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Thread started 10/01/13 11:27am

BigChick

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Do you think the Black Album is overrated ?

After a long discussion with some old school Prince fans (where we discussing our 5 favorite Prince albums) , After looking at some album polls on the org, I've noticed that quite a few people rank it in their top 5. So I broached the question "Is the Black Album over rated?". After an honest assessment we all kinda of agrreed that it was. Now of course I'm a huge fan of the album and thats one of the albums that I try to collect everything on (I have all the coloured vinyls-in fact I do have 2 grays) but I think I collect more on the strength and allure of the mythology of the album more so than it being my favorite. To me, I feel the strongest aspect of the "Black Album" is the mythology of the album. I've seen alot of orgers imply that Prince's strongest work was from "Dirty Mind" up to "Lovesexy" and citing that "Batman" was when it started going down hill. Now yes the "Black Album' if it was to be released in 87 had a totally different approach to it in terms of it's release. Which is hard to compare with Prince's other album releases( with singles, videos and live performances) from that period. The "Black Album" would've been the first Prince release to not have any single or containing an obvious one or hit. Now I know that one of the points of the "Black Album" was to not really focus on hit songs. And yes, that was partly by design of the album and the concept of its release. I honestly feel that if the album was released at that time it would've been met with dissappointment ( and perhaps wouldve done more harm than good) with the common Prince fans, but not neccessarily with the Hardcores. If the casual fans during 87 didn't care to much for the "Sign O Times" singles like "If I was your Girlfriend, "Housequake" and "Hot Thing" which are all classic Prince songs. I think they would care even less about the "Black Album" tracks. I think out of all the tracks "Bob George" probably would of been the most talked about track due in part of it's nature and somewhat of it being a crazy oddity in the cannon. Giving it a cult like status. Back in 94, I had a great hour long conversation with Alan Leeds about the album and also the 88 version of "Rave" & "Graffiti Bridge". Most of the conversation delt with the aesthetic of the period (What Prince's look and image was?) and brought up the question that if the album was successful would he possibly release a single or video and what would that be. He told me if it was anything it wouldve been "When 2 R in Love"( which I really don't think would've done well). Now, nobody is right or wrong on their opinions on this album. I just really enjoy an intellectual discussion on such things. I may not really groove on Princes current output but the one aspect that I really enjoy is other peoples fandom when it comes to somethings. As for the material on the album well... I always thought "Le Grind","Cindy C" and "Dead on it" to be good songs but not excellent tracks( esp. "Le Grind" which is my least favorite on the album. My favorite tracks on the album are "Rock Hard in a Funky Place", "Superfunky" & "Bob George". Then "2 Nigs United for West Compton". "When 2 R in Love" is cool but I was used to it on "Lovesexy" and I think it belongs there more so than on the "Black Album". I've been listening to this record for over 25 years since I got it in 88 but when I revisit it now I usually just listen from "Bob George" To "Rock Hard". "Le Grind" has always sounded somewhat flat and just standard to me ("Shockadelica" is a way stronger song when compared to "Le Grind"). I actually prefer listening to the "Batman" album more so than the "Black Album" the songs are alot stronger. I'm just curious as to what other fans about this. It's all subjective and no one is right or wrong. I just encourage a healthy discussion on the topic.

Big Chick

"Security Ensuring Thee"

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Reply #1 posted 10/01/13 11:43am

SuperSoulFight
er

Mygod, I started my own thread asking this very same question some time ago! I was listening to Sign o' the Times, loved it as always, wanted more decided to put on the black one and found it totally unlistenable. Lovesexy is another great one and Black is the missing link between the two, but it is really only famous because of the legend surrounding it. Even in the glorious 1980s Prince was not capable of putting out two great records a year.
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Reply #2 posted 10/01/13 11:47am

OldFriends4Sal
e

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at the time no

I think if we had a real 'Black Album Era' with videos, shows, B-sides etc

We might view the album differently

#IDEFINEME #ALBUMSSTILLMATTER

A Liar Shall Not Tarry In My Presence
I will make you cyber shit in your pants!
What's the matter with your life
Is poverty bringing U down?
Is the mailman jerking U 'round?
Did he put your million dollar check
In
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Reply #3 posted 10/01/13 11:50am

SpiritOtter

Hey Big Chick!

