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Thread started 07/23/07 12:36pm

Moonbeam

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Planet Earth- Official Reviews

There is a really great website called metacritic that compiles offical record reviews and assigns a composite score on a 100 point scale. It's a great place to see the full spectrum of reviews. So far, Planet Earth has a score of 68 after 9 reviews.

In comparison, 3121 scored 69 with 29 reviews.
Musicology scored 71 with 22 reviews.
The Rainbow Children scored 54 with 10 reviews.

It seems Prince is settling comfortably into a consistent level of decency in the eyes of critics.
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Reply #1 posted 07/23/07 12:41pm

Moonbeam

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AllMusic Guide: 3.5/5

Comeback accomplished, Prince now settles into a groove with 2007's Planet Earth, his 26th studio album and successor to the two deliberate comebacks, Musicology and 3121. Those two albums were designed to storm the top of the charts but, more importantly, they were made with the intention of making Prince prominent again -- a gambit that worked since Prince worked hard, stealing the show at both the Superbowl and the American Idol fifth-season finale and turning into an in-demand concert ticket once again. Both records were recorded with the expectations of making a splash, and 3121 even made some overtures toward modern music, most noticeably in the sleek electro workout of "Black Sweat," which suggested that Prince had heard the Neptunes, even if he didn't pay them much mind. In contrast to such grudging nods at his progeny, Planet Earth doesn't attempt to make concessions to contemporary music, although it does make a point of addressing the modern world, whether it's in the neo-apocalyptic warnings of destruction and God on the title track or his offhand reference to "this digital age" on the sweet slow jam "Somewhere Here on Earth." Such passing asides are enough indication that, even if Prince may belong to his own universe, he surely lives in our world, something that's also apparent from his move to give away the album with Sunday newspapers in the U.K., a move that infuriated record labels in Britain -- since how can you sell something that's being given away for free? -- yet makes some sense in terms of sheer marketing. After all, Planet Earth is the kind of sturdy, highly enjoyable music that needs some manufactured hoopla around its release; otherwise, it will fade into the artist's prodigious back catalog because of its very nature. This isn't a self-styled comeback, it's an album that showcases a still-vital veteran relaxing and playing music that's not surprising, not fashionable, but not stodgy or fussy. That may mean that Planet Earth isn't much more than a quite good Prince album, one that hits upon his most accessible personas -- impish popster, funk-rocker, seductive balladeer, charmingly mystic weirdo -- and doesn't go much further than that, yet it still offers plenty to enjoy, either as sheer music (some of the synths are a bit glassy, but nobody knows how to make a record sound warm like Prince) or as songs. If there are no classics here -- or even songs that are as instantly grabbing as "Lolita" -- there are no bad songs either, with the very funny, tightly wound rocker "Guitar," the light, frothy "The One U Wanna C," and the NPG knockoff "Chelsea Rodgers" being as engaging as slow jams like "Future Baby Mama." There's no fluff and no fat, just ten strong songs delivered with just enough flair to remind you it's the work of Prince, yet strategically avoiding the indulgence that marginalized him throughout the '90s. Ultimately, Planet Earth is the sound of a working musician working, which makes it a bit of a passing pleasure, yet there's no denying that it is indeed a pleasure having him turn out solid records like this that build upon his legacy, no matter how modestly.
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Reply #2 posted 07/23/07 12:44pm

Jatrig

Moonbeam said:

