Review of Prince "Musicology"
Best songs: Musicology, A Million Days, Cinnamon Girl, Dear Mr. Man
Prince (it's alright to call him that again) is everywhere these days. His comeback is complete with his admission to the rock and roll hall of fame, a smoking opening performance with Beyonce at the Grammys, a sold out tour, and his latest album Musicology.
It helps that this is the most consistently exciting album he has released since 1995's The Gold Experience, which also had his last big hit "The Most Beautiful Girl in the World." Following that, embroiled in legal battles with Warner Records and changing his name to an unpronounceable symbol, his music has taken some divergent turns.
Albums such as Come and Chaos and Disorder seemed to have been tossed off, as if to thumb his nose at his estranged label. Others were too long (Emancipation, Crystal Ball), too slick (New Power Soul, Rave un2 the Joy Fantastic), or too different (The Rainbow Children, N.E.W.S.) for anyone other than the devoted few.
As one of those fans, I found some varying degrees of satisfaction from these albums; but, to a large degree, they were disappointments compared with his back catalogue. Prince has always been able to put out mind-blowing music; yet his determination to do his own thing has often led him in some deliberately noncommercial directions.
Musicology is a return to form. Gone are the wacky digitally affected vocals and sound experiments. Instead we are treated to his strengths: funk and soul. It's a one man show, with a few guest appearances from the likes of Sheila E and Maceo Parker.
There are a number of sweet, soulful ballads and sensuous grooves. "On the Couch" hits some of the sexy notes of old with lines like "eye can feel the blood racin with the thought of u tastin me." And "A Million Days" is a forlorn ballad with an edge that's reminiscent of "Computer Blue" off the wildly successful album Purple Rain. "Ur the perfect picture of what love should look like," he sings over power chords and a slapping bass. "And eye wanna b Ur frame."
He hits some political notes with the psychedelic rocker "Cinnamon Girl," singing "So began the mass illusion, war on terror alibi/What's the use when the god of confusion keeps on telling the same lie?" The bluesy "Dear Mr. Man" asks "What's wrong with the world today?" And we're buried deep in serious funk with rave-ups like "Life 'o' the Party" and the title track.
Throughout Musicology, the production is crisp and clean, and every song works. When he sings "Who's pimpin' who when nobody gets a second chance?" you can almost hear him winking. Prince is indeed back. Musicology delivers a healthy serving of the old school jams with the renewed vigor of an artist that has once again found his muse.
Prince seems to have learned from his scrapes with labels, using his Web site (http://www.npgmusicclub.com/home.html) to offer direct sales of music, videos, concert tickets and other merchandise. Never mind that the site is hard to navigate and music downloads come in only Microsoft's Windows media and are chock-full of license limitations. The site is an example of what artists can do with the Net to take their work directly to fans, and Prince's experimentation is to be commended.
Mjuice rating 85/100
-- Ken Ostrander
Review of Black Eyed Peas "Elephunk"
The Black-Eyed Peas have consistently provided excellent production and incredibly adept vocal delivery. This record continues that tradition. The track "Hey Mama" stands out with its off-kilter flow. The themes of the songs focus around such topics as separation, poverty and war, incorporating live instruments with drum beats. This is a group that will be around for quite some time.
Mjuice rating 80/100
-- Omari Taylor
Review of Evanescence "Fallen"
How to have the most downloaded song on the Internet by Evanescence:
1.Combine elements of two of the most popular bands in the world today.
2.Get one of the most alluring women in rock as your lead singer.
While not breaking any new ground, "Evanescence 'Fallen' explores dark, introspective themes of love, desperation, and despair." The smooth lusting of Amy Lee's voice beckons to be heard, but is usually drowned out be guitar riffs that back, but don't really accent her beautiful voice. Songs like "Immortal" and "Hello" really stand out with simple piano riffs that breathe without getting winded.
Mjuice rating 65/100