Personally, I have grown to absolutely DIG this entire album, without exception. I used to think When 2 R In Love was out of place, but I have changed in mind over the years, as I have grown in my appreciation of the actual album, as it is. When 2 R In Love drops in at the perfect moment amidst the mayhem, and comes across as hauntingly brilliant on The Black Album. One of the things I really, truly, like about this album is the way it seriously glides from song to song, it almost effervesces! The sequencing is just off the hook, as is the actual brilliance of the musicianship. It sounds "live", "dynamic" and "electric" on record, in a way that by contrast SOTT can feel somewhat muted at times, and it is definitely similar to that "whole movement" live band sound on Lovesexy. The other thing I absolutely love is the BASS playing, throughout the entire record. Check out Foefur's remastered version and the bass pluckings literally sting the listener with precise, nasty, funk. You are right, though. It is a good, no...great thing, it was never released. Its myth served a greater purpose at the time.
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Reply #4 posted 10/01/13 11:52am

SuperSoulFight
er

OldFriends4Sale said:



at the time no



I think if we had a real 'Black Album Era' with videos, shows, B-sides etc



We might view the album differently




I do not think that would have happened anyway. It was supposed to be a low-profile dance/R&B album from the start.
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Reply #5 posted 10/01/13 12:01pm

Se7en

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The Black Album after the masterpiece SOTT reminds me of U2's Zooropa album after the masterpiece Achtung Baby. The 2nd disc in both cases comes across as almost outtakes of the album before.

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Reply #6 posted 10/01/13 12:08pm

NouveauDance

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No.

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Reply #7 posted 10/01/13 12:12pm

SpiritOtter

NouveauDance said:

No.


Ditto.
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Reply #8 posted 10/01/13 12:29pm

BigChick

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SpiritOtter said:

Hey Big Chick! Personally, I have grown to absolutely DIG this entire album, without exception. I used to think When 2 R In Love was out of place, but I have changed in mind over the years, as I have grown in my appreciation of the actual album, as it is. When 2 R In Love drops in at the perfect moment amidst the mayhem, and comes across as hauntingly brilliant on The Black Album. One of the things I really, truly, like about this album is the way it seriously glides from song to song, it almost effervesces! The sequencing is just off the hook, as is the actual brilliance of the musicianship. It sounds "live", "dynamic" and "electric" on record, in a way that by contrast SOTT can feel somewhat muted at times, and it is definitely similar to that "whole movement" live band sound on Lovesexy. The other thing I absolutely love is the BASS playing, throughout the entire record. Check out Foefur's remastered version and the bass pluckings literally sting the listener with precise, nasty, funk. You are right, though. It is a good, no...great thing, it was never released. Its myth served a greater purpose at the time.

Nice to hear from you OTTER. I dig the entire album as well(for waht it is) but I honestly think the first half is kinda of a retread on other tracks but not as fun or innovative. Yeas the bass playing is superb esp "2 nigs" and I also think the sequencing is terrific. I just dont think the material is incredibly strong (at least the 1st half). Listening to the "Black Album" now it really comes off as a somewhat novelty record ( novelty in not a bad way). If I was to rank the 80's albums the "Black Album" would be at the bottom of the list. regardless of Prince's supposed ectasy trip, I think in reality Prince was honest with himself and probably thought that as a whole that the album was lackluster and average. I would figure tripping on ectasy, Prince would tripped and probably love the album more.

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Reply #9 posted 10/01/13 12:47pm

funkomatic

Yes.

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Reply #10 posted 10/01/13 1:35pm

BigChick

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SuperSoulFighter said:

OldFriends4Sale said:

at the time no

I think if we had a real 'Black Album Era' with videos, shows, B-sides etc

We might view the album differently

I do not think that would have happened anyway. It was supposed to be a low-profile dance/R&B album from the start.

I agree with that totally.

