Retroactive Review: Diamonds and Pearls (1991)

Don’t call it a comeback, I’ve been here for years

James Todd Smith proudly boasted on his smash hit “Mama Said Knock You Out”; released the year prior to Diamonds and Pearls worldwide release date of October 1st, 1991. The same could be said of Prince during the recording sessions for his thirteenth album. The landscape of pop music was changing once more, with the hip hop landscape becoming a viable commercial genre. Prince could ignore it no longer, and reportedly even enjoyed Public Enemy1. It had to be incorporated into his sound, lest he fade into irrelevance, much like at the turn of the previous decade when he busted his ass at Moon Studios from ’76-’78 to secure a record deal, rented a humble home in Edina without much space from ’78-’79, worked his way up Warner Bros. stable of artists while developing his production skills, and sought to change the pop landscape.

A big takeaway from Graffiti Bridge is that lightning can’t be caught in a bottle twice, so why attempt to water down something you’ve done before when you can try something new that people may actually enjoy? It’s partially why this album was a commercial success, and in a timely fashion, going platinum on December 4th, 1991, and double platinum shortly after that, on January 30th, 1992. Where the past two projects had been months and years in the making, this was very much a seasoned boxer in the seventh round looking to mount a comeback. The recording process is much more straightforward, something he had already committed to for his live performances with The Nude Tour.

Most of The New Power Generation, Prince’s second backing band, was assembled during said tour. Miko Weaver, Dr. Fink, and Levi Seacer, Jr. were the only remaining members from The LoveSexy Band or prior, and The Nude Tour would see the additions of Michael B. on drums, Rosie Gaines as co-vocals and additional keyboards, newly rechristened Tony M. as the lead rapper, and the Game Boyz trio of Tony M., Damon Dickson, and Kirk Johnson, who also was a supporting percussionist and drummer, went through changes from their original incarnation as Morris’s henchmen in Purple Rain. Tony M. was now more boisterous, and to many, an annoyance at best, and a hindrance at worst. Not all the changes made were bad however, as Rosie Gaines was famously called Prince’s “secret weapon,” often attributed to The Purple One himself.

In my Graffiti Bridge review, I mentioned two shows Prince did at Rupert’s Nightclub in Golden Valley, MN on April 30th, 1990, and the Saint Paul Civic Center Arena in Saint Paul, MN on May 6th, 1990. The first show was to raise money for Chick Hunstberry, his former bodyguard who passed without life insurance. It was this show where Prince assembled his backing band for The Nude Tour, and the ensuing show on May 6th served as the warm-up show to the official tour opener on June 2nd, 1990, at the Feyenoord Stadion in Rotterdam, The Netherlands.

Rewinding even further however, and we begin our complete timeline of the album in December ’89, the last week of the year. A few critics were upset I began my Batman and Graffiti Bridge reviews by providing background on the first track recorded for each specific album, which in the case of Batman, meant Prince underwent many different thought processes; going back on the original Graffiti Bridge to save it for later, creating, going back on, and taking some ideas from Rave Unto the Joy Fantastic, saving tracks he originally tracked for one project for another, still attaching himself to a soundtrack, you get the point. I’d like to provide context on the genesis of a track and an album, and to do that I provide a deconstruction of the album on a timeline, which I find that since Prince was fond of repurposing tracks from The Vault, helps a lot in bringing out subtext and other themes in the context of an album.

Having said all that, “Diamonds and Pearls” and “Live 4 Love” were tracked during the last week of December, featuring many of the same people who would later be apart of the original lineup of The New Power Generation, named after the song that Prince had his “secret weapon” add vocals to in December of ’89, after she impressed him in the studio once Levi Seacer, Jr. was able to get The Purple One to sit in on a session and co-write a song with her. This resulted in “I Want U (Purple Version),” on her second2 album Closer Than Close, released in 1995. Some members of a band called Flash, fronted by brief Prince associate Margie Cox, also sat in on these sessions, and wouldn’t you know it, Michael B., Sonny T., Tommy Elm, soon to be renamed Tommy Barbarella, all came from this group. Those two shows he did on April 30th and May 6th? Flash was the supporting group; Michael B. did double-duty on drums, but more importantly, Prince had already begun assembling and prepping his next backing band, and a new stage in his career.