AllMusic Guide: 3.5/5

Comeback accomplished, Prince now settles into a groove with 2007's Planet Earth, his 26th studio album and successor to the two deliberate comebacks, Musicology and 3121. Those two albums were designed to storm the top of the charts but, more importantly, they were made with the intention of making Prince prominent again -- a gambit that worked since Prince worked hard, stealing the show at both the Superbowl and the American Idol fifth-season finale and turning into an in-demand concert ticket once again. Both records were recorded with the expectations of making a splash, and 3121 even made some overtures toward modern music, most noticeably in the sleek electro workout of "Black Sweat," which suggested that Prince had heard the Neptunes, even if he didn't pay them much mind. In contrast to such grudging nods at his progeny, Planet Earth doesn't attempt to make concessions to contemporary music, although it does make a point of addressing the modern world, whether it's in the neo-apocalyptic warnings of destruction and God on the title track or his offhand reference to "this digital age" on the sweet slow jam "Somewhere Here on Earth." Such passing asides are enough indication that, even if Prince may belong to his own universe, he surely lives in our world, something that's also apparent from his move to give away the album with Sunday newspapers in the U.K., a move that infuriated record labels in Britain -- since how can you sell something that's being given away for free? -- yet makes some sense in terms of sheer marketing. After all, Planet Earth is the kind of sturdy, highly enjoyable music that needs some manufactured hoopla around its release; otherwise, it will fade into the artist's prodigious back catalog because of its very nature. This isn't a self-styled comeback, it's an album that showcases a still-vital veteran relaxing and playing music that's not surprising, not fashionable, but not stodgy or fussy. That may mean that Planet Earth isn't much more than a quite good Prince album, one that hits upon his most accessible personas -- impish popster, funk-rocker, seductive balladeer, charmingly mystic weirdo -- and doesn't go much further than that, yet it still offers plenty to enjoy, either as sheer music (some of the synths are a bit glassy, but nobody knows how to make a record sound warm like Prince) or as songs. If there are no classics here -- or even songs that are as instantly grabbing as "Lolita" -- there are no bad songs either, with the very funny, tightly wound rocker "Guitar," the light, frothy "The One U Wanna C," and the NPG knockoff "Chelsea Rodgers" being as engaging as slow jams like "Future Baby Mama." There's no fluff and no fat, just ten strong songs delivered with just enough flair to remind you it's the work of Prince, yet strategically avoiding the indulgence that marginalized him throughout the '90s. Ultimately, Planet Earth is the sound of a working musician working, which makes it a bit of a passing pleasure, yet there's no denying that it is indeed a pleasure having him turn out solid records like this that build upon his legacy, no matter how modestly.


Great Review!! One question -- I've often heard critics mention Prince's "indulgence" and how it made him unpopular and his albums crappy -- I don't get this?? I LOVE prince's "indulgence," isn't that what makes and artist an artist?
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Reply #3 posted 07/23/07 12:46pm

Moonbeam

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Stylus: B+

Ever the shape-shifter, Prince Rogers Nelson makes his most outrageous move yet. Lots of fans grumble about the lengths to which the artist formerly known as the Artist will go to ensure listenability. No doubt about it: distributing an album with The Mail is a masterstroke.

A shame, then, we're not discussing another Parade or, hell, The Gold Experience, but lately Prince puts his talent into recording albums and his genius into marketing them. In 2004, for example, he included Musicology with the price of a concert ticket and forced the RIAA to like it. Although he's released plenty of indifferent albums since 1988's Lovesexy, this is the second time he's pulled a Steel Wheels: recording an album as an excuse to tour (like Steel Wheels' "Mixed Emotions," the mildly compelling nostalgia of Musicology's title track, the first single, embraced dubious notions of musical solidarity). 3121 was a little better: he was studying the Billboard Top Ten ("Black Sweat") as much as he was copying himself (the title track). Planet Earth marks a slight improvement on that one, which is progress of a sort, but incremental advances like this almost guarantee that the marketing hoo-hah will get more attention anyway.

However, since this is Prince and not another middle-aged white songwriter/guitarist he'll force us to listen to Planet Earth for three tracks so ebullient that you understand why he records albums as excuses to tour. "Chelsea Rodgers" might be the best use of a brass section in the Prince songbook since "Housequake," and the most compelling evidence that witnessing for Jehovah hasn't stunted his imagination; mitigating this story of a reformed libertine with a piano part swiped from Sylvester's "(You Make Me Feel) Mighty Real" is the kind of perversity we used to take for granted from him. He doesn't sound crabby; he's reminding himself that even God-fearing wretches like him need parables to explain himself to the rest of us; that Sylvester could hear gospel in disco. The irresistible bitchery of his guitar work on "Lion of Judah" redeems the Bible-adducing triumphalism of its chorus. Finally, the good will Prince has accumulated doesn't clarify the lyrical equivocations of "Resolution" (the musical ones though—like the concluding synth swoop—are a delight), but if you want anti-war slogans go listen to Neil Young.

If smugness erodes the empathy he extends to the putative love objects that populate Planet Earth's fair-to-good ballads, his skill compensates. Thanks to Jesus and a lifetime of teetotaling, his voice remains impossibly supple, and as elastic as he thinks his dick is. So is, of all things, humor. Unlike R. Kelly, Ne-Yo can tell the difference between smarm and charm—to be fair, it's Kells' confusion that makes him intermittently excellent—but he couldn't put over pillow-talk piffle like "Future Baby Mama" like Prince can (not enough to convince you that it won't join "Call My Name" and "Beautiful, Loved, Blessed" in second-single limbo, mind).

Speaking of smarm-vs-charm, "I love you, babe, but not like I love my guitar" is the asshole come-on he's been trying to write since Controversy, and more devastating for being apt. Just don't remind the little guy of his lifetime of broken promises. Listening to "Guitar" brings to mind the seven-minute entreaty in which he let his axemanship show what his heart couldn't, even when this entreaty was called, simply, "I Could Never Take The Place of Your Man." That song was a lifeline, while "Guitar" comforts itself with being a manifesto. Manifestos can incite passions, but the chance always exists that you're speaking in an empty room.

