Prince – Super Bowl XLI, February 4, 2007
To all Prince fans/music lovers who can only digest positive stories, stop reading now.
Planet Earth is the 32nd studio album by Prince and was released on July 15, 2007, as a free supplement to the English newspaper Mail On Sunday. Apparently it pleased him, because in 2010 Prince would once again release an album for free using a newspaper: 20Ten.
The album was released by Columbia Records, who were somewhat less enthusiastic after Prince’s announcement that his latest cd was given away for free in England and Ireland. Columbia consequently refused to release the album in the UK. Retail store HMV decided to sell the Mail On Sunday in their shops, because “selling the Mail on Sunday next week will be the only way to make the Prince album available to our customers, which, ultimately, has to be our overriding concern”.
The album signaled the debut of (background) singer Shelby J. on a Prince album. Shelby J. is a fine singer, but was awarded too much time, especially in a live setting around 2006/2007. Shelby J. more or less has the same status as Tony M., the reviled rapper on the (disappointing) Prince albums Diamonds And Pearls and O(+>.
On May 8, 2007, Prince organized a press conference at the O2 Arena in London, where Prince announced his residency to take place in August and September on 2007. He would play 21 shows in that very same O2 Arena, using the moniker 21 Nights In London: The Earth Tour.
Concert with free album
Every visitor would receive the new Planet Earth album upon buying a ticket. Prince took a huge risk, but it was a great success. All shows were sold out well in advance and over 350,000 spectators visited London.
The question that needs to be asked is what promoted what exactly here? It seems the album was nothing more than a promotional tool for the London shows.
Single on the way to the album’s release
On February 2, 2007, a new single was made available on the Prince website 3121.com: Guitar. The song stemmed from 2004 and, notwithstanding its title, primarily focused on synthesizers.
On February 4, 2007, Prince performed during the halftime of the 41st Super Bowl. By now, his performance is universally regarded as the best Super Bowl performance of all time. The night of the show storm and heavy rains scourged the stage, with lightning nearby. Prince, facing the real possibility of electrocution, apparently asked for more rain (!) and played a super tight set mingling covers with his own (classic) material. Once again, Prince had proven himself to be the ultimate live-act.
The website 3121.com was also used for promotional ends for Planet Earth and the concerts in London.
The song Future Baby Mama was nominated for a Grammy Award in 2008 and won in the category Best Male R&B Vocal Performance. The song wasn’t released as a single in the US, but received heavy rotation on radio stations.
Just as on the 3121 album, the photography for Planet Earth was done by Afshin Shahidi. Graphic designer Sam Jennings was involved with the album again as well. In the background the term “3121” is clearly visible.
The covers of the newspaper and concert ticket releases were cardboard boxes. The front of the regular cd digipack release contained a hologram cover.
Not much is known about the origins of the Planet Earth songs. They were recorded between 2004 and the spring of 2007. Recordings took place at Paisley Park Studios, 3121 in The Rio in Las Vegas and the Circle House in Miami.
The album cover doesn’t mention any of the songs on the album.
All songs written by Prince, accredited to Prince And The New Power Generation.
Probably recorded in 2004, with overdubs in 2007.
Unfortunately the right song to introduce this disappointing album. A hybrid between rock-opera and musical, with a great guitar solo at the end.
Lyrically rather bizarre as well:
Imagine you could rid the Earth of anyone you choose
Which ones would you need the most and which ones would you lose?
Do we wanna judge another lest we be judged too?
Careful now, the next one might be you, yeah
© 2007 Prince
Recorded in 2007.
Contrary to the 3121.com February 2, 2007, version, the album version is more rock and grittier. Not A-class material, but it’s a catchy song, with a funny lyric.
I love you baby but not like I love my guitar
© 2007 Prince
Somewhere Here On Earth
Recorded early March 2007.
The definite highlight on the album. A fine R&B/jazz ballad that evokes a nice nostalgic feeling. Also great in a live setting!
A video was recorded for the song. The full version was broadcast on the BET Channel in February of 2008.
The One U Wanna C
Recorded in 2006, overdubs in 2007.
A lightweight song. The fact that both Wendy Melvoin and Lisa Coleman playt along, really does get your hopes up for more.
The song was released as the fourth single at the end of 2007, only in The Netherlands. It didn’t reach the top 40.
Future Baby Mama
Recorded in 2006/2007.
Not too bad, a bit Prince-by-numbers.
Recorded in 2007.
Prince starts rapping, he shouldn’t.
All The Midnights In The World
Recorded in 2006/2007.
Recorded in 2006/2007.
