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Reply #30 posted 08/03/21 7:21am

gandorb

Enjoyed the review even more once Iistened to the release a few times. Whether you agree with it or not, this shows how utterly dismissive the folks who are trashing it after only one listen.
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Reply #31 posted 08/03/21 2:57pm

Astasheiks

avatar

funkbabyandthebabysitters said:

You should write a book on prince Anyone who can write that much on the weaker songs should be published lol

Amen! yes biggrin smile crysball lol wildsign

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Reply #32 posted 08/03/21 3:09pm

jdcxc

gandorb said:

Enjoyed the review even more once Iistened to the release a few times. Whether you agree with it or not, this shows how utterly dismissive the folks who are trashing it after only one listen.

Well put.

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Reply #33 posted 08/03/21 6:36pm

funkman88

avatar

NUMBER 23

should do a review of his 2 good albums like PURPLE RAIN, SIGN O THE TIMES AND THE TIME ALBUMS.

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Reply #34 posted 08/04/21 2:39am

Vannormal

Strive said:

Everybody mentions The War but I always think of Xenophobia when I hear Welcome 2 America. It has the same sort of off-kilter vibe.

Cool review.

-

I agree.

smile

-

Thank you Number 23.

It indeed is a must read (your reviews) while listening to the record.

I just love all of your writngs.

Don't leave us. smile

-

"The whole problem with the world is that fools and fanatics are always so certain of themselves.
And wiser people so full of doubts"
(Bertrand Russsell 1872-1972)
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Reply #35 posted 08/04/21 2:50am

Vannormal

jdcxc said:

Wow...just started reading this great deep review. Wud love to hear your theory of why he shelved it.

-

And that too !

Would be great Number23. Give it a go.

smile

-

My humble opinion...

Could it be that he shelved it because the presence of his own voice is somewhat left out ? Faded ?

Not all that much to the front ?

Or that most songs are just (mediocre, uninspired) two chord songs with two chord change for chorus ?

The uninspiring breaks and additions... we all actually love his music for that alone tbh.

The lack of originality of most songs ?

The lack of full Prince (hands-all-over) production ? (think about the 20TEN album...)

The (slower) pace of the whole album ?

The lack of inventive synth use ? (Prince has a trademark on this one imho, and there isn't much 'new sound' to discover).

The way-to-much-mixing-to-the-front of the (fine) female voices ?

The abscenes of interesting guitar solos ?

The diminshing distorted guitar use, or the way most (louder) guitar parts are mostly mixed to the back ?

The meager uptempo and dance songs ?

The use of a poor electric sounding piano ? (he did that more often lateron too. compare it with the sound of his early piano recordings...)

The preaching and the worrying messages ?

The absence of colaborations with bigger names ?

Or was the Jehova thing coming to some sort an end (for him) ?

I mean...

-

''When She comes is just fantastic classic Prince''

And is my stand-out track so far.

-

[Edited 8/4/21 3:07am]

"The whole problem with the world is that fools and fanatics are always so certain of themselves.
And wiser people so full of doubts"
(Bertrand Russsell 1872-1972)
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Reply #36 posted 08/06/21 9:23am

RJOrion

Great reviews!... very good album... i can see why certain demographics would be unhappy with the lyrical and musical content though...i loved it when Prince would make songs like these.
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Reply #37 posted 08/07/21 10:46am

muleFunk

avatar

This is the most accurate review I have seen on this album.

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Reply #38 posted 08/07/21 12:48pm

master

Vannormal said:



jdcxc said:


Wow...just started reading this great deep review. Wud love to hear your theory of why he shelved it.



-


And that too !


Would be great Number23. Give it a go.


smile


-


My humble opinion...


Could it be that he shelved it because the presence of his own voice is somewhat left out ? Faded ?


Not all that much to the front ?


Or that most songs are just (mediocre, uninspired) two chord songs with two chord change for chorus ?


The uninspiring breaks and additions... we all actually love his music for that alone tbh.


The lack of originality of most songs ?


The lack of full Prince (hands-all-over) production ? (think about the 20TEN album...)


The (slower) pace of the whole album ?


The lack of inventive synth use ? (Prince has a trademark on this one imho, and there isn't much 'new sound' to discover).


The way-to-much-mixing-to-the-front of the (fine) female voices ?


The abscenes of interesting guitar solos ?


The diminshing distorted guitar use, or the way most (louder) guitar parts are mostly mixed to the back ?


The meager uptempo and dance songs ?


The use of a poor electric sounding piano ? (he did that more often lateron too. compare it with the sound of his early piano recordings...)


The preaching and the worrying messages ?


The absence of colaborations with bigger names ?


Or was the Jehova thing coming to some sort an end (for him) ?


I mean...


-


''When She comes is just fantastic classic Prince''


And is my stand-out track so far.