Planet Earth may, like 3121, top the charts. Credit those amazing live shows and what he signifies in pop culture; everybody likes the idea of Prince. Not exactly encouraging for an artist this fecund, who hasn't shaken off the millstones of his past achievements as thoroughly as he thinks. It may be enough that Prince transforms what's already a strong case for his own solipsism into a moral imperative.
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Reply #4 posted 07/23/07 12:47pm

Moonbeam

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Jatrig said:


Great Review!! One question -- I've often heard critics mention Prince's "indulgence" and how it made him unpopular and his albums crappy -- I don't get this?? I LOVE prince's "indulgence," isn't that what makes and artist an artist?


I agree! Bloated albums like The Rainbow Children and NEWS are nevertheless very interesting and purely Prince.
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Reply #5 posted 07/23/07 12:51pm

Moonbeam

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Amazon: 80 (metacritic score)

Because it would be un-Prince-like to release a new studio album without kicking up a little controversy first, the Artist Formerly Known As a Cool-Looking Symbol gave away copies of Planet Earth with a British news tabloid weeks before its U.S. release. Among the reasons he shouldn't have: nobody who catches wind of the peerless funk-rock-soul he lays out on these 10 tracks--least of all longtime fans--would think twice about shelling out for it. A big chunk of the appeal is that Prince finds his way back to his guitar here. The title track, a politically right-on-time environmental rant, steers him back toward "Purple Rain" territory, as does "Lion of Judah" ("Guitar," oddly, doesn't--it's more of a straight-up, shout-it-out modern rocker). And the flirty numbers are seriously flammable: "Somewhere Here on Earth" seduces with a crackly jazz vibe, while "Mr. Goodnight" gets friendly with a refined slip of rap. Coolest of all are two tracks at cross purposes-- "Chelsea Rodgers" fuses funk with disco until it's so far off the hook it's in a heap on the floor, and "All the Midnights in the World" paints a picture of artistic maturity through piano and lyrics that lean hard on positivity. There's an elegance to it that Prince fans, no strangers to pop music that's truly sublime, won't fail to appreciate.
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Reply #6 posted 07/23/07 12:59pm

Moonbeam

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Drowned in Sound: 5/10

Okay, hands up – who bought it? For reasons unclear, Prince has chosen to release Planet Earth through The Mail On Sunday. For a one-time gender bender whose explicit lyrics flicked Vs at the petit-bourgeois conservatism of an era, this is a sequence of events which aforementioned rag would no doubt describe as ‘vile’. It still feels wrong even typing it. And for those of you that did choose to grease the palms of those loveable fear mongers for your funky fix, here’s the worst part: it wasn’t really worth it.

Yup, as Faustian pacts go, Planet Earth’ll leave you feeling decidedly short-changed. The title track is a blustery epic that retains something of the creepy insularity that permeated Around The World In A Day, and suffers the twin misfortune of resembling both Michael Jackson and, via a creamy jazz interlude somewhere in the middle, Barry Manilow. And 'Guitar' is a slick FM groove sorely lacking in edge – it used to be that Prince could sing about incest or fellatio and make either seem like an agreeable way to spend an evening, but the newly-religious Prince has to content himself with penning neutered-sounding six-string serenades.

After this, er, hi-octane opening, things take a turn for the schmoove. One or two obvious exceptions notwithstanding, ballads have never exactly been Prince’s forte, sharing as he does modern-day R ‘n’ B’s predilection for schmaltzy production values and trilling vocal histrionics, and unfortunately Planet Earth is brimming with them. 'Somewhere Here On Earth' is a personality-free ballad that could have been written by computers, and 'Mr Goodnight' boasts an attractive chorus which sounds very TLC, but sadly revisits its author’s ill-advised dalliances with rap. Prince’s hackneyed loverman flow frequently comes up short in the syllable stakes, and ends up revealing how a night spent on the receiving end of His Purpleness’ attentions is improbably dull: “We can watch Chocolat on the big screen / before we convene in the pool”. Let’s just see what’s on telly, eh Prince?

When he does eventually tire of serving up this pasty slop, he drops in a couple of reminders of former glories, 'All The Midnights In The World' and 'Chelsea Rodgers' demonstrating the melodic yin to the rhythmic yang of Prince’s undisputed genius. The former has a surprisingly thoughtful lyric and pretty, almost folksy melody, and faintly resembles 'Starfish & Coffee' from his ‘80s masterpiece Sign O’ The Times, while the latter is a tightly-marshalled funk jam that wouldn’t disgrace the aforementioned record.

