Retroactive Review: Come (1994)

The spirituality of Lovesexy was hinted at in tracks on Graffiti Bridge, which to most fans would suggest since that drone at the end of “Positivity” was also at the end of “The New Power Generation (Pt. II),” and the two albums that featured the band named after that song sold just as well as the last three albums he released under his own name, and only one million less when you go back another album, Sign o’ the Times, the first solo album since The Revolution disbanded, it was reasonable to assume Prince would continue working with his band. It really comes as a dispiriting shift then to see this follow-up Love Symbol Album. Political motivations are the underlying reason this record was released, and with The Purple One himself even disowning this record in interviews1 and on his NPG Music Club website years later, with a “Contractual Obligation” stamp overlaying the album cover, it’s received a lackluster standing in his discography. There’s a lot to unpack here, so let’s not waste any time.

1993 is when conflict with the label began, and if you’re a recurring reader, you’re well aware of all the professional decisions Prince made over the previous four years prior to ’93 that spurred the dissension between him and Warner Bros. Ironically enough, without any managers around to give him direction, his relationship with the label, and the industry as a whole, would follow suit as well; regardless of if he had signed a six-album, $100 million contract with them just seven months prior to Fargnoli’s third and final lawsuit against Prince being dismissed for lack of merit on April 16th, 19932. Various dilemmas reared their head this year, and it’s why we received a three-disc The Hits/The B-Sides set in ’93 rather than a proper album. It’s not for a lack of effort on Prince’s part, but more of what he viewed as a lack of vision by the WB executives.

Diamonds and Pearls was essentially Prince’s response to their initial plan of releasing a greatest hits package that would’ve included The Black Album as a disk in the set; proving he could still make hits when he wanted. This would delay their greatest hits plan, and gift him more negotiating power with his contract. He would then proceed to kick off 1993 with a full-day jam session on January 2nd, mostly with Michael B. and Sonny T., resulting in the tracking of the original, unreleased versions of “Come,” “Dolphin,” and “Endorphinmachine,” as well as “Dark,” which only received a slight change once “Poem” was turned into “Orgasm,” but we’ll get to that soon enough. “Papa” and “Pheromone” were tracked this same month, and it’s worth noting “Papa” was originally the intended title track for an EP set for release on Prince’s birthday that year, which would’ve also featured “Peach” on the track listing. However, this EP was cancelled, and “Peach” was included on the third disc in the overall The Hits/The B-Sides set. “Loose!” was tracked the next month, and would also undergo significant changes.

Bad decisions are born from good intentions, and when two sides already lack communication, it shouldn’t be a surprise when things go poorly. Prince should have seen the red flags when their greatest hits idea from 1991 resurfaced, but significantly scaled down from an expansive four-to-five disc set to a three disc set, after the retail price was deemed too pricey. Regardless, he submitted an early, untitled configuration of Come to Warner Bros. in March ’93, which included six (seven if you include “Poem” before being retitled) of the nine songs on the album that was eventually released. These tracks consisted of the ones recorded the past two months, and interestingly enough, one that was not being tracked until mid-May; “Space.” This track also was not mentioned by Mayte in a letter to a Prince fanzine in late May. “Race” was one of the tracks mentioned however, which was a re-recording of a song tracked in ’91, a month prior to the monthlong recording session that produced half of Love Symbol Album’s track list.

Before I get too far ahead, I must mention the Act I tour that would see Prince tour the States for the first time in five years, which started on March 8th, 1993, at the Sunrise Musical Theater in Sunrise, Florida. This tour had an elaborate stage show and was used mostly to promote Love Symbol Album, and for all intents and purposes, was the last time the full lineup of The New Power Generation was utilized. After an extensive stretch of shows in the East Coast, the Act I tour came to an end on April 17th, 1993, in Universal City, California, at the Universal Amphitheatre. This was the 25th show in 41 days, but it wouldn’t be the last tour he embarked on this year.