-

[Edited 8/4/21 3:07am]


So would u say apart from that, it's fantastic? Better than sign o' the times?
Hopefully there's more stuff like this in the vault.
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Reply #39 posted 08/08/21 3:23am

Number23

Vannormal said:



jdcxc said:


Wow...just started reading this great deep review. Wud love to hear your theory of why he shelved it.



-


And that too !


Would be great Number23. Give it a go.


smile


-


My humble opinion...


Could it be that he shelved it because the presence of his own voice is somewhat left out ? Faded ?


Not all that much to the front ?


Or that most songs are just (mediocre, uninspired) two chord songs with two chord change for chorus ?


The uninspiring breaks and additions... we all actually love his music for that alone tbh.


The lack of originality of most songs ?


The lack of full Prince (hands-all-over) production ? (think about the 20TEN album...)


The (slower) pace of the whole album ?


The lack of inventive synth use ? (Prince has a trademark on this one imho, and there isn't much 'new sound' to discover).


The way-to-much-mixing-to-the-front of the (fine) female voices ?


The abscenes of interesting guitar solos ?


The diminshing distorted guitar use, or the way most (louder) guitar parts are mostly mixed to the back ?


The meager uptempo and dance songs ?


The use of a poor electric sounding piano ? (he did that more often lateron too. compare it with the sound of his early piano recordings...)


The preaching and the worrying messages ?


The absence of colaborations with bigger names ?


Or was the Jehova thing coming to some sort an end (for him) ?


I mean...


-


''When She comes is just fantastic classic Prince''


And is my stand-out track so far.


-

[Edited 8/4/21 3:07am]


lol I dig your vibe Van. My broadband provider would fine me if I had to adequately respond to all that, but regarding your criticism of P’s guitar playing on this record, I’ll refrain from boring everyone with my own overwrought stream of consciousness and just paste this from Guitar World from a journalist who specialises in that particular aspect of musicianship. Not saying his opinion is definitive, but always good to get another perception from someone who can see things in a slightly more objective way, if such a thing exists with art.



Recorded 11 years ago, Welcome 2 America was inexplicably archived without release. Thankfully, Legacy Records is putting that straight,because it combines vintage funk grooves with Prince’s supreme melodies.If you know nothing about funk and gospel guitar, this will teach you. Here are five outstanding guitar moments to listen for:

Born 2 Die - This song opens with jazzy extended chords, doubled by synths.They standout thanks to Prince’s languid rocking of his wah pedal, adding expression to each chord after he’s played it. Later in the album,he closes out Stand Up and B Strong with a fiery wah-drenched solo, showing he mastered every type of wah expression.

Hot Summer - In the middle of this funk opus comes this unexpected surf-rock tune.Prince’s palm muted, fuzzed out power chords open the track like an R&B Summer of 69. He pulls out his Chuck Berry licks for the middle 8, too.

Same Page,Different Book - The guitar tones on this album are sublime. The James Brown-style chord stabs on the high strings are cutting and tight, while the lower single-note funk melody lines on the wound strings are fat and quacky. The riff here reminds us of Mark Ronson’s UptownFunk – an anachronistic comparison because this song is actually four years older.

Yes - When the guitars on this album aren’t clean, they’re fuzz-powered. Here that fuzz comes over a Motown drumbeat and gives some serious grunt to this celebratory number’s basslines.

One Day We Will All B Free - To close out the album,Prince has one guitar riff that incorporates everything great about funk guitar: syncopated rhythms, compact chords voicings, and staccato single notes. The whole album sounds totally fresh.
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Reply #40 posted 08/08/21 3:27am

Number23

Number23 said:

Vannormal said:



jdcxc said:


Wow...just started reading this great deep review. Wud love to hear your theory of why he shelved it.



-


And that too !


Would be great Number23. Give it a go.


smile


-


My humble opinion...


Could it be that he shelved it because the presence of his own voice is somewhat left out ? Faded ?


Not all that much to the front ?


Or that most songs are just (mediocre, uninspired) two chord songs with two chord change for chorus ?


The uninspiring breaks and additions... we all actually love his music for that alone tbh.


The lack of originality of most songs ?


The lack of full Prince (hands-all-over) production ? (think about the 20TEN album...)


The (slower) pace of the whole album ?


The lack of inventive synth use ? (Prince has a trademark on this one imho, and there isn't much 'new sound' to discover).


The way-to-much-mixing-to-the-front of the (fine) female voices ?


The abscenes of interesting guitar solos ?


The diminshing distorted guitar use, or the way most (louder) guitar parts are mostly mixed to the back ?


The meager uptempo and dance songs ?


The use of a poor electric sounding piano ? (he did that more often lateron too. compare it with the sound of his early piano recordings...)


The preaching and the worrying messages ?


The absence of colaborations with bigger names ?


Or was the Jehova thing coming to some sort an end (for him) ?


I mean...


-


''When She comes is just fantastic classic Prince''


And is my stand-out track so far.