Sadly, this isn’t enough to distract from the muzaky, phoned-in feel elsewhere on the album, and ultimately you’re left to dwell unhappily on the image of Mail readers nationwide slipping the disc into their Mondeo car stereos and thinking to themselves: “Y’ know, maybe this guy isn’t such a pervert after all. I’ll check out his other stuff.”

They’re in for a shock.
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Reply #7 posted 07/23/07 1:03pm

Moonbeam

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Q: 3/5

Could it be the shape of things to come? Or could it simply be a one-off act of mischief perpetrated by an artist with a long-running list of grievances against those who market his wares? Either way, Prince’s decision to give away his new album for free in the UK has sent a few more shudders down the spine of an ailing record industry still struggling to come to terms with the download revolution. There’s just one small catch: you had to buy the July 15 edition of The Mail On Sunday. Failing that, it’s also being handed out, as part of the ticket price, to those attending his upcoming, marathon stint at London’s newly opened O2 Arena.

With the newspaper reportedly paying £250,000 for the privilege, that represents a tidy bit of business for somebody whose career had been dribbling away since the early-‘90s, hitting rock bottom with 2001’s The Rainbow Children, his jazz-influenced Jehovah’s Witness concept album. In 2004, however, the unthinkable happened: he bounced back and began to sound more like the old Prince again.

While Musicology couldn’t hope to match the audacious, pervy, all-singing, all-dancing, miniature sex god and musical polymath of his more youthful purple period, it was a decent enough facsimile, one which he reprised for last year’s 3121. Unsurprisingly, Planet Earth is more of the same, both echoing his own past and occasionally chiming with the more modish likes of OutKast, Kanye West and Gnarls Barkley, names that he influenced in the first place.

Try as others might, though, nobody else has ever really got close to replicating what Prince does himself. And across Planet Earth’s brisk and varied 10 tracks, he is once again doing it pretty well, from cocky rock strut (Guitar) to Chic-style, pumped-up funk (Chelsea Rodgers) and knicker-loosening R&B beats (Future Baby Mama).

Elsewhere, there’s another playful exercise in seduction on the lightly rapping Mr. Goodnight, The One U Wanna C is the jolliest of pop stomps, while Somewhere Here On Earth shows off his still sugar-sweet falsetto in a swooning, cocktail-jazz setting. Even the misfiring title track possesses a lighters-aloft sway and blustering guitar finale to fit the stadiums he is once again filling.

At the very least, it’s good to have him back freshly energised and making music again for the many rather than just the few. As for Planet Earth’s wider implications on the record business, the next few months should be interesting.
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Reply #8 posted 07/23/07 1:08pm

JoeTyler

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Moonbeam said:

AllMusic Guide: 3.5/5

Comeback accomplished, Prince now settles into a groove with 2007's Planet Earth, his 26th studio album and successor to the two deliberate comebacks, Musicology and 3121. Those two albums were designed to storm the top of the charts but, more importantly, they were made with the intention of making Prince prominent again -- a gambit that worked since Prince worked hard, stealing the show at both the Superbowl and the American Idol fifth-season finale and turning into an in-demand concert ticket once again. Both records were recorded with the expectations of making a splash, and 3121 even made some overtures toward modern music, most noticeably in the sleek electro workout of "Black Sweat," which suggested that Prince had heard the Neptunes, even if he didn't pay them much mind. In contrast to such grudging nods at his progeny, Planet Earth doesn't attempt to make concessions to contemporary music, although it does make a point of addressing the modern world, whether it's in the neo-apocalyptic warnings of destruction and God on the title track or his offhand reference to "this digital age" on the sweet slow jam "Somewhere Here on Earth." Such passing asides are enough indication that, even if Prince may belong to his own universe, he surely lives in our world, something that's also apparent from his move to give away the album with Sunday newspapers in the U.K., a move that infuriated record labels in Britain -- since how can you sell something that's being given away for free? -- yet makes some sense in terms of sheer marketing. After all, Planet Earth is the kind of sturdy, highly enjoyable music that needs some manufactured hoopla around its release; otherwise, it will fade into the artist's prodigious back catalog because of its very nature. This isn't a self-styled comeback, it's an album that showcases a still-vital veteran relaxing and playing music that's not surprising, not fashionable, but not stodgy or fussy. That may mean that Planet Earth isn't much more than a quite good Prince album, one that hits upon his most accessible personas -- impish popster, funk-rocker, seductive balladeer, charmingly mystic weirdo -- and doesn't go much further than that, yet it still offers plenty to enjoy, either as sheer music (some of the synths are a bit glassy, but nobody knows how to make a record sound warm like Prince) or as songs. If there are no classics here -- or even songs that are as instantly grabbing as "Lolita" -- there are no bad songs either, with the very funny, tightly wound rocker "Guitar," the light, frothy "The One U Wanna C," and the NPG knockoff "Chelsea Rodgers" being as engaging as slow jams like "Future Baby Mama." There's no fluff and no fat, just ten strong songs delivered with just enough flair to remind you it's the work of Prince, yet strategically avoiding the indulgence that marginalized him throughout the '90s. Ultimately, Planet Earth is the sound of a working musician working, which makes it a bit of a passing pleasure, yet there's no denying that it is indeed a pleasure having him turn out solid records like this that build upon his legacy, no matter how modestly.