By many regarded to be the album’s highlight. By no means a bad song, but can’t rise to the same level as Somewhere Here On Earth. A song that prominently uses Shelby J.’s voice. An up-tempo disco type song that sounds infectious, but doesn’t leave a lasting impression.
The song is inspired by model and clothing designer Chelsea Rodgers.
Op August 6, 2007, the song was released as a promo single in the US.
Lion Of Judah
Recorded in September 2006.
Annoying, boring song with a Biblical lyric.
recorded on April 4, 2006, with overdubs form later dates.
An antiwar song, with childlike lyrics, filled with good intentions. Musically not too bad.
At times this song is erroneously called Revelation, due to the circulation of a wrong track list prior to Planet Earth‘s release.
Four singles were culled from the album:
(released on July 9, 2007, in Europe)
B-side was Somewhere Here On Earth
- Chelsea Rodgers
(released on August, 6, 2007, as promo in the US)
B-side was Mr. Goodnight
- Future Baby Mama
(released late 2007 as promo in France)
- The One U Wanna C
(released late 2007 in The Netherlands)
All vocals and instruments by Prince, with help from:
- Michael B. – drums on Planet Earth, Guitar
- Sonny T. – bass on Planet Earth, Guitar
- C.C. Dunham – drums on Somewhere Here On Earth, The One U Wanna C, Chelsea Rodgers, Resolution
- Joshua Dunham – bass on Somewhere Here On Earth, The One U Wanna C, Chelsea Rodgers, Resolution
- Renato Neto – keyboards on Somewhere Here On Earth
- Christian Scott – trumpet on Somewhere Here On Earth
- Wendy Melvoin – guitar on The One U Wanna C, Resolution and mandolin on All The Midnights In The World
- Lisa Coleman – keyboards on The One U Wanna C, Resolution
- Mr. Hayes – drum programming and keyboards on Mr. Goodnight
- Sheila E. – percussion on Chelsea Rodgers
- Mike Phillips, Maceo Parker, Greg Boyer, Lee Hogans – horns on Chelsea Rodgers
- Shelby J. – background vocals on Planet Earth, The One U Wanna C, Future Baby Mama, Mr. Goodnight, Lion Of Judah, Resolution and co lead vocals on Chelsea Rodgers
- Marva King – vocals on Planet Earth, The One U Wanna C, Future Baby Mama, Chelsea Rodgers, Lion Of Judah, Resolution
- Bria Valente – vocals on Planet Earth, The One U Wanna C, Future Baby Mama, Chelsea Rodgers, Lion Of Judah, Resolution
- The Twinz – background vocals on Planet Earth, The One U Wanna C, Future Baby Mama, Chelsea Rodgers, Lion Of Judah, Resolution
Information above originated from PrinceVault.
The conclusion I reached for 3121 is the exact opposite for Planet Earth. Despite some better moments (Guitar, Somewhere Here On Earth and Chelsea Rodgers) I was (and still am) far from enthusiastic about Planet Earth. Where predecessor 3121 was a convincing artistic statement, Planet Earth is far from that.
21 Nights In London: The Earth Tour
On August 1, 2007, Prince started his residency in London. He performed 21 times at the O2 Arena. Prince also performed 13 so-called aftershows at the O2 Arena club The IndigO2. On September 21st the residency came to an end. The band was the same as the one who performed the previous 3121 Per4ming Live tour, which had taken place in Las Vegas. Marva King was the only addition to the band:
- Prince – vocals, guitar, bass, keyboards, piano, sampler
- Cora Coleman-Dunham – drums
- Josh Dunham – bass
- Morris Hayes – keyboards
- Renato Neto – keyboards
- Maceo Parker – saxophone (from 08/01/2007 to 08/31/2007 and 09/21/2007)
- Greg Boyer – trombone
- Mike Phillips – saxophone, vocoder
- Lee Hogans – trumpet
- Shelby J. – background vocals
- Marva King – background vocals
- “The Twinz” (Maya & Nandy McClean) – dance, background vocals
Even the tour was dubbed The Earth Tour, the shows weren’t geared towards the Planet Earth album. On average one or two songs off the album were played.
What’s your take on Planet Earth? Also disappointing? Let me know!
Prince – Super Bowl XLI, February 4, 2007 image: thefatladysings.com
Prince – Planet Earth image: spotify.com
Prince – Guitar – Download February 2, 2007 image: pinterest.com
Prince – Planet Earth – Inlay, Prince – Chelsea Rodgers (single), Prince – Planet Earth – Mail On Sunday release images: discogs.com
Prince – Guitar (single) image: stringfixer.com
Prince – The One U Wanna C (single), Earth Tour images: princevault.com
Prince – Future Baby Mama (single) image: eil.com
Prince – Mail On Sunday July 15 2007 image: princeshop.online