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Album Review: Prince, '20Ten' (NPG)

You can only hear this by buying a copy of The Mirror. Don't bother

Since his conversion to the Jehovah’s Witness faith, Prince is far from the man who, in 1982, “sincerely want[ed] to fuck the taste out of your mouth”. These days he’s more likely to wash it out with soap and sell you a Watchtower

The 52-year-old gets mad when judged by his sexual and musical revolutionary past, though he himself invites these comparisons: ‘20Ten’ opens with ‘Compassion’, a pale imitation of ‘1999’’s futurist jitter-funk, and of the album from which such questionable mouth-fucking chat-ups come. Prince today? A Xerox of a Xerox.

He’s also temporally challenged – not only loudly pronouncing the internet over (the print media, meanwhile, in the form of the Daily Mirror, already giving the album away for free, thanked Prince by – amazingly! – proclaiming it his best in 23 years…), but for sagely decreeing, on ‘Act Of God’, that taxes go to build bomb-dropping planes “Supposedly to keep us safe from Saddam.” Not so much of a threat these days since being hanged in December 2006, though, is he?

Then again, Prince has always lived in a different world. That was great when he effortlessly threw out mind-melting reconfigurations of pop likes ‘When Doves Cry’ and ‘If I Was Your Girlfriend’; but ‘effortless’ is a very different thing from ‘making no effort’…

‘20Ten’ has its moments: ‘Sticky Like Glue’ masquerades as a stop-start chicken-scratcher, before Prince drops a hideous rap and forgets to write an ending; ‘Walk In Sand’ is a lovely quiet storm ballad… apart from that photocopier noise.

Typically perverse, he buries the best, ‘Laydown’, in “hidden” territory, camouflaged as uncredited track 77. With complex synth lines and a convincing rap, Prince calls himself “the Purple Yoda” on a spooky, ragged cut that hints at those once-otherworldly powers.

His best album in 23 years? No way. His best in four? Eh, go on then; but that’s a bit like saying, “I had my best acid trip ever because this time my nan didn’t crawl up my leg with a Bowie knife in her teeth, threatening to cut my nuts off and feed them back through my nose.”

We don’t expect – or even want – another ‘Housequake’, but the least his majesty could do is more than phone in snooze-funk for a presumably hefty advance from a newspaper. Then again, it seems Prince has been more interested in studying popular science: “All of the same minerals and chemicals of space/You carry within your womb/That’s how we got to this place,” he informs his lover, suggesting, if such cosmological ponderings turn her on, perhaps he could be allowed to explore her anatomy. Boy, how those seduction techniques have changed...

Jason Draper

4 out of 10

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Comments (8)

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Jul 13, 2010

Prince has been mislead by the Jehovah's Witnesses cult I hope they don't run him into the ground


Jul 13, 2010

You're doing a great disservice to music lovers by intentionally giving this album a poor score. 4 out of 10... are you serious? This is a great album. Reserve those 4 out of 10 scores for Katy Perry, Lady Gaga, and other crap.


Jul 13, 2010

we don't SELL watchtowers. we give them to whoever wants to read free of charge. they are printed and distributed solely on voluntary donations.


Jul 13, 2010

i'd have given it 7.5, prince releases an album a year and you usually have to skip a few tracks on the cd. Most artists relase an album every 3 years and you still have to skip through tracks. Anyway prince has dodgy hips so i dont reckon he fancies hammering anyones cakeole at the moment.


Jul 14, 2010

Jason Draper plagiarizes both Chuck Palahniuk and Hunter S. Thompson in this review. I hope that he knows that we know, and we aren't impressed.


Jul 14, 2010

Llj is right. They stopped selling the magazines 20 years ago due to tax laws. Now they ask for donations or expect cult members to cover the cost.


Jul 14, 2010

It's quite an easy thing to turn on the Mirror, lets face it it's not the most intellectually challenging paper, nor really associated to Prince's crowd or at least I'd like to think, but 4 out of 10 seems like a bit of a slate on the Purple Yoda. Some of the songs including his introduction 'Compassion' and the penultimate track 'Everybody loves me' are - to be fair - pretty soft and thats coming from a life long fan, but again 4 out of 10? Tracks like 'Beginning endlessly' IMO routing itself in the 3121 era and 'Act of God' with highly relevant lyrics ae not to be laughed at. 'Sticky like glue' and 'Lavaux' literally injected with funk only Prince can play and still only 4 out of 10. Take any one of the contemporary 'music' generation beyond the dross of auto tune, your talking about a handful that have an ounce of undeniable genius that comes out of Prince's mind, produced, arranged, composed


Jul 14, 2010

A bit of a harsh review. I'd give it a 7. Beginning Endlessly and Laydown are the highlights and Act of od and Lavaux definitely hold their own. Much better than his last giveaway - 2007's patchy Planet Earth. He should give his next album away in NME next time to get a better review! Still the best live performer on the planet though. If you don't agree you clearly haven't seen him.

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