Yeah, great P review from Allmusic, as always...
tinkerbell
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Reply #9 posted 07/23/07 1:10pm

Moonbeam

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JoeTyler said:


Yeah, great P review from Allmusic, as always...


nod I really like Stephen Thomas Erlewine's reviews. Even if I don't always agree with him, I really respect the way he showcases his opinions.
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Reply #10 posted 07/23/07 1:12pm

GangstaFam

Moonbeam said:

nod I really like Stephen Thomas Erlewine's reviews. Even if I don't always agree with him, I really respect the way he showcases his opinions.

I used to like him a lot. And he's done an okay job here. But he's been really slacking in recent years.
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Reply #11 posted 07/23/07 1:15pm

JoeTyler

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GangstaFam said:

Moonbeam said:

nod I really like Stephen Thomas Erlewine's reviews. Even if I don't always agree with him, I really respect the way he showcases his opinions.

I used to like him a lot. And he's done an okay job here. But he's been really slacking in recent years.



nod nod
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Reply #12 posted 07/23/07 1:21pm

Moonbeam

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GangstaFam said:

Moonbeam said:

nod I really like Stephen Thomas Erlewine's reviews. Even if I don't always agree with him, I really respect the way he showcases his opinions.

I used to like him a lot. And he's done an okay job here. But he's been really slacking in recent years.


How so?
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Reply #13 posted 07/23/07 1:28pm

GangstaFam

Moonbeam said:

How so?

I just don't agree with him much anymore. And his writing has gotten lazy.
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Reply #14 posted 07/23/07 1:35pm

Moonbeam

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GangstaFam said:

Moonbeam said:

How so?

I just don't agree with him much anymore. And his writing has gotten lazy.


YOU should write for AMG! nod deal
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Reply #15 posted 07/23/07 1:36pm

GangstaFam

Moonbeam said:

YOU should write for AMG! nod deal

You should!
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Reply #16 posted 07/23/07 1:48pm

Moonbeam

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GangstaFam said:

Moonbeam said:

YOU should write for AMG! nod deal

You should!


Both of us should!
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Reply #17 posted 07/23/07 1:53pm

GangstaFam

Moonbeam said:

Both of us should!

I'd rather start a band.

Isn't it based in Ann Arbor?
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Reply #18 posted 07/24/07 9:22pm

Moonbeam

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It's now up to 70 after 13 reviews!
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Reply #19 posted 07/24/07 9:26pm

Moonbeam

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MusicOMH.com: 3/5

To paraphrase a quotation 'What profits a man if he gains the world at the expense of his soul?', it's time to ask 'What profits a man if he gains a free CD at the expense of having to buy The Mail on Sunday?'.

You'd have to be a cave hermit not to have heard the calamitous din of the world's record executives throwing their toys out of their collective prams when the Sunday tabloid proudly announced that they would be giving away the latest Prince album before it hits the shops.

Never one to toe the corporate line, it appears the eccentric funkster has given a two fingered salute to the arguably complacent rip off music merchants of today. Once the domain of obscure live recordings by bands like Simply Red or Dire Straits the giveaway CD game has been considerably upped. But why, why, oh sodding why give this away with the Princess Diana/property obsessed/'Send 'em back to where they came from!' Mail for pity's sake?!!!!

Enough. Rant over. I sold my soul to the devil and bought a copy. I am a hypocrite. Can we talk about the music now?

Considering this is one of the most controversial albums of the year its actual content is as safe as houses. This is Prince being Prince. End of. Whilst Planet Earth doesn't come near to the dizzy heights of the Purple Rain era it's still got some trademark moves and is an enjoyable selection of song writing.

The title track is a simple, but effective environmental anthem (with guest appearances by former cohorts Wendy and Lisa) but the album really comes into life with the single Guitar which is a where Prince fires on all cylinders with a U2 tinged pop tune that can hold its own with the rest of his classic tracks. The One U Wanna C is also unashamedly poppy and enjoyable.
Miles Davis style horns and Prince even gets to rap a little on sexy and catchy Mr Goodnight. For me, the standout track is Chelsea Rodgers, which is all-out-funk with some superb vocals telling the story of a glamorous and enigmatic model.