After closing the year out dedicating his time to new management, having them secure film distribution for Graffiti Bridge, and recording music with a new supporting cast in preparation for his upcoming Nude Tour and future in general, Prince returned to work on the Graffiti Bridge album; not worrying about much else until June 1990. The intensive first leg of the Europe-and-Japan-only Nude Tour would see Mavis Staples and her supporting band of Flash, sans Margie Cox, joining the leg on June 19th, 1990, at Wembley Arena in London, England. Tensions ran high between band members during this time, and yet, Prince made sure to dedicate extensive studio time at Olympic Studios in London, England, during the England stretch that comprised a little under half of the first leg of The Nude Tour, to recording a decent quantity of material intended for Rosie Gaines’ album Concrete Jungle. Amidst all this, the group was able to craft “Daddy Pop,” featuring the second rap by Tony M., and “Walk Don’t Walk”; all before Mavis Staples and Flash departed back overseas after the July 13th, 1990 show at the National Exhibition Centre in Birmingham, England.

Another month passed by, and during the third leg, or the Japan stretch of The Nude Tour, Prince was able to track “Money Don’t Matter 2 Night,” “Strollin’,” and “Willing and Able” at Warner Pioneer Studios in Tokyo, Japan, primarily with Michael B. and Levi Seacer, Jr.; further contributions were added to “Willing and Able” during the additional recording, reworking and production work done to this first batch of songs crafted for a potential future album during this tour. The tour ended September 10th, 1990, at a show in Yokohama, Japan at the Yokohama Stadium. Within hours of landing back in the United States, the band recorded “Jughead,” “Horny Pony,” the original version of “The Flow,” and two songs titled “Something Funky (This House Comes),” which was initially tracked during the Warner Pioneer Studios sessions, and “Fancy Dancer,” both of which remain unreleased.

The lineup underwent further, welcomed changes, similar to the pre-Revolution lineup with Dez Dickerson; you have to take a step back to move forward. Miko Weaver, a big contributor since the days of The Counter-Revolution, was gone after tensions reached a breaking point between Weaver and Prince during the tour. Longtime associate, friend, and fan favorite Dr. Fink was gone from the band as well, but their split was much more amicable. Seacer, Jr. switched from bass to guitar, Sonny T. was enlisted as the full-time bass, and Tommy Elm was rechristened Tommy Barbarella, replacing Fink on the keyboard. Before continuing forward with the original lineup of The New Power Generation, he had to finish Graffiti Bridge. I covered the production of the film in my review of that album, so I will skip forward to October 24th, 1990; the day production on the film wrapped. Considering all the reshoots took place in Hollywood, as opposed to the Paisley Park sound stage, it’s not hard to picture The Purple One sneaking off to find some extra time during the reshoots to track “Insatiable” at Latrobe Sound Studios in North Hollywood, Los Angeles, CA; one of the few tracks on the album without input or assistance by members of The New Power Generation.

The film premiered on November 1st, 1990, at the Ziegfeld Theatre in New York City, New York. A worldwide release date ensued the following day, and the film grossed a disappointing $4.6 million against a $10 million budget, earned half its budget in its opening week, opened in only 688 cinemas after being expected to open in 1,400 cinemas, and received scathing reviews. The soundtrack performed better, but has since been regarded as a letdown in the long run. I stress again, much like a little over a decade ago, the studio demanded a hit. They saw he was still capable of moving units, evidenced just two years ago with Batman, and forced him to deliver another commercially successful album. A first configuration of Diamonds and Pearls was assembled just three-and-a-half weeks later on November 27th, featuring eight songs that would all make their way onto the final album. Every song would be reworked in the ensuing months.

