Prince – Chaos And Disorder – The reviews

Prince - Chaos And Disorder - De recensies (

Prince - Chaos And Disorder (

This article belongs to the story Prince fulfills his contract on Chaos And Disorder?.


This article contains a portion of the press reactions to Chaos And Disorder. Some of the reviews I have gathered are in (my native tongue) Dutch. Since I know that many of the readers on the English version of my blog don’t understand Dutch, I omitted those reviews from this article. Would you want to read the Dutch reviews anyway, please click here, or click on the Dutch flag beside/below this article.

Prince - Chaos And Disorder recensie - Select Magazine 09-1996 (

Prince – Chaos And Disorder recensie – Select Magazine 09-1996

I have found more reviews, of which I don’t own a physical copy, so text-only.

St. Paul Pioneer Press, 05-07-1996

Ex-innovator ex-Prince serves leftovers

By Jim Walsh

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Truman Capote once issued one of the most memorable one-liners in book-reviewing history: “That’s not writing. It’s typing.”

A similar thing could be said about the artist formerly known as Prince’s new album, “Chaos & Disorder,” which hits stores Tuesday. Unlike the bulk of the Prince/TAFKAP catalog, “Chaos & Disorder” appears to be an uninspired collection of warmed-over jams, sketches, snatches and leftovers.

With apologies to Capote, it’s not record making. It’s recording.

Which, no matter what your feelings are about the former Prince’s public image, has never been the case before. He may be unfathomable to most anyone outside the music world, but whenever he gets in the studio, he has always been consistently innovative, and usually something interesting (at the least) occurs. Not this time.

Even his previously tossed-off works – the hastily composed “Lovesexy” (1988), the batphoned-in “Batman” (1989) and the sketchy, if underrated, “Come” (1994) – had unifying themes. But for the first time, TAFKAP has released an album that sounds void of his usual visceral focus and inspiration.

Beyond the shock appeal he has become known for, Prince, with almost every one of his previous 17 albums, has always given fans and critics plenty to chew on musically and lyrically. But on “Chaos & Disorder,” the disappointing follow-up to 1995’s tour-de-force “The Gold Experience,” there is a creeping feeling of déjà vu – a feeling that, even if we haven’t heard these particular musings on love, sex, spirituality, human rights and the afterlife, we’ve heard him do it before. And better.

The Warner Bros. bio for “Chaos & Disorder” would have us believe that this is another guitar record, on a par with the fireworks that fuel “The Gold Experience.” But where those were lithe, compact, and purposeful moments, the guitar work on “Chaos & Disorder” is typically flashy but emotionally stingy.

I admit that I yearn to hear ex-Prince dueling with a second guitar again, in order to bring in da funk, bring in da noise. Perhaps the biggest shame about “Chaos & Disorder” is that it tarnishes the reputations of the otherwise spectacular New Power Generation – so regal and powerful on “The Gold Experience” – which sounds an awful lot like a band being put through its paces or on the verge of getting the pink slip (which happened earlier this year).

Even TAFKAP’s ubiquitous ear candy is applied much too literally to be compelling: revving motors behind a lyric about cars, a radio DJ behind a lyric about Top 40 radio, a moaning woman behind a lyric about orgasm, a siren behind a lyric about domestic abuse, etc.

Once upon a time, the former Prince would throw in a sound bite that gave the track a freaky quality. It made the song blow up in your headphones and imagination. But here, everything is carefully scripted for the listener.

As a result, “Chaos & Disorder” is sonically stuck in the 80’s, at a moment in time when Beck’s “Odelay” and others set the standard for cutting-edge recording artistry.

Maybe the reason “Chaos & Disorder” is so disappointing is because of the high standards TAFKAP sets and usually hits. And, of course, as with any TAFKAP album, there are some choice morsels to go along with the leftovers. By my count, there are four strong cuts:

  • “Chaos & Disorder.” The record kicks off with a bang, thanks to this wicked quasi-anti-drug rocker’s bloody-raw vocal performance. Salient lyric: “I’m just a no-name reporter / I wish I had something to say / Look into my new camcorder / Trying to find a crime that pays.”
  • “Same December.” A hopped-up big-band rave on race relations, punctuated by the scintillating NPG horns. Lyrically, it’s the latest in a long line of utopian visions from Prince/TAFKAP. Musically, it features a chorus worthy of T. Rex, a hook worthy of classic Prince, and it could be a monster hit for a radio format that doesn’t exist.
  • “I Rock Therefore I Am.” Even though the lyrics are more of the same “I’m an artist, dammit, don’t tell me what to do!” variety, this is an irresistible dance-hall number buoyed by the NPG horns and cameo vocals and reggae raps from Rosie Gaines, Scrap D. and Steppa Ranks.
  • “Dig U Better Dead.” A genuinely weird and thoroughly ebullient dance workout that can stand with the nastiest mechani-grooves in the Prince catalog.

