Following this morning’s announcement, Getintothis’ Shaun Ponsonby forces himself not to get too excited.
Being a Prince fan is amongst the most exciting, confusing and frustrating activities you can spend your time on. Frustrating and confusing because you often find projects announced that end up being abandoned just as quickly. Over a year ago, a thirty year anniversary special deluxe edition of Purple Rain was announced, now we’re halfway point of the thirty-first anniversary with no further word. Before that, a DVD of his 2009 Montreux Festival performances that never saw the light of day. There’s a whole section on Wikipedia called Unreleased Prince Projects, so that shows what a common occurrence this is. With Prince, you learn, don’t get too excited until you’re holding it in your hand.
But it’s hard. Because it is pretty damn exciting, and in a way the lack of certainty makes it more so. This morning his band, 3rdEyeGirl, confirmed a new album to BBC 6Music’s Matt Everitt. This will be his fourth album within a year, after last year’s simultaneously released Art Official Age and PlectrumElectrum and Judith Hill’s Back In Time, which he wrote and produced. Few household name stars are this productive, and yet this comes after a four-year absence of new music (an eternity for Prince), following the Europe-only release of 20Ten, which came free in newspapers and magazines throughout the continent.
Despite the occasionally spottiness of parts of PlectrumElectrum (by which we mean the song Boytrouble was awful), Art Official Age was arguably Prince’s most consistent album since 2006’s 3121, and Back In Time was funk-ay. The tracks that he’s dropped intermittently since seem to suggest that he’s in some kind of “zone” creatively speaking right now.
Case in point, HARDROCKLOVER, a song that showed up on Soundcloud a few weeks ago, and sneaked onto iTunes a little while after, pointed to the kind of experimentation that Prince has been lauded for since the 1980’s, but some would argue has been largely missing from his most recent work. It’s psychedelic, it’s exciting, it’s surprising and it’s thoroughly modern.
3rdEyeGirl confirmed that HARDROCKLOVER will be on the album – apparently called The Hit & Run Album, after Prince’s series of pop up live dates – on 6Music this morning. They also confirmed that a re-worked version of 1,000 Hugs & Kisses, an outtake that dates back to the early 90s, and Art Official Age’s This Could Be Us are slated to appear. “This Could Be Us is such a classic tune that’s so beautiful and the lyrics are amazing, the production is phenomenal,” they said. “But then when you hear this new version on the Hit & Run CD, it is totally different – super cool, really industrial sounding. Joshua [Welton, Prince’s current co-producer] and Prince just totally flipped it and turned it into something completely new.”
We imagine Baltimore will also be included. The song was written and released in response to the police brutality against the black community in the US, particularly the high profile cases of Michael Brown and Freddie Gray, who are name checked in the lyrics. Hearing the song made us wonder what Prince could do with a socially-concious album akin to Marvin Gaye‘s What’s Goin’ On. Despite the heavy subject matter, the song actually has a breezy feel, akin to his earlier hit Take Me With U.
If Baltimore is included, it looks to be in the minority on the album in that field, as the band told Matt Everitt; “It’s weird, there’s a lot of experimental sound. It’s just hit after hit and definitely caters to those fans who just love to hear what Prince has to say, rather than wanting to always hear that classic Purple Rain Prince sound.”
Luckily, we’re in that group. New Prince music is always welcome, and not just because you never know what he is going to do next. Since he left Warner Bros in the mid-1990’s, we’ve been treated to around twenty solo albums, ranging between pop, R&B, funk, rock, classical, acoustic, soul, solo piano, psychedelic, electronica and instrumental jazz.
So, yes, it’s exciting being a Prince fan. But, given that there’s no release date set, we’re going to have to force ourselves not to get excited until we’re holding it in our hands!