6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
on 20 April 2004
In the early 90s Prince albums seemed to become rather shallow and lacksoul for want of a better word. His more recent releases have been deeper,jazzier affairs - good music, but not really commercial. Musicology fallsneatly between the two - a decent album, with soul, a slab of funk andsome rockier numbers - with a full commercial release.
Track-by-track - It starts in a classic funk groove with Musicology.Illusion, Coma, Pimp & Circumstance is again funky, but with a nod to themodern urban sound. The 'songs' start with A Million Days which has alittle of that 'anthem' style heard in his 90s work, but it works. Life'O' Party returns to the ICP&C style, not a classic track, but enjoyable.With the funky party over, the lights go down with Call My Name - aclassic Prince ballad, a carefully crafted song and the next singlejudging by the sticker on the album. Cinnamon Girl is political and hencerocks it a little, like The Marrying Kind, which at times is slightlyreminiscent of the Purple Rain era. If I Was The Man in Your Lifecontinues in a similar vein. In between is What do u want me 2 do, alovely quirky number with a catchy chorus and great music. On the Couchhas a real old soul feel, demonstrating again how Prince can turn his handto most musical styles. Dear Mr Man is a decent laid back lyrical tunewith some nice horns and guitar. It stays laid back for the final track,Reflection (thankfully not one of those Queen style rock anthems seen inthe 90s) but a cool, classic Prince song which ends leaving you wantingmore.
Musicology is the most commercial, accessible and consistent Prince albumfor an age - with a mix of styles as always. As with all his recent albumsthe musicianship is exemplary - also worth a session with the headphonesto make sure you hear all that is going on in the production. Prince isback in the mainstream - but fanatics knew he'd never gone away, it wasjust a matter of time.
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
on 29 June 2004
Even back in the day when Prince Released albums like, Around The World in A Day, Sign 'o' Times, Lovesexy, he was criticised for not producing his best work. References to these albums being no Purple Rain was often made. These albums, however, are now considered some of his best work.
The problem with Prince in the past was that he was often ahead of his time - creating new sounds that were unfamiliar, that took time to appreciate. I don't think that is the case any more. But what you get with a new Prince album is a uniquely Prince Sound with all his subtle trade marks from over the years thrown in.
Another feature of Prince's music is that it is constantly changing. Just when he releases an album you really like, the next one will be completely different. Personally, I don't mind this too much as it is interesting to see what he can do. The Rainbow Children and NEWS were definitely esoteric and more enjoyable from a musician's point of view, rather than pop records.
That's where Musicology differs. It is definitely more of a pop album and you don't necessarily have to have an acquired taste to enjoy it. In so many ways it has the feel of a "good old" Prince album. Not necessarily in sound, but in arrangement and choice of types of songs. It is new, but feels kind of familiar. So it is no wonder that is being heralded as a return to form.
So what is his form like then? When I first listened to this album the songs that stood out for me were, Musicology, A Million Days, and Call My Name. I quite liked, Cinnamon Girl, What do u Want me 2 Do and If Eye Was The Man In Ur Life. The rest really seemed like weak fillers, initially for me.
After repeated listening I managed not to skip over Illusion, Coma, Pimp & Circumstance and Life 'O' The Party. I really didn't like these songs at first, but after a while began to appreciate them for what they are. I also had difficulty with the last three song. I still don't like On the Couch, but think Reflection is a perfect end to the album with its gentle nostalgic vibe.
Now after a few weeks of listening, the album really flows right the way through. What makes it all hang together is the diversity of each song. This is a good album and it grows on you with time. As always all the instruments are performed superbly, with the usual nuances and touches you come to expect from Prince. There is something not quite there to make this an outstanding album . But overall I think this is a great album to own.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on 29 July 2004
Recently, the word "comeback" has been very loosely used in music literature. Whenever an artist disappears, whether willingly or due to an ailing career bump, critics are fast to label it a comeback. This is the case with one of the greatest artists in popular culture, Prince. However, Prince didn't really go anywhere to come back. He has been releasing oodles of albums. With the purple legend's over-gushing of creative fluids, it comes as no surprise that he has released more albums than there are years in the past decade.
His last addition was NEWS, a record put together at Paisley Park in one day. The 4-track album contains, respectively, the jams "North," "East," "West" and "South," hence the abbreviation.
The new album, however, is a full length effort that sounds more like his older works. Surprisingly, the title track "Musicology" has been gaining a lot of airplay with its big band throw-down. The song is a groovy ode to old-school jive with lyrics that reflect the science of melody or musicology.
The song meanders into another strong number titled "Illusion, Coma, Pimp & Circumstance," which is reminiscent of an early 90's beat.
The rest of Musicology is heavy on instrumentation, yet stumpy on original melody. "A Million Days" is a bore and "Call My Name" reaches for seduction but falls short.
