Graffiti Bridge (1990)


  
1. Can't Stop This Feeling I Got 2. New Power Generation 3. Release It 4. The Question of U 5. Elephants & Flowers 6. Round and Round 7. We Can Funk 8. Joy in Repetition 9. Love Machine 10.Tick, Tick, Bang 11.Shake! 12.Thieves in the Temple 13.The Latest Fashion 14.Melody Cool 15.Still Would Stand All Time 16.Graffiti Bridge 17.New Power Generation (Part II)

 

Although no one knew it at the time, when the 1990s had arrived, the glory days of Prince were long gone. Oh, sure, he put out some pretty awesome stuff from time to time, but he never quite captured the glory days of the early and mid-1980s. You have to wonder if a lot of this was due to choice. Prince always seemed to want to push himself creatively, even if everyone knew that the direction he would be going wouldn’t necessarily be as profitable as past projects. I really don’t know the history of this record that well, but this album seems to be much more experimental than a conscious effort to make something incredibly memorable.

First, I would argue that this is not strictly a Prince album. This is an album where Prince is the main contributor, but there are tons of other artists on this album as well. Amongst others, this album features a lot of Tevin Campbell, Mavis Staples, and The Time. It’s almost as if this album should be titled something like “Prince and Friends” or something. Apparently this project was another movie. Like his last movie (“Under the Cherry Moon”), this movie was a bomb and failed to deliver as did the classic “Purple Rain”. So not having seen the movie is a bit of a strike against me when reviewing this record. Maybe if I had seen it, it would have been a better experience. Without viewing the film, this record seems to simply be a collaboration of many R&B artists making music.

It’s all very good music. Although everyone is bound to have their favorites, this is a very enjoyable listen from start to finish. Unfortunately, however, that really about it. There’s nothing really here that stretches Prince into new territories, nor is there anything remarkably memorable. A few cuts stand out for me - Tick, Tick, Bang is rather infectious as is the George Clinton flavored We Can Funk. Still, though, I rarely feel the need to listen to this album because although good, it’s not particularly memorable.

This is also a very “feel good”, “light” album. This seems to be the Prince mood at this particular time. Lots of happiness, spirituality, and these sentiments were also echoed (so I’m told) in the film. Not that this should have any impact on the quality of the album – in fact, its pleasant tone and positive ambiance seems to do the songs more good than harm. I’m not even sure why the album has (the then new) parental advisory sticker plastered on the front. This seems to be one of the least offensive albums in his catalog (the song Love Machine gets a bit heavy with its lyrics, but not nearly as risqué as many of Prince’s older tunes).

An overall pleasant album featuring many more artists than just Prince. With Prince’s catalog being so deep, and the fact that this album is rather long (68 minutes), it almost seems a bit of a chore to listen to the whole thing. This knocks it down a peg or two on my “likability” meter, but just about everything here is done quite well.

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