“Cream” would be the first official song tracked by Prince and The New Power Generation, on December 3rd, 1990. More recording and production work, as well as rearranging, would be done on the previous eight tracks during this time, leading to a second configuration of the album that same month that extended the LP to 13 tracks, while not including the eventual number-one single they had just recorded. They would have to pick up the intensity for 1991, because if the label was looking for hits and stadium-stuffers, Prince was going to go all-in. They started the year by debuting on stage with Prince on January 6th at the Glam Slam venue in Minneapolis, MN, after having a midnight show at the same venue just 12 hours prior. This however, was just a warm-up for Prince’s performance at the legendary recurring music festival, Rock in Rio, which was only in its second year at that point, but had gathered a crowd of over 1.4 million in 10 days in its first year.

On January 19th, 1991, at the Estádio Jornalista Mário Filho, known better by the locals as Estádio do Maracanã, in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, at 1:45 am; delaying his headlining portion of the first night for over two hours, Prince proceeded to tear it up in front of a crowd of 60,000, being broadcasted live to 55 countries, amongst taunts from subsections of the rightfully irritated crowd with the tardy superstar. Two days later, Prince traveled to Buenos Aries, Argentina, to perform at the Estadio Monumentai A. Vespucci Liberi, or the Estadio River Plate, to perform at a festival dubbed Festival 6 años de FM Rock & Pop; organized by the radio station of the same name to commemorate their sixth year of existence. If the studio wanted the album to be big, then Prince was going to go international. Three days later, Prince somehow found time to fly back to Paisley Park and track “Thunder” by himself on January 24th, and then returned to the headline the sixth night of Rock in Rio II at the Estádio Jornalista Mário Filho; on-time for the show. The Purple One was reportedly paid $500,000 per show, spinning the wheel on the pop star promotion going forward.

“Push” was tracked on February 5th, and then two days later he showed up playing guitar for George Clinton at the Glam Slam venue. I can only assume another month of production ensued, as on March 1st, 1991, a third configuration of Diamonds and Pearls was put together, which dropped four tracks from the previous configuration, replacing them with “Cream,” “Jughead,” “Push,” and “Thunder”; “Horny Pony” remained on the track list. Another two months passed, and “Gett Off” was tracked on May 10th, 1991, two days after the fourth configuration of Diamonds and Pearls, featuring an identical track list to the third configuration, but with different mixes. “Gett Off” would be the last song recorded for the album, but it really wasn’t originally intended to replace “Horny Pony” on the track list. It was only after Prince cancelled the EP that this song would’ve been featured on that he decided to create a promo 12″ single of “Gett Off” for DJ promotion of his upcoming album. It performed well with the people, and despite having mentioned “Horny Pony” in his rap on “Push,” despite likely having the jacket/booklet designed already, “Gett Off” replaced “Horny Pony” on the track list, just four-to-five months before the album’s release.

What kind of marketing is capable of subverting the narrative that Prince was an aging pop star on the way out? Kick ass live performances preceding the albums release to ensure fast sales and positive word-of-mouth, and then a little bit of controversy to temporarily sustain those sales. It’s almost like Reagan is President again.

A matinee performance on the patio of the Warner Bros. lot for other employees on June 3rd debuted the original line-up of the NPG Hornz, aka the Hornheads, who would go on to contribute to The Diamonds and Pearls Tour, and various studio albums going forward. The Nude Tour saw Prince strip himself of a horn section to make himself seem “cooler” with the younger crowd, so to see The Purple One begin his next commercial cycle with a blending of previous styles and a full commitment to the spectacle and grandiose feeling of entertainment, was enjoyable; all while kicking off the promotion to his album in a low-key fashion before performing at The China Club in Hollywood later that day. Over a month later, and Prince and the band popped up as the opening act to the Special Olympics, hosted right at the Metrodome in Minneapolis, MN, on July 20th, 1991.

