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MarcusD "essence_uk"

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Price: £8.08

5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Simply Beautiful..., 25 Aug. 2002
This review is from: Birdseye (Audio CD)
Perhaps resigned to never reaching the commerical chart peaks of his debut single "Nobody Knows", Tony just relaxed and spoke from the heart on this, his second LP...
These songs are of rare beauty and like many of his "neo-soul" labelled contemporaries he nods to influences (Prince being an obvious example) of a bygone era while all the while keeping his own individual style.
Lyrically, here he may even improve on the heady heights of his excellent debut album of three years previous "Words". He is very open and emotional while never coming off as insincere or making cynical attempts to be anything other than what he is.
The album as a whole is tremendous although personal favourites would be "If You're An Angel" and "My Stomach Hurts", both in which he bares his very soul.
Eric Clapton features (Returning favour for Tony's work on his album of same year) with three guitar guest slots, but as always it's Mr Rich pulling the strings, writing and producing all but one of these lush, sonic landscapes.
Tony has been relatively quiet since "Birdseye" and it would be a tragedy if this this album proves to be the last we ever hear from him. I am certain modern masterpieces like this and "Words" touched listeners very deeply (they did me) and he deserves far more credit as such...

Love Symbol
Love Symbol
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Price: £3.99

3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars The Symbol Cometh..., 5 Aug. 2001
This review is from: Love Symbol (Audio CD)
For reasons of simplicity I will call this "Symbol album". It came on the back of Prince's then record breaking $100m record deal with Warner Bros, due in no small part to the bargaining power "Diamonds and Pearls" being a major success had given him.
Prince attempted to incorporate a storyline into this album (featuring Kirstie Alley as a reporter) in a "Rock Opera" type style. However these segues fragment the album, leave the listener confused, and are rather ineffective. We are better to look at the music imbetween. :)
Kicking off with the raw and angry "My Name Is Prince" he lets everyone know he is still the best and makes thinly veiled digs at Michael Jackson amongst others. He half raps the vocal and Tony M joins in at end (As with Diamonds And Pearls he is all over the album). Then follows the homage to James Brown "Sexy Mf", in an edited format it was a substantial single. Very funky and addictive it is too. :)
"Love 2 The 9's" is clever and complex although its attempt to weld two different songs falls a little short (Delicate R&B and hardcore rap chant). "The Morning Papers" is a pretty, swaying rock song with nice guitar solos. "3 Chains O' Gold" is Prince doing "Bohemian Rhapsody" and very interesting, is he being ironic? Is it a pastiche? Nevertheless it's a fun song. :)
Two other highlights in my eyes are "7" a steadily-paced mid-tempo rock song which starts a cappella and the funky gospel chant "Sacrifice Of Victor" which closes proceedings.
Disregarding the "storyline" this long album (16 tracks) is as always diverse in genre (Hip-hop to rock), generally consistent and contains trademark Prince songs "Sexy Mf" and "7" so it is well worth checking out. I prefer the previous years "Diamonds and Pearls" overall though.

Dirty Mind
Dirty Mind
Price: £5.00

4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Scandalous in 1980..., 5 Aug. 2001
This review is from: Dirty Mind (Audio CD)
Seemingly tired of the implied naughty sexuality of the first two albums Prince went all out to shock on his third, giving listeners an insight into his "Dirty Mind". Prince was clearly not going to be a MOR average artist.
From the suggestive album cover (Prince in bikini briefs against bed springs) he left the listener in no doubt to what the album theme would be...
And this proved the case. Aside from the political statement "Party Up" (Allegedly written by The Time frontman Morris Day), the anti-establishment "Uptown" and the tender ballad "Gotta Broken Heart Again", it was all sex fuelled relations from there on in. The synth-pop title track opens the album with a clear indication of his future manifesto. Sex would play big a big part of Prince's music for years to come yet.
Songs like "Head" (A story of ....) and "Sister" (...) set out to shock from the start. But when the music's this fresh and challenging who was arguing! Well the "Moral Majority" were for one. ;)
It was the Beatle-esque pop perfection of "When You Were Mine" that is my undoubted highlight and arguably his best song to date. It was later covered by Cyndi Lauper.
By very nature of the topics covered Prince limited his potential fanbase here. So although not as big a seller as the former more commercial based album, Prince declared his will to experiment and push boundaries dramatically.
Rough and raw sounding as it is, this remains one of mine and many other Prince fans favourite albums.

