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Forums > Prince: Music and More > Were you disappointed that Prince didn't continue with his avant garde approach from 2001-2003?
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Thread started 12/16/18 10:30am

MattyJam

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Were you disappointed that Prince didn't continue with his avant garde approach from 2001-2003?

Albums like The Rainbow Children, One Nite Alone, NEWS and Xpectation were widely seen by many fans as more respectable and admirable works, as opposed to his late 90s releases, which were accused of chasing trends and looking desperate for a hit.

And of course, the brilliant ONA tour is widely celebrated on the org for being one of his best tours.

So how did you feel when he hit with Musicology/3121/Planet Earth etc and returned to a more mainstream approach? Were you disappointed he didn't disappear further down the rabbit hole of weird, experimental, jazzy concept albums?

Also, do you think he would've been perceived any differently today had he not returned to the mainstream, releasing more commercial music and playing greatest hits tours and the Superbowl? Suppose he continued down the path of TRC and ONA... would he be more respected by serious muso types but less revered by the public?
[Edited 12/16/18 10:37am]
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Reply #1 posted 12/16/18 10:39am

Rimshottbob

YEEEEESSSSSS!!!

When he started putting out some really interesting stuff in the early 2000s, I thought, yes! This is great... NOW he's getting around to doing what he said he wanted to do when he left Warners....

I loved that period... Rainbow Children, One Nite Alone, studio and live... NEWS, Xpectation, etc... thought it was fantastic, and listening to Prince was exciting again like it had been mid 90s when he changed his name....

even when it was all about NPG Music Club it was exciting. Who knew what he was going to release....

And then came Musicology, 3121, and Planet Earth.

Musicology I actually like, and really still do... even if it was a disappointing about face.

But after that thrilling, experimental period, 3121 and Planet Earth were dead in the water to me.

Some of his least inspiring music ever. Yes, I'll admit there's a few good tunes on them, but I really thought 2001-2003 was going to be just the beginning of who knows where he was going to take us... it got a bit safe after that...

Still the music from that period, though....

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Reply #2 posted 12/16/18 10:39am

KoolEaze

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I liked the organic sound of TRC and the ONA tour but I also liked and still like what he did on the later albums that you mentioned. I like the sound of those albums much more than the sound he was going for after Emancipation and before TRC.

What I didn´t really like was when he started using lots of horns instead of just one or two horn players like Eric and/or Eddie M. and when he played so many of the same old cover versions during his live shows, or when he´d revisit certain sounds of certain musicians over and over again instead of revisiting his own sound but that´s just me....all in all, I really like what he did on those albums you mentioned.

" I´d rather be a stank ass hoe because I´m not stupid. Oh my goodness! I got more drugs! I´m always funny dude...I´m hilarious! Are we gonna smoke?"




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Reply #3 posted 12/16/18 10:52am

EmmaMcG

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Had he continued along that route, I'd never have become a fan. Its precisely because of his return to "mainstream" music with Musicology, 3121 etc that I discovered him. My ex boyfriend has always been a massive Prince fan for as long as I've known him and I met him when I was 12, back in 2002. I remember him playing me The Rainbow Children and the 12 year old me thought it was shit. And it put me off listening to any Prince music for years after that. It wasn't until I was about 16, when 3121 came out, that I heard Black Sweat on the radio and liked it. My boyfriend gave me his copy of 3121 (he had 2) and I wore out my CD player. We broke up around the time Planet Earth came out so I didn't really bother with that album, even though I got it for free with the paper, and it was 2011 before I really started listening to Prince again after my ex took me to Denmark to see Prince play live. That was the night that I actually got to meet Prince in person (for about 40 seconds) and I had to admit that I didn't know many of his songs. When we got back to Dublin, my ex gave me his entire Prince collection. I listened to it all starting with 20Ten and working back to For You. If it wasn't for the more commercial period between 2004 and 2009, I would have given up. Those were the albums that hooked me in. One Nite Alone still bores me, The Rainbow Children thinks it's a better album than it is and NEWS and Xpectation are just not good at all.