Almost another month passed by, and Prince must’ve had to fill some contractual obligation for the label, as Prince and The New Power Generation performed at the Hyatt Regency Chicago in Chicago, IL on August 16th, 1991, at an annual convention for the WEA. Three days later, August 19th, and The Purple One really was able to flex his celebrity stature, as he performed on MTV’s invitation-only Tenth Anniversary Party at The Ritz in New York City, New York. Five days later, Prince held a private performance at a music industry “Jack the Ripper Family Affair” convention in one suite of the Hilton Atlanta & Towers Hotel in Atlanta, GA, on August 24th, 1991; occurring much later in the night of the convention, which was scheduled for the 23rd. The night after appearing and performing on The Arsenio Hall Show on September 4th, 1991, Prince would infamously rock assless chaps, strutting around the stage in a bright yellow suit and a plethora of exotic dancers at the 1991 MTV VMA Awards.

“Gett Off” was the lead single, and the song most deserving to be performed at the VMA’s, but “Cream,” the second single, and the last to precede the album, was the last number-one single of Prince’s career; his only number-one single unattached to a film. Diamonds and Pearls entered the charts on October 19th at #5 on the Top 200, and peaked at #3 the same day that “Cream” moved up to the number one spot on the Hot 100; November 9th, 1991. If this was Prince’s last time atop the singles chart, then how did he approach what has been viewed by some as the residuals of his heyday?

Boisterously, apparently. “Thunder” sounds like a beefed-up Batman-sounding composition designed to pack stadiums, and remember, he arranged and played this one all by himself. His reverberated echoes of “‘Twas like thunder, all through the night/Promise to see Jesus in the morning light,” creates a tense atmosphere that gives way to a potently exotic, uptempo composition that places heavy emphasis on the bass drum hit; like thunder. Shimmering synths sprinkle throughout the background, and in typical Prince-produced behavior, picks up in tempo and intensity as the track begins its breakdown; ending on an orgasmic note that naturally flows into the erotic exclamation of “daddy” that kicks off the bass-heavy, ’90s drum-sample-led “Daddy Pop”; featuring Tony M.’s first appearance on the album. Whereas the stadium-filling “Thunder” has Prince firing on all cylinders, even down to the lyrics that weld love, religion, and music together to paint a subconscious picture of his belief system, “Daddy Pop” serves to stroke The Purple One’s ego.

To further demonstrate the divide in lyrical deficiencies, “Thunder” has been speculated by some to be a subtle nod to the night he took ecstasy and cancelled The Black Album. If so, it’s definitely far more intricate than his reference to that night on “The Future” from the Batman album, but “Daddy Pop” gives us a Tony M. rap that threatens to derail the track completely, despite the fact it’s barely decent enough prior to his appearance. His husky, pseudo-Chuck D voice is average at best, although if we’re being honest, the instrumentation he is given to work with that’s supposed to pass off as the rap breakdown portion of the composition is much worse. The main problem is that the man has some of the wackest bars in the history of Hip Hop, and an unintentionally comical, generic early ’90s flow, and I’m being nice.

Tony M. states he’s come to “…lend a hand,” but realistically, the goofy-ass contemporary sound of the song compliments the positive and confident lyrics of a pop star hitting his 30’s, and still attracting attention and wealth despite mounting negativity. He didn’t need Tony’s assistance, and if he really did “lead the band,” as Tony asks of “Daddy Pop” at the beginning of his verse, then I’m disappointed, because it sounds rather unorganized. Luckily for him, he had a self-described secret weapon and a kick ass title track to win over the hip hop3 crowd4 when Tony M.’s raps would likely turn them off. Without it, side one would’ve stalled the album’s momentum at a crucial point in the pacing, but it also wouldn’t have further established the themes of luxury, love, and superstardom that permeate through the attitude of these three songs.