-

[Edited 8/4/21 3:07am]


lol I dig your vibe Van. My broadband provider would fine me if I had to adequately respond to all that, but regarding your criticism of P’s guitar playing on this record, I’ll refrain from boring everyone with my own overwrought stream of consciousness and just paste this from Guitar World from a journalist who specialises in that particular aspect of musicianship. Not saying his opinion is definitive, but always good to get another perception from someone who can see things in a slightly more objective way, if such a thing exists with art.



Recorded 11 years ago, Welcome 2 America was inexplicably archived without release. Thankfully, Legacy Records is putting that straight,because it combines vintage funk grooves with Prince’s supreme melodies.If you know nothing about funk and gospel guitar, this will teach you. Here are five outstanding guitar moments to listen for:

Born 2 Die - This song opens with jazzy extended chords, doubled by synths.They standout thanks to Prince’s languid rocking of his wah pedal, adding expression to each chord after he’s played it. Later in the album,he closes out Stand Up and B Strong with a fiery wah-drenched solo, showing he mastered every type of wah expression.

Hot Summer - In the middle of this funk opus comes this unexpected surf-rock tune.Prince’s palm muted, fuzzed out power chords open the track like an R&B Summer of 69. He pulls out his Chuck Berry licks for the middle 8, too.

Same Page,Different Book - The guitar tones on this album are sublime. The James Brown-style chord stabs on the high strings are cutting and tight, while the lower single-note funk melody lines on the wound strings are fat and quacky. The riff here reminds us of Mark Ronson’s UptownFunk – an anachronistic comparison because this song is actually four years older.

Yes - When the guitars on this album aren’t clean, they’re fuzz-powered. Here that fuzz comes over a Motown drumbeat and gives some serious grunt to this celebratory number’s basslines.

One Day We Will All B Free - To close out the album,Prince has one guitar riff that incorporates everything great about funk guitar: syncopated rhythms, compact chords voicings, and staccato single notes. The whole album sounds totally fresh.

My point being, and like I said in my own review, you only get back what you put in. If you come to W2A with, eh, accurate knowledge of what P is aiming to achieve and the records influences, it’s a deeply rewarding and gratifying experience. However, that’s not to say P made it as impenetrable to all but musicians and musicologists - it’s a pretty accessible work I think. Maybe too accessible - that was always P’s kryptonite - sweetening the medicine.
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Reply #41 posted 08/09/21 11:09pm

Vannormal

master said:

Vannormal said:

-

And that too !

Would be great Number23. Give it a go.

smile

-

My humble opinion...

Could it be that he shelved it because the presence of his own voice is somewhat left out ? Faded ?

Not all that much to the front ?

Or that most songs are just (mediocre, uninspired) two chord songs with two chord change for chorus ?

The uninspiring breaks and additions... we all actually love his music for that alone tbh.

The lack of originality of most songs ?

The lack of full Prince (hands-all-over) production ? (think about the 20TEN album...)

The (slower) pace of the whole album ?

The lack of inventive synth use ? (Prince has a trademark on this one imho, and there isn't much 'new sound' to discover).

The way-to-much-mixing-to-the-front of the (fine) female voices ?

The abscenes of interesting guitar solos ?

The diminshing distorted guitar use, or the way most (louder) guitar parts are mostly mixed to the back ?

The meager uptempo and dance songs ?

The use of a poor electric sounding piano ? (he did that more often lateron too. compare it with the sound of his early piano recordings...)

The preaching and the worrying messages ?

The absence of colaborations with bigger names ?

Or was the Jehova thing coming to some sort an end (for him) ?

I mean...

-

''When She comes is just fantastic classic Prince''

And is my stand-out track so far.

-

So would u say apart from that, it's fantastic? Better than sign o' the times? Hopefully there's more stuff like this in the vault.

-

Certainly not. It remains a mediocre solid Prince album.

But being open to another person's way of looking at things I'm capable of listening with another ear or have a different experience.

Number23 's review gave me another listen and feel, whisch can be very enrichening.

But SOTT is uncomparable and irrelvant to compare even.

-

"The whole problem with the world is that fools and fanatics are always so certain of themselves.
And wiser people so full of doubts"
(Bertrand Russsell 1872-1972)
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Reply #42 posted 08/11/21 7:25am

TheFreakerFant
astic

avatar

A 2.5 at best.

The fact I've only chosen to listen to it a couple of times reflects this, somehow it doesn't really inspire listening in the same way as his earlier stuff! I've only streamed it and I'm not really motivated to buy it yet but that may change.

The keeps for me are:

Check The Record, (funky as hell but let down by lacklustre lyrics) Yes (although this sounds like quite an obvious rip off of Van Halen's Jump mixed with 'Chocolate Box'), 1,000 light years (also a good version, they are both like 2 different songs really, this one feels quite summery), Same Page, Different Book and Born 2 Die despite slightly judgemental lyrics.

