Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Their names are not Prince

Let's have a look at this Prince "tribute album" which has just landed on my desk.

Hmmm, nice artwork. And how about this line-up of stellar talent: Soulwax, D'Angelo, erm, Kode 9...

Yes folks, of all the people who have paid tribute to Prince as an inspiration over the past decade, these are definitely the cream of the crop. We don't have time for Pharrell Williams or Justin Timberlake. What could they possibly bring to a project like this?

Except, you know, sales.

But maybe I'm being unfair. Perhaps these artists really have delivered something unique. A new interpretation of old masterpieces, reframing the mystique of the Minneapolean maestro into a more contemporary context, revealing - as Sinead O'Connor has done in the past - a more complex, emotional side to songs we previously thought of as party tunes or excursions in ego.

We kick off with D'Angelo - once touted as the "next Prince" - whose workaday version of She's Always In My Hair shows why he wasn't even the next Ray Parker Jr.

Filth-merchant Peaches would seem like the perfect candidate to cover Prince's ultimate dirty party tune, Sexy Dancer, but she spends the three minutes shouting "we're going to Prince's house" over an anonymous club beat.

Meanwhile, Soulwax take whimsical nursery rhyme Starfish and Coffee and beat it to the ground with a rusty kettle, robbing it of all joy and life (although it now has added rusty kettle, so that's okay).

In all, about three tracks are worth keeping: British indie kids Hefner turn in a sinister version of Controversy, which wouldn't sound out of place on a Massive Attack album; Former New Young Pony Club cohorts Blue States return Alpahbet Street to its blues roots; and Sina Nordemstam (who I only ever hear on compilation albums) strips back Purple Rain to its barest essentials, making it sound more like a stalkers' lullaby than a stadium-rousing anthem.

Pick and choose your downloads carefully when it goes up on iTunes from 4 Feb!

Stina Nordemstam - Purple Rain (MP3)
7 Hurtz with Peaches - Sexy Dancer (MP3)

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