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Reply #30 posted 12/27/12 11:52am

OldFriends4Sal
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THE MIAMI HERALD

Wednesday, October 9, 1991
Section: LIVING TODAY
Page: 1D

RECORD REVIEWS

PRINCE'S NEW BAND HAS A NEW SOUND. WHAT ELSE IS NEW?

BY LEONARD PITTS Jr. Herald Pop Music Critic

Prince and the New Power Generation
Diamonds and Pearls
Paisley Park

Yeah, Prince has a new band. More about them later. For now, let's deal with all those rumors that preceded this record -- rumors that sagging sales have forced the purple popmeister to change both his musical and his professional style.

OK, so he did the Arsenio Hall show, just like a regular mortal -- an event which, I concede, once seemed about as likely as holding the winter Olympics in Hell. And yes, several cuts on this new album do take Prince closer to the rawness of the street than he's been in years. But does all this represent a wholesale change of direction?

Not in the sense that people think. Prince changes styles more often than some folks change their underwear, so don't read more into Diamonds And Pearls than is there. Knowing Prince, he's already got next year's model on the drawing board.

Now, about that band. They be fonky -- like Magic Johnson's gym socks or a stink bomb in a tuna cannery. Like from the old school, with greasy organ lines, fatback bass and wordless moans. But they be versatile, too, bringing a breathy, harmonic charm to songs like Thunder and Money Don't Matter and framing Strollin' with plump, sun-baked, George Benson-like guitar work.

Stylistically, Diamonds and Pearls is a crapshoot, bouncing between attitudes and drawing strength from that. Still, it's far from Prince's best or most visionary work; in some ways, it is far too comfortable. The title track is cloyingly sweet, while Insatiable is just another in Prince's long line of sex-grind ballads, a line that got tired and old years ago.

On the other hand, I like the aforementioned Strollin' for its breezy, wasted-Sunday feel. And the street stuff, full of crisp ensemble raps and machine gun grooves, really kicks. The controversial first single, Gett Off, is a particular standout in that regard. It's a titillating sexual celebration that is, with apologies to Luke, nasty as it wanna be. But it also has humor, heart and swaggering attitude.

There is an openness, an accessibility to the music here that is refreshing, coming from the often dark-toned Minneapolis music man. Could be the harbinger of a kinder, gentler Prince. Could also be just this year's model.

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Reply #31 posted 12/27/12 11:55am

OldFriends4Sal
e

PHILADELPHIA INQUIRER

Sunday, October 6, 1991
Section: FEATURES ENTERTAINMENT
Page: I01

PRINCE: (DOLLAR) SIGN O' THE TIMES

By Tom Moon, Inquirer Music Critic

Diamonds and Pearls, Prince's 13th album, is pulp fiction from an author of epics.

It catches Prince, 32 and sounding it, at a sorry juncture: After years as pop's closest thing to a Miles Davis-style innovator, he has compromised his artistic vision to sell some records.

Prince earned his reputation by taking songs that were already a cut above ordinary and transforming them into invigorating, provocative statements. Even before his 1984 breakthrough with Purple Rain, his albums predicted trends in pop the way Davis' did in jazz. His deft use of dissonance, symphonic orchestration, polytonality and jarringly syncopated rhythms instantly separated him from everyone else on the charts.

With Parade, Sign O' the Times, Lovesexy and Graffiti Bridge, Prince established a vital new pop language. Merging elements of Sly Stone and Jimi Hendrix with Duke Ellington and Cole Porter, he created a sound that was fixed on the future even as it surveyed, at Concorde speed, the music of the 20th century.

Now, with the decline of his commercial appeal, it's Prince's desire to innovate that's taken a flyer.

None of his recent records, least of all Graffiti Bridge, soundtrack to the cinematic disaster of the same name, could be considered a runaway commercial success. And Warner Bros., which has heralded each new work with a big rollout, is probably getting nervous.

So how does Prince respond? Hunker down and continue his unwavering dedication to musical evolution? Or take a reading of current trends and concoct what he thinks will be a hit?

With a few notable exceptions, Diamonds and Pearls is a no-brainer collection of softballs. It's lowbrow. As "Daddy Pop" - with its autobiographical account of a music mogul "punchin' in the rock and roll clock" - makes clear, it's music as a glorified desk job, a series of obligations rather than an expression of spirit.

With its misguided attempts at generating dance-floor excitement, Diamonds is horrendously basic, a subordination of this artist's best instincts. It's Prince chasing trends rather than setting them, which is something of a first: When his minimal Minneapolis funk began to dominate rhythm and blues in the early '80s, Prince was rarely at a loss for ideas. Even when the rhythms were similar, his production sense and ear for the unusual made every track an adventure.

