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Oct 06 2017

Prince & The New Power Generation – O(+>

Albumdata

Artist Prince & The New Power Generation
Album
Year of release 1992

Rating

Introduction

One year after the highly disappointing Diamonds And Pearls, Prince released its successor. Unfortunately still with The New Power Generation, his highly capable, yet rather bland backing band. The worst thing about it all was that the band still included the horrible ‘rapper’ Tony M.

At the time of the Diamonds And Pearls Tour Prince started playing songs off the coming album album, like Sexy MF and Damn U. Both excellent songs, so expectations were high. The commercials shown at the start of the concerts seemed to promise many great things.

Sexy MF

Prince - Sexy MF (single) (wikipedia.org)

Prince – Sexy MF (single)

During the first show of the Diamonds And Pearls Tour of 1992 I witnessed, May 127th, 1992, a new song was played: Sexy MF. A great funk song, containing a fantastic ‘rolling’ beat by drummer Michael Bland. The ‘chickengrease’ guitar-lick which runs throughout the song is equally good. Although the song’s title makes you think otherwise, the song is about genuine connection: “In a word or two, it’s you I wanna do / No not your body, your mind you fool”.

A nice premiere. The song was funky and had some great hornparts. On July 4th I bought the single Sexy MF. I was in Maastricht that day to witness my fourth (of seven in total) concert of the tour.

Due to its graphic lyrics, a censored version of the song was aired on television, replacing “MF” with a typical Prince scream “ah-uh-wah”.

During the course of the tour the song Damn U was added tot the setlist. A classic, rat-pack like ballad. Beautifully sung. Also good. When in the last days of September My Name Is Prince was released all signs were ago for the return of Prince. Or not?

The album is a non-pronounceable title. Hence, the album is called Symbol or Love Symbol. It’s also referred to as O(+>. In 1993 Prince would even change his own name to . But at the time of this album’s release that was all in the future.

Prince - O(+> (last.fm)

Prince – O(+>

is Prince’s 14th album, which was released on October 6th, 1992, in Holland, the very same day I bought it. Just like Diamonds And Pearls, it only contains original material. Except for The Flow, which stems from 1990, no songs from the vault were used.

The album has a number of segues (sproken intermissions, which spoil a great number of cd’s from the 1990’s). In ‘s case the segues were used to explain the album’s narrative. They contain Kirstie Alley as reporter “Vanessa Batholomew”. Earlier configurations of the album contained more segues, but some were left off the album when Prince added Wanna Melt With U to the album in July 1992.

The album’s songs are largely recorded using the same configuration of The New Power Generation as on Diamonds And Pearls. Rosie Gaines had left and the young dancer Mayte Garcia (later to be Prince’s first wife) and D.J. Graves were added. Eight songs are performed by Prince solo. The other songs use The New Power Generation, at times accompanied by the hornsection commonly known as NPG Hornz.

Songs

All songs written by Prince, unless stated otherwise.

  • My Name Is Prince *
  • Sexy MF **
  • Love 2 The 9’s
  • The Morning Papers
  • The Max
  • Segue
  • Blue Light
  • Wanna Melt With U
  • Sweet Baby
  • The Continental
  • Damn U
  • Arrogance ***
  • The Flow ****
  • 7 *****
  • And God Created Woman
  • 3 Chains O’ Gold
  • Segue
  • The Sacrifice Of Victor ******
*   Written by Prince, rap written by Tony M.
**   Written by Prince, Tony M. and Levi Seacer, Jr.
***   Written by Prince and Tony M.
****   Contains a sample of Tramp by Lowell Fulson (written by Lowell Fulson and Jimmy McCraklin)
*****   Contains samples of:
I Know You Got Soul by Eric B. & Rakim (written by Eric B. & Rakim)
Jazz It Up (Jazz Mix) by C.F.M. Band (written by C.F.M. Band)
Niggaz 4 Life by N.W.A. (written by The D.O.C., Dr. Dre and MC Ren)
******   Contains a sample of God Made Me Funky by The Headhunters (written by Bennie Maupin, Bill Summers, Blackbyrd McKnight, Mike Clark and Paul Jackson)

2 Whom It May Concern

The singles culled form the album only contained one B-side: 2 Whom It May Concern. A gloriously funky song, that was mean to be a commercial/introduction to the new album.