Around The World In A Day
Around The World In A Day
Price: £5.00

4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Not Purple Rain Part 2..., 5 Aug. 2001
A lot of bandwagon "fans" of Prince's sixth album "Purple Rain" immediately jumped ship on hearing this. Maybe commercially speaking he should have waited longer for the Purple Rain hype to die down but this was a different set of sounds and messages to that monumental classic and was never equipped to come close to it's predecessor's mainstream appeal.
Prince I am sure realised this himself, but being the artist he is, rushed it's release through, as always thriving on experimentation and spontaneity. I feel he was right to stay real to himself as although not a record label's dream follow up it is still an artistically rewarding work for the listener. While looking back now however we should understand the reaction at the time would be relative to different set of issues, not least "Purple Rain Mania". :)
This album was as mentioned above not very commercial in it's overall sound apart from two singles. "Raspeberry Beret" is a well known Prince standard and its summertime sway and wandering strings add to make a Beatle-esque Pop classic. "Pop Life" was a simple commentary on the music industry that Prince was now central to and he is harshly critical towards cocaine users within the lyrics. It is also a very accomplished song.
Other highlights include the Eastern influenced title track, another Beatles-psychadelic (The Beatles seem a big influence on this album right upto the cover art) type song speaking of a Utopia "Paisley Park" (The name of Prince's newly established label and recording studio at the time) and the tender ballad "Condition Of The Heart" which although beautiful never quite reaches it's awesome potential in my opinion. Also be sure to check out the album-worthy B-side "Shes Always In My Hair".
Perhaps understandably, this album will be favoured by the more hardcore Prince fan due to the lack of his more trademark "popular" music. However anyone with a love of good experimental music should not be discouraged from exploring this deeply textured journey "Around The World In A Day".

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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Not as good overall as Dirty Mind..., 5 Aug. 2001
This review is from: Controversy (Audio CD)
Although lacking the overall class of 1980's "Dirty Mind" there are two classic moments on this album that make it a worthwhile sequel.
1. The opening title track in which he talks of people's perception of him (The last album had generated many questions) remains one of my all time favourite Prince songs to this day, it is the blueprint of the "Minneapolis Sound" (Synths, dynamic bass, scratch guitar etc) and given the freedom to jam on the extended album version here it is all the more impressive.
2. Also here is the classic Prince ballad "Do Me Baby", which was the beginning of the trademark Prince ballad and formed the basis of future tour de forces like "Adore".
The rest of the material contains some nice moments like the disco funk work out of "Lets Work" and is pleasant enough. However aside from the two classic tracks aforementioned the album overall is more of a three star rating but the the title track and Do Me Baby's five star perfection result in a four.
This album performed as a nice stepping stone to the masterpiece that is "1999".

Diamonds And Pearls
Diamonds And Pearls
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Price: £4.25

1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Prince reclaimed the charts..., 5 Aug. 2001
This review is from: Diamonds And Pearls (Audio CD)
Prince came with a credibly commercial sound and consistently featured a rapper (Tony M) for first time here. He wanted to reclaim the chart position his stature deserved after relative years in the wilderness. "Batman" and Prince's fourth #1 "Batdance" were mainly successful on the back of the mainstream audience of the movie let us not forget.
The organ led pop-perfect "Cream" would give Prince his fifth US #1. Other hits included the dramatic multi-layered opener "Thunder", the funk-dance classic "Gett Off" and the supreme, Stevie Wonder style ballad "Money Don't Matter tonite" with it's social commentary format and a "Do Me Baby/Scandalous" type ballad in "Instatiable". "Jughead" and "Push" conversely gave Tony M. a chance to spotlight as frontman much to many fans chagrin.
My favourite song on this album however would have to be the title track with its pretty swaying melody and catchy hook.
Overall this album performed it's function and hooked me into becoming a Prince fan ten years ago so i can testify for it's catchiness personally! While perhaps not one of his deepest album concepts he sold albums while staying credible which was the aim. Can't argue with that right? :)