I find When She Comes somehow a bit cringey as he was then older, I can see why he decided to shelve his more racier stuff as he got older, somehow wasn't as sexy to imagine! The version he released on HnR2 is much more palatable IMO. I keep thinking he's singing about Andy Allo with the reference to 'shooting stars' which was also on Superconductor, and thinking of that age gap (!), but I think this was recorded before she was on the scene? Anyone know who it was about ?? I also find that ish don't stank line rather offputting!

The turkeys for me are: 1010 (irritating antiquated synth a la Alicia Keys, and doesn't really make any sense?!), Hot Summer (same track as released before - still sounds like a DIY commercial) and pretty much the rest. W2A just 'ok'- could be more lively, P just sounds bored, there's too many 'twinkling' sound effects, although I like the other atmospheric sounds.

The rest are just 'meh'..

As usual with many of his later albums, this has been massively overproduced and lacks 'air' and breathability and yes I can clearly hear digital dropout on the streaming tracks, I hope for those who bought it it's not on the physical versions too?!

In terms of tracklisting, I keep wondering if it would have worked better for Stand Up and B Strong to be the positive outro track and to be swapped places with One Day We Will All B Free? (which has some musical similarities to Diamonds and Pearls). Stand up and B Strong just like a Hannah/3EG style Christian rock cover (I'm aware it's a cover) and could imagine it on PlectrumElectrum.

Oh and it's missing a hidden track compiled of the best of Shelby's 'Put Yo' Hands Up' chants repeated x 400. smile

[Edited 8/11/21 7:26am]

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Reply #43 posted 08/12/21 3:48am

Vannormal

Number23 said:

Vannormal said:

-

And that too !

Would be great Number23. Give it a go.

smile

-

My humble opinion...

Could it be that he shelved it because the presence of his own voice is somewhat left out ? Faded ?

Not all that much to the front ?

Or that most songs are just (mediocre, uninspired) two chord songs with two chord change for chorus ?

The uninspiring breaks and additions... we all actually love his music for that alone tbh.

The lack of originality of most songs ?

The lack of full Prince (hands-all-over) production ? (think about the 20TEN album...)

The (slower) pace of the whole album ?

The lack of inventive synth use ? (Prince has a trademark on this one imho, and there isn't much 'new sound' to discover).

The way-to-much-mixing-to-the-front of the (fine) female voices ?

The abscenes of interesting guitar solos ?

The diminshing distorted guitar use, or the way most (louder) guitar parts are mostly mixed to the back ?

The meager uptempo and dance songs ?

The use of a poor electric sounding piano ? (he did that more often lateron too. compare it with the sound of his early piano recordings...)

The preaching and the worrying messages ?

The absence of colaborations with bigger names ?

Or was the Jehova thing coming to some sort an end (for him) ?

I mean...

-

''When She comes is just fantastic classic Prince''

And is my stand-out track so far.

-

[Edited 8/4/21 3:07am]

lol I dig your vibe Van. My broadband provider would fine me if I had to adequately respond to all that, but regarding your criticism of P’s guitar playing on this record, I’ll refrain from boring everyone with my own overwrought stream of consciousness and just paste this from Guitar World from a journalist who specialises in that particular aspect of musicianship. Not saying his opinion is definitive, but always good to get another perception from someone who can see things in a slightly more objective way, if such a thing exists with art. Recorded 11 years ago, Welcome 2 America was inexplicably archived without release. Thankfully, Legacy Records is putting that straight,because it combines vintage funk grooves with Prince’s supreme melodies.If you know nothing about funk and gospel guitar, this will teach you. Here are five outstanding guitar moments to listen for: Born 2 Die - This song opens with jazzy extended chords, doubled by synths.They standout thanks to Prince’s languid rocking of his wah pedal, adding expression to each chord after he’s played it. Later in the album,he closes out Stand Up and B Strong with a fiery wah-drenched solo, showing he mastered every type of wah expression. Hot Summer - In the middle of this funk opus comes this unexpected surf-rock tune.Prince’s palm muted, fuzzed out power chords open the track like an R&B Summer of 69. He pulls out his Chuck Berry licks for the middle 8, too. Same Page,Different Book - The guitar tones on this album are sublime. The James Brown-style chord stabs on the high strings are cutting and tight, while the lower single-note funk melody lines on the wound strings are fat and quacky. The riff here reminds us of Mark Ronson’s UptownFunk – an anachronistic comparison because this song is actually four years older. Yes - When the guitars on this album aren’t clean, they’re fuzz-powered. Here that fuzz comes over a Motown drumbeat and gives some serious grunt to this celebratory number’s basslines. One Day We Will All B Free - To close out the album,Prince has one guitar riff that incorporates everything great about funk guitar: syncopated rhythms, compact chords voicings, and staccato single notes. The whole album sounds totally fresh.