2 whomever it may concern / U must come 2 your senses / There are no kings on this earth / Only princes

© 2 Whom It May Concern, Prince, 1992

At the time this song was released it was claimed that the lyrics above and the line “You must become a prince before you’re king anyway” (from My Name Is Prince) were in reaction to Michael Jackson who had proclaimed himself to be “the king of pop” in 1991. However, this was never confirmed.

Appraisal

Prince - O(+> - Warner Bros advert (princevault.com)

Prince – O(+> – Warner Bros advert

is better than my first real Prince disappointment Diamonds And Pearls, but only barely so. Contrary to the year before, this albums has a great start. My Name Is Prince is part of my Top 50 Prince songs (number 41). Sexy MF is part of the second batch of 50 songs. Love 2 The 9’s is great also, which turns incredibly funky halfway through. But then it gets very bad at once, when The Morning Papers starts. Apparently, Prince fans exist who rate this song among their favorites. Unbelievable, it’s a bland, standard song, unworthy of Prince. The Max is great, containing a great heavy bass-riff.

Once every few years songs are made that defy every sense of good taste… Blue Light. Prince goes reggae… An absolute monster. It’s inconceivable to me, that this song comes from the same mind as, for instance, When Doves Cry, Paisley Park, Kiss and Hot Thing (to name a few). The problem that started with The Arms Of Orion (off the 1989 album Batman), wasn’t solved yet. Horrible.

Wanna Melt With U is something Prince hadn’t done before also (house/dance), but, contrary to the previous song, this works. One thing though, I find the lyric “Don’t look now, there’s a river of blood / You must have been a virgin / What am I guilty of? Oh no” rather distasteful. Despite that: a great song. Sweet Baby is a somewhat ordinary ballad. Nothing special. The Continental is great, very great even. Great screaming (Prince screaming is always good!). From 03:10 minutes it gets extremely funky. Love it! I already knew Damn U and it’s a great ballad. Arrogance is a throw away song. Here The Flow doesn’t work, which is a pity, because it did work when it was introduced during the 1990 Nude Tour.

And then 7. A favorite for many. It’s a great song, with thoughtful lyrics and Arabian oriented riff. The song marks the return of the finger-cymbals, which were heavily used on Around The World In A Day and Parade. A great single, that wasn’t as popular as it deserved. And God Created Woman is beautiful.

Nothing could be worse than Blue Light, right? No. Enter 3 Chains O’ Gold. Another monster of a song. Next to reggae he wanted to do prog-rock. Not a success. Far from it, a first rate flop.

The Sacrifice Of Victor is a funk song, but after the previous shock I had enough.

In summary

It all started off so promising. The album contains some good to very good songs. The number of lesser songs is less than on its predecessor, but the lowlights are so incredibly low, the album gets the same rating. It seems this album is a favorite for some… After Prince’s passing, articles started to appear stating that some of his albums are way better in retrospect. Not true for Diamonds And Pearls and , two albums that brought out the worst in Prince. 1993 didn’t bring much new music, but from 1994 onwards new exciting sounds were heard from Minneapolis. Prince was back, and how! Subject for a later article.

Singles

Five singles were culled from the album: Sexy MF, My Name Is Prince, 7, Damn U (US only) and The Morning Papers. Blue Light, Sweet Baby and Love 2 The 9’s were also considered for a single release, but The Morning Papers was chosen instead.