The rest of “Chaos & Disorder” is remarkably unremarkable. (Has there ever been a more forgettable Prince single than “Dinner With Delores”?) Which brings us to the conspiracy theory. “Chaos & Disorder” is the last studio album the former Prince is required to release on Warner Bros. Records, his record company since 1978. (A forthcoming three-CD set of outtakes and unreleased material, “The Vault,” is reportedly the final release, which will fulfill his contract.)

Given all that, and the fact that his first album was titled “For You,” the last song on the CD, the one-minute, 26-second “Had U,” could be read as a final kiss-off from the “Slave” to Warner Bros. that says, in its entirety: “Missed you / called you / found you / begged you / convinced you / saw you / held you / kissed you / fondled you / attempt to / undress you / smelled you / wanted you / asked you / thanked you / mounted you / hurt you / disappoint you / f— you / had you.”

His war with Warner Bros. has been well-documented here and elsewhere, and from the sounds of it, “Chaos & Disorder” is merely a homework assignment. A means to an end. But the biggest mystery is why would an artist so proud, and so fiercely competitive and trailblazing, release such a mediocre work?

I do not believe, as some critics do, that the former Prince has hit his creative ceiling. But the truth is, as he sings on “Zannalee,” “If you want to be a headline, you’ve gotta be all you can be.”

I hope that “Chaos & Disorder” is just the dusk before the dawn. In “I Like It There,” the former Prince sings to a female conquest, “What can I say [that] Shakespeare hasn’t said before?” It’s a throwaway line from a throwaway album, but at this juncture in his career, TAFKAP could learn a little something from the bard. Such as: “Weigh’st thy words before thou givest them breath” (Othello), “Sweet flowers are slow and weeds make haste” (Richard III), “Let each man do his best” (Henry IV).

St. Paul Pioneer Press, 05-07-1996

New York Times, 07/06/1996

Chaos And Disorder

By Neil Strauss

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The artist formerly known as Prince (hereafter abbreviated as “Prince”) seems to be in a hurry to get out of his six-album contract with Warner Bros. Records. In less than a year he has put out three albums, the latest of which, “Chaos and Disorder” (released Tuesday), concludes his relationship with the label. As if the title and lyrics like “I wish I had nothing to say” don’t lower the expectations of fans enough, the album comes with an apology on the back of the CD booklet that notes that the music was “originally intended 4 private use only.” “Chaos and Disorder” is essentially a rock album, with Prince wailing away on electric guitar as if he were a funky Jeff Beck. It is also, for the most part, an album of throwaways.

But even throwaways from Prince can have their moments of pop splendor. “Dinner for Dolores,” a ’60s-style psychedelic ballad in which Prince for a change criticizes a woman for being too wanton, is one of the album’s saving graces, as is the minimal “Had U.” On “Zannalee,” Prince and his group, the New Power Generation, turn into a bar band playing a 12-bar blues in which police officers spy on his erotic adventures with two sisters. The album’s weakest link is the six-minute, inanely titled “I Rock, Therefore I Am,” which combines the kind of raps that marred his 1991 “Diamonds and Pearls.” Prince should know by now that he doesn’t need to update his sound, since so many pop stars still copy it; he just needs a better screening process for the songs he releases.

New York Times, 07/06/1996

Los Angeles Times, 07-07-1996

‘Chaos’ Was Just What His Majesty Needed

By Cheo Hodari Coker

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With a title like “Chaos & Disorder,” you might assume that Prince’s 20th album would reflect a kingdom in disarray.

His Paisley Park label has been disbanded; he’s changed his name to an unpronounceable symbol; he’s closed his L.A. nightclub, Glam Slam; he’s at war with his record company; and in the most un-Princely move of all, he’s apparently abandoned the hedonistic life to marry and have a child.

