HitnRun: Phase Two (2015)


  
1. Baltimore 2. Rock and Roll Love Affair 3. 2Y.2D. 4. Look at Me, Look at U 5. Stare 6. Xtralovable 7. Groovy Potential 8. When She Comes 9. Screwdriver 10.Black Muse 11.Revelation 12.Big City

 

The last record of new material before Prince’s tragic, unexpected death that occurred only a few months following. The title is a bit of a misnomer. This record has very little in common with its predecessor. The most similar thing between the two releases are the album covers. This sleeve, however, shows the artist looking a little bit more conventional and a lot less bizarre (his sunglasses, for examples, have ditched the extra “fly-eye”).

Ironically, or perhaps by design, the material here is much more straightforward and less experimental. My last several reviews of this artist’s material have not exactly been kind. I felt like he was trying too hard to be too eclectic and he threw too many random elements into the songs making them all a bit busy for enjoyment. On this album, he’s reverting to a much more straight-forward approach.

That’s not to say this is classic Prince. Sadly, we never witnessed a true renaissance of the artist’s glory that we heard back in the 1980s, but that’s true about most musicians. The majority seem to peak young in the career, with their older material tends to generate little interest other than for the core faithful. 50 years from now, no one will really remember much that this man released post 1992.

The music here is mostly good, and pleasant. He takes little chances, but the styles are all here. It’s mostly low key – even in instances where he’s allowing himself the rare opportunity to be political as on the opening track Baltimore which is a response to the perceived racial injustices dominating the news of late. The sentiments are strong, but the song itself isn’t too bombastic. Had it been music only, it could serve as a peppy sing along for pre-teens.

The more up-tempo songs such as Xtralovable, Black Muse and 2Y.2D. do give one the urge to head to the dance floor, but the overall push of these tracks isn’t nearly as strong as some of his early material. Well, he was in his 50s….

To be truthful, there’s quite a bit of filler here. A lot of the music here is very pleasant, yet there isn’t quite a lot that resonates afterwards. Some material is stronger than others, and overall, it’s a very safe record. With a running length of over 57 minutes, there’s a lot to really like as well, and it probably depends on the listener’s tastes as to what is good and what might not be.

I must say that I’m awfully glad that he went back to a much more straight-forward approach on what would be, unknown to anyone, his last record. I’m betting that one day we’ll see a lot of stuff see the light of day that is currently locked in the vaults. This is Prince, remember. And don’t be surprised if a lot of this material is far better than many of his latter-day releases.

It was so sad to have to say goodbye. We should feel blessed, though, that we had this genius with us as long as we did. On the day he passed, it was comforting to know that the music in heaven got a whole lot sweeter.

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