Prince – PlectrumElectrum Album Review by Ericka Blount Danois

By Ericka Blount Danois

Exponential output has been a part of Prince’s repertoire–most recently producing three albums in 2004, The Chocolate Invasion and The Slaughterhouse in March and Musicology released a month later. A few years later in 2009, he released the 3-CD set LOtUSFLOW3R (note: this record was actually pretty amazing).

His self-indulgence has always been a virtue musically. PlectrumElectrum is the best example of this–the second of the two albums released yesterday (the first is the more soul heavy Art Official Age, which we reviewed yesterday). PlectrumElectrum, released in collaboration with his female protege rock, pop and funk band, 3RDEYEGIRL (featuring Hannah Ford Welton, Donna Gratis and Ida Nielsen) is largely a rock, instrumental show piece, that detours periodically into funk and pop and even rap– (“Boytrouble,” which features rapping by Lizzo and Sophia Eris is a real funk-rap head nodder.)

This past spring Prince finally gained control of his masters, along with publishing rights and performance rights, winning a hard-won battle with Warner Brothers that will resonate for artists for years to come. He also launched NPG publishing which will publish his own music as well as other artists.

Prince, free of constraints with his new label deal, is rolling and experimenting with his newfound musical empowerment alternating on PlectrumElectrum, recorded live and in analog, between punk, electronic, funk, rock and rap. It’s unfocused for a concept album (the album is meant to recreate the atmosphere of a time period when bands recorded live in one room). One song doesn’t easily roll into the next, genres shift abruptly, and solos can extend into eternity (obviously a good thing with Prince’s guitar solos). On “Wow” guitar solos and drum fills abound conjuring Jimi Hendrix. Probably the most commercial and definitely the electric bass heavy funkiest cut, “FunkNroll” has been picked up by NFL networks.

Always a master of reinvention, Prince has said that he “doesn’t quantify success by numbers” or hit songs. The album feels much like Prince’s intention to create the feeling of a live band recording in a room–the listener gets a peak into a private jam session with all of its mistakes, stops and starts, and playfully unfocused creativity. For the serious Prince fan, this is a dream come true.

Grade: B+
Best songs: Aintturninround, Plectrumelectrum, Boytrouble, Stopthistrain, FunkNroll

BUY PRINCE – PlectrumelectrumFunkNroll

Ericka Blount Danois is the author of “Love, Peace and Soul, The Behind the Scenes Story of America’s Favorite Dance Show, Soul Train”

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