Friday, May 19, 2017

Purple Power Rankings #420-406: "Come" Already, Wouldja?

420. Push (Diamonds & Pearls, 1991)
--In which the Don of the Purple Mafia boasts about "snatchin' up kiddies like a circus clown" and uses "asunder" as a verb ("No man should asunder the joy that another man found"). I'm pretty certain both offenses could land one on a watch list of some sort. Much like on "Jughead," we get raps from Prince, Tony and Rosie, and finally Tony finds a beat on which he can outrhyme somebody. (Sorry, Rosie.)

419. The Arms of Orion (Batman Soundtrack, 1989)
--We just keep telling ourselves "it's from a movie." The problem with "Orion" is that it probably has less to do with its superhero source material than any other song on the Batman soundtrack. And very few of them have much direct connection in the first place. This one might have been more at home in a Disney flick.

418. Crazy You (For You, 1978)
--A ballad that casts into doubt some of the reputation of Prince's debut album. The production of For You went too long and cost too much, but "Crazy You" doesn't sound like it took much time at all. It's atmospheric, with some beautiful acoustic guitar work, but it's also a fragment. One clunky verse, one two-line chorus, and we're moving back to the dance floor. Thanks for stopping by.

417. Calhoun Square (Crystal Ball, 1997)
--Props for the shout to uptown Minny, but he did this better back in 1980, when the song was actually called "Uptown." You can lose your mind to the chorus, but again, you could on "Uptown," as well. And I'm not sure I want to know what "Don't be shocked 2 C your mother in the chair" means.

416. Extraordinary (Old Friends 4 Sale, 1999)
--The starkness of the piano arrangement is rivaled only by the cliche-ridden lyrics. ("Valentine's a little rough/But we survived cuz we had a love...") I'm not usually a fan of instrumentals, but this one would be best served with just piano, no microphone.

"Of course it comes in purple, Mr. Nelson..."
415. U're Gonna C Me (MPLSound, 2009)
--The piano-driven One Nite Alone version is prettier and more soulful, but the chorus remains catchy...especially if, unlike me, you're able to skate by the man's continuing shoutouts to obsolete tech ("Gimme a page on my 2-way/I'll hit U back with no delay..."). Well, it's gonna be some kind of delay while he finds a landline to holla at his girl on, right?

414. When She Comes (HitNRun Phase Two, 2016)
--The man who once gave us (and The Time) "The Walk" now gives us "the Waltz," layering accordion and lilting piano under lyrics invoking both "limoncello ballet" and "psychedelic cabaret." Bonus thesaurus points, and the song fits reasonably well into Phase Two's soul-centric vibe, but even in those laid-back surroundings, it borders on supper-club Muzak.

413. 3 Chains o' Gold (Love Symbol, 1992)
--No song on the Symbol album is hamstrung more by obsessive adherence to its rock-opera storyline than "3 Chains." If you don't watch the accompanying "movie," and I'm not sure I'm all that anxious to recommend doing so, then there is no mention of the titular chains anywhere to be found on this album. The track is a marvel of studio wizardry, splicing together a pastoral ballad, apocalyptic basso profundo invocations of doom and vintage Prince guitar pyro. Problem is, Queen was doing it all better back in 1975.

HAWT.

412. Come (Come, 1993)
--If I may get a little graphic here...I know Prince is trying to simulate the sound of cunnilingus during the latter half of this track's nearly interminable 11-plus minutes. But it's kind of like a movie foley artist trying to simulate the sound of a punch by breaking a celery stick, because I'll be damned if Prince eating pussy doesn't sound like a hands-behind-your-back watermelon-eating contest. "Don't B surprised if I make U my daily meal," indeed. The horns take charge like on the best James Brown tracks, but still, the whole thing meanders way too long while Prince busies himself with asking if he can suck and/or fuck you. It's almost a relief by the time he finally gets, um, down to it.

411. When U Love Somebody (Newpower Soul, 1998)
--I love the line "Who needs love when U got protection?" However, the pedantic chorus keeps killing the momentum:
"'Cause when U love somebody/Every now and then it might rain/When U love somebody/With every sun shower there's pain/Whenever something's lost, something's gained/When U love somebody..."
Pretty sure vampires are the only ones pained by every sun shower, but whatever. Again, the horns put in yeoman work, but Prince can't decide if he's the willing cuckold ("Same tired line that I heard a dozen times/But still I gots 2 give in") or the swaggering pimp ("Yeah, do yo dance/But I'm the 1 U're dancin' 4"). Pick a side, boss.

410. The Flow (Love Symbol, 1992)
--I think this might be the last time we hear from Tony M. for a while, if not until we get to the songs that are so bulletproof that even he can't fuck them up (see "Sexy MF" and "My Name is Prince"). Prince begs valid questions about why we're so celebrity-obsessed--and lays into the journalists who profit off said obsession--but his rap is more of a rant, a free-association string of syllables that doesn't ride the beat so much as step all over it.

409. Whitecaps (Plectrum Electrum, 2014)
--Think No Doubt strung out on whatever Fleetwood Mac was on when they made tracks like "Songbird." This is not truly an insult, but "Whitecaps" would almost have fit as a 3rd Eye Girl cameo on HitNRun Phase Two. When placed alongside roaring guitar blasts like "Aintturninround" or "Fixurlifeup," it's a caesura in an otherwise propulsive set that spoke to 3EG's potential. In the wake of Prince's passing, it's almost 3EG's eulogy, similar to what "Sometimes It Snows in April" constitutes to the Revolution.

408. The Latest Fashion (Graffiti Bridge, 1990) 
--The Kid and Morris Day working together? Bah. Kills what little concept the movie had. "Fashion" is still better than its Pandemonium-closing doppelganger "My Summertime Thang," but that's a hella low bar. The groove is strong, until it drops out for Prince to let loose a rap that makes Tony M. sound like Rakim by comparison. Dude, are you "harder than a heart attack" or "the cure for any disease"? Make up our minds already.

407. An Honest Man (Crystal Ball, 1997)
--Sounded better when Kristin Scott Thomas was reading the lyrics in Under the Cherry Moon. The extensive vocal overdubs detract from the soul-baring, beautifully confessional lyrics.

Does give a whole new meaning to "gimme some head," though.
406. What Do U Want Me 2 Do? (Musicology, 2004)
--The "grown and sexy" vibe of Musicology was even reflected in his approach to the opposite sex on this mid-tempo stroll. He dresses down (not literally, for once) an overly thirsty chick who's out to ditch her man to be with a man who's already got himself a woman, thank U very much. A little jarring, though, to hear a beheading reference in a song about a would-be romantic relationship.

NEXT TIME: If Damien Thorn was a chick, another poorly-Timed Graffiti track, and a crazy-overrated Purple Rain-era B-side (no, they weren't all classics).