Big Chik "Sercurity ensuring thee"

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Reply #11 posted 10/01/13 1:43pm

SoulAlive

I like the Black Album,but I don't think it's the big,funk masterpiece that many other people think it is.

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Reply #12 posted 10/01/13 1:51pm

novabrkr

I think the general perception of it is that it's just something that the more hardcore fans really dig while casual fans don't even own it. I don't think that even as a "cult favourite" it has reached the status of Dirty Mind.

As such I don't think it's overrated. If anything it's underrated, because the music on it really isn't that far removed from SOTT stylistically and you know how many consider that one of the best albums of all time...

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Reply #13 posted 10/01/13 3:23pm

maja2405


hmph!




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Reply #14 posted 10/01/13 3:55pm

paulludvig

No. I rather think it's underrated.

The wooh is on the one!
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Reply #15 posted 10/01/13 7:59pm

Poplife88

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Sign is my fave album from anyone...I really like the sound and style. It also has aged really well. The Black Album is the fun funky step cousin of Sign o the Times. It's a PARTAY album with funny shit going on throughout. Like Sign this one gets better with time and I listen to this just as much if not more than I did back in the day.

Is it overrated? Well, its not as astounding or sophisticated as a lot of his stuff. But as a funky dance album, its right up there with his best. So I say no its not overrated, maybe just misunderstood.

[Edited 10/1/13 20:04pm]

We're gonna need a bigger boat
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Reply #16 posted 10/01/13 11:29pm

Spanky

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"Who the fuck you think this is? I'll kick yo ass! Twice! ...Uh!"

I wish u heaven
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Reply #17 posted 10/01/13 11:53pm

clarityman

Hi this is a 25 year debate but as you have proved, it is one that still inspires prince fans to express an option.

I'm an old school fan and I would say that there is No Way the Black Album is overrated. Apart from fact it established the legend and mystery around prince at a time when 80s music had turned in U2/Bon Jovi/Stock Aitken and Waterman blandness means that this work deserves to be rated well on that alone.

Then you can add to that the pure creativity of tracks like superfunkycali..Bob George and 2 nigs and you start to see there was nothing at all being produced like that then.

This isn't just nostalgia but an example of standing back and looking at 30 plus years of Prince eras and I can't remember a more evocative time than when I was trawling around Camden Market looking for a bootleg of this seemingly mythical album. I remember being in a club near notting hill and the DJ putting on Le Grind, the opening "so you found me , this is Prince....." Just put shivers up and down me and trust me , in a club, with proper bass, that tune kicks Arse!!

Yes there were more technically adept albums (even in the 90s) and of course as works of complete genius the SOTT ,Parade,Dirty Mind and others in the 80s can't be beaten....but the Black Album was the one where I remember Prince at his most authentically raw and where fans and more importantly non fans ( especially in UK) were just seduced by what felt like the antidote to the emerging MOR dirge of the period. For that the Black Album deserves to be rated as highly as possible. smile
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Reply #18 posted 10/02/13 12:57am

timmie

IMO what made it so great at the time is because we weren't supposed to have it - never listen to it now though and the only 2 tracks I like after all this tine are Superfunky... and rock hard in a funky place

I do think it is overrated when I see fans list it amongst their top 10 though - really?? - over lotusflow3r ?? come on !

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Reply #19 posted 10/02/13 5:00am

Tremolina

Totally overrated.

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Reply #20 posted 10/02/13 5:55am

BigChick

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i agree with your statement totally. Ditto with the same songs that you listed. I really dont see As succesors to "Sign". The black album material could hold a flame to "Sign".I also dont really

see the "Black Album" tracks being an assessor to the "Sign" tracks.

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Reply #21 posted 10/02/13 6:01am

OldFriends4Sal
e

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SuperSoulFighter said:

OldFriends4Sale said:

at the time no

I think if we had a real 'Black Album Era' with videos, shows, B-sides etc

We might view the album differently

I do not think that would have happened anyway. It was supposed to be a low-profile dance/R&B album from the start.

Prince used to say that a lot anyway, ATWIAD even Lovesexy or parts were supposed to stand on it's own without videos etc

.

