because it’s just amazing.)

Bria Valente, the Purple One’s new protege and the face and voice behind the new tag-along album, comes into frame and starts walking around the hardwood floors while wearing a sexy outfit—but comfy, maybe playful even—and a pair of just huge fucking headphones. The phones are purple and have a super long cord that allows her to just mill around the condo while singing along to the track.

The neon blips of light outside the large, black glass windows accentuate the late night atmosphere; there are different camera angles—sometimes Valente is on the couch, sometimes she’s mixing a drink, sometimes she’s standing behind turntables, sometimes we can even cut in some cutaway shots of couples doing it in the other condos: it’s all trying to be really sexy.

Then right at the end of the video, the light of Valente’s phone turns on (prod. note: that can be a product placement for a phone sold at Target, actually). Valente picks up the phone, goes to the door, open it up, and BOOM there’s Prince, who just showed up with some records that the two can listen to for the rest of the night. (It would probably be like Santana’s Caravanserai and Jesse Johnson’s Shockadelica because that’s apparently what he’s into these days.)

And fade out on Valente taking off the headphones. There you go, there’s your video.

If Elixer were a tighter album, actually, the video could crescendo with more and more people showing up to the party penthouse, like some extras from a commercial for a lava-filter vodka or something. But as it is, the record’s different musical directions are more idiosyncratic than they are enjoyable to a wider audience.

At its best Elixer is rich and subtle, but stock (“Home”); at its worst, the variety of material comes off like an under-produced girl group from the late 1990s (“Another Boy”), retro lounge music that’s not deep or cheeky enough to be vintage (“Everytime”), and bad house music (the rest of the tracks). So adding more party people might interrupt the one-off party that’s happening on each track and over the entire album.

To her nube credit, Valante has learned several lessons from Prince. First, replace your “to”s with the number (“2Nite”). Next, find a way to keep a sliding bass-line over a fat kick drum. Last, when in doubt add a bunch of back up singers to the chorus. And so there are moments on Elixer that have promise, especially if those moments are drawn out in a muy sexy music video.