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Prince turns a brilliant sonic triple play

Prince's latest  music is available only at Target.

Prince's latest music is available only at Target.

Prince likes defying conventions, and this time he’s doing it with a 3-D sonic assault. He strikes out in several creative directions on a trio of new albums – the rock-guitar-fueled “LOtUSFLOW3R “(3.5 stars out of 4), electronic-infused “MPLSoUND” (3 stars) and pop-flavored “Elixer,” featuring protege Bria Valente (2 stars).

The albums became available last week as free downloads to fans who pay the $77 annual membership fee for his new LotusFlow3r.com Web site, marking Prince’s official return to cyberspace since shutting down his pioneering NPG Music Club in 2006. The three discs are being sold exclusively at Target in an $11.98 bundle.

This isn’t the first time the major-label-averse artist has bypassed traditional retail. He gave away 2007′s “Planet Earth “as an insert in the U.K. national newspaper “The Mail”. Ticket buyers for 2004′s Musicology tour got copies of that album with their purchase.

The new records are a bargain both in terms of the nearly three hours of listening time and audio treasures. “LOtUSFLOW3R” is loaded with rip-roaring guitar riffs and booty-agitating grooves as he explores love, politics and love’s politics. “Feel Good, Feel Better, Feel Wonderful” is an orgiastic funk workout, while the hypnotic “Colonized Mind” and anthemic “Dreamer” share his worldviews.

“MPLSoUND” finds Prince revisiting the synth vibe of the ’80s with his outsize ego intact on tracks like “(There’ll Never B) Another Like Me” and “Ol’ Skool Company,” which reunites some of his Minneapolis cohorts. The sly “Valentina,” bouncy Q-Tip-assisted “Chocolate Box” and wicked “No More Candy 4 U” also stand out.

Prince has toned down his music’s “Dirty Mind” raunchiness since becoming a Jehovah’s Witness in 2001. Still, the pop-lite “Elixer”, showcasing Valente’s sensual yet indistinct vocals, could have really used a whiff of Prince’s old “Do Me Baby” spice. Though there are a few tantalizing moments, the overall effect is more tepid than torrid – even with Prince producing and playing guitar.

Taken together, the three albums confirm that the eccentric genius still has his creative passion. And even if everything he tries doesn’t hit a high note, it’s still a pleasure to hear the Purple One work out.

Citizen Online Archive, 2006-2009

This archive contains all the stories that appeared on the Tucson Citizen's website from mid-2006 to June 1, 2009.

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For all of the stories that were archived by the Tucson Citizen newspaper's library in a digital archive between 1993 and 2009, go to Morgue Part 2

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