So, to make a long story short, my answer is no. I am not disappointed that Prince didn't continue down this route because if he did, I would have missed out on all his classic albums because his "avant garde" period would have just turned me off.
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Reply #4 posted 12/16/18 11:00am

ChickenMcNugge
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Honestly, those 'avantgarde' albums are among my least-listened-to Prince material... I prefer the Madhouse projects when I'm looking for something a bit 'sideways' from Prince.

I don't begrudge him doing those projects at all, and I'm not the biggest fan of the '04-'07 era anyway, but I do love later stuff like the HitnRun albums that I suppose his return to a more 'mainstream' sound in the later 2000s was a springboard for.

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Reply #5 posted 12/16/18 11:08am

NorthC

No! I totally lost interest in Prince after the pseudo-jazz crap of Rainbow Children. The last thing I need is endless instrumental jams in the same genre. There was nothing Xciting or Xperimental about that. It was just Xtremely boring.
I was happy with Musicology. It wasn't a perfect record, but at least he went back to doing what he was good at: writing songs.
[Edited 12/16/18 11:10am]
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Reply #6 posted 12/16/18 11:31am

paulludvig

Yes, I really liked the 2001-2003 period. I have never really thought of Prince as a mainstream artist anyway, and I generally don't like his attempts at chasing trends.
The wooh is on the one!
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Reply #7 posted 12/16/18 1:37pm

pinkcashmere23

I love his work from that time, especially RBC and N.E.W.S. and I thought it was nice that he was experimenting again. It was a bit disappointing to me that he didn't continue that. I think it would have been nice if he had done a few more albums like those every now and then. Lotusflow3r had it's moments with "From The Lotus","BOOM" and "Back To The Lotus."

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Reply #8 posted 12/16/18 1:54pm

42Kristen

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Reply #9 posted 12/16/18 2:13pm

Moonbeam

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No - aside from One Nite Alone, the other studio releases from 2001 to 2003 are all among my bottom quarter of Prince albums - I don't think Prince was that successful in his jazzy attempts.

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Reply #10 posted 12/16/18 2:22pm

rdhull

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This is why Beautiful Strange was so good, It continued his avante garde approach to music amidst his mainstream attempts. Wasted Kisses and The War fall in this area as well.

c'mon baby, where's ya guts?
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Reply #11 posted 12/16/18 2:53pm

thisisreece

Yes. It's my favourite period outside of the 80s. I wish he'd have continued in that vein for much longer. I really hope there's another album or two from this period stashed away in the vault.

Hundalasiliah!
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Reply #12 posted 12/16/18 3:10pm

purplethunder3
121

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rdhull said:

This is why Beautiful Strange was so good, It continued his avante garde approach to music amidst his mainstream attempts. Wasted Kisses and The War fall in this area as well.

yeahthat

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Reply #13 posted 12/16/18 3:48pm

callimnate

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Nah. He’d already lost me by then. neutral
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Reply #14 posted 12/16/18 3:51pm

TwiliteKid

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There’s nothing “avant garde” about that time period. He may have been less focused on the charts and chasing trends (though there’s something to the idea that TRC was a reaction to neo-soul), but this music was hardly groundbreaking.

That said, yes, I was disappointed when he returned to purely mainstream sounds with Musicology.
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Reply #15 posted 12/16/18 8:34pm

MIRvmn

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Yes I was disappointed and think we would have got even more interesting and strong material if Prince had continued to release experimental albums like TRC and N.E.W.S. I hope someday we get to hear TRC2
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Reply #16 posted 12/17/18 4:27am

leecaldon

It's a significant part of his career, and his catalogue would be much poorer without. I wish he had alternated between more mainstream fare and the more unexpected stuff in subsequent years.