The aforementioned “Race” was reworked during May 1993, the same month that would see The Purple One track seven songs, three of which (“Race,” “Space,” and “Solo”) ended up on Come. “Solo” was co-written by David Henry Hwang, who did receive a co-writing credit on the album, and it’s been reported that they met in New York City in early ’93 to discuss the possibility of a stage musical, which would’ve likely shared the same name as this yet-to-be-titled album. This meeting likely happened sometime from March 23rd to March 28th, when Prince did three shows in New York on the 24th, 25th, and 26th, before heading up to Montreal, Quebec, Canada to do a show at the Montreal Forum on March 29th. Prince wanted him to write a poem “about loss” for the show, and the poem ended up becoming the lyrics to that track.

However, he hadn’t fully given up on producing a musical, which is something he had to abandon in 1987, and had been striving to produce since then. Four of the seven aforementioned songs tracked in May were used on the Glam Slam Ulysses stage show that received a limited performance run in Prince’s nightclub from late August until early September.”2gether” was also tracked during this month, which along with a Diamonds and Pearls cast-off, “Call the Law,” rounded out the “solo” NPG album, Gold Nigga, which had been tracked throughout 1992, mostly during the Australia leg of The Diamonds and Pearls Tour. It was also worked on during the months succeeding the tour, around when he secured a new deal and put the finishing touches on Love Symbol AlbumGold Nigga would receive a limited release in the form of retail stalls during the Act II tour on August 31st, 1993, at the Palais Omnisports de Paris-Bercy arena in Paris, France, and this same stretch of time would see Glam Slam Ulysses receive its limited release at Prince’s nightclub while he was touringEurope.

A third configuration of Come was assembled in June ’93, in the midst of a stretch of five one-off shows, all at the Paisley Park sound stage. The first show was on June 18th, with the other four occurring on July 1st, 9th, 11th, and the 12th. The July 12th show was the only one not held at midnight, and was the only one that was a benefit show, in this case it was for the KMOJ radio station. All these shows were really just warm-ups for the Act II tour that covered nearly all of Western Europe from July 26th, 1993, at the National Indoor Arena in Birmingham, England, until September 7th, 1993, at Wembley Arena in London, England. This tour focused more on Prince’s greatest hits than Love Symbol Album, and even saw Prince cut Tony M. and the rest of The Game Boyz from the lineup. Act II was promoted as being the last time Prince would perform his older material, and the last time he would perform as Prince, even though he had already announced his name change to that legendary unpronounceable symbol4 on his 35th birthday.

Six songs tracked earlier in the year were given to the label by Prince for the overall The Hits/The B-Sides compilation set, but only “Pope” was used, which was also used in a segment of Glam Slam Ulysses. Ultimately, the label paid Prince to not be involved with the project, but not after he successfully negotiated to have Alan Reeds write the liner notes5 to the set, which provided first-person insight into the creation of each hit. The negotiations between Prince and the label on this set would soon become the downfall of their relationship, because as I’ve already stated, bad decisions are born from good intentions, and when two sides already lack communication, it shouldn’t be a surprise when things go poorly. Glam Slam Ulysses‘s eclectic release highlighted the ideological differences in Prince and the label, as The Purple One had changed his name with the intention of releasing these artsy, experimental releases while the label would release his older music under his old name, in order to “free” himself from the contractual obligations that Warner Bros. used to “steal and trademark” his name. This would culminate with a triple album titled The Dawn, set to be released in 1994, which included nearly all the songs on Come, as well as tracks that would make up a majority of The Gold Experience and three tracks from Chaos and Disorder.

A critic once complained of my review style, stating that the genesis of this album, The Gold Experience, and Chaos and Disorder could not have been born from The Dawn, just as Batman couldn’t have been born from the ideas of the original Graffiti Bridge and Rave Unto the Joy Fantastic. Ironically enough, they’re correct, but not really, as their apples-to-oranges argument6 hides the fact that Come had an initial vision that predates this version of The Dawn, as it would’ve featured tracks from what we received anyway, as well as tracks from The Gold Experience. This version of Come was untitled, and was consolidated into The Dawn when Prince tracked the original versions to many of the tracks featured on The Gold Experience, which began with the tracking of “The Most Beautiful Girl in the World” on September 20th, 1993; 13 days after the end of the Act II tour, and ten days after the release of The Hits/The B-Sides. The Dawn was the second triple album he had conceived during his career, and given that he had tried to name multiple projects “the dawn” before, it’s likely he viewed this album as being worthy of something that could be considered his magnum opus. A large majority of the material intended for this project would’ve been the original, stripped-down versions of the songs that would become more overproduced on the subsequent albums. Given how much fans rave about the performances he was giving during this time period, as well as the undeniable impressive dynamic between the “power trio” of Prince, Sonny T., and Michael B., this album would’ve likely lived up to the expectations of the title.