Things fall apart at the end of the album with the last two tracks Lion of Judah and Resolution losing a lot of focus with some preachy, overblown moments. But overall, Planet Earth is a competent collection of songs that are certainly too good to be given away free. It's an inoffensive collection of tracks that don't require much work on behalf of the listener and sometimes that's all you want from a long player.

Whatever the reasons for this bizarre release decision Prince has cannily ensured that Planet Earth will reach several thousands more people that his last albums put together. Sadly, the same can be said for the readership figures of the Mail on Sunday. I have to admit that I still feel a little dirty whenever I think of the MoS editor gleefully counting his circulation figures. I prefer lining the pockets of the record executives any day.
[Edited 7/24/07 21:26pm]
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Reply #20 posted 07/24/07 9:29pm

Moonbeam

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Slant: 3/5

Prince didn't make his way onto the Las Vegas scene until well after his "Ripopgodazippa" and "319" helped work Elizabeth Berkeley and her fellow Showgirls into an iced-nipple frenzy. While in the interim it's felt like both the Purple One and the neon-lit Strip have been neck-and-neck in a race to see which one could more self-reverentially clean up their act, there have been surprising signs of naughty life in each since. On one hand is the city's advertising campaign reminding tourists that what happens in Vegas stays in Vegas (minus STDs). On the other hand we've got Prince—who up until Musicology's "Call My Name" spent the better part of the last decade trying to make us all forget all the nasty girls he'd forced us all to undress with our ears—making not explicitly Jehovah's Witness-proselytizing tunes once again.

Planet Earth, the third album in what may end up being dubbed his un-emancipated period (well, there was also Rave Un2 The Joy Fantastic, but the history books will hopefully find a way to forget about that one), finds Prince trying to forge some sort of acceptable balance between his Herculean reputation and the sense that his return to pop is really a veiled form of condescension. If there's anything holding back Musicology, 3121, and Planet Earth, it's the notion that Prince now approaches pop songwriting in the same way artists playing Vegas approach their own personae. While all three albums, at their best, contain precisely the sort of seasoned professionalism you wouldn't ever cite as an actual compliment, there remains a nostalgic pull that's no less electric for being completely anesthetized and overly rehearsed.

In that sense, Planet Earth's best songs are likely the ones that cover familiar ground both lyrically ("Guitar," in which Prince reiterates the same charmingly narcissistic instrument as instrument byplay that turned his Super Bowl halftime show into a near-lewd shadowboxing exercise) and musically ("Somewhere Here On Earth," an over-orchestrated ballad that recalls some of the best material from the original incarnation of New Power Generation). If occasionally the total recall only makes one long for the past ("Future Baby Mama" uses those indelible mutant snare hits from "The Beautiful Ones" in service of a very unsexy monogamy groove), there are other times when what he includes on the disc is clearly meant as a template for a future all-hours after-show. I for one can't wait to hear the retro disco of "Chelsea Rodgers" turned out in a 12-minute jam session. Still, while Wendy and Lisa are back in the hot tub (along with Sheila E.), the computer blue waters of Planet Earth might not be warm enough yet to start hoping for Prince to reunite with The Revolution.
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Reply #21 posted 07/24/07 9:33pm

Moonbeam

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LA Times: 3.5/4

The Purple One reinvents himself again, and the result it as catchy as it is cutting edge.

Prince must wake up some mornings — or, let's be realistic, afternoons — and wish he'd never recorded "Purple Rain." Dozens of albums into his career, with a sound as sharp and renewable as anyone's in pop history, he's still slapping away the assumption that he peaked in the 1980s.

Lately he's been getting attention for innovative sidesteps, playing in unusual spots such as the Roosevelt Hotel and giving away close to 3 million copies of his new album to lucky Brits in last week's Mail on Sunday newspaper. But the music at the center of this latest whirl of activity will still be judged against the 49-year-old rebel's youthful landmarks.

On "Planet Earth" (due in stores today), Prince confronts this problem by creating a cunning homage to himself. This tour of the master's cabinet of wonders opens with a spiritually minded power ballad that evokes 1987's "The Cross" without imitating it; the kundalini-stimulating slow jams and genre-hopping hook-fests that follow — a few reuniting Prince with Wendy and Lisa, the main muses of his big-hair heyday — explore old themes with just enough variation to stimulate affection instead of a yawn.

What each listener likes will depend on the corner of Prince's aural empire he or she fancies. So far, many prefer "Chelsea Rodgers," a funk throw-down about a book-reading model who "likes to talk to Jimi's ghost," with Prince's new favorite earth mama, Shelby J, nabbing the vocal lead. (Ms. Rodgers, not evident on the track, is apparently flesh and blood; she was by Prince's side during at least one Roosevelt Hotel after-party, and has a website, though it's still under construction.)