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Reply #17 posted 12/17/18 4:39am

rlittler81

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Yes. When i read the setlists for the 2003 Australian shows I realised he'd gone back to the 'Hits' formula, rather than the more experimental 'ONA' shows which was disappointing. It was great to have people talk about Prince again after he'd released Musicology but it wasn't as interesting to me as the 2001-2003 music but 3121-Lotusflow3r was a great era in terms of the material he released.

3121... Don't U Wanna Come?
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Reply #18 posted 12/17/18 5:10am

herb4

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No.

Those "jazz" inspired albums/instrumentals I find incredibly boring and interchangeable. 3121 and Musicology aren't masterpieces but they don't put me to sleep.

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Reply #19 posted 12/17/18 5:36am

BartVanHemelen

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So a bland jazz/rock/funk mélange is "avant garde"? Pur-lease. You lot need to pick up albums by John Zorn, Terry Riley, Frank Zappa, John Cage, Ornette Coleman, Glenn Branca, Boredoms, etc.

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Reply #20 posted 12/17/18 6:35am

TrivialPursuit

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Moonbeam said:

No - aside from One Nite Alone, the other studio releases from 2001 to 2003 are all among my bottom quarter of Prince albums - I don't think Prince was that successful in his jazzy attempts.


I totally agree. I almost resented the jazzy shit Renato etc brought to the table. One one hand, it does show how versatile Prince's music can be. But it mostly segregated and alienated much of his longtime fanbase. I don't expect Top 40 fans to even know N.E.W.S. exists, much less anything else. But I also would hope he always had something I could hook into. This person was not that for me. When I heard "Baby I'm A Star" broken down as some light-jazz Yanni-inspired bullshit, I was done with that straight away. Couple that with his pent-up rambling about theocratic order and all that boolshit... girl, bye. It's probably why it took a while to warm up to Musicology, simply because I had disconnected from his then-current work and stayed in his back catalog. I didn't want to be disappointed anymore. 3121 and Planet Earth brought me back around again.

re: rdhull's "This is why Beautiful Strange was so good, It continued his avante garde approach to music amidst his mainstream attempts. Wasted Kisses and The War fall in this area as well." comment: I do think the songs he noted are superb songs. They were one-offs, or trinkets. But an album full of those sorts of trinkets is equally over- and underwhelming.

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Reply #21 posted 12/17/18 6:58am

jaawwnn

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Yeah, he didn't exactly turn into Throbbing Gristle.
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Reply #22 posted 12/17/18 7:31am

fabriziovenera
ndi

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BartVanHemelen said:

So a bland jazz/rock/funk mélange is "avant garde"? Pur-lease. You lot need to pick up albums by John Zorn, Terry Riley, Frank Zappa, John Cage, Ornette Coleman, Glenn Branca, Boredoms, etc.

East or Xpediction are tracks that could stay in "avant garde" fields, with Zappa or Zorn.

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Reply #23 posted 12/17/18 8:00am

paulludvig

TrivialPursuit said:



Moonbeam said:


No - aside from One Nite Alone, the other studio releases from 2001 to 2003 are all among my bottom quarter of Prince albums - I don't think Prince was that successful in his jazzy attempts.




I totally agree. I almost resented the jazzy shit Renato etc brought to the table. One one hand, it does show how versatile Prince's music can be. But it mostly segregated and alienated much of his longtime fanbase. I don't expect Top 40 fans to even know N.E.W.S. exists, much less anything else. But I also would hope he always had something I could hook into. This person was not that for me. When I heard "Baby I'm A Star" broken down as some light-jazz Yanni-inspired bullshit, I was done with that straight away. Couple that with his pent-up rambling about theocratic order and all that boolshit... girl, bye. It's probably why it took a while to warm up to Musicology, simply because I had disconnected from his then-current work and stayed in his back catalog. I didn't want to be disappointed anymore. 3121 and Planet Earth brought me back around again.

re: rdhull's "This is why Beautiful Strange was so good, It continued his avante garde approach to music amidst his mainstream attempts. Wasted Kisses and The War fall in this area as well." comment: I do think the songs he noted are superb songs. They were one-offs, or trinkets. But an album full of those sorts of trinkets is equally over- and underwhelming.