But “Chaos & Disorder” is his most vibrant and evenhanded work in years. By restoring the electric guitar as the center of his musical universe and abandoning the confining dictates of dance-music drum machines, Prince has produced a record that leaps from the speakers with a force that he hasn’t mounted since he disbanded his band the Revolution.

Beginning with the stripped-down title track and the brisk “I Like It There,” the album ranges from the metallic to the mellow. “Dinner With Delores” is a narrative that, like “The Ballad of Dorothy Parker,” wins you over with its subtlety. The rollicking “Same December” and the brash “Zannalee” raise the volume and the energy.

But what unites all the songs is Prince’s soaring guitar. Every wail, sigh and delectable electric tease serve as the musical counterparts of the beating heart found at the end of the title track.

Los Angeles Times, 07-07-1996

New York Daily News, 16-07-1996


By Jim Farber

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The self-destructive tendencies of The Artist Formerly Known as Prince (TAFKAP) just reached a dizzying new plateau. Not content simply to erase his name, undermine his record company and release scads of substandard songs, he’s now letting the world know he never even intended his latest album for release. Tucked inside the cover of his latest platter is a warning that the LP was “originally intended 4 private use only. This compilation serves as the last original material recorded by (TAFKAP) 4 Warner Bros. May U live to see the dawn.

Translation: Songs this junky should’ve never made it out of the studio. But since I can’t stand my record company, and I couldn’t care less about my fans, I put them out anyway the better to give Warners one last reason to be sorry they ever crossed me.

True to those sentiments, “Chaos & Disorder” ranks as the worst TAFKAP album ever released. Worse than the “Batman” soundtrack, worse even than “Come”.

It’s a forced, overwrought mess. So terrible is the album that listeners with a refined sense of camp, and cash to blow, may want to race out and pick up a copy before it inevitably vanishes from shelves in weeks. At least you can’t fault the thing for lack of consistency. While TAFKAP labeled the work a “compilation,” implying multiple sources, it reeks of one tragic brainstorming session. The album proposes to be a guitar-rock opus, allowing few nods to funk. But don’t expect a rock classic, a la “Dirty Mind”.

Expect instead a kind of geeky “rock-opera”.

All the songs feature the garish arrangements, ersatz guitars and overenunciated choruses you’d find in the most spine-tingling of theater rock. “Into the Light” could have come straight from the depths of “Godspell,” while “Same December” offers R&B as conceived for Las Vegas show-stoppers. Such things make TAFKAP’s ridiculous lyrics all the more mind-boggling. God save us from another of his political diatribes, like the title track one of those evidence-free, “the-world-is-going-to-hell” assessments. He crams it with lines like “gay used to mean he’s happy/nowadays happy ain’t allowed”.

What, exactly, does that mean? In the singularly silly “I Rock Therefore I Am,” TAFKAP even takes time out to bitch about losing royalties to record clubs. Like we care. Unfortunately, the silliest of TAFKAP’s new words and music reflect not just a passing perversion but something rooted in his character a lingering ’80s part of him evident in his still-frilly clothes and cheesy-sounding synths. Never before, however, has TAFKAP’s tacky side been allowed to rule a project wholly unchecked by soul or conviction. The question is: Did this happen simply because TAFKAP wanted to whack Warners or because he’s finally gone completely insane? May we all live to find out.

New York Daily News, 16-07-1996

Chicago Sun-Times, 07/21/1996

Last effort more princely than most label swan songs

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When most artists sign off from a record label, they turn in a live album, some outtakes or a greatest-hits collection. Of course, the Artist Formerly Known as Prince is not like most artists.

“Chaos and Disorder”, the record that terminates Prince’s 18 year relationship with Warner Bros. Records, is a triumphant return to the layered, guitar-driven funk that blasted Prince out of Minneapolis. There’s never a dull moment on C&D which rages from the fuzzbending title track through the bawdy blues shuffle of Zannalee. Prince blends a 1999 dance groove with 1996 hip-hop in Dig U Better Dead, before fading out into Had U, a sedated update of 1978’s For U.

Conversely, the album’s first single, Dinner With Delores, recalls Prince’s best pop efforts, such as Raspberry Beret & Manic Monday. Recorded earlier this year in Miami Beach, with finishing touches at Paisley Park in Minneapolis, the project’s most ambitious track is I Rock, Therefore I Am, a six minute collage of funk, rock & Jamaican toasting (rapping), featuring guests Steppa Ranks & Scrap D. Framed by the four piece NPG, Prince’s production unites the diverse musical elements into a cohesive dance statement.