One-time wearers of raspberry-colored berets might prefer "The One You Wanna C," a Wendy and Lisa-powered slice of sunshine that brings back the mechanical hand clap, or "Resolution," an offhanded sing-along in which Prince explains how to save the world.

The pimp rap "Mr. Goodnight" also deserves mention, for its smooth delivery and lyrics that would have fit into the script of "Under the Cherry Moon." "I got a mind full of good intentions, and a mouth full of Raisinets," Prince murmurs. Just listen to that eyebrow rise.

There's also "Guitar," in which Prince gets bored with mining his own mother lode and turns to U2's, modifying the Edge's famous riff from "I Will Follow." "Guitar" is a slap at an unfaithful lover and a sly satire of rock 'n' roll grandstanding: "I love you baby, but not like I love my guitar," Prince spits as that riff chases him around the corner. As if he'd ever have to make a choice between the two.

Uniting seeming opposites has always been Prince's mission: masculine and feminine, rock and soul, spirituality and sex come together in his utopia. The deepest track on "Planet Earth" has him working toward this vision again.

Pulled forward by a kick-drum and a thick current of open-tuned guitar, "Lion of Judah" is a cry from the wilderness — whatever wilderness a multi-millionaire pop star experiences — blending scriptural references, bedroom musings, and even a veiled reference to John Lennon's "Instant Karma." A ghost of the melody from 1991's "Money Don't Matter 2 Night" lingers around the song, but this is something different. It's Prince now, as conflicted, imaginative, and wonderfully weird as ever.
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Reply #22 posted 07/24/07 9:56pm

jacknapier

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Moonbeam said:

Drowned in Sound: 5/10

Okay, hands up – who bought it? For reasons unclear, Prince has chosen to release Planet Earth through The Mail On Sunday. For a one-time gender bender whose explicit lyrics flicked Vs at the petit-bourgeois conservatism of an era, this is a sequence of events which aforementioned rag would no doubt describe as ‘vile’. It still feels wrong even typing it. And for those of you that did choose to grease the palms of those loveable fear mongers for your funky fix, here’s the worst part: it wasn’t really worth it.

Yup, as Faustian pacts go, Planet Earth’ll leave you feeling decidedly short-changed. The title track is a blustery epic that retains something of the creepy insularity that permeated Around The World In A Day, and suffers the twin misfortune of resembling both Michael Jackson and, via a creamy jazz interlude somewhere in the middle, Barry Manilow. And 'Guitar' is a slick FM groove sorely lacking in edge – it used to be that Prince could sing about incest or fellatio and make either seem like an agreeable way to spend an evening, but the newly-religious Prince has to content himself with penning neutered-sounding six-string serenades.

After this, er, hi-octane opening, things take a turn for the schmoove. One or two obvious exceptions notwithstanding, ballads have never exactly been Prince’s forte, sharing as he does modern-day R ‘n’ B’s predilection for schmaltzy production values and trilling vocal histrionics, and unfortunately Planet Earth is brimming with them. 'Somewhere Here On Earth' is a personality-free ballad that could have been written by computers, and 'Mr Goodnight' boasts an attractive chorus which sounds very TLC, but sadly revisits its author’s ill-advised dalliances with rap. Prince’s hackneyed loverman flow frequently comes up short in the syllable stakes, and ends up revealing how a night spent on the receiving end of His Purpleness’ attentions is improbably dull: “We can watch Chocolat on the big screen / before we convene in the pool”. Let’s just see what’s on telly, eh Prince?

When he does eventually tire of serving up this pasty slop, he drops in a couple of reminders of former glories, 'All The Midnights In The World' and 'Chelsea Rodgers' demonstrating the melodic yin to the rhythmic yang of Prince’s undisputed genius. The former has a surprisingly thoughtful lyric and pretty, almost folksy melody, and faintly resembles 'Starfish & Coffee' from his ‘80s masterpiece Sign O’ The Times, while the latter is a tightly-marshalled funk jam that wouldn’t disgrace the aforementioned record.

Sadly, this isn’t enough to distract from the muzaky, phoned-in feel elsewhere on the album, and ultimately you’re left to dwell unhappily on the image of Mail readers nationwide slipping the disc into their Mondeo car stereos and thinking to themselves: “Y’ know, maybe this guy isn’t such a pervert after all. I’ll check out his other stuff.”

They’re in for a shock.



disbelief
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Reply #23 posted 07/24/07 10:09pm

novabrkr

... what's already a strong case for his own solipsism into a moral imperative.


