The Love Symbol (1992)


  
1. My Name is Prince 2. Sexy MF 3. Love 2 the 9s 4. The Morning Papers 5. The Max 6. Segue 7. Blue Light 8. I Wanna Melt With U 9. Sweet Baby 10.The Continental 11.Damn U 12.Arrogance 13.The Flow 14.7 15.And God Created Woman 16.3 Chains of Gold 17.Segue 18.The Sacrifice of Victor

 

This the only time in the history of popular entertainment where an artist decided to change his name to an unpronounceable symbol. Apparently, the origins of such conflict arose with his disgust with his record label. Most famous musicians seem to have always been at odds with their bosses at some point in their career, but this one took the cake. Probably because as popular and gifted as Prince was, he was always very introverted and shy and felt the need to protect himself. I’m sure there was some validity in his claims.

So for several albums, beginning with this one, he was referred to by most as “The Artist Formerly Known As Prince”. The sad thing about such shenanigans is that they tended to take a lot of focus off the actual music. People seemed to be more concerned with his bizarre antics (such as shaving words onto his face) then they were the quality of his records. He had gobs and gobs of fabulous albums at this point, and since he was still recording music at a phenomenal speed, a lot of people weren’t necessarily waiting in excited anticipation for “the next album”. A bit of a shame because this one is quite good. Sadly, it could have been easily better, but his antics within the confines of the recording studio made this one a bit odd at times.

As he has on his last few records, he’s exploring may styles – up tempo dance numbers, slow love ballads, light jazz, and a bit of reggae. For the most part, he does a great job tackling a wide variety of styles. The albums strongest portion is definitely the middle of the album. The first couple of songs are actually very strong as well. Unfortunately, for me anyway, the first two tracks are littered with profanity. Call me a prude, but I’m not a big fan of such expletives in songs. Actually, the first tune, oddly titled My Name is Prince isn’t too bad. Actually, it’s par for the course when mentioning an artist such as Prince. It’s the second track that’s a bit too much for me to stomach - Sexy MF. “MF” stands for exactly what you think it stands for. To hear the word repeated over and over again in what otherwise is a very groovy, likable tune is a bit too much for me. Sorry, but if I can’t play a song at the office or in front of my kids, I’m going to have to dock it a few points in the quality department. Again, that’s just me.

There are a couple of other things that keep this record from being great. For one, there are a few spoken pieces throughout the disc (including, but not limited to the two Segue tracks) where actress Kirstie Alley plays a reporter trying to interview Prince. Prince plays mind games with the hypothetical reporter causing her to be repulsed and attracted to the star even more. Completely stupid and unnecessary, and a major distraction.

Then, there are a few tracks, including the last (real) two that are a bit too “showy”. They’re more at home for a Broadway show than a Prince album. Songs such as 3 Chains of Gold, The Morning Papers and The Sacrifice of Victor simply don’t belong here. They’re distracting and confusing. Maybe, this record is supposed to be some sort of musical/opera or whatever, but it just doesn’t go well with the majority of the great songs on this record. One of these days, I’ll have to make a playlist eliminating a lot of the muck that’s scattered here. I’ll even keep the profanity laced songs since at least musically those songs are top notch. I’ll bet I can make a much better album with what is here. Well, nobody ever accused Prince of trying to make sense…….

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