Don’t misconstrue C&D as Prince’s salute to Warner Bros. Rather, the 11 songs are a searing tribute to Jimi Hendrix, James Brown & Sly Stone, the cornerstones of Prince’s kingdom. The back to the future result is Prince’s best effort since 1984’s Purple Rain.

Chicago Sun-Times, 07/21/1996

Entertainment Weekly, 26-07-1996

Chaos and Disorder

By David Browne

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Each new release by only makes you anticipate the compilation that will rescue its two or three stunners from the dross. Chaos and Disorder repeats that scenario for the fifth or sixth (I’ve lost count) consecutive time. Just when you’re ready to write off as a casualty of ego and self-indulgence, the imp delivers. “i like it there” is three rapturous minutes of hard-rock guitar and drooling lyrics, and “dig u better dead” makes its didactic, choose-life message palatable with a warm-hearted funk groove. Suddenly, hope springs eternal – or, at least, for 10 or so minutes.

Otherwise, the title of Chaos and Disorder serves as its own best review. The record again demonstrates the former Prince’s formidable skill as a bandleader; few, if any, of his peers can adeptly shift the tempos and textures of huge ensembles the way can. But the musicians’ dexterity – and the album’s lively, nonstop-party vibe – is wasted on apocalyptic lyrics with a New Age bent, campy dialogue bits, and too many songs that cross the line from energetic to cute. Humor could have rescued “i rock, therefore i am” from its title; instead, the song is an unwieldy mesh of a dancehall vocal, a lame rap, and a lyric that chastises those in the industry who want him to change. (You mean there are some who would brazenly suggest that he not release every scrap of music he records?)

The explanation for the chaos may be simple: A liner note says the album is a “compilation… originally intended 4 private use only” and will be “the last original material recorded by 4 Warner Brothers Records.” The implication is that Chaos and Disorder is a vault-clearing throw-together meant to fulfill a contract. No longer content to wallow in a persecution complex, now apparently feels his fans have to pay for the cross.


Entertainment Weekly, 26-07-1996

Chicago tribune, 01-08-1996


By Greg Kot

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The ex-Prince declares on the CD sleeve that these 11 tracks were “originally intended (for) private use only,” a hint that they were released to fulfill his contract with Warner Bros. with whom he has been feuding for several years. Warner balked when Prince wanted to release more than one album every year, and given the artist’s erratic spew since the late ’80s, one could almost sympathize with the suits. “Chaos and Disorder” is a typical hodgepodge that jump-cuts styles and tempos, often within the space of a single song. The emphasis is on harder-edged material, with the singer’s splendid acid-rock guitar at the forefront, but the material ranges from terrific (“I Like It There”) to tedious (“I Rock, Therefore I Am”), the type of bumpy ride all too typical of latter-day Prince.

Chicago tribune, 01-08-1996

Rolling Stone, 22-08-1996

Chaos And Disorder

By Ernest Hardy

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On the back of the CD booklet is a disclaimer by the Artist Formerly Known as Prince: “Originally intended 4 private use only, this compilation serves as the last original material recorded by 4 Warner Brothers Records.” His ongoing war of protest and whining against his record label is also reflected in the photos adorning the pages of the Chaos and Disorder booklet: a syringe with a dollar bill rolled up inside, a toilet with a heart floating in the water, and the master-tape vault inside Paisley Park Studios, framed by gold records. Before you hear a single note, you’re prepped for a halfhearted transaction from a self-pitying celebrity.

The whole album – its vibe, purpose and effect – is summarized in the self-aggrandizing “I Rock, Therefore I Am.” Elements from the proverbial kitchen sink – blaring horns, funky, stuttering drums, police sirens, rap-cum-reggae-style toasting – bracket defiant lyrics that flash hints of social commentary to mask what is essentially ‘s taunting of his record company. The lyrics gracelessly confuse the personal with the political.

Chaos and Disorder is distinguished by its confusion; even the title admits that the album’s fractured parts never resolve into a thematic whole. At its best, the record sounds like a collection of polished demos. More often, though, it seems like the work of a Prince impersonator – someone who has closely studied the star’s moves and mannerisms but has nothing new or substantial of his own to say. It’s a drag act that becomes a drag real quickly.

sings the delicate “Dinner With Delores” in a high register, his lead vocals backed by a breezy, softly cooed chorus. Yet the result is still a less attractive twin of Sign o’ the Times‘ “The Ballad of Dorothy Parker.” The title track has a searing organ, Rosie Gaines’ fiery backing vocals and wild drumming that suits ‘s manic blasts of lead guitar. It’s wildly energetic – but also completely generic.

Whether he’s just distracted by his record-company battles or has truly shot his wad, it’s been a while since has really had anything important to say in his music. It doesn’t matter what the Artist Formerly Known as Prince calls himself. Chaos and Disorder is the sound of the man repeating himself badly.

Rolling Stone, 22-08-1996

Addicted To Noise, 1996

Not Just Anotha No-Name Reporter

By Rebecca Eisenberg

One day, when I was walking through the streets of my former neighborhood in Venice Beach, California, I saw the artist formerly known as Prince.

He was sitting on the stoop of a house near the ocean, accompanied by a beautiful young woman, and he saw me seeing him. He put a finger over his lips and mouthed, “shhh.”

“Look!” my friend Mark nudged me, “Prince has a secret.” We smiled and walked off, our brush with Greatness whisked away with the sound of whitecap hitting sand.

Prince, AKA The Artist Formerly Known as Prince, AKA o(+> or ™ has virtually been uncategorical since he began his recording career in the late 1970s. Originally seen as a high-energy guitar-rock-funk disciple of the likes of Jimi Hendrix, George Clinton, James Brown, and Stevie Wonder, TAFKAP has crossed the line from “influenced by” to being unquestionably a genuine influence himself. His latest CD – his final recording in his 18 year contract with Warner Brothers – demonstrates that TAFKAP can, essentially, do what he wants with music do it well, and still maintain that quality that is unmistakably, well, Prince.

In Chaos and Disorder, do not bother looking for an “Erotic City,” “Kiss,” “Let’s Go Crazy,” “You Got the Look,” or even a “Not a Love Song” (the dark and disorienting song he produced for Madonna in “Like a Prayer”). What you will find instead is a solid and cohesive, if not uncooked and undecorated, collection of funk-rock guitar jams.

And with those songs, you can at least take solace in the fact that, after 20 albums and 18 years, TAFKAP still irks, offends, and baffles in a manner unprecedented in artists of the last two decades. In C&D, TAFKAP even breaks new ground for himself. From its relentless alarm-clock opener in the title track, to the hauntingly eerie kiss-off close in “Had U” 39 minutes later, TAFKAP maintains a tight, raw and loud energy level unlike other records released by his Purple Highness.

Most of all what stands out in C&D is its uncharacteristic simplicity. Unlike much, if not most or even all of TAFKAP’s previous work, C&D parts with deep philosophical sentiment in favor of straightforward rocking nonsubversiveness. He rocks, therefore he is. That’s all there is to it.

For this reason, I wish I could say that C&D harkens back to the days of 1999 (still my all time favorite Prince album), but I cannot. Where is the experimental risk-taking and high power genre-jumping complex and compelling excitement that made us all disco on our rollerskates when we heard “I was dreaming when I wrote this so forgive me if it goes astray …”? I appreciate the jaded, cynical edge that carries TAFKAP through the recordings, but I am just not convinced that the cliched sentiment that pervades “I Will,” “I Rock, Therefore I am,” “Right the Wrong,” and “Into the Light” were truly meant to be ironic.

That said, you’d do well to remember that the worst throwaway crap from TAFKAP outshines the vast majority of other current artist’s most inspired efforts.

The two best tracks are the ones that TAFKAP has aired, in different versions, before. “Zannalee” is a hard-edged 12-bar bluesy funk tune that guides us through a sexual encounter between The Royal Purple and two luscious sisters, as seen through the eyes of a Northern Midwestern Police Officer. “Same December” is a compelling and complicated R&B/rock anthem, if you can forgive the kitchy “Let’s Go!” choruses that intersperse, and even end, the rock/soul/blues/funk medley.

I also can’t help but love – perhaps against my better judgment – the wild and angry title track (“I’m just a no-name reporter and I wish I had Nothing 2 Say/ Lookin’ thru my new camorder/ Trying 2 find a crime that pays”) as well as the R&B dance jam, “Dig U Better Dead.”