The Dawn would’ve likely been proposed to WB in November, after completing tracking on “319,” and horn overdubs on “Now,” on October 25th, 1993. “Now” was originally tracked on October 10th, 1993, the same day as “Shy” and “Ripopgodazippa,” horn overdubs on “319,” as well as tracking for “Billy Jack Bitch,” “Gold,” and the beginning of the “NPG Operator” segues that became scattered throughout The Gold Experience album, which would’ve likely been included on The Dawn, since the first segue of The Gold Experience does say, “Welcome to the dawn,” although that sentence still fits in its current context as a filler phrase in the overall Prince mythos. These segues were obviously revised, with additional segues being recorded when needed, as WB once again showed their unwillingness to release a triple album, asking instead for something more commercial and safe, akin to Diamonds and Pearls. Unlike in 1986, when Prince simply trimmed down the original Crystal Ball into Sign o’ the Times without much complaint, this refusal to allow him to release what he wanted when he wanted, as well as all the other creative issues he found with the legal rights to his music, was a clear sign to him that this relationship would no longer be beneficial for him and his career. Earlier in the year, all copies of his live album, The Undertaker, were set to be released as a covermount CD included with issues of Guitar World, but the label had coated every copy with a plastic layer that rendered them unplayable. Luckily for him, he had recorded the recording session that took place on June 14th, 1993, and later released the recorded sessions with a vague story line in order to warrant a home video release on March 6th, 1995.

A one-off show at Bagley’s Warehouse in London, England the day after the Act II tour ended was subtitled Celebrate the Dawn, which clearly meant he assumed the label would be pleased and move forward with his creative decisions, but after the canceling of both albums he proposed that year, and the decision to keep him away from their planned greatest hits package of his music, he knew this would never come to fruition. In Prince’s mind, the label was trying to stop him from pursuing the raw direction of music he was performing live, while the label was, in their minds, attempting to prevent him from saturating the market with content that wouldn’t even be released under a consistent brand name, or likely be commercially viable. He would end the year hosting three shows at the Paisley Park sound stage in November, on the 2nd, 24th, and 27th, with all of them being midnight shows. There wouldn’t be anymore songs tracked for the remainder of the year, as The Purple One was likely deciding what to do with the large quantity of material recorded throughout the year. His name change had complicated matters for the label, and rather than succumb to their will, he decided to stand his ground and double-down on the name change, as all the best recordings he tracked from there-on-out would remain in The Vault, to be used in the future when freed from his Warner Bros. contractual obligations.

The material he had recorded in 1993 wouldn’t be enough, but it was a start, as the fourth configuration of Come, and the first one that was titledwas submitted to the label on March 11th, 1994. There was some major differences from this version and the one we initially received, with “Poem” now being the opening track, as well as the title track being absent from the track list. The label requested another configuration that featured the title track and “The Most Beautiful Girl in the World,” so naturally he decided to be a thorn in their side and track “Letitgo” five days later, on March 16th. He would reluctantly include the title track eventually, but was successfully able to keep “The Most Beautiful Girl in the World” off the album, as he wanted to include that on the “new” album he was working on, dubbed The Gold Album, due to the untitled golden artwork of the test cassette copy. There would be additional recording work done in January 1994, but all the songs tracked during this month would go on to be used in The Gold Experience, as he argued that they were recorded as the symbol, and not Prince. However,”Letitgo” was the last song tracked for Come, and despite being tracked nine months after changing his name to the symbol, he simply handed the song over to WB for inclusion on the upcoming album, so he obviously didn’t view the song as being as good as the other work recorded during this time period. The last of recording work for the album would come on April 17th, 1994, when he added horn overdubs to the title track, and re-recorded the other musicians parts himself.

