Wednesday, February 8, 2006

New Power Generator

Prince is back, back, BACK!!!

His new album, 3121, hits the stores on March 21st - with a host of guest stars and a video directed by Salma Hayek.

A single, "Beautiful", is also due out in the next couple of weeks, and it sees his royal badness (as they used to call him) getting all smoochy with a new soul singer called Tamar. Now, Prince is always at his best when he has a decent female foil, but the jury's out on whether Tamar is a muse (Rosie Gaines) or a menace (Cat). You can decide for yourself by watching their performance on last week's Saturday Night Live, below.

Personally, I'm not overly impressed with the new material. The two songs performed here plough a similar stylistic furrow to 2003's "Musicology" album. That record launched the purple perv back into the mainstream, but to many fans it felt like Prince-lite: a diluted and blunted version of his postmodern musical genius. Yes, it was great to him get the recognition he deserves -- but is playing it safe on the follow-up the best way to retain those fans?

Indeed, the highlights of Prince's career have always been the curveballs: ditching the power rock of Purple Rain for whimsical psychedlia on Around The World In A Day; sacking his band, the Revolution, at the height of their popularity in 1986; hiring a 10 piece soul band in the mid-90s while the rest of the world machine-gunned gangsta rap into the charts; having his sole UK number one (The Most Beautful Girl In The World), just as everyone was writing him off as a spent forceā€¦

So, let's hope these audience-friendly tracks he performed on SNL are the exception -- a sweet candy to tempt us into his dungeon of rootsy perversion. Because we all know Prince is at his best when he's being a naughty boy.

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