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Prince's Prints

The man with no name's mark is all over "The Gold Experience"

Reviewed by Nicky Baxter

In case you haven't heard the news yet, the disembodied voice of a female announces it: Prince is dead, long live "npg," the new power generation. But in fact, the artist formerly known as Prince is up to his old tricks on The Gold Experience (Reprise). Which is not a bad thing at all. All of the familiar alter egos are in place: the salacious swami of dirty-minded pop; the restless romantic; the good Samaritan. Written and recorded over the last two years, Gold is a heterogeneous grab-bag of seamless soul, gutter funk-rock and quirky power pop.

While the credits list npg as his collaborators, this record has "Prince" stamped all over it: gusts of billowing guitar, the retro-rhythms, the backwash of pillowy voices--all in screaming purple. Yet things have changed somewhat. In the 1980s, the honeys he met were soft, wanton and wet; but this is the '90s, and girls don't wanna just have fun. Some of them have dangerous minds. On "Shy," he begins with finger-poppin' bass licks lifted from Sly Stone only to go for baroque. Behind cascading acoustic guitars, the symbol man tells the morbid tale of a young woman who murders a boy on a bluff.

The girl in "Billy Jack Bitch" has grown weary of her man's name-calling, and to the relentless bomp of percussive bass and bleating synthesizers, she gives him a piece of her mind. On "I Hate U" princely paradoxes assume control; his lady is on trial for infidelity. The verdict, "I hate u, because I love u," sums up the artist's--if not most men's--confusion on the subject. Few are better at getting us to dance to the contradiction.

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From the Nov. 9-Nov 15, 1995 issue of Metro

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