The album further showcases TAFKAP’s ingenuity with background sounds and, in particular, voices. In “Zannalee,” TAFKAP narrates the threesome’s love tryst with the same legitimacy as the officers in the Coen’s Brother’s recent film, “Fargo.” In “Right the Wrong,” TAFKAP drawls a nice country lyric to a gospel/R&qmp;B beat. In “Chaos and Disorder,” TAFKAP decorates chords with feedback, dogs barking, and army troupe footstomping, and heartbeats, all of which qualify C&D as a nice “headphone” record. Strap it on the next time you go for a jog. If nothing else, you certainly will not have to worry about slowing down between songs, since one track blends into the next as seemlessly as any other carefully crafted theme record.

Also uplifting is the return of Rosie Gaines, who proves herself again to be a gifted and powerful songstress. In fact, it is her presence alone that spares songs like “I Rock, Therefore I Am,” with its please-don’t-call-this-rap interludes, from the circular bins.

The New Power Generation also revs up the energy in consistent form. If nothing else, TAFKAP has reclaimed his rightful position as one of the best large-band leaders alive.

I just wish that TAFKAP would have spent more time showcasing his accomplished and eerily haunting electric guitar riffs, as he does in the CD’s last jam, “Had U,” and less time scratching records and letting mediocre rappers (“To the Maximum!” … “Show me your titties!”) take central stage, as in “I Rock Therefore I Am,” even if only for a minute or two.

A few of the songs also straddle the line between Prince and Pop a little too closely for my PurplePassiontaste. “Into the Light,” for example, begins with an unmistakable ABBA’s “The Winner Takes it All,” piano chorus, and transitions into – and please don’t kill me for saying this – a Journey song. Similar comments can be made of “I Will” and “I Like It There.” Depending on your mood, these songs can be entertaining and fun or more than slightly annoying. For example, “I Rock, Therefore I Am” is both a nauseating wanna-be hip hop rap jam and a lightweight hi-fi dance groove at the same time.

Overall, the strengths of “Chaos and Disorder” outweigh its weaknesses. It is a straightforward, rough around the edges, unlaquered almost frenetic tribute to Jimi Hendrix, Marvin Gaye, and Sly Stallone. As mentioned above, “Zannalee” are “Same December” are outstanding jams, and, of course, “Dig U Better Dead,” “Right the Wrong,” “Dinner with Delores” and “Had U” grow on me more and more with each listening. Out of 39 minutes and only 11 tracks, that hit list ain’t half-bad. In fact, especially if you don’t mind trading message and meaning for fluff and fun, Chaos and Disorder is more than half-good.

Sure this review is confusing. But what do you expect? This is, after all, the latest work of an artist that goes by the name of an unpronounceable symbol that I am trying to summarize.

Many other (less suave and more lazy) reviewers have taken the easy way out and brushed off C&D as a hastily thrown-together Warner Brothers kiss-off. In this regard they cite “Had U” as a farewell anthem, “I Rock, Therefore I Am” as a freedom plea, and a tiny mark on the CD’s cover as an upside down Warner Brothers logo.

To me, however, this theory smacks too much of Oliver Stone and Over Simplification. Had TAFKAP wanted to shortchange WB, he could have done so far more easily by going the route of many other musicians and releasing another greatest hits compilation, or else a live concert release, if – not to mention – an album of truly schlocky songs.

Rather, Chaos and Disorder seems more accurately a risk-free musical experiment – not unlike taking an exam without studying when you know that you are the smartest student in the class. After all, why would the Purple One spend energy on exacting revenge against someone when he has a lot of other things to think about – namely, his wife and future child, the children’s music record and book he is working on; and, last but not least, his first release to follow his freedom from the Warner Brothers – the rumored-to-be-forthcoming Emancipation.

Thus to me the true question is not what TAFKAP was doing with C&D, but rather is what he will do in the near future.

Buy Chaos and Disorder. Psychoanalyze it. But don’t expect to read TAFKAP’s mind.

After all … (shhh!) … Prince has a secret.

Addicted To Noise, 1996

Billboard Magazine, 1996

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“Originally intended for “private use,” as the self-deposed 0{+> states in the CD booklet, this album is a new recording by the enigmatic artist and his longtime band, the New Power Generation. Musically, the release bears two distinguishing features: it is predominantly a rock’n’roll record, and it is refreshingly rough around the edges. Rather than the self-aggrandizing, media-conscious Prince of the late ’80s and early ’90s, this is the artist who simply likes to make music for its own sake. Fans will enjoy the raw quality of these tracks and appreciate the fact that the artist decided to release them after all. Initial single “Dinner With Delores” could find a home at mainstream rock, top 40, and R&B radio, and other tracks could follow suit. A welcome return to basics.

Billboard Magazine, 1996

Minneapolis Star-Tribune, 1996

Prince – Chaos And Disorder

By Jon Bream

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This recording carries the following announcement – or disclaimer – on the back: “Originally intended 4 private use only, this compilation serves as the last original material recorded by Prince 4 Warner Bros. Records.”

In other words, Prince’s heart isn’t in this album (in stores today). Still, for a slapped-together throwaway, it’s no bad. A lot of funk-rock, a dash of pop, a taste of jazz and blues, a couple of nasty dance numbers, lots of Prince guitar work. It’s mostly retro-sounding – like Prince of the mid-80’s.

At times, “Chaos and Disorder” sounds like a cut-and-paste job, with lots of musical flash and fun and little emotional investment or conviction. But Prince’s leftovers are often tastier than other artists’ main courses.

The number that stands out is “I Rock, Therefore I Am.” This declaration of self-confidence is funky, slinky, freaky and the only hip-hop thang Prince has ever done that seems natural. This dynamite dance jam goes dance-hall with a guest reggae rapper rhyming about Kirby Puckett and other things Minnesota. The best dance workout is “Dig U Better Dead,” a nasty mechanical funk jam promulgating the philosophy that life is full of peaks and valleys and that if you’re lost, the naysayers say you’re better off dead, but Prince would rather see you turn to God.

Those are the high points. The low points are perhaps the nadir of Prince’s 18 years on Warner Bros. “Into the Light,” an adult pop song, is one of the schmaltziest and schlockiest things he has ever released – until the ensuing “I Will,” a piece of fluff that sounds like a chorus and keyboard riff stretched into an incomplete song.

“Chaos and Disorder” ends with an 86-second self-absorbed kiss-off to a lover (or a record label), “Had U,” framed by hauntingly warped strings and guitar.

Prince still seems as irresistibly mysterious and weird now as he did on his first Warner Bros. album, “For You,” in 1978.

Minneapolis Star-Tribune, 1996

NME, 1996

Prince: Chaos And Disorder

By John Parry

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He’s a funny old fish, that TAFKAP bloke. Not the sort of chap you’d take down the pub for a couple of jars, is he? Tottering about in those high heels he’d be useless at pool, and you’d be stumped over what to call him: “Fancy another half, Symbol?”, “Hey, TAFKAP, get us some nuts!” It just doesn’t sound right. You never got all this nonsense with Alvin Stardust.

Happily, since the world’s most compact pop star seems to have got over his strop with that nice Mr Warner and ditched the backwards balaclava look, he appears to have settled on that squiggly little symbol for a name and has started to get records in the shops sharpish. Perhaps a little too sharpish. Apparently, ‘Chaos And Disorder’ came about when Squig and his New Power Generation chums nipped down to Florida at the end of March for a bit of a rehearsal. “This’ll take months,” they thought. “Plenty of time to lounge by the pool.” But to everyone’s surprise, the sessions went so well, Squizzer decided to whack them out on record without further ado. “Hey!” he thought. “If I keep this up, I’ll have four albums out in a year! Hooray!”

Yep, ‘Chaos And Disorder’ smells overpoweringly of ‘eau de contractual obligation’. Either that or the sticky Florida heat caused Squiggle’s quality control to jam between ‘ropey’ and ‘very poor’. While nearly every track here has been liberally doused in P-funk, there’s no interesting weird Funkadelics, just formulaic nonsense hidden behind dumper-loads of Squiggly production.

At best this means the Kravitz-lite rawkism of ‘I Like It There’ (he likes ‘it’ on “your heavenly body”, not too surprisingly) or the soulless synth-blues ‘Zannalee’, which sounds like Da Quo after an hilarious hair restorer/ hormone treatment mix-up. At worst – and hey! there’s plenty of that – it means the weepy Meat Loaf piano of ‘Into The Light’ or the woolly mid-’80s leg-warmers of ‘The Same December’.

Even when he does get it right on the funky title track, the wee fella still manages to shoot himself in his tiny slingbacks by smothering it in lyrics like, “Safe sex used to mean babies/Intercourse used to be fun/If I had 15 babies/I’d only f?? with one”.

