The Black Album (Prince album)

Last updated

The Black Album
The Black Album, US, 1994.jpg
Studio album by
ReleasedNovember 22, 1994
December 8, 1987 (withdrawn)
Recorded1986–87
Genre Funk
Length44:43
Label Warner Bros.
25677 (original pressing)
45793 (second pressing)
Producer Prince
Prince chronology
Come
(1994)
The Black Album
(1994)
The Versace Experience: Prelude 2 Gold
(1995)
Professional ratings
Review scores
SourceRating
AllMusic Star full.svgStar full.svgStar full.svgStar full.svgStar empty.svg [1]
Blender Star full.svgStar full.svgStar full.svgStar full.svgStar empty.svg [2]
Entertainment Weekly B [3]
MusicHound Rock 2.5/5 [4]
New York Times (favorable) [5]
Q Star full.svgStar full.svgStar full.svgStar full.svgStar empty.svg [6]
The Rolling Stone Album Guide Star full.svgStar full.svgStar full.svgStar half.svgStar empty.svg [7]
Select 1/5 [8]
Tom Hull B [9]
The Village Voice A– [10]

The Black Album is the sixteenth studio album by American recording artist Prince. It was released on November 22, 1994, by Warner Bros. Records. It was originally planned for release on December 8, 1987, as the follow-up to Sign o' the Times [1] and was to appear in an entirely black sleeve with no title or even a credit to Prince; hence it was referred to as The Black Album. Dubbed The Funk Bible by preceding press releases, and in a hidden message within the album itself, the work seemed to be a reaction to criticism that Prince had become too pop-oriented. It was his attempt to regain his black audience. [2]

Contents

The 1987 promo-only release had no printed title, artist name, production credits or photography printed; a simple black sleeve accompanied the disc. On promotional copies, only a song listing and catalog number—25677—were printed on the disc itself. The commercial version was to only have the catalog number—printed in pink—on the spine. [11] The original compact disc pressing was made by Sony DADC rather than WEA Manufacturing. After Prince became convinced that the album was "evil", he ordered it to be withdrawn a week before its release date. It was replaced with the album Lovesexy , a brighter pop-oriented album with elements of religious affirmation.

Music

Prince invoked Camille, the alter-ego behind his unreleased 1986 album Camille , as the guiding force responsible for The Black Album. [12]

The opening track also mentioned the title of the album as being The Funk Bible, which was a consideration during work on this project. The title refers both to the album's all-black cover design and to Prince's attempt to earn back his credibility among the black pop audience. [13]

The album features one of the most atypical Prince songs: "Bob George", in which he assumes the identity of a profane man who suspects his girlfriend to have had an affair with a man named Bob. He asks her what the man does for a living and learns that Bob manages Prince, whom he dismisses as "that skinny motherfucker with the high voice". The gun-wielding alter ego then fires a multitude of gunshots, and ends up being raided by the police. During live performances of the song during the Lovesexy Tour, he ends up being shot. The name for the track was a combination of Bob Cavallo (former manager), and Nelson George, who was felt to have become very critical of Prince. [14] "Bob George" features a growling monologue that is pitched down (using a Publison) to the point of being almost unrecognizable as Prince. The voice at the end of the song that says "bizarre" is actually a stock sound from the Fairlight CMI IIx library, with its pitch raised.

The Black Album features songs such as the hip hop parody "Dead on It", which playfully makes the accusation that all MCs are tone-deaf and unable to sing, and the playful "Cindy C.", which refers to supermodel Cindy Crawford. The rhyme at the end of the song was originally written by Steve "Silk" Hurley and was included on a song titled "Music Is the Key", which was previously released by Chicago house-music group JM Silk, of which Hurley was the founder. Hurley would later go on to remix two of the songs from the "Gett Off" maxi-single, the Housestyle and Flutestramental versions.

The album contains several instances of the portrayal of characters, using either a sped-up or slowed-down vocal track by Prince (as on "If I Was Your Girlfriend", "U Got the Look", "Strange Relationship", and "Housequake", all from the Sign o' the Times album).

The instrumental jazz-funk jam "2 Nigs United 4 West Compton" was revisited as a live song on the One Nite Alone... Live! album, but it was hardly the same track.

