Instead of carving divine sexfunk for the 21st century, [B]Prince Rogers Nelson[/B] has spent most of the '90s desecrating his good name....

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Rave Un2 The Joy Fantastic

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Rave Un2 The Joy Fantastic

Instead of carving divine sexfunk for the 21st century, Prince Rogers Nelson has spent most of the ’90s desecrating his good name. So it is with some trepidation we approach ‘Rave Un2 The Joy Fantastic’

…Only to be gladly surprised, when the multi-tracked phalanx of helium-infused Artists trill out the title track refrain like some purple-velvet clad gospel choir. As opening gestures go, it drips with the kind of playful audacity [a]Prince[/a] seemed to shed the moment he became merely The Symbol.

But, within seconds, ‘Rave…’ is sunk by the airtight electro-groove which courses throughout the entire LP. Locked deep within Paisley Park, alone with his muse, [a]Prince[/a] has speedily become a late-period Phil Spector for the ’90s; still impressive, still idiosyncratic, but now severely anachronistic as well.

It’s as if [a]Prince[/a] were killed at the turn of the decade, and his record company have kept the incident a secret, releasing offcuts from his previous recording sessions as new albums and parading a cyborg-simulacrum for public appearances so as not to arouse suspicion.

While much of ‘Rave…’ throbs with what we used to love [a]Prince[/a] for (lascivious funk, wanton lust, a sorbet-light pop touch), and features, in his X-rated reading of Sheryl Crow‘s ‘Everyday Is A Winding Road’, an astonishing act of dogshit-to-diamond alchemy, we’ve heard it all before, and from this very source.

To paraphrase Woody Allen, genius is like a shark; it has to move forward or it dies. And what we have here is a patchily impressive, fleetingly satisfying, but very, very dead shark.