Prince fans have had a lot to be excited about in the past few weeks. The Purple Wonder’s stance “the internet is dead” has obviously changed, and one by one a stream of single releases are being sold virtually unannounced through a site called 3rdeyegirl.com. So here’s the background story.
The first peeps we heard out of Prince were last autumn, when an indie label “Purple Music Inc.” announced the release of “Rock and Roll Love Affair”. Little to-do was made about the release though. While the song is a nice laid back rock jam that can grow on you, it didn’t catch a lot of attention. But as we know, Prince demands your attention. Especially when it comes to his new creations.
In comes 3rdEyeGirl. The idea started as a monicker for a YouTube member, self proclaimed as an “international art thief” that posted snippets of new unreleased Prince material. A few posts later came a preview post (still on YouTube) for a track called “Screwdriver”. This was followed by an official lyric video posted on YouTube briefly for “Screwdriver”, then the track was released officially on mp3 only, through both Purple Music Inc. and online retailers like Amazon. Prince then had an interview in Billboard magazine where he denied being this 3rdEyeGirl character, acting only mildly annoyed, saying his lawyers were working on that. This doesn’t explain that the 3rdEyeGirl logo appears on the bass drum inserts in the “Screwdriver” video. He cited that being an in-joke that the girls in the band thought would be funny. Mmmmhmm.
Within days a new website sprung up, www.3rdeyegirl.com. At the time you could buy “Screwdriver”, “Screwdriver Remix” and “Breakfast Can Wait” and “RNR Remix 7″. Then 3rdeyegirl posted a teaser that ended with “Screwdriver Live”, and last Saturday’s date. On that date the site now offered a live one-take performance video in either .mp4 or .mov format. Earlier this week more new tracks followed, “Boyfriend Demo”, and “That Girl Thang”. Today, a new track, apparently fronted by the girls in the new lineup called “Live Out Loud” appeared. You’re supposed to not notice when Paypal then bills you and says “Your payment to NPG Records has been accepted”. Jamie Starr never was good at keeping secrets.
Each track is 88 cents, and the videos are $1.77 to download. One nice thing that is offered here is that the last three releases from “Boyfriend Demo” onward have been in .wav format, much higher quality than mp3. Now let’s look at these tracks:
This track blasts off somewhere between “Cream”, “Peach”, “When You Were Mine” and the Rolling Stones’ “Shattered”, but with a much more raw feel than most of Prince’s rock tracks in the last decade. He actually sounds like he’s having fun here and his three piece female group is tight. And this is way more fun than the harder stuff on 2009’s Lotusflow3r.
This track one-ups the regular version. It is a complete re-record. There’s a lot of guitar rave-ups and the pace is a little faster, but the energy is higher on this version. I supposed he though “what if we did an 80s 12″ extended mix of this song?”.
“Breakfast Can Wait”
This is the gem, and the jam. This feels like the Prince of the 80s. It’s suggestive, sexy, seductive and actually sounds like the Prince that could talk his lover out of her clothes in 4 lines. The music is spare in a way that reminds me of “The Ballad of Dorothy Parker” mixed with his better recent moments like “Sticky Like Glue”. The end has a high pitched voice that’s even higher than his Camille voice of the 80s that just sounds twisted and nasty, like his bad side taking over. If Prince can write stuff like this a lot more, I can be convinced to forget that he swore off cursing since around 2001.
“RNR Remix 7″
This is a complete redo remix of “Rock and Roll Love Affair”. In this case I dare say I like the remix better. The track has an irresistible funk bassline that for two seconds had me convinced it was the intro to “My Life” by Billy Joel until it kicked in. The guitar riffs sound like they were pulled straight out of the studio at the time of 1981’s Controversy, using a similar dry echo reverb effect. Rewriting the track around this new jam… this may be the spark it needed. This track is a definite standout of this batch of songs.
As it says, this is a video of Prince and his three piece and a biscuit band rocking this song out live. The vocal delivery isn’t quite as smooth, as you can tell the focus is on the riffs and the jamming with the band. The female guitarist (who has Skrillex’s hairdo) steps into the light several times and gets to do the lead solo. Nice! There is a goofy factor. This is at Paisley Park, and Prince never learned from “The Undertaker” project that he really shouldn’t do storylines. And there’s a storyline, it’s semi-mysterious (*yawn*), and then the song starts and all is forgiven. There’s a group of people who they obviously just let in off the street and can all dance (almost) synchronized, doing a dance I guess they’d call the Screwdriver (but looks like “the Roach”). It’s all fun though and the live version is quite the jam.
Demo? Seriously? Okay the Dirty Mind album was a demo. This song is perfect as it is. It has a somewhat complicated but very funky (possibly Linn Drum) drum line as Prince sings about his jealousy over a girl he has the hots for who’s taken. Hold up! But Prince has been a (self proclaimed) Jehovah’s Witness since 2001. Isn’t coveting someone else’s girlfriend sorta frowned upon in the JW world? Hmmmm. Could it be he’s finally coming back down to earth and being *gasp* a fallible human being again? This track just makes me want to move in ways that I shouldn’t in public. But *please* Prince don’t make the mistake of layering more stuff on top of this one. That’s what’s been the problem for too long – overdoing it. Sometimes the track needs to breathe. And sometimes it needs to breathe heavy. This one is done. And it was good.
“That Girl Thang”
This one is an acoustic falsetto ballad about a woman who has captured Prince’s eye and mind. It’s gentle, a little sappy, and reminds me a little of the quiet songs from his usually ignored debut album For You. This one isn’t essential, but maybe that’s the charm in it after all. It’s got an innocent feel to it, and that’s a nice change.
“Live Out Loud”
From what I’ve been able to gather today, this track is from Prince’s new three piece all female band (who are also being unofficially dubbed 3rdEyeGirl by some fans). Prince is definitely in the track though and most likely wrote the song. The female singer on this is decent, but not exactly remarkable. The worst part of this song though is that the volume was pushed so far in the red that it’s heavily distorted. This is especially surprising as this came as a .wav file and not a compressed MP3. As far as protegees go, Prince should stick with Andy Allo. But the track is fun, a little weird in its composition, and happy. But this is the most inessential of the new tracks.
Put these all together on a CD-R along with “Rock and Roll Love Affair”, add his 2011 one-off single “Extraloveable” and at the very worst you have a really cool long EP with some remixes. I must say a lot of these new songs are quite satisfying, and I’m glad Prince has found a clever sly way to get his new songs out there and keep staying creative despite his dismay at the state of the record industry.
Go get your Prince fix at 3rdEyeGirl.com now!
and still up on Vimeo:
“Rock and Roll Love Affair” can still be seen here: