Suddenly, on January 1st, 2003, a new Prince album arrived: Xpectation. Available as a MP3 download, exclusively to members of the NPG Music Club, an on-line Prince community, which existed from 2001 until 2006, through which Prince communicated directly with his fans and released music. Costing $100.- annually (from year 4 onward decreased to $25.-), the members received (monthly) new music, physical cd’s and were granted access to exclusive pre-sale of concert tickets, guaranteeing seats near the stage.
Promises for the year 2002 included the release and shipment of 4 cd’s. One Nite Alone… and the 3cd boxset One Nite Alone… Live! were regarded as a fulfillment of that promise. Many fans were distraught about this. In the One Nite Alone… tour program 3 other cd’s were advertised for release: Xenophobia, Last December and The Very Best Of , all of which never materialized.
According to reports on wikipedia Prince and the NPG Music Club were sued over it:
Prince’s then-fan club, The NPG Music Club charged $100 for a membership that had advertised that paying members would receive 4 exclusive albums. After Prince released One Nite Alone… and the three-disc One Nite Alone… Live!, members who felt deceived sent complaints of Federal Mail Fraud to the Minnesota Attorney General’s office and the BBB after Prince failed to honor the agreement. The albums Xpectation and C-Note (slang for a $100 bill) was his response to being forced to comply to these demands.
I don’t know for certain if the events described here, actually took place. I do know that many fans (me included) did not agree with the way the terms and conditions of the agreement were met.
2003, the year of the instrumental music
Both Madhouse albums from 1987 were the first instrumental albums Prince ever released. However, Xpectation was the first instrumental album Prince released using his own name. In 2003 two more releases with instrumental music would follow: an on-line album, which in time would be known as C -Note, on January 3rd and 4th and N.E.W.S. on June 30th.
The albums all fit the jazz-idiom. I was (and still am) very happy with the albums. Prince experiments with new music and it, at times, produces truly remarkable and beautiful music. The musical path Prince entered with The Rainbow Children seemed to have struck a chord, because the 2003 releases were clearly made without commercial incentives. Prince just made the music he wanted. Two out the three albums were solely made available to members of the NPG Music Club. N.E.W.S. was released virtually without any promotion.
Because Xpectation was only made available as a collection of MP3’s without artwork, it has been released as a bootleg on a regular basis, with corresponding prizes. In 2004 the album was offered through NPG Music Club‘s Musicology Download Store. In September 2015, a lossless version was made available through streaming service Tidal. The album has never had a physical release.
The 2002 NPG Music Club membership hinted towards the release of an album named Xenophobia. Xpectation delivers on that promise.
The album has been renamed, because the song Xenophobia had been released in a live version on the One Nite Alone… Live! boxset, just two months earlier. A studio version of the song does exist, for a small piece of it was used as a teaser in 2001. The studio version has never been released.
The Xpectation album is an instrumental jazz album, composed by Prince and played using a stripped down version of the band that went on to tour the One Nite Alone… Tour. Recordings for the album took place during the Autumn of 2001. Saxophone parts were recorded in December 2001.
The album cover displayed here, was made available for the first time in 2015, when the album was offered on on-line streaming service Tidal.
All songs written by Prince.
Production of the album was done by Prince.
- Prince – keyboards and guitar
- John Blackwell – drums
- Rhonda Smith – bass
- Candy Dulfer – acoustic and electronic saxophone
- Vanessa Mae – violin
- Silence – itself
The album starts off with the beautiful Xhalation, Xcogitate has a Twin Peaks like vibe. Xotica reminds me of Mick Karn’s bass-playing. Xogenous contains some beautifully subtle drumming by John Blackwell and beautiful guitar by Prince. The rest of the songs are nice, but not really earth shattering.
Do you know Xpectation? What do you think? Let me know!
Prince – Xpectation – New directions in music from Prince image: mixcloud.com
NPGMC Logo image: princevault.com
Prince – C-Note & Prince – N.E.W.S. images: princevault.com
Prince – Xpectation image: tidal.com
Prince – Xpectation song meanings & Prince – Xpectation musicians images: coveralia.com
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