-

Thank you for this nice refreshing view on his guitar playig. biggrin

Appreciate it.

-

Two things :

Yes the album sounds fresh, but not 'tatally' for me.

And what Prince did with his guitar on 'Hot Summer' and 'Same Page Different Book' is something he did so very often on loads of other/older songs. Only, these songs were somehow far better imho, and thus were a part of a greater experience in those songs.

But it's all about tastes and opinions of course.

And my opinions are just like assholes, like everyone's got one.

wink

-

"The whole problem with the world is that fools and fanatics are always so certain of themselves.
And wiser people so full of doubts"
(Bertrand Russsell 1872-1972)
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Reply #44 posted 08/17/21 8:43am

audie250

You should check out the W2A Celebration this weekend to learn what P is saying.

Check out "Welcome 2 America Virtual Celebration (#W2AVC)"!
Check out "Welcome 2 America Virtual Celebration (#W2AVC)" on Eventbrite!

Date: Sat, Aug 21 • 10:00 AM EDT

https://www.eventbrite.co...7?aff=eand

Number23 said:

Now that the other W2A thread has
been mysteriously deleted, I’ve changed the title of this one so we have somewhere to post about the record and add critics’ official reviews. Guessing there were too many requests for the leak on the other one and the powers that be have had a word … and if they’re reading this, mine is a review copy that I’ve been given permission to write about. My initial thoughts, for what they’re worth …







WELCOME 2 AMERICA


Others have said this is Prince’s mash up of Gil Scott Heron and P Funk (Wants To Get Funked Up) and they’re not wrong, but it’s actually more reminiscent of his own The War (which, of course, was directly inspired by Heron’s work) where he presents himself as not as an energised master of ceremonies, balladeer or partyman but a preacher/prophet of encroaching societal cataclysm.




Unlike The War however, P delivers no judgement and wastes no anger upon modern society’s ills – infact, it’s all delivered with a smirk. It seems he’s reached some kind of personal peace with himself, not quite nirvana but certainly approaching zen, living outside of the society he condemns, the master of his own kingdom. My guess is that this album is the journey of how he became, please pardon the terminology, ‘woke’ to what he perceives as the true nature of reality - and how we can also ‘look inside’, as he puts it, to follow suit and attain similar enlightenment. Even if it’s 1000 light years from here. (I know - it’s a measure of distance not time, I’ll get to that later).




P’s vocals, however, are certainly a 1000 light years away from modern hip-hop - but that’s not to say his ‘rhythmic vocalising’ lacks dynamism. The vibe is ‘foreboding’ - it’s clearly the intent of each musician’s projection here, trepidation is what each creative mind is attempting to aurally evoke, like they’ve each received one of Brian Eno’s ‘mood’ cards and they were all doublers. Even down to the deadpan flatness of the backing vocal choral hook. Yes, despite the succession of doom-laden proclamations, there’s humour and playfulness on offer, some sugar with our medicine. Like Dylan once said ‘Something is happening but you don’t know what it is, do you?’ - but this is more like: ‘Something is happening … but it’s going to get worse before it gets better.’




In this song, Prince reminds his fellow mortals that we all have freewill and that gives us the power to change the direction our lives - only God can save us, but P doesn’t mean it literally in an interventionist sense. He means we have the gift of freewill – and in Prince’s world, God is not a slave master, he has faith in us to make the world a better place ourselves. So it’s up to us, says P – and we need to ‘look inside’, as the chorus says, to find our own personal moral compass that points us in the right direction. Like he has, of course. Not that I share these beliefs, particularly not the existence of a Judeo-Christian skygod, but it’s just my assumption of what he’s trying to convey.




Sonically this a very sterile, wide-open production – not quite warm but not airless and icy like much of the material he was producing the same year. The eerie synths are chilly enough. Personally, I would have liked to hear a bit more dust crackle on the console - it’s very sparse in terms of environmental space but instrumentation has clearly been recorded with care and attention – everything is crystal clear in clarity, perhaps too so.




It’d be too simplistic to say this prelude piece sets a production tone for the rest of the record – there are far more lush and warm and…odder efforts to come – but it’s indicative of W2A as a whole in terms of tonal balance. And it’s certainly nice to have something that feels like a cohesive, inspired work (however, that’s not saying it’s as otherworldly and ridiculously imaginative and creative as his 80s output) as opposed to a rag-tag Naughties grab-bag raid from that year’s Vault like Planet Earth.




Tonally and thematically, however, it must be said that we are revisiting the same solidified, calcified mindset of TRC, yet not so severe in its rigid proclamations. I’ve made my peace with Prince’s piousness, but this isn’t inclusive music – he is undoubtedly preaching. Yet, he wants you to know he’s self-aware and has foreseen your criticism of his choice to be less permeable and open. ‘There is no arguing with the book’, he says, and you can almost hear the sly smile at his self-aware self-righteousness. But forget anyone on a ‘different page’, whom he calls out later on the record – it’s where Prince’s bookmark lies that is the only place that matters.




