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Funk - Released September 14, 2018 | Warner Records

Hi-Res Distinctions 4F de Télérama - Pitchfork: Best New Reissue
Two years after his premature death, Prince’s Ali Baba cave has offered up its first treasure. With the aptly named album Piano & A Microphone 1983, it’s with the simplest devices that his art is heard. At only 25 years old, Prince had already released five albums (For You, Prince, Dirty Mind, Controversy and 1999) and was just about to release the album that would turn him into a global star, Purple Rain. The multi-instrumentalist spent his days and nights in the studio and we find him here alone at the piano for a medley of personal compositions and two covers: Joni Mitchell’s A Case Of You and the gospel song Mary Don’t You Weep. The intimate context of this recording only amplifies the intensity of this unpublished work. Just close your eyes and you’ll find yourself alone with Prince…With his elastic voice and skilled playing, the musician from Minneapolis proves to those who doubted him that he was a true artist; both entertainer and composer, showman and improviser. His stripped back version of Purple Rain touches on the sublime and the track Strange Relationship gives an insight into the evolution of his productions, as four years later the track appeared, more muscular this time, on the album Sign o’ the Times. While Piano & A Microphone 1983 may be primarily aimed at Prince fans, novices – if there are any left – will no doubt enjoy discovering this impressive artist. © Marc Zisman/Qobuz
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Funk - Released June 7, 2019 | Rhino - Warner Records

Hi-Res Distinctions 4F de Télérama - Pitchfork: Best New Reissue
Following the piano compositions from Piano & A Microphone 1983 released in 2018, we now have a second posthumous, princely album. Originals is centred around the 1981-1991 decade which was particularly prolific for Prince and so there is a beautiful unity throughout the album which mainly comprises of recordings of songs written for others. Rogers Nelson was first and foremost a very accomplished, versatile artist who could play all the instruments in Purple Rain just as well as he performed on stage, like his idol James Brown, for whom he composed numerous songs. He also composed songs for many other outstanding performers in the “Prince world” and among the fifteen tracks in this album are The Glamorous Life written for Sheila E, the Bangles’ Manic Monday, Martika’s Love Thy Will Be Done and You’re My Love for country crooner Kenny Rogers. With its priceless, unreleased tracks, Originals gives a sneak-peak behind the scenes of the studio in which this legendary icon produced some of the very best melodies and sang them with real panache, without really knowing what would become of them. The perfect example of this has to be Nothing Compares 2 U, the real emotional peak of this opus. © Charlotte Saintoin/Qobuz
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Funk - Released June 19, 1984 | Rhino - Warner Records

Hi-Res Distinctions The Qobuz Ideal Discography
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Funk - Released March 25, 1986 | Warner Records

Distinctions The Qobuz Ideal Discography
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Funk - Released June 23, 2017 | Warner Records

Hi-Res Distinctions Best New Reissue
This draped in light rerelease of Purple Rain is an opportunity to take a beautiful trip back in time… For Prince, the 1999 advent coincides with several disputes with his entourage. The pinnacle is reached when the guitarist Dez Dickerson leaves, soon replaced by Wendy Melvoin. The star goes back to work and mulls over a project even crazier than a double album: a quasi-autobiographical movie! With their head on the chopping block, his managers are tasked with finding a film without delay. Warner’s movie division is rather lukewarm and wants warranties. Prince and his ever growing family (The Revolution, The Time, Vanity 6) perform regularly at the First Avenue club and spend the rest of their time locked away in a gigantic warehouse rehearsing and taking drama and dance classes to prepare for the movie. Prince even transferred his own studio in this warehouse to record the soundtrack of his crazy project. He also sets up a mobile studio in front of the First Avenue, where he makes live recordings of other songs. In the end, Warner Studios pay up for what will probably be one of the worst movies they’ve produced so far, a dud that will however give an exuberant and awesome soundtrack: Purple Rain reaches the top of the R&B and Pop charts. Let's Go Crazy, When Doves Cry, Take Me With U, Purple Rain and I Would Die 4 U are all Princely hits that will dominate the airwaves in 1984 and 1985. His decadent funk rock and his frilled-shirted pimp style seduce the entire planet. Once again, the musician manages to mix his different foibles like a new Sly Stone. Containing pop melodies reminding of the Beatles and Hendrixian guitars with a funk groove rhythm, Purple Rain offers above all a complete revamping of these fundamentals of music… This Purple Rain Deluxe – Expanded Edition includes the remastered original album (the remastering was made in Paisley Park in 2015 with the original master tapes, and Prince supervised the whole process a few months before his passing), as well as eleven new titles, but also all the edit versions of the singles and their B sides. Taken from Prince’s numerous unreleased archives, the new tracks are true gems, like the 1983 instrumental version of Father’s Song. Some of them, like the studio version of Electric Intercourse, never even got out of Paisley Park before! Those gems have been mastered by Bernie Grundman, who worked on the original album. © MD/Qobuz
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Funk - Released March 17, 2014 | Epic