"Rockhard in a Funky Place" was originally considered for inclusion on the planned Crystal Ball album and then the Camille project. After the album's fade out, dissonant feedback fades in, followed by Prince saying "What kind of fuck ending was that?" before fading out again. "When 2 R in Love" is the only ballad on the album, and reappeared on Lovesexy , which was released the next year.

Prince performed "Bob George", parts of "When 2 R in Love", and "Superfunkycalifragisexy" on his Lovesexy Tour. "When 2 R in Love" was usually part of the piano medley in Act II, whereas the other two songs were part of the Act I segment, where Prince's evil side showed through (coinciding with the idea that The Black Album was evil, hence its being pulled from release by Prince). Act II was his born-again segment, with more upbeat spiritual songs, highlighting most of the Lovesexy songs, and top 40 hits.

Samples of "Bob George" would later show up on the "Dub Beats" official promo mix of Madonna's 1989 single "Like a Prayer". [15]

Withdrawal

The album was abandoned shortly before its intended release after Prince experienced a spiritual epiphany and became convinced it was "evil"; [16] he later blamed the album on an entity named Spooky Electric, described as a demonic, low-voiced alter-ego induced by Camille. [17] The decision may have been influenced by Prince's having a bad experience on MDMA. [18] Prince recalled all copies and abandoned the entire project, leaving roughly 100 European promotional copies in circulation, and several American copies that would be widely bootlegged in the coming years.

Immediately after the decision to pull The Black Album from stores, the album emerged on the streets in bootleg form, arguably becoming popular music's most legendary bootleg since the Beach Boys' aborted 1967 album Smile . [19] Several celebrities, including U2's frontmen The Edge and Bono, cited it as one of their favorite albums of 1988 ( Rolling Stone magazine celebrity poll).

In the music video for the lead single from Lovesexy, "Alphabet St.", a message quickly scrolls down the screen that reads: "Don't buy The Black Album, I'm sorry." [20]

In April 2016, an original promo copy from 1987 was sold on Discogs' marketplace for a then-record of US$15,000.00.[ citation needed ] In 2017, five copies were discovered in the United States, with one of those selling for US$42,298. [21] In June 2018, another copy of the original album was found in Canada—this copy later sold on the Discogs marketplace for $27,500. [21]

The Black Album was finally released by Warner Bros. Records on November 22, 1994—again, containing only a track listing and the new catalog number 45793 printed onto the disc itself, and a copyright date of 1994 (with the exception of "When 2 R in Love", which was released in 1988 on Lovesexy ). Although it was released in a strictly limited edition and was pulled on January 27, 1995, the album was re-released exclusively to Tidal in 2016. [22]

In the week of the album's official release, Warner ran an ad at the back of the November 26, 1994, issue of Billboard that offered owners of counterfeit copies a free copy of the legal release, provided they mail their bootleg copy to the label in exchange. This offer was given only to the first 1,000 individuals who sent in their copies. [23]

Track listing

All songs written by Prince, except #8, music written by Prince and Eric Leeds.

Side 1

  1. "Le Grind" – 6:44
  2. "Cindy C." – 6:15
  3. "Dead on It" – 4:37
  4. "When 2 R in Love" – 3:59 *

Side 2

  1. "Bob George" – 5:36
  2. "Superfunkycalifragisexy" – 5:55
  3. "2 Nigs United 4 West Compton" – 7:01
  4. "Rockhard in a Funky Place" – 4:31

*Also appears on Lovesexy .

Personnel

Charts

Chart (1994)Peak
position
Australian Albums (ARIA) [24] 15
Austrian Albums (Ö3 Austria) [25] 7
Dutch Albums (Album Top 100) [26] 35
German Albums (Offizielle Top 100) [27] 49
Swiss Albums (Schweizer Hitparade) [28] 8
UK Albums (OCC) [29] 36
US Billboard 200 [30] 47
US Top R&B/Hip-Hop Albums (Billboard) [31] 18

Related Research Articles

<i>One Wild Night Live 1985–2001</i> 2001 live album by Bon Jovi

One Wild Night Live 1985–2001 is a live album by the American rock band Bon Jovi, released on May 22, 2001. The album includes live covers of Neil Young's "Rockin' in the Free World" and performance of The Boomtown Rats' "I Don't Like Mondays", with a guest appearance by their lead singer Bob Geldof. The album charted at #20 on The Billboard 200.