NPG Records was created as his own independent label in ’93 after WB refused to release Gold Nigga on their label, and it was a very smart move to do so, as he obviously foresaw the label would cease their distribution deal with Paisley Park Records once he began challenging them over their creative decisions, and they did in February 1994. In retaliation, he went as far as taking out ads for his upcoming 1-800 New Funk compilation of NPG Records artists that mimicked the promotional ads for this album. The public was still fairly unaware of the situation, so when WB released “The Most Beautiful Girl in the World” as a single on February 9th, 1994, the first single released by NPG Records, casual listeners believed the guise. How could you not when his large contract dominated headlines and new music was still being released?

Four days later, on February 13th, Prince would host his first show of the year at the Paisley Park sound stage for a midnight performance, subtitled The Beautiful Experience, which was filmed and later broadcasted in Europe only, and received an EP of the same name featuring several remixes to “The Most Beautiful Girl in the World”; released May 17th, 1994. Another version of “Come” was premiered this night, but this had been recorded and rehearsed beforehand, as this was originally tracked shortly after returning from the Act II tour. The Purple One then dedicated more time to live performances once a majority of the recording sessions were out-of-the-way, as one show in March was followed up by a Soul Train taping at Paramount Studios in Los Angeles, California on April 9th, which he used to carry momentum in the form of smaller, more intimate shows, as he performed 13 times in the span of 28 days from April 17th until May 14th. Two of those dates, specifically May 4th and May 5th, were hosted in Monaco and France for the World Music Awards and a TV appearance respectively, but he was able to return to the U.S. by the 11th at least, because he performed at his nightclub that night, where he had done a majority of the one-off shows this year thus far, and where he would continue to host a majority of his one-off shows for the year.

May 14th would be the last performance for 10 days, and then another performing binge ensued well until the end of June. In that 10-day span, he had to have completed work on “Poem,” turning it into “Orgasm” and dispersing the poem in the track throughout the other tracks on the album; applying the finishing touches to Come, as well as finding time to track “We March.” This theory confirms itself when you find out he handed two configurations for two different albums to WB on May 19th, 1994, with one being the final configuration of Come, and the other being an early version of the now-titled The Gold Experience, which already largely resembled the album that was eventually released. Of course, the label wanted further changes to the album, but Prince refused and forced them to release it as it was. He even recommended that they release this album under his birth name, and then release The Gold Experience either the same day or just a few weeks later, but credited as the symbol. The label was unenthusiastic about the idea, but he obviously didn’t budge, as that album was eventually released the following year under the moniker he had asked for.

The album was reluctantly agreed upon, and a late Summer release date was scheduled. After that meeting, he went back to performing, which lasted from May 24th until June 27th, once again primarily at his Glam Slam nightclub, but a few performances had complimentary motivations behind them. For example, his performance at the Shrine Auditorium in Los Angeles on June 26th was for VH1’s first annual honors show. It’s remarkable then, that The Purple One rarely receives as much credit as he deserves for blazing a new path for artists in the present-day, as the touring and merchandise game is what really lines these artists pocketbooks nowadays, and one of the biggest artists in the world was attempting to help pioneer that route in ’94, while most people were just getting dial-up internet. He resumed performing on July 12th, in a recorded musical appearance for The Today Show, and performed five more times before July 26th, the day after he tracked the original version of “Pussy Control,” which he debuted at his nightclub that same night; July 25th. More production work would go into The Gold Experience, but every song that would eventually appear on the album had now been tracked once “Pussy Control” was crafted.

His final performance prior to the album’s release was on August 8th, only showing up to his own nightclub to play guitar for the main feature that night; TKO. Come was released on August 16th, 1994 in the US, and the day prior in the UK, and without a proper tour to support it, without any positive words from The Purple One himself, and with the lead single being a track he had made only to fill empty space on the record, it shouldn’t come as a surprise to find out the album peaked at #15 on the Top 200, his lowest position on this chart since Controversy peaked at #21, and it only went gold. It was out of the charts in just 10 weeks, four weeks before the release of another Prince album. This is all considerably worse when you remember he was attempting to flood the market to simply get out of his contract, so to see his work perform this poorly even before the dispute was brought out publicly is incredibly disheartening.

The “power trio” was on a third of the tracks here together, but the real stars are the Hornheads, who appear on four tracks, with two of them as complimentary pieces to the power trio, while the other two feature them as the centerpieces of the composition. Barbarella was reduced to two tracks, and other than that, it was all Prince on this one. The cover shows his birth year, with 1993 acting as the year when “Prince” died and the symbol took over, but other than serving as a prelude and exposition piece to the drama that would be brought out for public consumption, the idea of Prince replacing his own name with a symbol to achieve a new level of freedom is never addressed. There’s a lot working against this album’s favor, but when you sit down to listen, is it really even a bad album?

Going by the title track alone? Not in the slightest. It’s a classic; an amalgamation of early ’90s contemporary sounds and production styles with Prince’s own brand of eclectic poppy R&B sensibilities, funk, and smooth jazz. It’s 11 minutes and 13 seconds of the funkiest, yet smoothest jazz in the mainstream. In a decade that saw Kenny G. become a superstar, one of the most derided decades for the storied genre, Prince had successfully coalesced the poppier production aspects of the early-to-mid-’90s along with his own take on smooth jazz. Naturally, that means an incredibly funky bass that you never get tired of, as its deep roots compliment the well-tuned snare. The synths that periodically flash up are goofy, but brief; hardly even noticing as they pass through the stereo space dominated by luscious, lively horn work by The Purple One’s first real ensemble. His vocals, delivery, and lyrics are all well-delivered, and extremely sexually charged, going from tender to confident to ecstatic on a whim. It’s a pop superstar at their most confident; that Bruce Wayne lifestyle everyone dreams of.

Interestingly enough then, the album doesn’t really proceed with the same type of instrumentation, as “Space” attempts to capture the tone of the title track with an incredibly funky, yet contemporary bass line, delivered by Sonny T. this time. The bass flails along, creating a fleeting foundation, but that’s obviously the entire point of the composition. The rhythm and vocals are incredibly well-layered, with the fast-paced drums blending in well with the bass in the center of the mix, as Prince’s low, crooning vocals take center stage on the stripped-down, R&B-influenced pop track. Where “Space” fails is in its dated synth work, as they reside in the background for the entirety of the track, however, when a chord is held down and the synths begin to screech, they’re a welcome shine to the overall mix; otherwise it resembles any other cheesy mid-’90s synth. Morris Hayes and Barbarella are both credited with synth work on this track, and I think we can tell who contributed what.

“Pheremone” succeeds where “Space” failed; forgoing a contemporary sound for a rawer approach. An argument can be made that the title track is also a more contemporary composition, at least for large stretches of its run time, but I would counteract that by acknowledging although Prince was aiming for rawer, more live-sounding instrumentation and production at the time, he’d already consistently displayed a track record for being able to tap into the popular culture zeitgeist and incorporate auteurist musical elements into even his most mainstream tracks. Remember, his father’s stern training came from an authoritative position7, as he was a classic jazz pianist, so to see Prince take all his teachings, his early production techniques, and everything between then and now, and manifest them into this title track, is something more deserving than simply being passed off as another one of his ’90s jazz songs.

“Pheremone” instead shifts back to a more barren, new jack swing-influenced instrumentation, without nearly as much of the rhythm fills after the heavy snares. The resulting stereo space feels incredibly barren, but it gives the snare hit significant space to really highlight that noticeable clank. Prince’s veteran falsetto is welcome on this barren, drum-and-bass heavy composition, and since this is contemporary pop in 1994, its real purpose was for Prince to try to craft a grimier club track, which became more of the style as the decade went on, and these drum-and-bass sounding compositions would become much more popular in alternative rock and alternative hip hop in the latter half of the decade. However, it’s hard to claim Prince is being innovative when he sounds just like any mid-to-late-’90s electronic artist on “Loose!,” or just outright sucking. This uptempo, synth-heavy composition shimmers and stutters while sounding incredibly generic and dated, like something that would’ve been background music in Batman Beyond, but it would honestly be a slight against that show in this scenario. Prince’s voice is horribly distorted and unpleasant to listen to, and just about the only redeeming aspect to this track are the brief guitar solo and licks that somehow mesh well with the production nightmare attempting to pass itself off as a grimy club track.