Then there is "The Marrying King," where Prince attempts, yet again, to grab hold of the closet. Is he the only one that doesn't know? The same goes for "If Eye Was the Man in Your Life."
There are some victories with "Cinnamon Girl," where Prince tackles the racial implications post-9/11. "Life O' the Party" is pleasant at times, but does not come close to hit material.
Musicology is one of his better releases, perhaps his best since the three-disc collection Emancipation, and a relief when considering mishaps like The Rainbow Children. However, the artist formerly known as the artist formerly known as Prince has a long way to go to achieve the funky-cool of Sign O' The Times.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on 15 May 2004
Prince is back. No, hold up. He never disappeared. Not only has he still been making records, but his influence permeates every corner of radio. Don't believe me? Then re-listen to Britney Spears' "I'm a Slave 4 U." Give Kelis' album "Tasty" a spin and tell me you don't hear the Prince-inspired grooves in "Milkshake." And Andre 3000 and the Neptunes pretty much owe much of their musical style to the Purple One. After a rush of great publicity, Prince releases his first major-label album in over five years: "Musicology." It's easily his most accessible offering in years, even though it won't make any of us forget about prior glories "Dirty Mind," "Parade," or "Sign O the Times." He brings up the funk as usual, but there's a noticeable difference. Anyone looking for the raunchier Prince of "Head" or "Darling Nikki" will be disappointed. Tracks like "The Marrying Kind" and "If Eye Was the Man in Ur Life" show that Prince is now all for monogamy and not fly-by-night conquests. Amazingly, Prince played every instrument in most of the tracks such as the James Brown-esque title song and "Life O the Party" both of which are fine uptempo exercises in the prime funk we've come to expect. Another great jam is "Dear Mr. Man," a compelling social commentary that has former protege Sheila E. on percussion. Cruising through a host of issues from racism to AIDS, it's the most politically charged Prince song I can remember. So, "Musicology" is the very album that will put Prince back on the map where he should be. It's no instant classic, but it's an impressive set that reminds us why he was welcomed into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
This isn't the comeback it was said to be...
Prince lost a lot of fans because of his antics and output in the 1990s, and this was supposedly his "return to form", but even as a huge fan of his work I don't rate it highly at all.
Some of the songs are good, and at least most of them use real instruments and real musicians. The title track is a funky enough tune but doesn't really go anywhere. "Illusion, Coma..." is downright awful and free of both tune and melody. "A Million Days" is great - a real return to songs the likes of "The Holy River" and maybe even "Gold". "Life O The Party" is extremely tedious. "Call My Name" is the first of the ballads and is alright, if nothing special. "Cinnamon Girl" sounds great in the verses, but the chorus is just Prince singing the words "Cinnamon Girl" over and over again - lazy. "What Would U Want Me 2 Do" has a horrible vocal which sounds out of tune. "The Marrying Kind" and "If I Was The Man In Your Life" merge together into one not very special song. "On The Couch" is an uninspired ballad. Finally, "Dear Mr Man" and "Reflection" are enjoyable enough, but still fairly weak.
So, out of twelve songs there are maybe two decent tracks. Sadly, his follow-up album ("3121") was even weaker. Will he ever return to form?
44 of 51 people found the following review helpful
on 2 April 2004
after a number of years of jazz influenced albums released on the internet, prince returns to the mainstream with a knockout pop album in the style of his "gold experience" album from 1995.
...superb pop songs like "a million days" and "cinnamon girl" are some of the strongest songs he has released in years. strong prince ballads include "call my name" and "on the couch" are of course included.
...the funk is not forgotten with the brilliantly titled "illusion,coma,pimp and circumstance" and the title track "musicology"
...if you have been waiting for prince to return with a good ,solid pop album then wait no longer. this is a great return to what he does best.
12 of 14 people found the following review helpful
on 3 June 2004
Fact - the last four or five Prince albums have been shocking. Reviews on this site, however, have heralded a triumphant return to form in each one (can they all be a return to form?!)
I beg to differ. While I sympathise with fellow die-hard Prince fans who really want to believe, like me, that the little purple chappie still has it in him, I cannot accept that churning out this kind of mediocre strangeness constitutes a return to form.
Musicology isn't bad, it's just not worthy of sitting on the same same shelf as Sign of the Times, Lovesexy or anything earlier. The tracks on this latest effort nod at some old classics, but in doing so draw attention to their own shortcomings. The title track is strangely reminiscent of 'Sexy MF', which at the time stood out as a bad song on a half-decent album. 'Life of the Party' is a 'Housequake' for the new millenium, but hardly compares. 'Cinnamon Girl' is awful, and the intro to 'If Eye' is a retreat to the worst excesses of vocal self-indulgence since 'Solo'. A couple of others would have been at home on the 'Chaos and Disorder' album, but I could believe they were out-takes.
Tracks 2 and 11 are excellent, and should be played on repeat until you die.