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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Masterpiece!, 5 Aug. 2001
This review is from: 1999 (Audio CD)
With "Sign O' The Times" this is Prince's true masterpiece!
From the apocalyptic disco funk of the title track with its infectious synthline and distinctive three way split vocal you know your in for a special ride!
This segues into one of my favourites of all time "Little Red Corvette". This is a supreme pop song, how infectious is that hook! How haunting are those opening synths! :)
Next up was the catchy Rockabilly of "Delirious" which goes into the X-Rated "Lets Pretend We're Married".
Other highlights on this consistent album include the funk chant of "DMSR", "Free" (The blueprint for "Purple Rain"), Funky guitar led "Lady Cab Driver" and the class ballad "International Lover" (Prince ballads have always been very consistent since "Do Me Baby").
Throughout the album the use of the experimental Linn Drum machine gives it a very unique sound, coupled with his distinctive synthlines, Prince's "Minneapolis Sound" was truly in effect! Sales wise it fared well on the back of success of "Little Red Corvette" (A big part in black artists getting on MTV).
This initial break through allowed the mega-stardom of "Purple Rain" to follow but artistically this album outdoes even that in my opinion.


1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Come Behold Prince's Parade!, 5 Aug. 2001
This review is from: Parade (Audio CD)
This richly textured album consolidated the core fanbase after others had dropped off during "Around The World In A Day" and although "Under The Cherry Moon" the film was harshly criticized the soundtrack on the whole was received very well.
The obvious highlight is the pop-funk masterpiece "Kiss". Once mixed by David Z and Mazarati, this originally blues based song was given life. It's simple stripped down drums and funky wah-wah guitar lick couple with Prince's mischievious falsetto equal one of his trademark singles and most defining moments. NOTE: Tom Jones' version is to be avoided. Such a shame that some people associate the song with him before Prince.
The album as a whole contains a big French influence garnered in so small part from the movie, which was set on The Riviera. This is best displayed in the funky and fun "Girls & Boys". There is also a lot of intrumental experiementation, plenty of hand cymbals and even a Big Band on the opening cut "Christopher Tracy's Parade". Soul however is as always at the root, with the horn section helping Prince give an old school soul review vibe, particularly for the album's tour.
Another personal favourite of mine is "Anotherloverholenyohead". With it's P-Funk style title and swaying Stevie Wonder-esque sound it's a really cool track. The following "Somtimes It Snows In April" is a beatiful, patient, ode to a departed friend and good closure to the album.
In short don't associate this soundtrack with the negative feelings some hold about the film it's taken from. This album again showed Prince's rich diversity and ranks amongst his most essential work.

The Hits / The B-Sides
The Hits / The B-Sides
Offered by Great Price Media EU
Price: £10.99

5 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Comprehensive Collection..., 5 Aug. 2001
This review is from: The Hits / The B-Sides (Audio CD)
Given the prolific nature of Prince's career a hits package was overdue and in order to do it justice two CDs of material would be needed. These were available as casual fan-friendly single CDs or as here a 3CD set that gave the more serious fan the chance to own both volumes along with a collection of Prince's finest B-sides. Also included are two previously unavailable songs on each Hits CD.
However even this relatively extensive format would mean cut backs and edits were made to the longer tracks, this would probably not be noticed by casual fans, though many hardcore collectors saw this to the detriment of the package.
The hits selection is very comprehensive and with a few minor quibbles (Did "Girls & Boys", "Batdance" deserve a place here?) proves to be a good overview on the man's career to this point.
All the familiar classics are here. "When Doves Cry" to "Alphabet St", "Little Red Corvette" to "Kiss". The new tracks and in-depth liner notes by Alan Leeds prove a good incentive to the hardcore fanbase also. A live version of "Nothing Compares 2 U" (The song by now associated with Sinead O' Connor's hit take on the Prince-penned The Family tune) duetted with the classy Rosie Gaines is a nice addition. As is the beautiful, tender ballad "Pink Cashmere". On the second CD the hard rocking blues of "Peach" and the funky-rap of "Pope" also prove invaluable to the collector.
The third CD is an essential B-side collection for hardcore fans and sure to be appreciated by music lovers everywhere. You see Prince B-sides are of an extremely high stsndard and this is a great chance to have them all together on one CD. Again two rarities are here. The emotional "Power Fantastic" and USA For Africa penned "For The Tears In Your Eyes".
The classic "She's Always in My Hair" sits alongside the funk-dance of "Erotic City" and simply put the Prince B-side CD contains material that some artists would be happy to have as a "Best Of" their career!
The choice as to whether to go for the two single Hits CDs, this boxset or perhaps neither, all depends on your love for Prince music. Rest assured though that this music perfectly chronicles the highlights of the eclectic Genius that is Prince Roger Nelson upto 1993 and in funky hands could prove to be an addiction that stays with you for life! :)

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