The engineering choice to make “Daddy Pop” so bass-driven does take a significant portion of the charm away from the track, at least on vinyl; turn the subwoofers up in the car by all means. However, “Diamonds and Pearls” fulfills that caliber of production across all means of music consumption that is synonymous with a Prince-produced project. Michael B.’s drums are deeper than the Mariana Trench and give an excellent foundation for Sonny T.’s bass to groove, and allow Prince and Rosie’s mellifluous voices to coexist with all the cinematic space needed to carry the emotional weight of the sexual subtext and anthemic subject matter. The keyboards, of course, shine like stars in the back of the track along with Prince’s guitar, which he’s kept subdued throughout side one, other than the two guitar solos during the elongated breakdown on “Thunder,” and a brief moment during this very track that carries the needed majestic, phoenix-like magnitude necessary, along with Rosie’s pitch-perfect howl, to properly close this song out5.

It makes all the sense in the world that this would form the crux of the album’s theme. It’s ironic “Diamonds and Pearls” would be the eventual title track considering it was the first song tracked, and with largely the same people who would become the initial New Power Generation; allowing the album to conceive itself organically. Celebrity stature is a component to the theme, but a large majority of the overarching theme to the record is to go live your best life possible with a lover, no matter the cost. There’s a song that is literally titled “Money Don’t Matter 2 Night”; don’t tell me the message is inaccessible.

They say trends reoccur every 20 years, and that makes sense due to an aging generation reaching the point in their life where they finally can experience nostalgia, and it also explains why the Hendrix-lite “Cream” reached number one on the Hot 100. As one of these few tracks that features the entire New Power Generation lineup, it showcases what kind of range and level of proficiency Prince was able to demonstrate when playing nicely with others. Seacer, Jr.’s rhythm guitar plucks along masterfully, allowing Prince to rip on his lead guitar and get that beautiful distortion and wah that Hendrix would’ve saluted. It’s surprising to know this song really did go number one at the tail end of 1991, but when you step back and realize that Sonny T. and Michael B. once again provide an incredibly tight and funky rhythm for the guitars and Prince’s cool vocals about sex to glide over, well, it’s really not too shocking.

The trip down memory lane continues with “Strollin’,” a track that would fit in snugly with any contemporary early ’70s pop-soul album. It’s modernized for early’ 90s standards of course, but the trio of Prince, Michael B. and Seacer, Jr. are essentially just playing a low-key number about taking a walk with your love. The celebrity status of the album is apparent on more of the stadium-driven songs, as well as the two singles preceding the album, but tracks like “Strollin'” showcase Prince’s deep understanding of compassion and humanity, both of which are necessary to create any type of meaningful connection with anyone. Strolling in the park with someone who reciprocates your romantic feelings? How ’70s of you Prince.

“Willing and Able” attempts to modernize the approach even further, adding an okay Tony M. rap to close the song out. Prince harmonizing with himself while simultaneously singing lead at the end of “Strollin'” leads directly into a great rhythm guitar composition that Michael B. and Seacer, Jr. provide a quality throwback type-of-groove to create a relaxing uptempo track. The Steele’s make another appearance on a Prince record, providing backup vocals to fill out the stereo space as Tommy Barbarella’s synthesized keys shimmer in the back. It’s only when you’re fully invested in the groove that a distorted vocal scratch distracts you from the song to focus in on what quickly delves into an average Tony M. rap that ends the song on a similar note to ending the night with a handjob.

It’s only appropriate then that “Get Off” follows “Willing and Able” and its disappointing ending, since this track is the one that proclaims there’s “23 positions in a one night stand,” and is the track responsible for The Purple One’s infamous 1991 VMA’s performance. Does it live up to the hype? Absolutely. The bass packs an insane punch, nearly muting everything around it, but the percussion perfectly melds into the back and gives Prince all the room necessary to shriek and shift his pitch all over the track as he spouts off some of his more foul innuendos.

They say you ain’t you had know what in baby who knows how long/It’s hard for me to say what’s right when all I wanna do is wrong.

Something about a little box with a mirror and a tongue inside/What she told me then got me so hot I knew that we could slide

Now move your big ass ’round this way so I can work on that zipper baby

You get the idea. It’s songs like this that likely alienated Sheila E., especially since she was a huge contributor to Lovesexy, which was all about spirituality. Diamonds and Pearls was obviously much more commercial, and perhaps Prince acquiescing to the label’s insistence, as well as his own ego, was enough to push away what remained from any previous bands. Obviously it was only business, as most people who left his camp returned to his life at some point, but it’s a testament to his talent he was able to form another backing band comprised of entirely different musicians so soon after disbanding The LoveSexy Band.

“Walk Don’t Walk” is the opener to the second record, and it’s a little disappointing. Barbarella’s keyboards are too goofy for my taste against this admittedly fantastic instrumentation, but Prince is guilty of overthinking, as the car horns and other traffic sounds gives me a headache. After the questionable production choices of “Walk Don’t Walk,” and the mediocre rapping on a small percentage of the album, the record could’ve gone with another strong single here to really fortify a potential classic, but instead we dip closer to the ground with “Jughead”; a track that highlights the worst that Diamonds and Pearls has to offer.

Tony M. once again gives us nothing to be impressed with, and honestly makes me question what Prince saw in him, and if Prince even understood hip hop as a musical genre. The instrumentation is decent enough, more nuanced than the average hip hop track during this time period, due to the instrumentation being created by actual musicians and not samplers, but the actual rapping on this track by the trio of Tony M., Rosie Gaines, and Prince? Simply put, it’s not up to snuff, and I don’t know why they tried to force the genre this hard into their repertoire when they simply didn’t live Hip Hop like other MC’s of that time.

Additional conflicts6 came as a result of the revealing rant on managers at the end of “Jughead” that pop stars were simply not discussing in their music back then, but it was awfully Hip Hop of Prince to do so. An important ideology in Hip Hop is to think for yourself and use your platform to speak on what you believe in, which is why the genre is so widely embraced and derided; explaining why Prince never outright made anything awful when attempting to ingratiate the culture into his skill set. He relied largely on quick, silly raps without much syllabic finesse, a great uptempo composition, and tons of chanting; bringing entertainment rather than bars and flows.

His softer side returns on “Money Don’t Matter 2 Night,” which really should swap places with “Jughead” on the track list, but I believe Prince wanted to ultimately send a message that despite underhanded business tactics by Corporate America, life isn’t spent for monetary purposes. The dissonance and back-and-forth of the softer, throwback type of sound and the contemporary, “urban”-sounding compositions ultimately bridge the attitude and themes of the album established on record one. So yes, “Jughead” does provide some value to the overall album, and could even pass for a guilty pleasure, but you’ll never misquote me as saying it’s a good song. Unfortunately for this album however, it preemptively climaxes at the tenth track and fifth single, “Money Don’t Matter 2 Night,” and there’s still a whole side of music left to go, much less the one track left after it on this very side of music.

I don’t think it’s much of a coincidence that two of the four co-written songs are on side three, and they’re both the hip hop-based tracks that I’ve already said were the weakest tracks. “Money Don’t Matter 2 Night” then, represents what The Purple One can pull off with a limited supporting cast and a great idea; essentially the opposite of what the album has been about thus far. Michael B.’s drums create an incredibly solid rhythm for Seacer, Jr.’s bass to fill in the empty space, simultaneously propelling and pulsating the track along. I’ve always been of the opinion that Prince’s vocals on certain portions, especially during the powerful third verse and final chorus, are too distorted and/or compressed for my own comfort, but it’s much more balanced on the vinyl, and better showcases the tremendous vocal depth Prince can employ when given the proper smoky, jazz setting required to pull off a performance like this. The unfortunate reality of financial hardships and irresponsibility only ring more true as time passes, making this song the one that has aged incredibly well, as even the composition could pass off as a modern track attempting to sound retro.

