Last month I promised you some commentary on that Prince 3-CD set, and it’s about time I got around to it.
Lotusflow3r, for some reason, is distributed in the States by Target stores. (Both Prince and Target have roots in Minneapolis, but surely that can’t be the motivation.) The first disc, Elixer, is given over to the vocal stylings of Bria
6 Valente, presumably Prince’s bid for airplay on your local smooth-jazz station; Valente is okay in a budget-Basia sort of way, and everything is eminently listenable, but nothing really soars. Still, you can do worse for background music, and even if you haven’t, your dentist probably has.
The second disc is Lotusflow3r itself, which reintroduces Prince as guitar hero, a role he hasn’t really embraced since, well, Purple Rain. And while it’s good to have him wailing on the axe, the backgrounds seem designed more to stay out of the way than to enhance the experience. Still, the curious fusion of “Crimson and Clover” with “Wild Thing” works, and if things seem a bit less frantic than they could be, the Dylanesque “Colonized Mind,” halfway through the disc, is somehow reassuring: it fits nicely alongside quieter Hendrixiana like “Castles Made of Sand,” which is not at all a bad neighborhood to be in.
MPLSound goes back even further: the intricate synth-funk Prince perfected around the days of Dirty Mind and Controversy. I’m not entirely convinced that we need to party like it’s 1979, but viewed strictly as a revival of the classic Minneapolis sound, it does the job. And the sort-of-anthemic “No More Candy 4 U,” the closer, hints that okay, here’s your stylistic throwback, now go buy one of the newer albums already. If you’re spiteful, which I’m not, you’ll hunt around for The Black Album.
Summary: It’s three CDs, two hours. Like most such sets, it could have been edited down to half the length and one-third the plastic. Still, it’s Prince: if he’s not being excessive, he’s got no reason to live. This is the man who, after all, changed his name to an unpronounceable glyph after leading off the album of the same, um, name with a track called “My Name Is Prince.” The courage of one’s contradictions? This is what you get from The Artist Formerly Known As The Artist Formerly Known As Prince. You get used to it.
(Prompted by La Shawn Barber.)