He would have done videos, and definately had shows and performances -maybe not a 'tour/concert' but there would have been a 'Black Album' period that we would be able to look back at...

#IDEFINEME #ALBUMSSTILLMATTER

A Liar Shall Not Tarry In My Presence
I will make you cyber shit in your pants!
What's the matter with your life
Is poverty bringing U down?
Is the mailman jerking U 'round?
Did he put your million dollar check
In
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Reply #22 posted 10/02/13 10:35am

midnightmover

Prince was absolutely right to ditch this album. It's so much weaker than SOTT and Lovesexy that I have to wonder if the spiritual explanation for his dumping it wasn't just cooked up to cover for the fact that he knew it wasn't up to standard. So yeah, among hardcore fans it is overrated.

“The man who never looks into a newspaper is better informed than he who reads them, inasmuch as he who knows nothing is nearer to truth than he whose mind is filled with falsehoods and errors.”
- Thomas Jefferson
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Reply #23 posted 10/02/13 12:14pm

MarshallStacks

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Black Album as released is very cool.

For me, Bob George is the real highlight as it is so strange, dark, funky and funny, followed by Rock Hard in a Funky Place (one of his greatest funk tracks imo) and 2 Nigs.

However IMO, if it was expanded to a full CD/ double LP adding other roughly contemporary non-album tracks like Shockadelica, Crucial, Feel U Up (Long Stroke), La la la Hee hee hee, Databank (the original P version obviously) etc and even 1988's Scarlet Pussy (which sounds very Black Albumy to me), then it would be stellar.

As it is, I think it's slightly underrated by the general music world and slightly overrated by some Prince fans. I do wish it had been released in 1987/88, as it's a cool record, showing some different sides to Prince, and makes for a nice spiritual contrast to the 'lighter, spiritual' album that follows it, Lovesexy

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Reply #24 posted 10/02/13 2:30pm

bigd74

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It's been said before but i like the concept of this being part of a 2 disc project with Lovesexy, with a fun naughty disc and a spiritual disc, a bit like the Lovesexy live experience smile

She Believed in Fairytales and Princes, He Believed the voices coming from his stereo

If I Said You Had A Beautiful Body Would You Hold It Against Me?
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Reply #25 posted 10/02/13 2:45pm

TheDigitalGard
ener

I don't think that it's overrated. I think it deserves it's place in peoples top 5 or whatever. I have loved it since those crappy cassette boots bought at fairs. I was delighted when it was released officially. For me it had lost none of it's allure by being released on cd.

Great album. It's just how I like my Prince.

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Reply #26 posted 10/02/13 3:04pm

2020

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Hardly...

The greatest live performer of our times was is and always will be Prince.

Remember there is only one destination and that place is U
All of it. Everything. Is U.
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Reply #27 posted 10/03/13 3:05am

seelliiaan

I dont think its overrated. However you need to be a fan to appreciate it. As much of Prince music, its not mainstream material. Definitely not for easy listening. I had the Black Album on a bootleg tape from around 1990. And it was such bad quality that it truly sounded like noise. But with each year I dig this album more, and see the brilliance of it. I normally gravitate to loving the most unusual and quirky songs by Prince. Well music in general. I like intellectual stimulation from music. And this album does that. I am glad however that Prince pulled it back, cuz the world was not ready for it. It could have ruined him commercially. The Black Album needs to be played loud on quality speakers. A total mind trip... I wish haters could understand why Prince is such a genius. To me the Black Album is like the movie 2001 a space odyssey. My absolute fav movie ever made. Only took me 6 attempts to watch it, falling a sleep on it even until I finally got it! And what an enlightenment that was! I dont try to come across as pretentious. I seriously get in the zone with the black album..

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Reply #28 posted 10/04/13 8:22am

ufoclub

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It's my favorite most listened to album by Prince... so no!

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Reply #29 posted 10/04/13 9:31am

thedance

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paulludvig said:

I rather think it's underrated.

yeahthat music

Excellent funk album,

The Black Album is the twin sister to the Sign "O" The Times album.

Prince 4Ever. heart
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