“Push” follows, and ends the third side on a relatively mediocre note. I appreciate the fact that Prince went falsetto for this one, as he always does a masterful job when going high-pitched, but the pseudo-rapping and outright rapping are once again just not up to par. The instrumentation is more of the same with these contemporary new jack swing/hip hop compositions; heavy bass and well-balanced drums in the back, along with where the horns and/or synths usually go, and it’s fun enough. It’s not anything I would use to win over casual fans, but it does have its appeal towards people who enjoy the ’90s club and dance scene, especially more so towards the early ’90s.

It makes sense then to open side four with one more hit to flawlessly glue together all the themes of the album, but that didn’t really happen. The final two tracks that consist of this final side of music are both over six-and-a-half minutes long, and both tackle their subject matter well, but the way these tracks were executed leaves the track list feeling a little too barren and single-driven in retrospect, which is why this album has earned its reputation. “Insatiable” is a slow burner, something that is a staple in his wheelhouse, but this track isn’t one of the better ones. Perhaps I just don’t think that highly of the synths on this track, or maybe the bass is too high on the scale to properly enjoy the groove, but it’s disappointing to hear great drum work and majestic vocal production and harmonization go to waste. “Do Me, Baby” had an extended section of dialogue, something that “Insatiable” attempts to incorporate naturally into a soulful composition that only improves as it chugs along, but simply took too long to settle into anything interesting without any goofy synths.

“Live 4 Love” definitely tries to segue way to an appropriate ending, as rolling snares give way to a faster-paced track that sounds like music that should be playing during the credits of an early-to-mid-90’s action film. The keyboard work is marginal once more, a downside to this album that isn’t mentioned enough due to the fantastic keyboard work on the singles. Naturally, Tony M.’s rap that leads to the electrifying guitar solo that ends both the track and the album is mediocre at best, and yet, it’s likely his best verse on the album. The layered chants of the track’s title and bad ass guitar solo hint at that ’70s nostalgia once more, and with the keyboard signing us off, it’s important to realize that Diamonds and Pearls ends with a recapitulation of the album’s ultimate theme, live for love.

The Purple One’s guitar absolutely shreds in the short bursts he allows himself to, likely empowering the band to become more involved in the creative process of the album. There’s a lot of truth in the saying “strength in numbers,” as his most successful time period came during his time with The Revolution. After the failure of the film Graffiti Bridge, after driving away many talented close associates, and after demands from the label to release another multi-platinum selling album, Prince realized what was best for him was to swallow his pride, recruit some new talent, and reinvigorate himself. He had a foundation to work with already, all he needed was a little boost to get himself back in the saddle, and it resulted in one of the most successful albums of 1991, a tremendous rebound from the directionless Graffiti Bridge soundtrack, another really good-to-great album to add to his vaunted discography, and a solid building point for the remainder of the decade.

Editor’s Notes

  1. Complex Magazine – 4/21/2016 – “I Never Saw Him Make a Mistake”: Prince’s Drum Programmer Remembers
  2. Rosie has had a tempestuous relationship with record labels and the industry. Her personal life is something you should look into, but not something I will discuss here. Instead, I will simply say that Closer Than Close was her fifth album conceived, but her actual second album No Sweeter Love, recorded in 1987, was shelved until 2000. Concrete Jungle, her third conceived album, was repeatedly pushed back until Paisley Park Records eventually folded in 1994. She spent the next year rearranging and reworking the tracks on the album, now called Try Me, and received interest from Motown Records, where she would continue work on the album and release it as Closer Than Close; being released 10 years after Caring, her debut. Since then, these two alternate versions of what became Closer Than Close have been released.
  3. Diamonds and Girls – Lil Wayne – The Drought Is Over 2: Tha Carter III Sessions
  4. Diamonds & Pearls – Cam’Ron
  5. Sheila E. went uncredited on this track for her synth drum fills, which only further complimented the track.
  6.  Orlando Sentinel – 12/24/1991 – Prince’s Ex-manager Sues, Says ‘Jughead’ About Him

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