Prince unveils new studio album
BY MICHAEL GOLDBERG
PRINCE'S SEVENTH ALBUM, Around the World in a Day, should be in record stores before the end of April. The LP, which was recorded both at Price's home studio in Minneapolis and at Hollywood studios, contains nine tracks that, according to the LP's credits, were "produced, arranged, composed and performed by Prince and the Revolution."
Prince unveiled the record on Thursday, February 21st. Warner Bros. Records executives received a phone call late in the afternoon that day informing them that the label's biggest star would be arriving at their Burbank headquarters in forty-five minutes. Interoffice phones buzzed with the news, and a huge crowd of Warners staffers hurriedly assembled in the front lobby.
At about five p.m., a shiny purple limousine pulled up outside the record company's building. Prince stepped out of the car, along with his father, John L. Nelson; his bodyguards; his managers; and Revolution guitarist Wendy Melvoin. Dressed in a long, purple antique kimono and striped, pajama-type pants, Prince clutched a single pink rose as he entered the building. Obviously pleased and looking quite confident, Prince smiled as the crowd greeted him with tumultuous applause. "I've seen Fleetwood Mac and David Lee Roth and Shaun Cassidy and everyone walk into this building," said one Warner Bros. employee, "but nothing like this."
Prince's entourage trooped past more fans crowded along the stairways and corridors, up to a fourth-floor conference room that had been hastily decorated with hundreds of purple helium balloons and white streamers. About 150 Warners staffers and executives -- including president Lenny Waronker and board chairman Mo Ostin -- were crammed into the room. Except for a few words with Ostin, Prince was silent. He sat on the floor with Wendy and his father, stared at the ground and held on to the rose as tapes of the album played at full volume.
Side one of the album includes the LP's title track, which was written by Prince, his father and David Coleman, who is the brother of Revolution keyboardist Lisa Coleman. The songs uses such unusual as an oud, finger cymbals and a darbuka to create a Middle Eastern feel. "Paisley Park," named after Prince's home studio, is a buoyant rocker reminiscent of the Beatles' "Strawberry Fields Forever." The ballad "Condition of the Heart" is a solo performance by Prince that features a Keith Jarrett-style piano intro and a falsetto vocal, while "Raspberry Beret" is another track that recalls the Beatles' psychedelic period ("She wore a Raspberry beret/The kind u find in a secondhand store/And if it was warm, she wouldn't wear much more"). The final cut on side one is "Tambourine," a heavily rhythmic track with a Bo Diddley beat. It's sung and played by Prince alone.
Side two contains "America," which plays off "America the Beautiful" and has an American Indian feel ("America, America, God shed his grace on thee/America, America, keep the children free"). "Pop Life," another Beatles-influenced number, includes drumming by Sheila E. and a string interlude "composed and conducted by Lisa and Wendy" ("What u putting in your nose/Is that where all your money goes?") "The Ladder" is a gospel-flavored song written by Prince and his father. It features a female chorus that includes Lisa, Wendy and Wendy's sister Susannah Melvoin. The album's epic is "Temptation," an eight-minute-and-twenty-one-second song that Prince has been performing in concert. It begins with Hendrix-style guitar and ends with a weird rap that sounds like a dialogue between Prince and God. Prince says, "I'm talkin' about the kind of temptation that'll make you do things. I'm talkin' about sexual temptation." An electronically altered low voice says, "You have to want it for the right reasons." And Prince responds, "I'm sorry. I'll be good. This time I promise. Love is more important than sex. I understand. I have to go now."
The album's first single, "Paisley Park" (back with a nonalbum song called "She's Always in My Hair"), was to have been released on February 27th, the day after Prince won three Grammys. A few days before the awards ceremony, however, Prince abruptly changed his mind, deciding not to release the single. One source at Warner Bros. said Prince didn't want the song to compete with "We Are the World," the USA for Africa record, which he declined to participate in.
Until late last month, details about the album were closely guarded secrets. At Warner Bros., only a handful of top executives knew about it. Still, rumors began circulating in music-business circles, and at least one advance tape got into the hands of a rival record-company executive.
In the Warner Bros. conference room, every song was greeted with applause, and before the last cut ended, Prince vanished. Said a Warners source, "Everyone sort of stood up and applauded after the record was over, and then he wasn't there anymore."
ROLLING STONE, APRIL 11, 1985