Sunday, October 19, 2014

Kat's Korner: Prince, you wonder if you take him home?

Kat:  Can Prince still get funky?

The purple reign of Prince began in 1978 with the release of his debut album For You.  He's now working in his fifth decade (the '10s) and few could still funk it out, so it's not an unreasonable question.

But it's a question that "Funknroll" immediately silences.

Only to immediately raise a new question:  Which version do you like better?

For me, I like the version on his new album Art Official Age.

But I love the version on his new album Plectrunemlectrum.


Yeah, the perplexing one has done it again, steered hard left when everyone thought he'd drive down the center.

In this case, that means issuing two new albums on the same day as last month closed out.

Yeah, Prince has always been the Laverne & Shirley of the music set -- give us any chance we'll take it, read us any rule, we'll break it.

Most artists, if they had two strong albums, would release them space out over several months to allow them to be appreciated for what they are and to allow them not to have to compete with another.

But the man who'se released six albums from 1994 to 1996 (ten if you count remixes) has always tended to overwhelm his audience -- both with talent and with product.

Plecrumelectrum captures the ear immediately as it finds Prince working with a stripped down, small combo 3rdeyegirl.  And if you don't know them now, you will by November 1st when they're sure to rock out as the musical guest on Saturday Night Live. The group is drummer Hannah Ford Welton, guitarist Donna Grantis and bassist Ida Nielsen.

Plecrumelectrum is one track of power and beauty after another.

And, for me, "Whitecaps" is the ultimate of the twelve tracks.

I saw whitecaps on the water today
15 Minutes after you went away
Couldn't find a reason to make you stay
It's windy now, but it's gonna be okay
I saw a black butterfly lose it's wings today
Cinched by the candle underneath the archway
Wherever they land they'll have to stay
Who can say, but what a price to pay
Whitecaps on the water
But that's okay
Ain't never been a storm I'm running from
Come my way
Weather man said it would be easy
Over in a day
It's windy now
But it's gonna be okay 

"Anotherlove" is a close second but that's the song that nails the collection for me.

I'd like a few weeks to digest the album.

And I have a feeling that, after a few months, I'll feel more in love with Art Official Age.  This is a concept album of sorts and, honestly, the concepts eluding me at present.

But a woman shows up explaining to us that the artist Prince (Mr. Nelson) has been frozen in time for forty-five years and, though the years don't add up, Art Official Age feels like a follow up to Prince's 1985 Around the World in a Day  and 1987's Sign of the Times.

"Clouds"  would feel right at home alongside "Raspberry Beret" and "Pop Life."  And "Way Back Home" is probably Prince's best ballad since 1987's "Adore" but  the album's finest track has to be "This Could Be Us."

This could be us
But u b playin'
This could be us
But u keep on foolin' around
Ure the cage to me dove
I'm just saying
Forever and ever in love
Oh baby yeah, this could be us.
U know u want me like a new pair of shoes
This could be... us
This could be us

Plectrumelectrum grinds up against you from the start while Art Official Age shoots you inviting looks from across the club.  In their own way, they're each brilliant albums but it may take a few months of steady dating to figure out which one is truly the one.