It's interesting how diverse his fan base is. Some want the pop star, some want the artist.
The wooh is on the one!
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Reply #24 posted 12/17/18 8:07am

NorthC

Some want both. biggrin
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Reply #25 posted 12/17/18 8:34am

TwiliteKid

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fabriziovenerandi said:

BartVanHemelen said:

So a bland jazz/rock/funk mélange is "avant garde"? Pur-lease. You lot need to pick up albums by John Zorn, Terry Riley, Frank Zappa, John Cage, Ornette Coleman, Glenn Branca, Boredoms, etc.

East or Xpediction are tracks that could stay in "avant garde" fields, with Zappa or Zorn.

Nah.

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Reply #26 posted 12/17/18 9:05am

fabriziovenera
ndi

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TwiliteKid said:

fabriziovenerandi said:

East or Xpediction are tracks that could stay in "avant garde" fields, with Zappa or Zorn.

Nah.

Oblivious it is a different kind of "avant garde". Prince wasn't a "intellectual", his approach was more rough, improvised and sometimes "slob". But "East" is an avant guard track, as "Cuts" for example. It is not so far away from some synclavier ideas, converted and simplified by the Prince's "pop machine".

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Reply #27 posted 12/17/18 9:24am

donnyenglish

2001-2003 is my favorite era. Prior to 2001 I thought that he had peaked creatively and would no longer release anything groundbreaking. And then I sat in Studio B and listend to TRV in 2001 and was blown away. In 2003, I though that there was no way that he could release anything that would have commercial appeal and then I was again shocked by Musicology and 3121. I don't look at it as a disappointment because there is some edge stuff on Musicology, 3121, PE, Lotus, etc. The fact that his live performance from 2001 forward were the best of his career is what sticks out to me.

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Reply #28 posted 12/17/18 10:00am

steakfinger

Hell no, I wasn't disappointed. That stuff was mostly weak as hell. Rainbow Children had a lot of good musical moments, but the lyrical content and the guitar work were both ignorant. His intrumental music is typically VERY boring with few exceptions. I can understand how many non-musicians find it exciting that their pop idol was doing something they don't normally listen to, but it wasn't very good. At all. It's like fans of Billy Joel feeling excited that he released an album of "classical music" he wrote. It wasn't good when Billy Joel did it and it wasn't any good when Prince did it. If Prince had released that stuff under a different name no one here would have ever heard of it. It's his name and personality - his brand - that has people here willing to listen to something like that. I suppose that might be an accomplishment, but it certainly wasn't a musical accomplishment. I appreciate his ambition and I truly do like that he tried, but he wasn't a jazz musician and he wasn't as experimental as he liked to think. There are people in Denton, TX who you will NEVER hear about doing stuff that makes Prince's instrumental work sound childish.

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Reply #29 posted 12/17/18 10:35am

paulludvig

steakfinger said:

Hell no, I wasn't disappointed. That stuff was mostly weak as hell. Rainbow Children had a lot of good musical moments, but the lyrical content and the guitar work were both ignorant. His intrumental music is typically VERY boring with few exceptions. I can understand how many non-musicians find it exciting that their pop idol was doing something they don't normally listen to, but it wasn't very good. At all. It's like fans of Billy Joel feeling excited that he released an album of "classical music" he wrote. It wasn't good when Billy Joel did it and it wasn't any good when Prince did it. If Prince had released that stuff under a different name no one here would have ever heard of it. It's his name and personality - his brand - that has people here willing to listen to something like that. I suppose that might be an accomplishment, but it certainly wasn't a musical accomplishment. I appreciate his ambition and I truly do like that he tried, but he wasn't a jazz musician and he wasn't as experimental as he liked to think. There are people in Denton, TX who you will NEVER hear about doing stuff that makes Prince's instrumental work sound childish.



The guitar work was ignorant?
The wooh is on the one!
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