Artist: Prince Title: Rave Un2 The Joy Fantastic Year: 1999 Tracklist: Rave Un2 The Joy Fantastic 04:19 Undisputed*** 04:20 The Greatest Romance Ever Sold 05:40 Segue 00:04 Hot Wit U+ 05:09 Tangerine 01:33 So Far, So Pleased++ 03:24 The Sun, The Moon And Stars 05:15 Everyday Is A Winding Road 06:14 Segue 00:17 Man O War 05:14 Baby Knows+++ 03:18 Eye Love U, But Eye Dont Trust U Anymore++++03:36 Silly Game 03:30 Strange But True 04:12 Wherever U Go, Whatever U Do 04:00 Segue* 00:43 Prettyman*,** 04:24

JON BREAM / Star Tribune
T he artist generally known as Prince has received considerable attention this year -- mostly for "1999," the hit he recorded in 1982 that still sounds remarkably vital today. Now he wants to call attention to his new music.
"Rave Un2 the Joy Fantastic" (Arista), which arrives in stores today, has probably the greatest likelihood for commercial success of any Prince album since 1991's double-platinum "Diamonds & Pearls."
The disc is being marketed by Arista, whose founder and driving force, Clive Davis, is savvy, aggressive and on a hot streak. Arista has made big noise recently with recordings by Santana, Whitney Houston, TLC, Sarah McLachlan, Deborah Cox and Eurythmics.
Prince, who had complete artistic control over this CD, has some famous people helping him -- rocker Sheryl Crow, rapper Eve, indie folkie Ani DiFranco, No Doubt's Gwen Stefani, Public Enemy rapper Chuck D, saxophonist Maceo Parker and bassist Larry Graham. Using big-name guest stars has been a successful strategy for current acts (Mariah Carey, Puff Daddy) as well as for veterans on the comeback trail (Santana). And Arista knows how to use that tactic as effectively as any label.
"Rave" is a strong recording, deep with ballads, short on funky party music but with broad musical appeal. This 15-song collection might not be fantastic, but many songs will bring joy to the world in 1999 and beyond.

 

"Rave" seems like Prince's 1990s version of "Around the World in a Day," his 1985 pop kaleidoscope that followed the landmark "Purple Rain" -- with a little bit of "Parade" (the soundtrack to "Under the Cherry Moon") thrown in.
"Once again, I don't follow trends, they just follow me," Prince declares on "Undisputed," his commentary on the music business on "Rave." No, this disc isn't on the trendy tip; rather, it has more of an '80s vibe. But the songs will likely end up on the radio.
"So Far So Pleased" is cheesy synth Euro-pop, sweetened by Stefani's voice and supported by a muscular guitar solo. "The Sun the Moon and Stars" is celestial pop with an understated electronica beat and a dancehall rap -- Prince's small concessions to modern-day stylings. "Man 'o' War," a falsetto frustration about a relationship that's run its course, is a strikingly soulful slow grind that carries on and on. "I Love U, But I Don't Trust U Anymore" is an emotional piano ballad that could have been lifted from "Under the Cherry Moon." "Silly Game," about the posturing in relationships, is the ChiLites for the '90s, suggesting that Prince might find big success in adult-contemporary land because he knows how to wreak emotional havoc bathed in pretty sounds.
Even when he tries to get raunchy on "Rave," it's not R-rated stuff. "Hot with U" is a horny come-on, complete with heavy breathing and a fairly tame rap by Eve of Ruff Ryders; a remix could turn the beat around on this one. If you want to dance, check out the synth strut of the I-wanna-sex-you-up "Baby Knows" (with Crow on harmonica and vocals); the housequaking, James Brown groove of "Prettyman" (a hidden track featuring Parker's marvelous sax); a funky sendup of Crow's "Everyday Is a Winding Road" (perhaps this hit could find a second life in the R&B market); and the house-party minimalism of the opening "Rave Un2 the Joy Fantastic" with its Princely screams, power guitar and Middle Eastern filigree.
On "Rave," Prince seems more comfortable, more peaceful and more genuinely loving than on any previous album -- except maybe the second disc of 1996's 3-CD "Emancipation." The closing "Whenever U Go, Whatever U Do" on "Rave" is sunny and simple, open and hopeful -- much like a glimpse of the light at the dawn of the new millennium.