Also, the message here offers an interesting dichotomy against the lyrical theme of 1000 Light Years From Here, which presents the vision of an underwater utopia way in the future. Here, Prince says the answer to change lies inward, not hoping for change just to occur naturally ‘out there’. We must do the work. The innate selfishness of so-called ‘role models’ who gain fame and fortune on the foundation of sex tapes and shallow consumerism is indicative of a sick society, he insinuates.




There’s a clever, uplifting chord change that arrives like a welcome gasp of fresh air, with a future-flute synth and cosmically/comically funky guitar and fuzztone bass slinking together like some type of cold-blooded reptilian form that evolution hasn’t got round to evolving yet. ‘Keep playing – it gets worse’ he jokes. And the Sly/George humourous vocal intonation continues to juxtapose with the heaviness of the lyric, with the girls returning the joke with a genuinely goose-pimple inducing harmony: ‘Oops I mean, land of the free/ home of the slave!’’




He’s certainly learned from TRC’s sledgehammer approach to the same lyrical themes, for here it’s not suffocating in mysticism and personal mythology. Then, after five minutes of hypnotic groove, the song changes gear slightly in a very Prince-like way - with a Housequake-style single synth chord held over the outro that warps and twists until it ascends into an astral plane surfed by the souls of long-dead alien civilisations - going deep, deep then even deeper into the mix until only well-bred dogs and owls can hear it … a nice sonic secret for headphone aficionados.




‘On yo knees’ he concludes. He’s not telling us to do it, he’s saying we all already are. Again, this is an album about slavery – to societal oppressors, yes, but also historical falsehoods, technology, political hierarchies - even to friends and lovers. How very few of us are not in chains. Welcome 2 America? Welcome 2 The World. We got a long way to go, as P himself once extolled. But with W2A, it seems Prince is taking the opportunity to tell us all exactly how he managed to shed his own shackles to become a free man.





RUNNING GAME (SON OF A SLAVE MASTER)


A nice cylindrical, smoky, Goldnigga-reminiscent rootsy guitar lick welcomes us to a mature-sounding groove, joined by mellow yet dense, snap crackle n popping organic drums in the mix’s foreground - complimented and sweetened by a lovely little single bell buried deep in the mix at the end of each bar. The main synth hook is a nice future-retro Emancipation/NPS synth but warmer and works due to the juxtaposition with the natural sonic landscape. It arrives as a cool breeze sweeping though the organic cosiness of the live instrumentation.




I suspect that main synth hook started as a harmony vocal by Shelby, Elise and Liz - oo oooo oooooh – then got replaced with the machines by P in post-production. Take that symbolism however you wish. Shelby enters – rapping the verses, a nice mellow swampy soil n’ sandpaper vibe. Lyrics seems to point an accusing finger towards the dark deeds of one particular record industry apparatchik, explaining how behaviour is inherited whether good or bad and that seeds don’t fall far from trees..




Shelby and P spell out why poor socio-economic backgrounds of underprivileged black musicians and lack of proper education – whether in school or parental - means they do not possess proper intellectual enlightenment on the difference between price and worth. Highlighted lyrically by one musician selling a ‘dope beat’ for $75,000 which he/she thinks is a lot of money but in the grand scheme of things is clearly not for a massive hit song.




Shelby offers more ‘rhythmic speaking’ than true hip hop MCing, clearly ghosting a Prince guide vocal. Similar to 90s outtakes Red Scarlet or Playtime, the synthline and groove increasingly evokes the NPG-era of bombastic yet increasingly airless, sterile production. Then, after the first verse, we’re suddenly emotionally embraced by a magnificent chord change into the bridge - and our cynical pre-conceptions dissipate. It’s wonderful, warming the entire song up – a genuinely soulful melody with P and Shelby harmonising (who I must say isn’t overpowering here, it’s a lovely controlled and complimentary tone to P). They’re joined by some, to my ears, unnecessary Black Album/Lovesexy-style background chatting - to add ambiance, I imagine. But it’s unnecessary and perhaps should have been faded out of the mix.




Also notable that P deliberately repeats the line ‘Back on the street’. Perhaps literally referencing his childhood or giving an allegory for his career at the time: trying to hussle record deals etc. ‘How much u want for them beads?’ the harmonies then ask. ‘Keepin it going, going’. A comment on the dark arts of the jewellery industry drawing parallels on the exploitation within the record industry? Maybe.