<i>Lovesexy</i> 1988 studio album by Prince

Lovesexy is the tenth studio album by American recording artist Prince. The album was released on May 10, 1988 by Paisley Park Records and Warner Bros. Records. The album was recorded in just seven weeks, from mid-December 1987 to late January 1988, at Prince's new Paisley Park Studios, and most of the album is a solo effort from Prince, with a few exceptions. The lyrical themes of the record include positivity, self-improvement, spirituality, and God.

<i>Purple Rain</i> (album) Album by Prince and the Revolution

Purple Rain is the sixth studio album by American recording artist Prince, released on June 25, 1984, by Warner Bros. Records. The soundtrack to the 1984 film of the same name, it is the first album where his band the Revolution is billed. Purple Rain was musically denser than Prince's previous albums, emphasizing full band performances, and multiple layers of guitars, keyboards, electronic synthesizer effects, drum machines, and other instruments.

<i>Dirty Mind</i> 1980 studio album by Prince

Dirty Mind is the third album by American recording artist Prince. It was released on October 8, 1980, by Warner Bros. Records as the follow-up to his self-titled second album, Prince, (1979). It was produced, arranged, and composed entirely by Prince in his home studio in Minneapolis, Minnesota during May to June 1980. Dirty Mind has been considered by critics as Prince's most creative and boldest album, setting the baseline for his artistic direction in the following years.

<i>Pulse</i> (Pink Floyd album) 1995 live album by Pink Floyd

Pulse is a live album by the English rock band Pink Floyd. It was released on 29 May 1995 by EMI in the United Kingdom and on 6 June 1995 by Columbia in the United States. The album was recorded during the European leg of Pink Floyd's Division Bell Tour in 1994.

<i>Emancipation</i> (Prince album) 1996 studio album by Prince

Emancipation is the 19th studio album by American recording artist Prince. It was released on November 19, 1996, by NPG Records and EMI Records as a triple album. The title refers to Prince's freedom from his contract with Warner Bros. Records after 18 years, with which he had a contentious relationship. The album was Prince's third to be released that year, which made 1996 one of the most prolific years for material released by Prince.

<i>Batman</i> (album)

Batman is the eleventh studio album by American recording artist Prince and the soundtrack album to the 1989 film Batman. It was released on June 20, 1989 by Warner Bros. Records. As a Warner Bros. stablemate, Prince's involvement in the soundtrack was designed to leverage the media company's contract bound talent as well as fulfill the artist's need for a commercial revival. The result was yet another multi platinum successful cross media enterprise by Warner Bros., in the vein of Purple Rain. The album stayed at number one on the Billboard 200 for six consecutive weeks, being his first number one album since Around the World in a Day, while its lead single, "Batdance", became his first number one song since "Kiss". It is certified double platinum by the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA).

Love Symbol (Prince album) 1992 studio album by Prince and the New Power Generation

Love Symbol is the fourteenth studio album by American recording artist Prince, and the second of two that featured his backing band the New Power Generation. It was released on October 13, 1992 by Paisley Park Records and Warner Bros. Records. It was originally conceived as a "fantasy rock soap opera" with various spoken segues throughout, and contains elements of R&B, pop, soul, funk, and rock styles.

<i>Graffiti Bridge</i> (album)

Graffiti Bridge is the twelfth studio album by American recording artist Prince and is the soundtrack album to the 1990 film of the same name. It was released on August 20, 1990 by Paisley Park Records and Warner Bros. Records.

I Wish U Heaven 1988 single by Prince

"I Wish U Heaven" is a song by Prince, and the third single from his 1988 album, Lovesexy. It is a joyful, spiritual song with few lyrics, which runs 2:43. The 12" single is a substantially extended three-part suite which runs over ten minutes. This song was a replacement for "The Line", an upbeat jam featuring Boni Boyer and Sheila E. on backing vocals.

<i>The Gold Experience</i> 1995 studio album by Prince

The Gold Experience is the seventeenth studio album by American singer, songwriter, producer and multi-instrumentalist Prince. It was credited to his stage name at the time, an unpronounceable symbol, also known as the "Love Symbol".

<i>The Hits/The B-Sides</i> 1993 box set by Prince

The Hits/The B-Sides is a box set by American recording artist Prince. It was released on September 10, 1993, by Paisley Park Records and Warner Bros. Records. The album is a comprehensive three-disc set consisting of many of his hit singles and fan favorites.