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Funk - Released December 17, 2002 | Legacy Recordings

3 stars out of 5 - "...Prince is a crack bandleader in addition to being an ace performer, and he marshals all the skills in this lean - just bass, keys and drums, with four horns - edition of the NPG..." © TiVo
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Funk - Released November 20, 2001 | Legacy Recordings

Billed as Prince's most controversial album -- at least by his press agency and label -- upon its release in the fall of 2001, The Rainbow Children was arguably his most curious album to date, which isn't necessarily the same thing as controversial. It could have been controversial, that's for sure, given that it follows his conversion to the Jehovah's Witnesses and that it trumpets his faith, over the most elastic, jazziest backing music he's made. If Prince hadn't marginalized himself through his record company battles, multi-disc sets, and botched superstar comebacks, this could have been genuinely controversial, since people would be paying attention to what he's doing. As of 2001, nobody outside of the diehards -- those who sign up for the Paisley Park subscription service and those that will seek out an album like The Rainbow Children, which was initially only available through the Internet -- was really paying enough attention to listen to this record, since they were the only ones to sit through the cascade of arcania he turned out after his liberation from Warner. Since they're so deeply immersed in this work, they would realize that musically The Rainbow Children is his most cohesive set since The Gold Experience, and the only one to really push past his traditional limits since then (which, admittedly, is still much more imaginative). And, you know, that's really too bad, because as a musical experience, this is pretty rich, demonstrating not just that Prince knows no borders, but that his music effortlessly mutates within the course of one song, perhaps drawing from his standard book of tricks -- jazz fusion, smooth soul, lite psychedelia, hard rock, and funk general weirdness -- but always sounding unpredictable and rewarding. It's too bad, then, that the very thing that inspired the album for its creator is what will turn off even those diehards that stuck with him this long, seeking out this album -- namely, its religious views. It's not that Prince has become a Jehovah's Witness -- any objective listener really wouldn't care -- but it's that his message doesn't support the music and doesn't fit with the sounds or the approach; it's hard to shut it out, not just because the words are so prominent, but because they're delivered in so many different voices (most distracting of all, the electronically altered basso profundo voice last heard on the decidedly secular "Bob George"), often in short, two-minute songs. This becomes a little overwhelming about halfway through, when the opera comes in on "Wedding Feast," reminding us that this is indeed a concept album, then delving into three eight-minute jams to conclude the record. It all winds up as a bit much, but it doesn't erase the musical facts: this is Prince at his most focused and rewarding in a long time, since Emancipation really. Too bad nobody outside of the diehards cares at this point. © Stephen Thomas Erlewine /TiVo
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Funk - Released April 20, 2004 | Legacy Recordings

Prince's star faded not long after he won emancipation from Warner Brothers in 1995, as he abandoned the mainstream so he could follow his whims however he liked. Which meant that he effectively started making records for nobody but himself, whether that meant triple-disc collections of new material or an all-instrumental smooth jazz album, and in short order, his fans started dwindling away to nothing but the hardcore, who themselves had their patience tried by such antics as Prince suing his own fanzine in the late '90s. It seemed that he was fated to permanently wander in the wilderness, making music for an ever more selective audience, until he suddenly decided in 2004 that he wanted to be back in the game, returning to the spotlight with acclaimed performances at the Grammys and the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame induction ceremony, announcing an all-hits tour, and releasing Musicology, his first major-label distributed album in five years. This flurry of activity suggests that Prince is treating this as an opportunity for a full-fledged comeback and, thankfully, he's seized this moment and delivered a vastly entertaining record. Unlike everything he's done since leaving Warner, Musicology doesn't alienate listeners; it's tight and lean, weighing in at 12 tracks and 47 minutes, yet that's still enough room for Prince to showcase his virtuoso versatility. He tries a little everything -- down and dirty funk jams, slow sensual grooves, and, happily, he revives the psychedelic pop of the mid-'80s with the deliriously catchy "Cinnamon Girl" -- but unlike on such overworked albums as Emancipation and Rave Un2 the Joy Fantastic, it never feels like an attempt to dazzle or a series of stylistic exercises. That's because there's a clarity to his production -- dense, but never busy, proving once again that he's about the only musician who can make a one-man band sound as vibrant as a live nine-piece group -- and a focus to his writing that hasn't been heard in a long, long time. At its core, Musicology is essentially classicist Prince, as he makes a deliberate decision to play to all of his greatest strengths, but because it's been so long that he's made a record this confident and concise, it doesn't sound like a retreat. It sounds as if he's rediscovered his muse, which is quite a bit different than simply following his whims. Make no mistake, this isn't the second coming of Purple Rain or Sign 'o' the Times or even Parade -- in other words, it's not a masterpiece, more like a more confident and consistent Diamonds and Pearls without the hip-hop fixation -- but it's a strong album, one that impresses on the first listen and gets better with repeated plays. In short, it's the comeback that it was meant to be. © Stephen Thomas Erlewine /TiVo
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Funk - Released May 14, 2002 | Legacy Recordings

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Funk - Released January 30, 2007 | Warner Records

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Funk - Released August 20, 1990 | Rhino - Warner Records

Prince was shooting for the top of the charts with Graffiti Bridge, and he missed. The movie was a disaster, causing the soundtrack to sell very poorly. Despite its poor showing, Graffiti Bridge is not a bad album; in fact, it's often very good. Prince wrote all of the songs, but only performed a little over half the tracks, leaving the rest for The Time, Mavis Staples, and Tevin Campbell. With the exception of The Time's slamming "Release It" and Campbell's "Round and Round," the best songs are the ones Prince performed himself. The George Clinton collaboration "We Can Funk," the psycho-blues of "The Question of U," the sinewy single "Thieves in the Temple," and the pop/rock of "Can't Stop This Feeling I Got," "Tick, Tick, Bang," and "Elephants & Flowers" make Graffiti Bridge a thoroughly enjoyable listen. © Stephen Thomas Erlewine /TiVo
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Funk - Released September 25, 2020 | Legacy Recordings

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Prince and the Revolution released the Parade album in March 1986, after which, the following Prince projects were conceived, mostly completed, and abandoned: a single LP Dream Factory, a double-LP Dream Factory, the 3-LP Crystal Ball, a musical known as either The Dawn or Dream Factory, and a single LP Camille. Finally, in March 1987, the double-LP Sign O' The Times was released, cherry-picking highlights from most of those projects and adding brand-new material. It is—even for an artist who has gone down in history as one of the most prolific pop musicians of the 20th century—an astonishing volume of work. Even more astonishing is the consistently high quality of the work. The original Sign O' The Times has long been recognized as Prince's creative zenith, garnering the sort of contemporaneous and retrospective critical admiration that very few double albums have ever claimed. But the fact that this work was the result of a 27-year-old creating at such a fast clip and such a high level is, when you stop and think about it, not just the mark of a genius at the top of his game, but something truly singular. That uniqueness may bedevil listeners of this Super Deluxe Edition. While the Sign O' The Times album itself is, of course, still an incredible work that benefits immensely from the careful remastering (this album, probably more than any other in Prince's catalog, was in dire need of it), there is no easy way to mentally process its 45 unreleased tracks. They are sequenced in chronological order of recording, which makes sense, as there really is no other simple way the Estate could have presented this work. However—believe it or not—this isn't even everything! Due to licensing restrictions and the fact that many of these tracks exist in multiple versions, there is no way this set could be comprehensive. So, while this presentation does deny listeners the chance to compile their own versions of the Dream Factory or Camille albums from the unreleased material, it also declines to provide any sort of narrative listening experience. Which is probably for the best. When, in just two years, you can go from the height of the Revolution's powers ("In A Large Room With No Light,""Soul Psychodelicide") through a collaboration with Miles Davis ("Can I Play With U?") and a run of inventive, immersive home-studio creations ("Cosmic Day") and then on to the sounds that would define Lovesexy ("The Cocoa Boys,""Walkin' in Glory"), the only story to tell is one of a prodigy at his most prodigious. With four albums' worth of unreleased material here—nearly all of which is in surprisingly solid sonic condition—your best bet is to proceed slowly, soak it all in, and find your favorites. And, if the original album and 45 unreleased tracks wasn't enough, this set also includes a handful of edits and remixes along with the two b-sides that were released contemporaneously with the album and an absolutely blazing live set from the album's European tour. © Jason Ferguson/Qobuz
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Funk - Released September 14, 2015 | NPG Records, Inc.

