Monday, January 7, 2013

Pet Peeve Of The Day - Prince

By 1990 the signs were in place that Prince had begun to lose some velocity on his fastball.  Oh, he still had the chops, non-titanium hips, and artistic capital left over from his commercial peak to generate interest when a new album dropped...but the quality of each album after the epic 'Sign O' The Times' was tipping more and more towards the janky side of the house.  'Lovesexy' lacked a sense of urgency or creative energy and the  first single, 'Alphabet St', came across like a throwaway even though it was the only track on the album with a hook.  The 'Batman' soundtrack, released in 1989, has actually aged quite well, especially songs like 'The Future' and 'Electric Chair'.  If you wash away the stink of the Tim Burton movie it accompanied it's a solid release with only a couple of dogs, but the album/soundtrack are forever linked because no one remembers anything outside of the, um, studio genius gone batsh*t crazy title track.  Oh, and the duet with Sheen Easton is cringe worthy...

When Prince decided to film a half-assed follow up to 'Purple Rain' entitled 'Graffiti Bridge', well, no one really knew what to expect.  I, for one, attended an opening night screening in Los Angeles and it took me about 23 minutes to realize it was a musical, and an incomprehensible one at that.  So, for a 1/4 of the film I sat in the theater mindlessly watching what appeared to be the world's longest music video, oblivious to the fact that whatever plot existed was being played out in the songs.  I was...disappointed.  The movie was ridiculously bad to the point that Morris Day and Jerome Benton barely salvaged the scenes they were in...and they were the only two people that seemed to be trying. 

Although the movie was a train wreck, the soundtrack wasn't 1/2 bad...and I mean that quite literally.  Of the 17 songs on the soundtrack album, 3 tracks are genuinely outstanding, 5 more are very good.  The other 9 tracks are crap.  Now, 'Graffiti Bridge' is one of the few Prince albums I don't own.  I once had a copy on cassette, but I never did make the upgrade to CD...there just weren't enough good tracks to justify me dropping 18 bones on it...which brings me to my Pet Peeve Of The Day... 

Prince is a lot of things...he's a phenomenal guitarist and multi-instrumentalist...he's puts on a hell of a live show...he's a short sex obsessed hobbit...he's eccentric and makes baffling creative decisions from time to time...but he's also cagey.  Prince knows that in the new world of iTunes, consumers can cherry pick their favorite tracks off albums.  He's not having any of that, especially on an uneven album like 'Graffiti Bridge'.  If you want 'Can't Stop This Feeling I've Got', you are taking the awful 'Melody Cool' with you...the musical equivalent of going out with a girl only to find out her unattractive wet blanket of a friend is joining you.  The only song you can buy as a one off is 'Thieves In The Temple', but only because it has been included on other compilations. 

Prince is also very aware that many of his fans, including this one, are completeists, so having a gaping hole in their CD collection where 'Graffiti Bridge' should be irritates them like a sore tooth...but not so much so that I'm going to buy the entire digital version of the album.  It's still not worth it no matter how much it bothers me on an existential level...

At some point Prince and other artists that make individual songs unavailable unless you purchase the entire album are going to have to change their stance.  I'm more than willing to drop $6.00 on the songs I really want, but having to spend an extra $5.00 to get them is nonsensical...and there are others that feel the same way I do.  It's just bad business.  Yes, there are those that only like the so-called hits, but those consumers were never going to buy the whole album anyway...and if they did, it's not like the rest of the songs are going to convert them to superfans and inspire them to download the entire 'Gold Experience' album (ugh).  Plus, three of the songs I want off the 'Graffiti Bridge' album are by The Time...and according to Morris Day, gigolos get lonely too...and they gotta eat.  Why is Prince making it so hard to throw a couple dollas a playa's way? 

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