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Prince's last masterpiece-with a hip-hop house sound
Daniel J. Hamlow | Narita, Japan | 04/03/2004
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Who knows what signs Prince interpreted from the resurgence of his career with the success of Diamonds And Pearls. Songs like "Gett Off" and "Push" signalled a more hip-hop/new jack/house party, with rap incorporated by both he and Tony M. That sound went into overdrive with (Symbol). And despite the new music scene of grunge, Prince seemed to look forward in the same light as he did the 80's, as judged by the futuristic buildings on the (Symbol) album, and the name of his band, the New Power Generation."My Name Is Prince"--yes, at least until the Beautiful Experience and then the Gold Experience. After an airy synth beginning, it's hip-hop/house overdrive, where Prince raps more than sings. Raps? His voice is more a loud and hoarse in the same way John Lennon sang "Twist and Shout" till his vocal chords were shredded. Part braggadocio, part affirmation that he's one to be reckoned with, and part reflections on being a star: "big cars and women and fancy clothes/will save your face, but it won't save your soul." Other songs that incorporate that thumping hip-hop/dance is "The Max" and "The Flow," which is another Prince/Tony B rap.With a title like rapping "S-xy MF" Prince was clearly not looking for radio play in this naughty song with strong guitar, horns, and organ support.The soulful ballad with jazz/rock stylings, "The Morning Papers" shows Prince in romantic poet mode: "if he poured his heart into a glass and offered it like wine." My favourite song here, especially with the fiery guitar and horns. So is the leisure jazz number "Blue Light," which features Eric Leeds on sax.A fuzzy bass synth sound permeates in the bouncy seductive first experience and beyond of "I Wanna Melt With U", where Prince intones more than sings--that job's for his backing vocalists.Everybody gets burned by love so hold back those tears. That's the advice Prince gives to some sweet thing in "Sweet Baby," which is another great keyboards and piano ballad done in Prince's falsetto. Smoother and more polished than "Insatiable," it's more a song of comfort compared to hotter material like "Do Me Baby" or "Slow Love." "D-mn U" is a lush slow-dancing strings/piano ballad, where his lyrical creativity is still alive, describing love as "having a hundred million little heart attacks.""The Continental" is analogous to this album's "U Gotta The Love," with the grinding guitar and a heckuva party atmosphere. Carmen Electra has a soft-spoken guest rap in the latter part of the song."7" incorporates Biblical Revelation imagery with a futuristic vision of an enlightened and educated youth who will never grow old. A worthy enough choice for a single. Genesis is the reference for "And God Created Woman," with references to taking a rib, temptation, and serpents as experienced in his life.The mini-opera "3 Chains Of Gold," which put together are the nucleus of his soul, has differing tempos and rhythms, part early swinging Prince, part lush falsetto ballad, part airy guitar solo, and even a section reminding me of the "I'm such a poor boy with a poor family" part of "Bohemian Rhapsody" All that's missing is a "mamma mia let me go.""The Sacrifice of Victor" with backing by the Steeles, sums up Prince as a product of the civil rights era, with references to Dr. King's death and the rioting and burning that followed, and the discipline and perseverance to make it where he was.As defining and groundbreaking as Sign O The Times, with as much material, (Symbol) can be considered the last masterpiece Prince put out. Prince then took the symbol as his new name, issuing five albums under it, as well as older unreleased material under Prince. That's another chapter, which sadly isn't as rich as the previous ones."
