CD Review: Prince Planet Earth
YEAR OF RELEASE: 2007
The most interesting thing about this project was the huge giveaway - 3 million free copies of the album with copies of the Sunday, July 15, 2007 edition of English newspaper The Mail. Analysts have suggested that he's making a lot more from giving away 3 million copies than he did by selling 80,000 English copies of his last album. So not only is this a MUCH more effective way of sticking it to The Man than by writing "slave" on his face, he's managing to make money doing it AND putting his album into millions of hands. That's pretty groovy.
Then there's the actual album. Planet Earth is, frankly, mediocre. From most acts, I would consider this maybe halfway decent. There are several pretty good songs here, but there's nothing here demanding space on the next Prince hits album. This is a lot better than the awful 90s symbol albums, such as Emancipation. These are mostly decent songs with competent professional melodies. This is not as good as 3121 though. There is certainly no song as catchy or memorable as "The Word."
Still, I dig the piano theme that introduces the album with the title song, and it's got some good dynamics. It's probably not destined to be considered an all-time classic, but at least it sounds pretty good while I'm listening to it. I note that he's gotten to doing more interesting things with horns in his mature work, which advantage particularly helps the main Chic-esque hard dance song "Chelsea Rodgers." I care not at all about some model who wants to be a singer, but I could listen to those horn charts for awhile.
However, the album is dominated by some cheesy bedroom ballads that are just SO gay. He's going to send his private jet to bring the girl to a hotel, and the first contact is that he's going to call her there to co-ordinate their outfits. Not to put to fine a point on it, but that's a LOT more gay than dudes having sex. I must particularly object to the violations of Geometry and Theology represented by this "Mr Goodnight." For starters, there's no substantive melody to this, but mostly just an extended half-assed lover man seduction rap. That's the main crime.
Special aggravating point here though is how far out he's reaching to impress some girl with his money. He's seriously halfway through the song telling about sending the flunkies with the limousine and a private jet and on and on before he ever contemplates actually meeting her. The Born Again Floozies have a groovy song about a middle age guy with a fancy "Small Penis Compensation Vehicle." But if you'd call a sports car that, what do you call a private jet? I'm sure Prince has had more women this week than I'll get in a lifetime, but I have trouble believing that this would be the way to get them.
I had high hopes for a closing song I saw listed as "Revelation." I was hoping for some of his freaky Seventh Day Adventists apocalyptic stuff. That's been the inspiration for some of his very best and most unique work, such as "1999" and "7." Instead of St John freaking on the Isle of Patmos though, this turns out to be bland formula rock/funk actually called "Resolution" lamenting that dropping bombs on each other is bad, but we keep on doing it. Yeah, yeah.
He did, however, get a bit of that religious freak thing going in "Lion of Judah." The lyric is fairly cryptic, but you might describe it as mystical - but also vengeful: Like the lion of Judah I'll strike my enemies down As my god is living Surely the trumpet will sound As my hero Harry Powell would say, "The Lord God Jehovah will guide my hand in vengeance!"
It's not the very catchiest melody he's ever written, but it's got some of those weird passions that only the religious stuff brings him. I find myself listening to this repeatedly trying to parse out what he's doing with the guitar chords running under this. R Kelly might have written something like "Mr Goodnight," but only Prince could have written "Lion of Judah."
For free in the newspaper, this is well worth hearing at least
once or twice, but I wouldn't necessarily recommend spending ten bucks on it.
PRINCE ROGERS NELSON PHOTO GALLERY
Music Sustains the Soul
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