The girls continue to harmonise on perceived societal ‘wrongs’ over a languid, laid-back but full-sounding 70s style street groove – quality control is firmly switched on. It’s a mature grown-up production, no N-P-G chants or Doug E Freah cameos to break the illusion. Yes, that synth hook is definitely strong despite those Emancipation/NPS vibes, anchoring the song with a distinctive hook as well as adding a layer of bittersweet icing on top of a organically-baked cake. ‘Son of a slave master/Keepin it going, going’ is the main vocal hook, no chorus here, but the bridge is strong enough to suffice – you’re left to fill the gaps mentally about what ‘going, going, goling’ means. Yet, the lyrics do become less abstract, maybe touching upon P’s loneliness at one point: ‘Don’t come 2 the party unless u bring somebody/Somebody that wants to dance/And make sweet romance.’ And then, in perhaps a shout-out to what was left of his fanbase at the time - ‘Ah still got mad love 4 u/ Even though I don’t know u’.




Just when you’re feeling the groove is indulging itself a little more than it might deserve, a truly great middle 8 then nukes the monotony – ‘Black on black cryin’/Able n Kane/Ah wouldn’t think high yellow would be a shade’ Mm. P is prominent in this delicious harmony – he clearly wants us to know this is a personal grievance, perhaps what he perceives his place in black culture being addressed. The girls stay silent. We’re clearly supposed to listen to him at this part: ‘21st century/And it’s still about a freedom thing/And I’m about 2 go insane with shame’.




P’s voice becomes more prominent once again and an exhilarating upbeat shimmery synth kicks in, sonic hazy sunshine after a hard rain – and a guitar line appears from nowhere for just one brazen, outrageously beautiful lick that sounds like new gold dreams forming over sulphuric acid oceans on Venus. Then it’s gone – it reminds me of the similarly all-too-brief instrumental section at the end of Bowie’s Miracle Goodnight, an astonishingly uplifting guitar break that performs a similar exhalatory, ecstasy-rush function - lifting the song well beyond its moorings for too short a time. I hear optimism now. Life’s a running game, he’s exhausted, but there’s hope. Even if he has to wait 1000 light years.




A lush, euphoric outro guides us out of the soundscape - taken gently by a warm hand to the finish line by the girls repeating ‘running game’ like they’re the house band for the cloud where Jesus lives. This groove could go on for another ten minutes and not get tired. I’ve seen some people commenting that P’s hardly on it, but I’m left scratching my head at that perception. He’s all over this, in voice, instrumentation and production. It’s quintessential Prince. Maybe lacks the shock of the new that makes a true P classic - but this is Prince. Sounding alive, well and playing the mature game with an elder statesman’s style, grace and savvy .



BORN 2 DIE


I suppose everyone reading will have already heard this. I like it more with each listen, reminds me of Shy lyrically in terms of its simple but concise concept of a sensitive ghetto girl ‘gone wrong’. Horns are more Issac than Curtis to me, but the groove is certainly Lil Chile Running Wild-era Mayfield. A huge yet tasteful, lush, summertime production fills the room with sunlight and glittering gold as it plays, but the heat it suggests is perhaps symbolic of the stifling pressure of the streets, an unbearably suffocating and highly pressured existence. As a producer, Morris Hayes certainly has some enviable ears.




There’s countless quirky ‘P’ touches weaved in throughout, many deep in the mix. A world after midnight when all the bad people come out to play might be a simplistic lyrical concept, but the exceptional harmonies make you excuse the self-righteousness of the ‘no hope, no way out if u aint livin right’ hectoring – living right here presumably means reading the Bible.




Bassline in the ‘Oakland’ line is great – actually, the bass on this entire record is exceptional - and very prominent in the mix too. Tal Wilkenfeld’s work is far from generic - it often takes you to the opposite point to where you think it’s going, clever, deeply funky with sneaky little runs that are somehow never indulgent and always serving the beat … he’s continually inventive and often surprising – and locked in like diamonds in coal with the highly adaptable and similarly creative drummer Chris Coleman.


Yes, it’s a homage to a particular sound and era of the 70s, very familiar but also fresh – initially I was thinking this tune could have done with some real horns, yet on reflection the synthetic nature is obviously Prince’s artistic choice – drugs being synthetic joy, not the warm ‘real thing’ that only true gratification – in work or relationships – can bring to the endorphin machine that is your brain.




Lot of people saying the end is missing a top layer instrument like a guitar solo or something but this song is fine as it is – to me anything additional to the outro arrangement would be deeply cluttered and a solo would be tasteless, it’s not hitting that vibe – for me anyway. A solo in this would insinuate release, and this is a song about slavery to street life and the hussle. You don’t get release except through death – ‘born 2 die’. It’s also a groove with remarkably inventive harmonies from Prince which I rarely see him get adequate credit for.


It’s not going to change the world, but it’s highly worthy late-period P and as a typically under-the-radar single with no promotional video, deserves more ears than it’s likely to get.


[Edited 7/27/21 8:48am]

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Reply #45 posted 08/24/21 5:55am

thisisreece

Another great review review from Number23!