As with 'The Rainbow Children', Prince has chucked in a couple of ironic references to his dwindling fan-base ('He don't play the hits no more, plus I thought he was gay / my voice is getting higher and I ain't never had my nose done'). To me though, the problem with this album and the previous five is not the change in direction - look at REM, Primal Scream, Kylie, even (dare I say it) Tom Jones, who have all re-invented successfully over the years - but the fact that the end result just isn't that good any more.
Happily, Sony has beaten a few of the more irritating idiosyncracies out of the be-purpled one. I am delighted to report that there is none of that ridiculous 33rpm voice (which was perfect on the Black Album's Bob George but crass on everything since) or the scripted comedy scenes between tracks that plagued a lot of the late NPG stuff and, more lately, the Rainbow Children.
This is a passable album, but is not a return to form, and I don't think there will be one now. Stop your Prince collection at Chaos and Disorder. Having said that I will continue to buy eagerly (and then be disappointed by) everything he ever releases .. and perhaps that's what upsets me.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on 28 April 2004
Prince plays and sings almost everything on this album and whilst I'dprefer the old band sound he used to have "back in the day" it works wellhere though can sound a little sterile at times. His lyrics are as cleveras ever, covering a lot of topics and themes. For me there are three dudtracks (Illusion, Party, Couch) and the rest of the album sits comfortablyaround the classic/very good mark.
The dubious raunchiness of some previous releases has been toned down forthis one, which I think has helped with the commercial success this albumhas enjoyed. That, along with Sony/Colombia's marketing departmentconvincing people he hasn't released an album in ten years!
I'd recommend this album to anybody with even a passing interest inPrince. Just make sure you check out his back catalogue when you hungerfor more, it's a treasure trove.
on 23 April 2004
This is the return of a legend. Prince is back after years in selfsatisfying wilderness. I would also have to say this is arguably his bestall orund album. His music seems to have taken a step forward in evolutionwith a delightfully modern and at the same time classic Prince style.There aren't any classic songs to compare with Purple Rain, 1999, WhenDoves Cry and Prince's other best but they are a great standard and thealbum altogether is a great, albeit brief, near 40 minute pleasure tolisten to. I equate this album to Terence Trent D'arby's WildCard. Thatwas marked down as a comeback album for TTD and like Prince he is amusical genius, writing, performing and producing all the tracks. Alsolike Prince he literally performs 90 percent of all the instruments andbacking vocals on all the songs, as well as having a unique talent vocallyand lyrically. WildCard was also arguably TTD's best all round album,without having a song that could be argued as one of his best ever. Theboth like to experiment and have a very personal style, they don't bleivein making producers happy just to sell records. It is because they do itfor the art of music solely that their albums are so musically rich intexture.
Musicology is my favourite album of the year thus far. It is a greatlisten and some of the songs are fantastic. Call My Name is superb and hasthat feeling that Princes Nothing Compares to You had. Also Cinnamon Girlis another great song. I believe that if any songs from this album areargued as one of his best in twenty or so years then Call My Name has thebest legs to stand up against the likes of what is my favourite song ever,Purple Rain. For any Prince fan this must be a delight and also for anymusic fan.
on 23 April 2004
So, here we are, another new Prince album and another supposed return toform? One thing is for sure, this album is getting more <ahref="[...]">promotion</a>than any Prince album since he was last called... er.....Prince. I caneven buy it in my local Woolworths, when was the last <ahref="[...]">time</a> you couldsay that about a Prince album?
So does it live up to the hype? In a nutshell.....yes!
For me, a <ahref="[...]">hardcore</a>Prince fan (I even bought N.E.W.S!), this is the most satisfying Princealbum since the 'Love Symbol' album. The songs are disciplined, catchy,and Prince still has the ability to raise the bar on a few occasions.
The first two songs are excellent sparse funk workouts, ditching the'clever-clever' arrangements that Prince has been keen on over the last 10years and reminding this listener of some of the funkier moments on 'SignO The Times' (I kid you not).
There are plenty of pure Prince pop moments too, 'A Million Days', 'CallMy Name', 'Cinnamon Girl', 'The Marrying Kind', which means we could evensee Prince back in the <ahref="[...]">singles</a> chartagain.
There are however, some moments where the magic is a little harder tofind. 'Dear Mr. Man' is musically fine but lyrically lacks inspiration. To these ears, 'If Eye Was The Man In Ur Life' is a little too much likePrince-by-numbers.
On the whole though, this is a top-notch album that should see Princeregaining a foothold in the mainstream, something that has been longoverdue.
After a series of 'almost-but-not-quite-good-enough' efforts (Rave Un2 TheJoy Fantastic) and albums spoiled by sheer bloody mindedness (The RainbowChildren could have been great without that damned narrative 'voice'),Prince fans finally have an album that rewards their patience.
Welcome back your highness - we've missed you.