The Gold Experience (1995)


  
1. P Control 2. NPG Operator 3. Endorphinmachine 4. Shhh 5. We March 6. NPG Operator 7. The Most Beautiful Girl in the World 8. Dolphin 9. NPG Operator 10.Now 11.NPG Operator 12.319 13.NPG Operator 14.Shy 15.Billy Jack Bitch 16.Eye Hate U 17.NPG Operator 18.Gold

 

Wow. Just - wow. This release belongs amongst his very best. Sadly, but not surprisingly, many are unfamiliar with it. Why is that? Well, let’s count the ways. First, Prince was just becoming a bit too much of a weird duck during this phase of his career. He was always a bit bizarre and trippy, but when you shave the word “slave” onto your face and change your name to an unpronounceable symbol, a huge chunk of your audience will refuse to take you seriously anymore. Much of that audience were now “adults” and probably chose to walk away from such eccentricity.

Then we come to the fact that the guy was simply releasing too much material. That almost seems a bit of a bizarre statement. How can a great artist put out too much material? Since most artists could never accomplish such a feat, it does seem a bit of a contradiction, but Prince, unfortunately, shows us that it is possible. Not everyone has oodles of money to buy double and triple Prince CDs every six months (or so it always seemed). Then, let’s face it, all of this material that he was saturating the public with was not all that great. However, to further complicate things, this was actually by design. In the few years before and after this release, he managed to release a couple of inferior contractual obligation albums, a soundtrack to a Spike Lee film with mostly older material, and three different greatest hits compilations. So in a peculiar way, this was the only thing he released during this time period that was supposed to be any good.

Well, it’s beyond good. It’s phenomenal. Prince manages to be highly diversified on this album, chasing all of the styles that he does so well, and every single song on here is worthy of being called a classic. There are a couple of moments where you go “I wish that he hadn’t…….” but those are mostly forgivable. Example: there are six tracks labeled “NPG Operator” that each last about 30 seconds. These are basically interludes where a sexy, female, computer voice asks the “user” to “select an experience”. These interruptions are slightly annoying, and one wishes he would have left these things off the album completely. Not as bad as the interruptions with Kirstie Alley on The Love Symbol, but still an overall dumb distraction.

Then, there’s the very first song titled P Control. What is a “P”, you ask? Well, it’s a part of a woman’s anatomy that starts with a “P”, ends with a “Y”, and it’s not a pinky. Get it? Not only is this song hopelessly lewd, but it seems like there are more four letter (and twelve letter) words on this song than every other Prince song combined. Now that’s quite the accomplishment. The song is actually a great, funky tune but you won’t ever hear it on a commercial station due to its lyrical nature. Nor would I advise you playing it in your house if you have children under 14.

After that, we get Prince at his rock ‘n’ roll best with the heavy Endorphinmachine. And, man, Prince can still shred a mean guitar. In fact, his outstanding guitar playing is prevalent throughout this record, possibly more than on any other album. One more reason to dub this thing a classic. Also in the rock/pop category are the infectious Dolphin, the somewhat folksy Shy and the album’s closer, the seven minute epic Gold. In some ways, this last song seems to try to capture the magic of the song Purple Rain. It doesn’t quite achieve that feat (what song does??), but it still gets an A+ in the “majestically beautiful” department.

In addition to the above mentioned P Control, he continues that spirit of dance-groove with tracks such as 319, Billy Jack Bitch, and Now. These songs are just as good, if not better than anything from the postponed The Black Album that came out only a year prior to this one. He also succeeds in the slow ballad department with such gems as The Most Beautiful Girl in the World, Eye Hate U, and the lengthy Shhh that always seems much shorter than its seven minutes.

There simply is nothing here that isn’t first rate. On an unfortunate note, this album is now out of print. Why??? I have no idea. It doesn’t help that most of Prince’s music isn’t on any streaming service either. The last time I checked on Amazon, you could snag a used copy of this disc for about $70. Now, I’m not quite sure it’s worth that, but the next time you’re shopping at an establishment that sells used CDs, I would highly recommend checking to see if they may have a copy of this among their selection.

Let’s hope Prince’s estate chooses to make this piece of brilliance available once more.

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