Lately, it seems Prince is finding inspiration from one of the most innovative musicians of the 1980s: himself.
After struggling with Warner Brothers in the ’90s over a contract he felt was inequitable, Prince adopted his notorious Formerly-Known-As persona and released several mediocre albums in quick succession to fulfill his recording obligations.
He then released “Emancipation” on his newly formed NPG Records label. Although the anticipation was tremendous, the 3-CD set was met with mixed reviews.
Later, Prince seemed to retreat to esoteric experiments. “N.E.W.S.,” for instance, is a 56-minute, four-track album of instrumental jazz-jams recorded in a single evening, and is now little more than an obligation to completists.
Prince Rogers Nelson, however, is not a man who could remain content on the fringes of stardom. In 2004, he penned the Grammy winning “Musicology” — an apt title for an album that cultivated the sexy funk and snappy pop of earlier recordings such as “1999” and “Purple Rain.”
And as if to prove this success wasn’t a fluke of knee-jerk fan nostalgia, the follow-up album, “3121,” earned Prince his first number-one Billboard debut in 2005.
In a Willy Wonka-like turn, seven CD cases for “3121” contained purple tickets, the recipients of which were invited to attend a private concert at Prince’s Hollywood residence. Eccentric, sure, but at least Prince is back to making the kind of confections he does best.
His new album, “Planet Earth,” will be released July 24 and features the single “Guitar.” The stomping ode to the six-string has Price panting, “I love you baby, but not like I love my guitar” before proving it with the kind of a slippery solo electric guitars were made for.
On 07/07/07, The Purple One will be at the Target Center displaying his newfound appreciation of the old Prince. And he’ll undoubtedly look good doing it — even if he does dig up that ruffled pirate shirt he wore in 1984.