Act I Tour (princevault.com)

Act II Tour (princevault.com)

Act I en Act II Tour

Prince - Act II Tour ad (princevault.com)

Prince – Act II Tour ad

In 1993 Prince toured the USA, his first tour there since Lovesexy ’88. The tour was named Act I and consisted of a fairly steady setlist. The first half of the show focussed on . The second half was dedicated to older, at times obscure, songs.

After the Act I tour, Act II was done in Europe. On August 9th and 10th Prince played The Netherlands. Of course I was there. Good shows, containing, yet again, new songs: Peach (which was released as a single), Chaos And Disorder (which would be released on the album of the same name) and Johnny (which would be released on The New Power Generation’s debut-album, Gold Nigga). The most important change was Tony M.’s leaving. No screaming ‘rapper’ anymore! The setlist differed greatly from the Act I tour and resembled a “greatest hits” show. Which is understandable, because at the time Prince was on the Act II tour, the very first Prince compilation (The Hits / The B-Sides) was about to be released.

During the Act II tour Prince’s then recent namechange played a great part. On June 7th 1993, Prince’s 35th birthday, he announced that Prince was dead and he was to be called . At shows he would frequently ask “What’s my name?”, often adding “It ain’t Victor”. Many assumed that the song The Sacrifice Of Victor contained clues to his new name. To make matters more complex, the shows were started of by singing… My Name Is Prince.

Name change

On June 7th this article was published in the Twin Cities Pioneer Press, a Minneapolis newspaper:

He still may be funky, but his name is not Prince anymore. The Chanhassen-based singer celebrated his 35th birthday Monday by changing his name and announcing he’s breaking from his band, New Power Generation.

Prince - New name (princevault.com)

From now on, the former Prince (birth name: Prince Rogers Nelson) wants to be referred to as the combination symbol for male and female, the symbol that serves as the title for his latest album.

Michael Pagnotta, the Purple One’s publicist, said Tuesday he doesn’t know whether it’s a legal name change or an artistic whim. Only one person knows for sure and he’s not talking. Not even to pronounce his new name.

According to the Paisley Park office in Los Angeles, the singer signed the symbol in place of his name during a recent autograph session in Atlanta. No mention of how to pronounce it.

While this may seem like a Michael Jackson-type stunt, the lack of a spoken word for the symbol has left the media and the music industry slightly stumped.

“We don’t know what we’re going to call him,” an MTV press office spokesman said Tuesday. “There are people here working on it. I think they’re waiting to get the official word from Warner Bros. as to what sound we’re supposed to utter.”

A call to Warner Bros., with whom Prince has a $100 million contract, revealed it had no answers either. “This is as much of a surprise to us as to you,” a publicist said.

More on the name change at another time.

Video

Prince - 3 Chains O' Gold Video (goldiesparade.co.uk)

Prince – 3 Chains O’ Gold Video

On August 16th, 1994, the video 3 Chains O’ Gold was released. The film is based on the story and songs of the album.

The story starts with the murder of Egyptian princess Mayte’s father. Mayte is convinced that the killers are after the holy “3 Chains Of Gold”. She searches for Prince, because (according to her) he’s the only one that can protect the chains. A romance develops between them, with Prince ensuring the murderers are killed.

Local (Minneapolis) tv-presenters Randy Meier and Lauren Green played themselves, accompanied by Kirstie Alley, who covers ‘live’ action.

Before the film’s end the name-change is explained:

Upon the seventh day of the sixth month
Nineteen hundred and ninety-three
Marking the beginning and ending of cycles of creation
Prince, reaching the balance of thirty-five years,
Put into practice the precepts of perfection:
Voicing bliss through the freedom of being one’s self
Incarnating the New Power Generation into
The close of the six periods of involution giving
Birth upon himself to regenerate his name as
For in the dawn, all will require no speakable name
To differentiate the ineffable one that shall remain.

The film didn’t contain all songs of the album.

In closing

What do you think of this album? Do you think it’s good? Let me know!

 

More Prince?

 

Compliments/remarks? I´d love to hear them!