Review Summary: Prince's 24th studio album is a varied and eclectic release that spans most of the styles he's known for, but does so in a more blatant attempt to show his versatility rather than the seamless approach fans are used to.
Prince is obviously no stranger to controversy. Throughout his career, there's been an odd mystique surrounding The Artist (pun intended). Whether it's the assless jeans, the Kevin Smith documentary, the symbol, the whole Jehovah's Witness thing or, I don't know, his music, Prince can pretty much always make sure he's the talk of the town.
is really no different. Obviously, first and foremost, there's the whole free album thing, something I'm not really going to bother addressing since Prince did almost the exact same thing when Musicology
came out. Beyond the UK paper "scandal", Planet Earth
is interesting because it has Prince being backed by a band for the first time in years. This time around Prince is backed by New Power Generation, a group he worked with and formed in-and-around the time he was known as "The Artist".
Those familiar with New Familiar Generation will instantly recognize their influence, as the band often focused on the more urban side of the Prince spectrum, going so far as to have a rapper present on certain albums (the band was an independent, Prince-less act for around 5 years). Still, that's not to say the album is devoid of any rock or pop, in fact it's quite the contrary. Obviously, this was taken care of by selecting "Guitar" as the first single. "Guitar" is a blatantly straight-forward rock/pop track that features many essential Prince elements. The main hook, which simply goes "I love you baby, but not like I love my guitar" reeks of Prince's arrogant yet sincere charm, while the lead guitar work and wailing vocals cover the rest of what fans are always yearning to hear more of.
"Guitar" is pretty indicative of the formula found on the rest of the album. Where as on albums like Sign 'O' The Times
and Purple Rain
Prince melded all of his sounds and influences into each individual track, Planet Earth
mostly dedicates a single genre to a single song. Featuring female vocals near-exclusively, "Chelsea Rodgers" is perhaps the most blatantly funky Prince track in recent memory, whereas it's b-side "Mr. Goodnight", is a highly sexual sounding slow-jam (and one of Prince's many nicknames). "Mr. Goodnight" also features a major-faux pas in Prince's borderline rapping, something he displayed a little less prominently on 3121
. "Lion of Judah" starts off almost exactly like "Purple Rain", but develops into a more upbeat, slap-bass laden pop/rock track. The rest of the album continues as such, running the gamut of Prince's repertoire; funk, pop, soul, rock and R&B are all adequately addressed.
In closing, Planet Earth
is one of the more varied albums Prince has done, yet all the same it's probably his most straight-forward release in a long, long while. Almost serving as a showcase to Prince's endless talents, Planet Earth
may not live up to his earlier work but it certainly chocks another point up on the consistency charts. While the album exchanges some experimentation in favour of catchiness, I see no reason for Prince to stop writing, producing and playing music; I just pray to Jehovah he'll never [sort of] rap again.