Prince - Musicology

His pseudonyms have included The Artist Formerly Known As Prince and of course Symbol. So embittered by his former record company, Warner Brothers, he famously wrote slave across his face in protest. Now re-married and a devout Jehovah's Witness our purple obsessed sex thimble has finally returned. Even though he appears to have been out of the public eye for quite some time his output of recorded songs safely stored away at his legendary Paisley Park Studio is immense. Now signed through Sony lets hope that this time it's a happy unison.

Opening with the title track and new single "Musicology" this is Prince back on form, firing on all cylinders, reminding us all what we've been missing. Prince's James Brown influence returns on this fantastically funky track. All the instruments and vocals come courtesy of Prince. The bass line is amazing, the hammond organ creeps in majestically while Prince's famous falsetto is still remarkable. There's also a bit of 80s synth which recalls his triumphant heyday. It's simply structured and good humoured. Lyrically it's nostalgic, endearing and at times very playful. The brass arrangements themselves are worth hearing alone. More modern on a hip-hop stylee is "Life O' The Party" which is percussion heavy and has a loose feel of an improvised jam. This party anthem has sax appeal from Candy who also adds her dulcet tones into the mix. Prince sounds very sensual and i'd imagine this would be a live favourite on his forthcoming tour. Slowing things down on "What Do U Want Me 2 Do", a laid back soulful delicate ballad with hints of jazz, the minimum of electronica and slap bass style reminiscent of Level 42s Mark King. Hell, we even get to listen to Prince rap (something he does brilliantly live).

"Dear Mr Man" is his most politically fused song since "Sign Of The Times". He quotes the bible, mentions world events, aids and American law. Joined by John Blackwell on drums and Rhonda Smith on bass with his long-term collaborator Sheila E on shaker. It's religious undertones reinforce Prince's spirituality while the brass and keyboards magnify the mood and ideas.

"Musicology" may not match the god like genius he brought to "Purple Rain", "Lovesexy" or "Sign Of The Times", but it comes pretty damn close. It's comforting to know the little fella hasn't lost his touch

Nicholas Paul Godkin

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