Prince – HitnRun Phase Two
Photo by Rolling Stone
Prince’s sudden death on April 21, 2016 shocked us all. I feel lucky to live in Minneapolis and witness the outpouring of love for Prince this past week. The city has been lit up and painted purple in every imaginable way to pay respect to Prince. There have been countless concerts, free viewings of Purple Rain, spontaneous dance parties, and many conversations about the loss of this great musician.
“Purple Rain” by Jonathan Charpentier (Minneapolis, MN)
Though our community and the world mourns his loss, we have gathered to celebrate the life and music of Prince. Many have said that his music was the soundtrack to their life.
Ahem, his music was actual soundtracks, from Purple Rain to Batman. Gene Simmons of Kiss admiringly stated, “He wrote, produced, engineered — he did it all. Very few people know that during his concert tours, he would ask his fans, ‘If you bought tickets to a Prince concert, I want you to bring canned goods and contribute to those less advantaged.’ C’mon! That’s cooler than any rock star that gets up on stage and says, ‘Look at me! Look at me!'”
I would add that he was also a musician, actor, entertainer, dancer, entrepreneur, and humanitarian. He was a genius.
Despite the fact that his last album was released in December 2015 (I have been reviewing new albums released by popular artists in 2016), I thought it would be fitting to review his last album release. Hitnrun Phase Two was Prince’s THIRTY-NINTH studio album.
Prince headlined at Baltimore’s Rally for Peace benefit concert with the first song from this album, “Baltimore,” after massive protests shook the city. A civilian, Freddie Gray, died after his neck was broken, and his spinal cord nearly severed, while in police custody. The song is an anthem for peace and healing: “Peace is more than the absence of war.” The warm brass, drums, guitar hooks, and gospel-style backing vocals are a throwback to Prince’s earlier days. I’m also a sucker for the hand clap.
One fantastic skill is when an artist can create new music that reminds us of our old favorites. “Rocknroll Loveaffair” reminds me of a song that could have been on Around the World in a Day. The synth sound, female backing vocals and overall sound reminded me of “Raspberry Beret.”
A Prince album would not be complete without his dirty, dirty mind, and 2.Y.2.D. contains this gem, “She’s old enough to do ya, but too young to dare.” This song has fun musical stops, punchy brass, and a tight rhythm section.
“Look at Me, Look at U” gives us more funky, groovy, and jazzy bass. The keyboard solos are spot on, and utilize my favorite kind of keyboard voice. This is classic Twin Cities sound–so smooth. The lyrics are also incredibly romantic, comparing his lady to Queen Nefertiti or Queen Dido. “Stare” continues the funk theme, with a funny nod to his song, “Kiss.”
Prince returns to the horndog character in “Xtraloveable.”
If ever honey you need someone to take a shower with girl
Call me up and scream
Extra lovable, honey don’t you wanna, don’t you wanna
Take a bath with me?
Next up is “Groovy Potential” –a smooth R&B tune full of old sounds. “When She Comes,” slows things down, and we get to hear Prince’s sweet falsetto. He has such a huge vocal range, and there are few who can sing like that without sounding completely ridiculous.
“Screwdriver” was my least favorite on the album, but there’s always one like that, eh? The vocal effect on his voice actually made it sound weak. Plus, the whole “driver” and “screw” references… c’mon. It felt like someone else wrote these lyrics.
“Black Muse” has a great mid-tempo, stroooong bass guitar, and solid drums. At 7:21, it’s also the longest song on the album–total jam. Loved the washy, psychedelic noises at the end.
“Revelation” is otherworldly. I couldn’t find an online version to share, but this was another favorite. His vocals and the blend of instruments are mesmerizing. His singing is to die for. This is the type of song that will inspire many babies to be born, approximately 9 months from now.
The final song on the album, “Big City,” throws us back to the 70s. The era of bell bottoms, disco, and driving around in giant Ford LTDs. Overall, the album was an eclectic, yet cohesive mix of music–a beautiful blend of his music.
You can purchase Hitnrun Phase Two on iTunes or Amazon below. Afterward, I’m including a few photos taken around the Twin Cities in honor of our beloved Prince.
The Lowry Bridge in NE Minneapolis.
All photos by Jonathan Charpentier. All rights reserved. Images used with permission from the photographer.
Crowds paying their respect at Paisley Park Studios, Chanhassen, MN
Prince’s 4th studio album, Controversy
The fence outside of Paisley Park is now a Prince memorial.
An anonymous artist created this epic painting and left it outside of Paisley Park.