Whoah. That's the first time I ever see anyone refer to Immanuel Kant on a Prince record review.
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Reply #24 posted 07/25/07 2:49am

FunkyMan

National Post (Canada) Review:

THE DAILY DISC
Maryam Siddiqi, National Post
Published: Tuesday, July 24, 2007

PLANET EARTH, PRINCE

Columbia

Prince is 49. 49! I know, I had no idea either. And what a half-century it's been. The colour purple would be nowhere without him. Multinational record companies have learned a few lessons thanks to his no-nonsense approach to music distribution. And he got airplay when he didn't even have a name! It seems Prince can do no wrong --except, of course, when he does. Planet Earth is no 1999. Hell, it's not even Diamonds and Pearls or Musicology. The latest disc from the funkmaster is too tame. Hootin' and hollerin' is at a minimum, as are memorable guitar licks for commuters to reenact as they sit in traffic. Thank goodness for Chelsea Rodgers, which is buried near the end of the album. It swings , complete with soul, horns, handclaps and female vocals --all key ingredients for a Prince hit. And I had almost lost faith in the little guy.
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Reply #25 posted 07/25/07 8:36pm

Moonbeam

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Village Voice: rated 40 out of 100 by metacritic.

Purple Drizzle
Prince's fair-to-middling latest is a sad sign o' the times

If he hadn't choked to death in London's Samarkand Hotel 37 years ago, how many mediocre records would Jimi Hendrix have dropped by now? Stevie . . . the Stones . . . Sir Paul . . . they're all way past the point where any residual genius is still expected. Since at least The Gold Experience over a decade back, Prince—sadly, inevitably— is right there with 'em. Onstage, he's still a sexy beast, as irresistible a force as Parliament-Funkadelic. But re Planet Earth, it's hard to imagine a purple protégé—Jesse Johnson, say—putting out anything worse.

Which doesn't make it suck. One of the best ax men of his generation, Prince energetically cranks through a Coldplay/U2-inspired riff on "Guitar," an ode to loving his instrument more than his lady. (Something his two ex-wives must know something about.) Casting off the Linn drums that define his '80s work, Earth instead follows the full-drum lead established on Diamonds and Pearls, and new tracks like "Lion of Judah" and "The 1 U Wanna C" (his first Wendy & Lisa collaborations in 20 years!) are the better for them. But the problem here isn't technical, or even musical. Once upon a time, Prince strutted around the Bottom Line, strumming G chords in a G-string, screaming about blowjobs and incest. But hip-hop did shock and awe better—Prince could never be more salacious than BET Uncut dancers or rappers fucking for voyeuristic fans during song interludes. So in the '90s, he went syrupy. (Think "The Most Beautiful Girl in the World.") Earth's "Future Baby Mama" comes in that model, an easy-listening ballad passé by anybody's standards, much less Prince's. More successful is "Somewhere Here on Earth," a slow jam with muted trumpet up front as Prince rues the BlackBerry era. ("In this digital age/You could just page me/I know it's the rage/But it just don't engage me.")

Anti-war, pro-environment, religious ("Chelsea Rodgers" only gives up trim if you're baptized), and funky, Planet Earth is still merely an excuse to tour, as obligatory for Prince as any other artist who's been around this long. (He's walked 29 years in those high heels since For You, after all.) Until an '80s nostalgic like the Roots' ?uestlove gets executive-producer duty—assuming Prince will ever deign to take outside direction at all—we'll end up with mixed-to-middling records like this one: 3121, Musicology, etc. At least he's starting to give 'em away free.
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Reply #26 posted 07/25/07 8:37pm

Moonbeam

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Rolling Stone: 3.5/5

"I love you, baby, but not like I love my guitar," Prince leers in "Guitar," between blasts of heroically pointless Edge-style soloing. It's his most slamming summer jam since "P Control" in the summer of '94, or "Alphabet St." in the summer of '88, or maybe "Delirious" in the summer of '83. What did people do for fun in the summer before Prince? Planet Earth is one of those albums he makes when he's trying a little harder than usual, if not hard enough to alienate his core audience, which loves him for indulging himself. "Planet Earth" and "Lion of Judah" continue the hard-rock groove, while "Future Baby Mama" and "Somewhere Here on Earth" revisit his smooth R&B side. As for "Guitar," he's decided to jack the post-punk revival, so he swipes a guitar riff from U2 ("I Will Follow") and a bass line from Duran Duran (the same song that provides his album title). Wily bastard.
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Reply #27 posted 08/01/07 12:34am

Moonbeam

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It's up to 69 after 19 votes.

http://www.metacritic.com...lanetearth
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Reply #28 posted 08/01/07 2:06am

MartyMcFly

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