Less than a year after Plectrumelectrum and Art Official Age, the indestructible Prince keeps his creative flow going with the grand unveiling of HITNRUN Phase One. This is a record of real sonic experimentation, possessing a creative madness to which perhaps only the extravagant American funk-wizard holds the key. The album’s thundering intro heralds a great show, hysterical cries paying homage to the Purple One’s now classic ‘Let’s Go Crazy’. Then, after this monumental start, the rest of the record plays out in a similar vein. HITNRUN Phase One reveals a Prince who continues to surprise, using his late career to explore the endless possibilities that the studio can offer. The presence of a new producer, one Joshua Welton, has clearly not mitigated the world’s most famous sonic adventurer’s thirst for new discoveries. This is an incredibly advanced album. It seems to take from the best of each genre to give birth to a new, explosive whole; Prince alternates between mystical funk (‘Ain’t About to Stop’), Latin music (‘Like a Mack’), ballads (‘This Could Be Us’), electronica, and rock. The music is always redolent with a pervasive sensuality – a sensuality wholly unique to Prince – and HITNRUN Phase One feels rooted in both the past and present, all at once. Guest appearances from Rita Ora, Judith Hill, Curly Fryz and Lianne La Havas add even more diversity to this opus.
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Funk - Released August 17, 2018 | Legacy Recordings

Prince's post-Warner catalog -- the records he made for NPG and elsewhere, beginning with 1995's The Gold Experience -- was a mess while he was alive, due to his tendency to hop from label to label, along with his aversion to digital downloads and streaming. Two years after his tragic death in 2016, his catalog began to take shape in the digital realm, thanks to a deal Sony Legacy struck with the Prince Estate. In August 2018, 23 albums Prince released between 1995 and 2010 appeared on all services, and along with them came the double-disc compilation Anthology: 1995-2010. Frankly, this kind of compilation was badly needed. Once he freed himself from Warner, Prince recorded so prolifically that even diehards had a hard time keeping track. Anthology: 1995-2010 provides a way to navigate this vast catalog. Even at 37 tracks, Anthology can't help but miss excellent moments, such as the supple '70s soul covers he scattered throughout his albums and, sadly, his last big hit, "The Most Beautiful Girl in the World," which is absent due to legal reasons. Set this aside, and Anthology shows how Prince turned himself into a clever stylist in the last act of his career, often returning to the funk, pop, and especially soul that he used as primary sources during his glory days in the '80s. Instead of splicing this all together, Prince preferred to jump from style to style during his NPG recordings, but having these sprawling recordings condensed to a compilation highlights not just his versatility, but how his sense of craft never failed him. This is invaluable for the curious, but even the dedicated who listened to the albums upon release but never revisited them should find this enlightening. © Stephen Thomas Erlewine /TiVo
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Funk - Released November 19, 1996 | Legacy Recordings

Emancipation was a critical moment for Prince, one that he designed as an artistic rebirth and, optimistically, as a commercial comeback. In a typically perverse fashion, Prince decided to make the album a triple-disc set running exactly three hours, easily making it the longest album of all-new original material ever released by a popular artist. As the first album he released since leaving Warner Brothers, Emancipation was supposed to dazzle, proving that he had not lost any of his creative skills or power. And it does dazzle, but it's hard to digest a full three discs of music, even if it is almost all of high quality. Fortunately, Prince made each disc into a distinct entity in its own right, with the first being the most pop, the second being a song cycle devoted to his new marriage, and the third being a dance/funk extravaganza. Throughout all three discs, Prince tries on a variety of styles, from jazz to R&B, but he doesn't break any new ground; instead, the album is simply reaffirmation of his strengths as a composer and a musician. Emancipation doesn't have the bristling, colorful eclecticism of Sign 'o' the Times nor does it have the wildness of early one-man projects like 1999 or Dirty Mind, but with its gentle ballads and complex jams, it signals that Prince has evolved into middle-age gracefully. It's a mature effort, to be certain, but in this case that doesn't mean that it's an album bankrupt of ideas -- it means that Prince's craft continues to grow. © Stephen Thomas Erlewine /TiVo
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Funk - Released January 29, 1998 | Legacy Recordings

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Funk - Released July 25, 2019 | Warner Records

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Funk - Released December 12, 2015 | NPG Records