Most revealing, however, is the appalling ‘I Rock Therefore I Am’, when Squiggle boasts, “I rock therefore I am/Right or wrong/I sing the song/The best I can”.

This patently is a glaring fib; ‘Chaos And Disorder’ is the sound of a man with too much time and too many names, pouring his talent straight down the plughole marked ‘Waste’. Glug, glug.

NME, 1996

Orlando Sentinel, 1996

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Prince doesn’t mind telling everyone this is a contractual obligation album. It says so right on the back of the CD booklet.

But the stuff that Prince shovels out of the back of the vault is better than most folks greatest hits albums. While not as stunning as last years The Gold Experience, C&D is a worthy addition to Prince’s catalog.

Some of the tracks are light weight but likable. “Zannalee” is a sort of musical Penthouse letter, in which a policeman (with a Fargo like Minny accent) spies something naughty through an open window. “Dinner With Delores” is a sultry mid-tempo number. Then there are 2 rather overdone anthems, the gospel flavored “Right The Wrong” and the rock operatic “Into The Light,” which sound like something Gloria Estefan might record for the next Olympics.

The best cuts are the rockers, including the socially conscious title track, the salacious “I Like It There” and the menacing but humorous “I Dig You Better Dead.” The slamming “I Rock Therefore I Am,” with its dancehall reggae influence, is just the kind of modern mission statement George Clinton could have used on his recent album.

Orlando Sentinel, 1996

Q, 1996


By David Cavanagh

0{+> gives Warner Bros. the kiss-off.

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Understood to be the last album 0{+> will make for Warner Bros, Chaos & Disorder takes the endorphins-and-dolphins beatitude of the contractually disputed The Gold Experience, and stuffs it. No sexy voices Welcome U 2 The Dawn here. This is a sarcastic kiss-off to the banality, the corruption and the tragic lack of funkiness of the corporate caucasian world.

The impersonal funk marathons of last year’s Wembley Arena shows are withheld in favour of a small riot of diverse styles. The title track and I Like It There, which get things going, are two bursts of motorvatin’ hard rock blues with lots of soloing. As a guitarist, 0{+> is at his foxiest in some time: Crosstown Traffic riffing iced with rococo flourishes of blissful fluency.

Prettily sung, Dinner With Delores is as delicious as a strawberry, exactly the kind of melody we white heathens keep imploring him to do more of. He’s equally obliging with Into The Light – every bit as stirring as Dolphin on the last record – and I Will, a lovely Stevie Wonder-esque balled.

But what are we to make of Right The Wrong, his first ever country and western number? A terrible paleface pisstake (“yee haw!”), it’s lyrics rail at slavery, the swindling of Native Americans and – who knows – the odd Warners exec. It’s probably the worst song of his entire career. I Rock Therefore I Am transposes the same polemic to the most shudderingly ragga-boombastic soundworld the NPG can initiate. It’s another awful song, though: a loud six-minute bore. No better is Zannalee, a horny blues snore of merciful brevity.

Luckily, the last two songs glow with health. Dig U Better Dead is a featherlight scat-funk tune with a sharp lyrical edge, while the extraordinary Had U, a duet for mellotron and a guitar, sounds like 90 seconds of early King Crimson.

What’s 0{+> up to? The gluctiating quality of this music suggest a hastily assembled grab-bag of outtakes to see out the Warners deal, a suspicion borne out by an unusually short running-time, 39 minutes. If you skip the crap songs, you have a 25-minute album. The albums final wearily-croaked words – “Fuck you/had you” – linger bitterly.

Q, 1996

The Village Voice, 1996

Chaos and Disorder [Warner Bros., 1996]

By Robert Christgau

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Always a slippery devil, he’s damn near vaporized commercially over the past few years, as has his promotional budget, basically because he’s reached that certain age – way too familiar for ye olde shock of the new, way too boyish for intimations of immortality. So it’s understandable that what’s sworn to be “the last original material recorded by [File Under Prince] 4 warner brothers records” has been ignored all around. But anybody expecting a kissoff or a throwaway radically underestimates his irrepressible musicality. Apropos of nothing, here’s a guitar album for your earhole, enhanced by a fresh if not shocking array of voices and trick sounds and cluttered now and then by horns. Theme song: “I Rock, Therefore I Am.” And right, WEA, it wouldn’t have been a hit even with some muscle behind it.


The Village Voice, 1996

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