Simply put, side one ends on a disenchanting note. The awesome title track is almost rendered hollow by the succeeding three tracks, as the album quickly regresses into a corporate mandated, mid-’90s R&B album with splashes of The Purple One’s poppier predilections. Is it horrendous? During certain moments it can be, but overall? Not really; it’s just fairly run-of-the-mill for Prince.

In order to add intrigue, and honestly, just flat-out better music to an album lacking both, “Papa” opens side two with an unusual composition for Prince, for the casual fan at least. His Undertaker album wouldn’t have sounded like an early Nine Inch Nails track, but he had already attempted to appear more gothic and dark, or what we call edgy now. I don’t know how true the story in the song is, or the final line, “Don’t abuse children or else they turn out like me,” considering he’s often claimed the portrayal of his life in Purple Rain was exaggerated, but then also stated that his father “had his moments.”8 Either way, the point stands; take care of your fucking kids.

Unfortunately, the album continues to unravel, as the grungy guitars and distorted synths on the track are used to create an eerie composition that allows Prince to channel his dark side, but then it’s all washed away once more by the corporate mandate. I hope that double entendre didn’t go over your head, because a literal audio sample of an ocean roaring has been placed at the beginning of this track, as well as several others in this track list already, including the title track, “Pheremone,” and now “Race,” which also includes a bit from the poem that has been dispersed throughout the album. Every track that contains the audio sample also contains a portion of the poem, except for the title track, where Prince instead states, “If you’re 18 or over, come here, I got something to show you,” during the opening to the track, and not prior to the composition, like in “Pheremone,” “Race,” “Dark,” “Letitgo,” and of course, “Orgasm.” This is half the album, and an argument can be made that it’s over half the album when you include the audio sample at the beginning of the title track, and the fact that the poem dispersed throughout the album is just a reaffirmation of the mission statement during the title track’s opening moments.

“Race” has a deep bass line that reminds you of the fact Sonny T. was just playing bass on “Papa,” as that track’s deep, progressive bass line added an ominous punch to the composition. The one Prince programmed for “Race” isn’t bad, but it’s there simply to be a placeholder groove for the admittedly enjoyable high-pitched horns that sit above the mix, which themselves are there to only give a melody to Prince’s already sounding-dated rapping. The backup vocals are mixed well behind the lead vocals and the horns, as well are the scratches in the background. It’s a chill, mid-tempo track that sounds much faster than it really is due to the new jack swing elements, which makes perfect sense when you remember it was originally tracked in 1991, but I’m unsure why he would include a track featuring just him rapping when even Tony M. was a better technical rapper than Prince. There are fans of these types of Prince songs, and I actually do enjoy most of this album, but it would not be honest of me to say there isn’t significant flaws, which is why I completely understand why people may not enjoy this album that much.

Thankfully, “Dark” follows on the track list, and the power trio gift us an excellent, throwback soulful composition. The horns are front and center, along with Prince’s falsetto, and it honestly sounds like he’s just grooving, as the full piece band on this has several breakdowns that give way to beautiful vocal harmonies, high notes, and excellent horns that pierce from the mix. Occasionally, the funky bass and drums that sit in the back of the mix and center the rhythm pierce through the mix as well, but the addition of the gospel keys and synths compliment the choir-like composition even more so. The track ends with beautifully bluesy guitar licks supplied by The Purple One himself, before giving way to synths that slowly morph to sound more water-like, continuing the sexual nature of the album while once again linking sexuality with spirituality; a Prince amalgamation if there ever was one. The spirituality continues on “Solo,” ironically enough, as one would assume a track with that title would be about masturbation, something he’s covered before; more than once.