Following quickly on the heels of its companion, HITnRUN: Phase Two is more a complement to than a continuation of its predecessor. Prince ditches any of the lingering modern conveniences of HITnRUN: Phase One -- there's nary a suggestion of electronics and it's also surprisingly bereft of guitar pyrotechnics -- in favor of a streamlined, even subdued, soul album. Despite its stylistic coherence, Prince throws a few curve balls, tossing in a sly wink to "Kiss" on "Stare" and opening the album with "Baltimore," a Black Lives Matter protest anthem where his outrage is palpable even beneath the slow groove. That said, even the hardest-rocking tracks here -- that would be the glammy "Screwdriver," a track that would've been an outright guitar workout if cut with 3rdEyeGirl -- is more about the rhythm than the riff. Compared to the relative restlessness of HITnRUN: Phase One, not to mention the similarly rangy Art Official Age, this single-mindedness is initially overwhelming but like any good groove record, HITnRUN: Phase Two winds up working best over the long haul, providing elegant, supple mood music whose casualness plays in its favor. Prince isn't showing off, he's settling in, and there are considerable charms in hearing a master not trying so hard. © Stephen Thomas Erlewine /TiVo
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Funk - Released March 21, 2006 | Legacy Recordings

Musicology was a self-conscious comeback, a record designed to return Prince to the spotlight and the charts, and it worked: even if it spawned no big hits, the 2004 LP became his first album to crack the Billboard Top Ten since 1995's The Gold Experience, get a fair amount of radio play, and get a bunch of positive press, along with a well-received tour. Prince no longer seemed like an eccentric consigned to the fringes: he seemed like a savvy pro, reclaiming a reputation and respect that he'd lost. That he did it with an album that sounded uncannily like a deliberate return to classic Prince as performed by the New Power Generation was almost beside the point: it was enough that he sounded engaged, and that he made a focused, purposeful album. Its quickly delivered 2006 follow-up, 3121, proves that Musicology was no fluke. Like its predecessor, 3121 is tight and concise, offering 12 songs in 53 minutes, and it's classically structured, emphasizing shifting moods and textures between songs. It is an album, not a collection of songs, and you could even call it old-fashioned, but it feels fresher than Musicology, as if Prince had listened to enough Neptunes productions to understand how they've absorbed his music. That acknowledgement doesn't come often -- it's evident in the sly, sexy grooves of "Black Sweat" and the squealing synths of "Lolita" -- but since it's paired with an emphasis on dance tunes and a retreat from the enjoyable but endless NPG-styled vamping that characterized a good portion of Musicology, 3121 winds up sounding lively, varied, and, at its best, exciting. And at the beginning of the album, 3121 is quite exciting, as Prince revives his high-pitched alter ego Camille on the title track and dives head first into the electro-funk of "Lolita" and "Black Sweat," songs that recall such mid-period masterpieces as "Kiss" or "Sign 'O' the Times" without being rewrites. Nevertheless, the fact that the freshest sounding music here still has a direct line back to records Prince made 20 years prior is a good indication that the album, like Prince himself in the wake of hip-hop, is a little bit conservative, emphasizing funk of both the James Brown and George Clinton varieties, late-night slow jams, classic dance, and soul, instead of wrestling with modern music. While that may disappoint some listeners who yearn for the return of the trailblazing Prince of the '80s, when he reinvented himself with each record, it's hardly surprising that a 47-year-old musician is spending more time refining his palette than expanding it. What is a surprise is that Prince is in top form as both a writer and record-maker; perhaps the one-man-band nature of its recording doesn't mean the album is as gritty or raw as his reliably thrilling live performances, but 3121 crackles with excitement, filled with different sounds and styles. Best of all, this is filled with songs that hold their own as individual tunes, yet gel into a cohesive record that is thankfully devoid of an overarching concept, a problem that plagued his albums after Diamonds and Pearls. 3121 does fall short from being perfect -- there may be no bad songs, but the momentum slows ever so slightly on the second half -- yet it's something more valuable than being a one-off classic: it's proof that Prince has indeed returned as a vital, serious recording artist on his own terms. Maybe he's no longer breaking new ground, but his eccentricities are now an attribute, not a curse, which goes a long way in making his trademark blend of funk, pop, soul, and rock sound nearly as dazzling as it did at his popular and creative peak in the '80s. © Stephen Thomas Erlewine /TiVo

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Prince in the magazine
  • Grammys 2020: a recap
    Grammys 2020: a recap With the 62nd Grammy Awards taking place this past Sunday, let’s take a look at some standout moments of the ceremony.
  • Prince: 1999 in 2019!
    Prince: 1999 in 2019! The Minneapolis master's groundbreaking album which came out in 1982 is now being reissued in a Super Deluxe Edition in Hi-Res 24-Bit quality, with plenty of bonuses including several previously un...
  • Proof for the doubters
    Proof for the doubters Two years after his premature death, Prince’s Ali Baba cave has offered up its first treasure.