Ruminations on TV Shows, Comics, And Music
If you were to rank my Reimagined Discography from least favorite to favorite, Musicology would be on the bottom rung. Prince was throwing a lot of pasta at the wall, and it stuck. And contrary to 80s movies about Italians, that's a terrible way to test pasta. Any pasta that sticks to the wall is overdone. And the Musicology era is Overdone.
It's mixed to death. The production turns some otherwise perfectly listenable music into what sounds like the original material from a mediocre Prince cover band. Even many of the vocals fall flat.
There are at least three albums of instrumental tracks from this era, and two of them are great, and one of them is Yoga Prince bad. I probably could have switched Musicology out with Shut The Funk Up: The Best Of Instrumental Prince, but it isn't the path I chose.
So here's the songs from the early 2000s that I enjoy more than the other songs.
A plane lands. A guitar wammies. The vocals hit. I really loved Supercute when I first heard it, and for years afterward. It was an automatic choice for a first cut on this album. But when I was listening to it for editing purposes, it sounded muddy. This is the first Prince song that doesn't sound good on headphones. It sounds great on my computer, or over the sound system at work, but it just sounds ... swampy on headphones, and not in a deliberately creative awesome way. So take your headphones off and blast this perfectly fine, happy, catchy song about how much Prince is totally into someone.
Prince screeches his way into Daisy Chain next. It's synth-funky, and a perfect follow-up track. It's like a popular B-side to "Supercute" that you wish was on the actual album. The creepy effect laugh leads us right into
The Word. The vocals on this album so far have had a particular campfire sing along chorus effect. In this song Prince employs the people listening to let's get saved, which, unfortunately isn't a euphemism for sex. The lyrics are all Creepy Preacher Prince. Instead of a laugh, we go back to a screech.
Confession: I had already mixed this album before I heard of When Will We B Paid, but Prince's reparations B-side is, by a landslide, his best B-side from this era, and is better than a bunch of tracks on his actual albums. The lyrics are pretty basic. But it's not a topic Prince usually addresses as head-on as he does here. And the vocal mix on this track is A+.
A dance groove with a super irritating wheezing sound introduce us to Black Sweat. The wheeze drops as the lyrics hit, and the rest of the track is hand-clappy dance nonsense. But in a good way. If you've seen the video for the supposed Black Sweat dance, you know it's uninspired.
Turn off your cell phone, ladies. Now that the minimal "Black Sweat" has been perspired out of you, Prince is gonna get you Satisfied real soon. This has elements of Revolution-era Prince. A constant rising funk swell with an almost-falsetto vocal, and an occasional break that has him actually going falsetto. At 2:43, I don't think he got her very satisfied before he quit.
Te Amo Carazon is smokey, club, jazz number. It hits all the right notes, but it lacks Prince's usual vocal passion. I would love to hear a version recorded ten years earlier, or five years later. It's nearly a great song. Focusing more on his vocals and piano would have put it over the top.
People who only knew Prince from his hits might, mistakenly, assume Incense And Candles had pitch-corrected vocals because Prince was being trendy. Nah, if you've been listening to this discography, you know he had almost an entire album with pitched-up vocals in the mid-80s. But this track is the most pop-radio friendly / on-trend usage of the technology Prince has ever pulled off. He also has a decent rap about halfway through.
Perfect pop falsettotown and drums break through in the beginning of the timeless funk ballad, Call My Name. This is another track that could be on any Prince album, and would always be a highlight. This might be Prince's best 21st century song.
The Dance is Prince at his James Bondiest. The synth riff screams spy flick while Prince doesn't want to fall in love again. I'm sure that will stick. It gets more and more Eastern as the song goes on but never loses that espionage feeling.
A guitar lick and a phasing church organ. Prince is finally being sent to sleep On The Couch. This has been a long time coming. I do enjoy that he references everyone's favorite movie featuring Regie Gibson, Love Jones, while he tries to convince his partner that he shouldn't be punished. Prince, you DEFINITELY cheated on whoever has you on punishment. You are guilty. Even if they're wrong about this specific time. Grab some purple throw pillows and fetal-position it up, Mr. Falsetto.
Happier days abound in U Make My Sun Shine. Angie Stone is co-lead singer on this gospelly funk track.
Reflection jams like a late 90s Prince track with a generic 70s vocal. You can almost see two forty somethings falling in love, montage style, with this song playing in the background. A TV movie, not a film. A film would have had an actual 1970s jam. It's interesting to end this album with Prince finally acknowledging his ass (and most of the rest of him) is getting old.