With Diamonds, Prince and his New Power Generation attempt full-on hip-hop. Like a good trashy novel, it's got some juicy moments (particularly Tony M.'s agile turn on the Staple Singers sendup "Willing and Able"), but there's very little that distinguishes Prince's endless vamps from the run-of-the-mill stuff that dominates dance-club discourse. Drummer Michael B. pumps out a charged, correctly minimal pulse, and the backing is more musical than most rap, but the finished product just doesn't detonate. In terms of raw power, indulgent one-chord bores such as "Jughead" and "Gett Off" can't compare to "Let's Go Crazy" and "U Got the Look."

There's almost a tug-of-war going here: Prince the innovator wants to do more, and Prince the businessman holds back. The otherwise unremarkable chant "Push," for example, contains evidence that Prince has learned a lesson from superlative arranger Clare Fischer: The string arrangement, which is buried in the mix, contains slicing, unorthodox lines that effectively lift the song out of its drone.

Gone are the dense polychords, the braided vocal harmonies, the juxtapositions of instruments that made Prince works learning experiences. On Diamonds and Pearls, they are replaced by a bare, distant, uninvolving funk in which Prince's hedonistic themes repeat until they wear out. This is music with a beat, but it's a beat behind - and often peppered with Prince's unctuous power-of-positive-thinking slogans (see the mildly interesting pep rallies "Cream," "Willing and Able" and "Walk, Don't Walk," and the less convincing sermon "Thunder").

The best moments on this collection happen when Prince confronts the reality of his present position. For years, he has gotten by simply by exalting his stardom and declaring, in the throes of funk-fueled ecstasy, that his vision is supreme. On Diamonds - in the music-business-can-corrupt message of "Daddy Pop" and the greed-is-evil confessional "Money Don't Matter 2 Night" (which recalls early '70s Stevie Wonder) - there are tentative signs of self-examination.

If money truly didn't matter, Prince probably wouldn't have pushed the limp "Gett Off," the album's first single, quite so hard. Instead, he would have devoted his energy to exploring some less saleable ideas, and continued the unconventional evolution that Diamonds and Pearls halts.

Then, at least, he'd be heeding the advice he dispenses on "Walk Don't Walk": "The sun will shine upon u one day, if u're always walking your way."

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Reply #32 posted 12/27/12 12:09pm

novabrkr

I remember there being many journalists that said he needed to update his sound and that on D&P he achieved that well. A lot of people made a big deal about Prince ditching the drum machines (which is a bit odd as they're used on at least half of the tracks of the time).

I don't really disagree with the two reviews linked above though (except that "Gett Off" is really good and that there really had not been that many tracks like "Insatiable" on his previous albums if you think about it - "Do Me, Baby", "Scandalous" being the only ones that I'd compare to it).

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Reply #33 posted 12/28/12 8:33am

controversy99

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novabrkr said:

I remember there being many journalists that said he needed to update his sound and that on D&P he achieved that well. A lot of people made a big deal about Prince ditching the drum machines (which is a bit odd as they're used on at least half of the tracks of the time).



I don't really disagree with the two reviews linked above though (except that "Gett Off" is really good and that there really had not been that many tracks like "Insatiable" on his previous albums if you think about it - "Do Me, Baby", "Scandalous" being the only ones that I'd compare to it).



Insatiable is great, but I think there are more comparable songs than the 2 you mention. I would include International Lover and Adore. Still, that's only 4 songs. (I agree thay some other slow jams, such as The Beautiful Ones, Slow Love, When 2 R in Love, and Arms of Orion should be left out because they're pretty different from the Insatiable type).
"Love & honesty, peace & harmony"
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Reply #34 posted 12/30/12 6:05am

Diana80

VictoR3mix said:

SoulAlive said:

I used to really like the title track,but I guess it just hasn't aged well.I can't tolerate it these days.

I agree with you here. When I first listened to the song Diamonds And Pearls I immediately loved it and played it in heavy rotation, but when I hear it these days it just sounds bland to me.

LMAO @ everyone talking about a song sounding "dated" or "not aging well". Newsflash - 90% of pop songs do end up sounding dated eventually, especially if you played the hell out of a song when it was first released. But it doesn't mean they aren't still good songs.

It's funny how people bitch about how he doesn't play enough of his old songs in his shows, but then they bitch about his old songs sounding "dated". It's a lose/lose situation.rolleyes

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