The Purple One Returns, Rated PG
“From the heart of Minnesota, here comes the purple Yoda” is a line from “Laydown,” a bonus track that is 77th, after silent tracks 10-76, on Prince’s latest release, 20Ten, and it exemplifies the overall feel of this sanitized funk/pop/rock/soul album. Included as a covermount in the Daily Mirror and the Daily Record in the U.K. and Ireland on July 10, and as an add-on in Rolling Stone’s German issue on July 22, this marks the 33th release for the Artist in the U.K. It’s a decent pastiche of pop-rock tunes with spiritual lyrics, but certainly lacks the panache Prince is known for.
“Compassion” is reminiscent of “Let’s Go Crazy” but without the passion or seriously funky guitar riffs. “Endlessly Beginning,” “Future Soul Song,” and “Act of God,” while rife with introspective lyrics, seem to aspire to be as hot as songs from the Purple One’s earlier masterpieces Purple Rain and 1999, but fall short of delivering because they seem to lack conviction. “Sticky Like Glue” and “Walk in the Sand” are stand-outs, the first edging close to Prince’s traditional funky playfulness, the second a sunny, yet elegiac love song
While it’s common for artists to mature and grow in style, for a musician like Prince, who built up a certain image that was cloaked in freakiness and sexuality, it’s difficult to accept a PG version of a musical genius who used to push the envelope. Why not make a children’s album or a gospel album instead of stripping away the elements that made earlier material memorable and magical? While guest appearances by saxophonist Maceo Parker and singers Shelby J, Liv Warfield and Elisa Dease enhance the excellent production quality, style can’t override lack of substance.
It hasn’t been announced how and when Prince will release 20Ten in the States, but it’s been reported that he’s had meetings with Warner Bros. He partnered with Target in 2009 to release his three-disc, Lotusflow3r, which included MPLSound and his protegee Bria Valente’s debut album, Elixir.
Known for being anti-iTunes and Youtube, Prince recently said “The Internet’s completely over,” thus his unique brand of self-promotion via U.K. publications. For someone who was such a vanguard artist in the past, it remains to be seen if denouncing one of the greatest inventions of the 21st century is a wise idea. Prince is soon set to kick off a European tour promoting 20Ten.
The 20Ten tracklisting is as follow:
2. “Endlessly Beginning”
3. “Future Soul Song”
4. “Sticky Like Glue”
6. “Act Of God”
7. “Walk In Sand”
8. “Sea Of Everything”
9. “Everybody Loves Me”
10. “Untitled Bonus Track”