Prince is no longer alive for the first full day of my personal life. My Facebook friend Brandon Ousley posted up today that Prince & The Revolution’s 1985 album ‘Around The World In A Day’ turned 31 today. To quote Ousley,it truly does allow reality to set in about the loss of Prince Rogers Nelson. At the suggestion of Henrique Hopkins,among my oldest online friends, here is my Amazon.com review of Prince’s seventh studio album:
Prince was,as apparently expected catapulted into musical and theatrical super-stardom with his 1984 album and motion picture “Purple Rain”. All of a sudden,the music charts were not only filled with his proteges such as The Time and Sheila E but also many imitation records such as Ready For The World’s “Oh Sheila”. Not to mention songs he’d penned for others such as Sheena Easton’s “Sugar Walls”. Having become the massive force in the music scene that he was hoping? It would seem that this had the effect of dividing Prince’s own creative ego.
While satisfied with his success,he was of course likely being pressured by the record company and the public to continue producing music of the same sort. Prince has always been a very exploratory artist. And the only way one could possibly pin him down is the fact he seems to delight in finding every different way he can be instrumentally funkified-with funk being a very broad and flexible genre in itself. According to my knowledge recording during the Purple Rain tour,this follow up album with the Revolution showcased Prince doing something that likely neither his admirers or record company would ever have expected him to do.
Starting out with an Arabic flute-type synthesizer effect,the title song begins the album with what starts out like a psychedelic East Indian type number but veers on into straight up bass/guitar oriented funk by songs end. “Paisley Park” is a carnivalesque LINN drum/guitar based romp through a lyrical tag that has the dreamy wonder of 1967 period Beatles all over it for sure. “Condition Of The Heart” is a truly wonderful song-starting out as a jazzy piano ballad and building up to a chordally complex number reflecting on the point of falling in love itself.
“Raspberry Berry” is actually similar in instrumental and melodic content to “Take Me With U” from the previous album-yet filled with cheeky and playful double entandre’s where Prince just seems to be having a little fun. “Tamborine” is a musically hard grooving number built mainly around thick percussion and a funky bass synthesizer with Prince metaphorically eluding to masturbation-so it seems. “America” is musically a potent song-starting off very much as a guitar heavy LINN based gospel rocker before getting into some seriously fast funk. But its red scare neo con lyrical content about “not saying the pledge of allegiance on a mushroom cloud” makes one wonder how arch conservative Prince’s politics really were at that time.
“Pop Life” is a dreamy slow funk number,musically one of my favorites on this album,reflecting again on whether fame is preferable to the journey of life itself. “The Ladder” is very much an epic arena rock type ballad-whose spiritually needy lyrics are presented by Prince in an echoplexed spoken narration. The closer “Temptation” is a dragging,amplified 12-bar blues which ends with Prince apologizing Scrooge style to a deep voiced figure for forsaking love for lust. And that in a word typifies the spirit of this entire album. Musically speaking? These songs are very much in the spirit of its predecessor with somewhat more of a psychedelic twist about them.
Lyrically they are totally different. Having discovered redemption on his previous album,Prince spends the majority of this album questioning his motivations and relationship with the spiritual and secular. His political and cultural views stand out in very stark contrast on this album. His melodic and lyrical concepts are reflected with clarity,but lack a resolution. In retrospect,I really enjoy this album. It showcases Prince moving away from his own Minneapolis sound and onto a much broader musical approach. On the other hand? It also showcased the uncertainty and restlessness Prince has exhibited in more recent years. Its a complicated record-akin to its predecessor as Joni Mitchell’s Court and Spark would be to it’s follow up The Hissing of Summer Lawns-interestingly enough an artist Prince deeply admires. And therefore its a record that takes time to fully get into.
Originally Posted On June 6th,2014