Instead, we get heavily reverberated vocals in an empty stereo space to open the song up, but not much else changes for the duration of the track’s three-minute and 48-second run time. Dreamy synths slowly roll into the mix as Prince’s reverberated vocals float throughout the cavernous stereo space, and the sound effects incrementally spliced in make it sound like he’s isolated himself in one room in a ludicrously large mansion far from civilization. There’s not much else to say, as the production work adds to the more interesting aspects of this track’s overall composition, because there’s not much else going on than Prince’s lovely voice that has been drowned in reverb on this track, so it obviously will not appeal to all people.

Ready or not, here I come.

“Letitgo” is the penultimate track of the album, and the final actual “song,” as “Orgasm” is just a collage of samples, including the rest of the above quote, which is just hot-and-heavy moaning courtesy of unused Vanity vocal samples. “Letitgo,” however, is fairly decent, but a standard, hip hop-influenced, poppy R&B composition. It sounds like a mouthful, but it’s just Prince surgically arranging the track around a generic breakbeat and deep bass line with some admittedly funky guitar work to create one of his unorthodox mid-’90s amalgamations. The chorus and rhythm is catchy, but the chanting of “let it go” is rather weak, however, the horns are well-tuned and slick, creating a nice melody with the guitar licks that compliments the slower rhythm well. The production on the actual track is a little too compressed, as the track itself is actually pretty quiet, and unlike “Dark,” which dared to buck the trend of mediocre synth work, “Letitgo” is content to fall back on synths that are too robotic for my particular taste. The breakdown at the end of the track features more goofy synths, but they have a certain charm to them with the music swelling, and are excusable next to the unimaginative synths throughout the main composition of the track. The song dissipates, and that old distorted guitar note from “Ronnie, Talk to Russia” returns to symbolize Prince’s masculinity being the very thing that pleases the femininity in a woman, as Vanity’s moaning, and that returning ocean audio sample make it abundantly clear. Upon climax, Prince says, “I love you,” and the album ends on that note.

Unfortunately, fans desire only the best material, and this track list consists of songs that seem to want to stick to the safe and sexy pop commercialism that something like his eponymous second album did, but instead of acting cute and shy, he aimed to be more reserved, blunt, and confident. That doesn’t appeal to everyone, and had he been a new artist instead of a well-established icon by this point, he likely would not have had the support of some long-time fans during this time period. I myself do find enjoyable aspects of this album, and I think it’s far more rewarding a listen than other, more stringent fans of Prince, but I won’t pretend like it’s a work of art.

I concluded Graffiti Bridge by stating “Prince was just simply better than this,” and I thought about echoing that sentiment here, but I’m unable to do that, as there is a focused vision, no matter how trivial it is in comparison to the artwork and behind-the-scenes issues, and that counts for something when you factor in label interference, and the reality that a handful of these tracks are actually pretty damn good. He went back to his soul roots while undergoing a newer, darker approach to the genre, in a decade where the underground and the mainstream were rigidly defined, which often led to musical acts incorporating an abrasive sound into their production; in this case, it created an incredibly decisive product that some love for Prince’s libidinous energy on these songs, others hate for its blatant commercialism, and others, like myself, are much like Prince on the album’s artwork, roaming around in the grey.

Editor’s Notes

  1. Vibe – August 1994
  2. Variety – 4/19/1993 – Fargnoli suit dismissed
  3. Variety – 8/24/1993 – Glam Slam Ulysses
  4. Pioneer Press – 6/9/1993 – Prince changes his name to an unpronounceable symbol
  5. Medium – 5/28/2016 – Prince’s Own Liner Notes On His Greatest Hits
  6. Once again, Batman was only possible because Prince wanted to recapture the success and feeling of Purple Rain, just in the form of a musical. Once The Dawn musical was scrapped, as well as the original Graffiti Bridge, the Batman production allowed him to attach himself to another film, which he had wanted to do with Graffiti Bridge two years prior to its future release date anyway, which he had only wanted to do because of the cancelled The Dawn musical. Reading comprehension is a must.
  7. Rolling Stone – 1/22/2016 – Prince Stuns at Emotional ‘Piano and a Microphone’ Solo Show
  8. Oprah – 11/21/1996 – 3:00

3 thoughts on “Retroactive Review: Come (1994)

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