His Finest Album Of The 90's Era- The Prelude Of The Symbol
Brandon Ousley | Chicago, Illinois United States | 07/02/2004
(5 out of 5 stars)
"This 1992 follow-up to "Diamonds And Pearls", has a great blend of soul, hip-hop, rock, and jazz. "The Love Symbol Album AKA Prince & The New Power Generation" is a diverse and pleasing rock opera album. On this album, Prince experiments with hip-hop and the New Jack sound, he continues to push the boundaries of his band, The New Power Generation. The opening, "My Name Is Pance" is a funky, hip-hop banger with him flirting with rap. "Sexy MF" is a funk-rap, James Brown-type classic. Here, Prince pulls off the whole rap thing by rapping in his deepest voice. "Love 2 the 9's" has him dealing with jazz and blending it with hip-hop. The song also has Prince flexing the newest band addition, the NPG Hornz. The horns are laced all throughout the song. "The Morning Papers" is a mellow, but clam tune with smoothed-out instrumentation. "The Max" is a dance track that I consider a small filler song. It's really an annoying track. "Blue Light" is a reggae-drenched ballad with beautiful harmonies and instrumentation. It has a sexy saxophone and bluesy guitar being played throughout the song. "I Wanna Melt With U" is an odd filler track that has a weird, but upbeat off-key sound. Prince is rapping about sex. "Sweet Baby" is a beautiful, mellow ballad. It's soft and very relaxing. "The Continental" is a funky, yet strange hip-hop tune. Carmen Electra is featured as a rap guest. "Damn U" is a smooth soul/blues tune that is beautiful, but somewhat spotty. "Arrogance" is a short, up-tempo tune that has Prince playing off-key rhythms. I consider it a interlude. "The Flow" is a failed attempt for Prince to rap. It's not the best one on here, but it's far from being the worst. "7" is probably the best song on this album. It's a song that has a lot of personal and spiritual meaning in it. "7" has a great blend of instrumentation being played-- acoustic guitars, drums, bass, and exotic Indian instruments. Prince's vocals are really astonishing. The most amazing thing about this song is that it has a biblical concept in the song. The song, itself, is a powerful classic. "And God Created Woman" is a smooth jazz/soul cut that has a haunting melody in it. Believe it or not, this song is a tribute to the opposite sex. "3 Chains O' Gold" is a strange, rock opera-type song that really sounds like Queen's "Bohemian Rapsody". The song has a breathtaking, electric guitar-fused jam at the end of song. The thing I like about it is that the song has the tone of a opera atmosphere. "The Sacrifice Of Victor" is a upbeat, New Jack-type jam with nice rapping, but in some parts, it is ultimately flawed. It's a great album finale. "The Love Symbol Album" is the one that had Prince hit the pinnacle of his egotistical career. It was the first album that Prince used to represent his new name- The Artist (O+>). I was surprised that it only went platinum one time. This album also displays the talents of the group- the New Power Generation, performing together as a band. The 1991 album, "Diamonds And Pearls" sounded like a solo Prince album, if you ask me. The songs on this creative album are great, some are really subdued. The Kirstie Alley interview-like interludes are really annoying. To me, this is Prince's blackest record since probably Sign 'O' The Times-his best album. Overall, this is a funky, 75-minute classic that only Prince could do. It's his finest album of the 90's era. A-"
The Symbol Cometh...
essence_uk | 07/02/2001
(4 out of 5 stars)
"For reasons of simplicity I will call this "Symbol album". It came on the back of Prince's then record breaking $100m record deal with Warner Bros, due in no small part to the bargaining power "Diamonds and Pearls" being a major success had given him.Prince attempted to incorporate a storyline into this album (featuring Kirstie Alley as a reporter) in a "Rock Opera" type style. However these segues fragment the album, leave the listener confused, and are rather ineffective. We are better to look at the music imbetween. :)Kicking off with the raw and angry "My Name Is Prince" he lets everyone know he is still the best and makes thinly veiled digs at Michael Jackson amongst others. He half raps the vocal and Tony M joins in at end (As with Diamonds And Pearls he is all over the album). Then follows the homage to James Brown "Sexy Mf", in an edited format it was a substantial single. Very funky and addictive it is too. :)"Love 2 The 9's" is clever and complex although its attempt to weld two different songs falls a little short (Delicate R&B and hardcore rap chant). "The Morning Papers" is a pretty, swaying rock song with nice guitar solos. "3 Chains O' Gold" is Prince doing "Bohemian Rhapsody" and very interesting, is he being ironic? Is it a pastiche? Nevertheless it's a fun song. :)Two other highlights in my eyes are "7" a steadily-paced mid-tempo rock song which starts a cappella and the funky gospel chant "Sacrifice Of Victor" which closes proceedings.Disregarding the "storyline" this long album (16 tracks) is as always diverse in genre (Hip-hop to rock), generally consistent and contains trademark Prince songs "Sexy Mf" and "7" so it is well worth checking out. I prefer the previous years "Diamonds and Pearls" overall though."