From the Vault...


The Artist Formerly Known As Prince
"Crystal Ball"

© NPG Records

Year of Release: 1998

track listing
Disc One:
  • Crystal Ball
  • Dream Factory
  • Acknowledge Me
  • Ripopgodaziipa
  • Lovesign
  • Hide The Bone
  • 2morrow
  • So Dark
  • Movie Star
  • Tell Me How U Wanna
    B Done

    Disc Two:
  • Interactive
  • Da Bang
  • Calhoun Square
  • What's My Name
  • An Honest Man
  • Sexual Suicide
  • Cloreen Bacon Skin
  • Good Love
  • Strays Of The World

    Disc Three:
  • Days Of Wild
  • Last Heart
  • PoomPoom
  • She Gave Her Angels
  • 18 And Over
  • The Ride
  • Get Loose
  • P. Control
  • Make Your Mama Happy
  • Goodbye

    Disc Four:
  • The Truth
  • Don't Play Me
  • Circle Of Armour
  • 3rd Eye
  • Dionne
  • Man In A Uniform
  • Animal Kingdom
  • The Other Side Of
    The Pillow
  • Fascination
  • Out Of Your Tears
  • Comeback
  • Welcome 2 The Dawn

  • WSVNRadio Archives
    A B C D E F G H I J K L M
    N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z

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    The Artist Formerly Known As Prince
    "Crystal Ball"

    Throughout many popular artists/bands' careers, songs are recorded, then carefully selected for each major release. Some songs are thrown on the back burner, or simply dropped, because the songs didn't fit with the final cut. Two artists who are similar in this situation were Bruce Springsteen and this week's artist chosen for review, Prince. Box sets are mostly the result Springsteen's Tracks were unreleased tracks; Prince, (who was now known in 1998 as The Artist [Formerly Known As Prince]), dug into his vaults of never before released tracks, and the result was the 4-disc set Crystal Ball.

    The title track has its moments, and yet at its end, it seems it was going in a lost direction. "Dream Factory" was probably recorded during the time of another non-album track "Erotic City." And just as energized as "Dream Factory," the funky "Acknowledge Me" is a very good danceable tune. "Ripopgodaziipa" almost has a reggae feel, yet not as exciting as most songs that would make the final cut for most of Prince's albums. "Lovesign" is quite mellow, and this song was in a dispute with Prince's record company, Warner Bros., which Prince would change his name to The Artist, due to the bitter feud that would evolve for many years.

    "Hide The Bone" is another interesting dance club tune, having its typical energized sound. "2morrow" has a groovy funky beat, "So Dark" has a soulful touch, snappy and jazzy best describes the humor of "Movie Star," as you easily hear the Prince-inspired band The Time performing this song, as the liner notes indicate, regarding this tune. Another funky tune is "Tell Me How U Wanna B Done," having a very easy danceable beat, and enjoying to listen to.

    The second disc leads off with "Ineractive," a jumpy little number, recording during The Gold Experience release. "Da Bang" is also a good song, yet it's easy to hear how this song may or may not have made the final cut for a major release. It has its moments, but it just didn't make it. However, "Calhoun Square" definitely could have made it easily on a major Prince release. It's funk and rock rhythms will easily get the repeat button on this particular number. "What's My Name" is fair, its energized choruses are interesting though. "Crucial" has its soulful moments, "An Honest Man" has an interesting accapella, as this short tune was recording during the sessions of Under The Cherry Moon.

    "Sexual Suicide" is another energized dance tune, as Sheila E. helped out Prince with the beginning stages of this particular song. "Cloreen Bacon Skin" is a song that just didn't seem to work for me, as I could easily hear how this song got placed on the back burner. And besides, this song being just a little over 15 minutes, its too much to stomach.

    However, there's hope for "Good Love" -- it's a typical Prince funky number, as this song was recorded shortly after the breakup with The Revolution. Also another hopeful number is the smooth "Strays Of The World," a song which was intended for a Broadway musical.

    "Days Of Wild" leads off the 3rd disc, as it has a rap/hip-hop style. This song was not a favorite, as most rap styled songs Prince attempted really didn't have as much potential as the typical dance/soul style songs from past releases. "Last Heart" is another good soulful danceable number, as it was intended as a demo, which Prince wanted to keep working on, but didn't get around to completing it.

    "PoomPoom" is kind of distracting -- not a song that would make a final cut for an album, as its obviously heard here. "She Gave Her Angels" is a beautiful ballad, "18 And Over" combines soul with a bit of rap style, as this song is just ok. "The Ride" is a live performance, as it shows Prince in a rare form of musical style -- the Blues. "Get Loose" has an eerie atmosphere, it could be good for a James Bond soundtrack. Another version of "P. Control" is here, as this song would be a popular club favorite from The Gold Experience release.

    "Make Your Mama Happy" sounds like a song that could easily fit the 1999 release; very jumpy, and very energized. "Goodbye" is beautiful ballad, as Prince has always perfected himself in recording such songs. I could see this song in the Purple Rain soundtrack.

    The 4th disc is titled The Truth, as it starts out with a blues number, "The Truth," as again, Prince shines as a blues performer. There are some other blues songs that are just as exceptional: The accoustic "Don't Play Me" and "The Other Side Of The Pillow", the very bluesy "3rd Eye" and the bluesy pop with a good groove, "Man In A Uniform" are great songs showcasing The Artist (Prince) as a blues artist.

    There are some very good pleasant pop styled songs here; "Circle Of Armour" has a very pleasant pop sound, likewise the two songs "Comeback" and "Welcome 2 To The Dawn." "Dionne" is quite different than the standard pop by Prince, his soulful voice (as if he hasn't recorded songs such as this before...) has a slight resemblence to that of Smokey Robinson. Another different pop sound for Prince is "Animal Kingdom." Although we have heard Prince in very soulful songs, "Out Of Your Tears" fits the songs which were contained on his self-titled album Prince. "Fascination" has a jazz style, another style not commonly recorded in the past from Prince's music.

    Crystal Ball are songs from Prince's archives. Some have their moments, and others are quite obvious how they were left on the shelf. The Truth (the fourth disc) seems to be the best disc from this set, and could easily been released as a major album. The dance tunes from the first 3 discs are more entertaining, yet these are songs that were dropped from major releasees. All in all, it's a set of music taken from the vaults of a music performer's library, and given the light for the fans to listen. Prince's major albums are fine in their own right, Crystal Ball is giving the fans a little more than what they could have listened to, if these songs were included on the major releases.

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