I agree that 1010 (Rin Tin Tin) is the highlight, it is a wonderously zany song. I remember reading the allmusic review of 20ten which said something along the lines of being able to hear how Prince has 'stripped the freakiness out of his persona'. It's a fair criticism, it's very rare to find a song in Prince's later catalogue that is satisfactorily off-kilter. 1010 (Rin Tin Tin) fits the bill however, and its vaguely cryptic and very Prince-ly lyricism is perfectly suited to the song's peculiar staccato rhythm. Prince references Beethoven and Bach, but it reminds me more of Maurice Ravel's Bolero in the way that the song grows larger while riffing on the same melody. There are so many little vocal add-libs and voices Prince makes which sound entirely unique to this song. And for its sheer sense of puzzlement and mystery, I cannot help love the way Prince sings, 'Can somebody please tell me the real time?'. The song does have shades of Joint 2 Joint, but is vastly superior in my opinion. It is rare for a late career Prince song to have this much intrigue. It is a marvel.



Another favourite is Stand Up & B Strong. I thought I was going to hate it for its soupyness, but it works. It works, I guess, because it is so sincere. It has so much that should ride against it: its almost christian-rock sweetness, the X Factor style turns from Shelby & Co, the sentiment. It is like a train rocking side to side on the tracks, willing itself to derail. But it doesn't, it powers through. I actually think it is great how Prince's voice weaves in and out. It carries a lot of weight. After a few listens, I love the gospel-rave up of the second half, with the handclaps and the back and forth between the signers, organ and (autotuned?) guitar. It is euphoric. Curriously, as well as The Holy River it also reminds me of Walkin' in Glory from SOTT deluxe. Two of his most heavily gospel influenced songs have now appeared on sets of unreleased music - how much more might there be in the vault?


Son of a Slave Master is also fantastic and I suspect will be largely underappreaciated for its less obtrusive treasures.



It is a shame that the album leaked before you had the chance to post your review. The week or so before SOTT deluxe was so much more exciting for the inventive way you wrote about the songs (even if I think you occasionally over-sell some of them!).

Hundalasiliah!
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Reply #46 posted 08/26/21 12:58pm

JoeyCococo

Have listened now a few times, including last night. I have listened to a few podcast reviews too get other's opinions. This is a top 10 album for me...top 10 of Prince albums and that saying a lot. What I think I love about it is, its cohesiveness...both in music and message. The lone oddity is Hot Summer but even that one is pulled into the rest b/c of the prominent vocals of Shelby or Liv. I doubt Prince sequenced this...just b/c it is so cohesive:) He would have throw in a Screw Driver or messed the flow up with a Funk and Roll. Whatever the case, I love this album. I haven't spent this time tryingi to understand the lyrics as I have for this album. I have often said, he probably could have used a 2nd set of eyes at times I"m not saying he needed another writer...just someone who could say..'don't put Screw Driver on Phase 2 or, 'don't put FUnk and Roll between Way Back Home and Time' on Art Official. For W2A, everything fits so well that I am actually enjoying the album far more.

To think, there may be countless other super albums like this for us.

Now the sad part, it seemed as the Mountains and Sea podcaster said, he was returing to centre from the very conservative times of his early 2000s. There was so much more he had to say....I suspect, these were a collection of his more personal songs, where he wanted to say exactly what was on his mind that he made a pattern of vaulting. It gives me a lot of hope that there will be more fantastic releases like this going forward.

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Reply #47 posted 09/16/21 8:13am

fortuneandsere
ndipity

thisisreece said:

Another great review review from Number23!

I agree that 1010 (Rin Tin Tin) is the highlight, it is a wonderously zany song. I remember reading the allmusic review of 20ten which said something along the lines of being able to hear how Prince has 'stripped the freakiness out of his persona'. It's a fair criticism, it's very rare to find a song in Prince's later catalogue that is satisfactorily off-kilter. 1010 (Rin Tin Tin) fits the bill however, and its vaguely cryptic and very Prince-ly lyricism is perfectly suited to the song's peculiar staccato rhythm. Prince references Beethoven and Bach, but it reminds me more of Maurice Ravel's Bolero in the way that the song grows larger while riffing on the same melody. There are so many little vocal add-libs and voices Prince makes which sound entirely unique to this song. And for its sheer sense of puzzlement and mystery, I cannot help love the way Prince sings, 'Can somebody please tell me the real time?'. The song does have shades of Joint 2 Joint, but is vastly superior in my opinion. It is rare for a late career Prince song to have this much intrigue. It is a marvel.


Interesting comparison with Beethoven, Bach. I call what you're describing 'diagonal rhythm'.
You hear it plenty in Beethoven's pastoral symphony (6). Where most of the music sounds like it's lagging behind the beat, kinda implying inertia.
Rin Tin Tin doesn't make me think Ravel's Bolero, but the Prince song that says Bolero all day long imo is When We're Dancing Close and Slow.


The hypocrisy of the far-left is something else.

Extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence - this is where all religions fall down.
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