<i>Paris</i> (Paris Hilton album) 2006 studio album by Paris Hilton

Paris is the debut studio album by American socialite Paris Hilton. It was released on August 22, 2006, by Warner Bros. Records. The entire album was posted on AOL Music on August 14, 2006, becoming available for online stream eight days before the scheduled release date. After getting signed to the label in 2005, Hilton began working on the album with producer Rob Cavallo, who was originally set to produce the entire record. They recorded the song "Screwed", which was intended to be the lead single. However, after meeting with Scott Storch, Hilton decided to change the musical direction of the album and make more hip hop and R&B influenced songs. She collaborated with other producers, including Fernando Garibay, J.R. Rotem, Dr. Luke and Greg Wells. Musically, Paris is a pop album that is influenced by hip hop. It also incorporates elements of other genres in its production, such as reggae, soul, pop rock and R&B.

Prince was well known in the entertainment industry for having a vast body of work that has not been released. It has been said that his vault contains multiple unreleased albums and over 50 fully produced music videos that have never been released, along with albums and other media. The following is a list, in rough chronological order, of the most prominent of these unreleased works. Many were later released and circulated among collectors as bootlegs.

<i>Sign o the Times</i> 1987 studio album by Prince

Sign o' the Times is the ninth studio album by American singer, songwriter, producer, and multi-instrumentalist Prince. It was first released as a double album on March 30, 1987, by Paisley Park Records and Warner Bros. Records. The album is the follow-up to Parade and is Prince's first album following his disbanding of the Revolution. The album's songs were largely recorded during 1986 to 1987 in sessions for releases Prince ultimately aborted: Dream Factory, the pseudonymous Camille, and finally the triple album Crystal Ball. Prince eventually compromised with label executives and shortened the length of the release to a double album, whose music encompasses a varied range of styles, including funk, soul, psychedelic pop, electro, and rock.

<i>Ultimate Prince</i> 2006 greatest hits album by Prince

Ultimate Prince is a greatest hits album by American recording artist Prince. It was released on August 22, 2006 by Warner Bros. Records. The two-disc set contains a disc of some previously released hits, and another of extended remixes of hits and a B-side, most of which had only been previously released as 12-inch singles.

3rdeyegirl, stylized as 3RDEYEGIRL, is an American funk rock band and was Prince's backing band from his 2014 return to Warner Music until his death in 2016. It was a trio consisting of the American drummer Hannah Welton, Canadian guitarist Donna Grantis and Danish bassist Ida Kristine Nielsen. Together with Prince, they released the LP Plectrumelectrum on September 30, 2014.

<i>Indie Cindy</i> 2014 studio album by Pixies

Indie Cindy is the fifth studio album by the American alternative rock band the Pixies. Released in April 2014, it was the band's first album since 1991's Trompe le Monde, and the first Pixies album not to feature bass guitar player Kim Deal. Instead, bass guitar duties on the album are handled by Simon "Dingo" Archer, a former member of the British post-punk band The Fall.

<i>Def Leppard</i> (album) 2015 studio album by Def Leppard

Def Leppard is the self-titled eleventh studio album by the English rock band of the same name, released on 30 October 2015. Leppard's first studio album since Songs from the Sparkle Lounge (2008) and their first on earMUSIC Records, it became their seventh top ten album after debuting on the Billboard 200 at number 10. The first single "Let's Go" was released 15 September 2015, alongside the artwork and track listing.

<i>Camille</i> (album) Studio album by Camille

Camille is an unreleased album recorded by American musician Prince in 1986 and intended to be released under the pseudonym Camille, a feminine alter ego whose identity Prince assumed by disguising his vocals in a pitched-up and androgynous style. He planned to release the album without any acknowledgement of his identity. The project was ultimately scrapped several weeks before its planned release, with rare early LP pressings eventually surfacing for auction in 2016. Several tracks originally intended for Camille were instead included on Prince's 1987 double LP Sign o' the Times.

References

Notes

  1. 1 2 Erlewine, Stephen Thomas. "Prince: The Black Album > Review" at AllMusic. Retrieved September 16, 2011.
  2. 1 2 Harris, Keith (June–July 2001). "Every Original CD Reviewed - Prince". Blender . No. 1. Alpha Media Group.
  3. Browne, David (December 2, 1994). "The Black Album Review". Entertainment Weekly . No. #251. Time. ISSN   1049-0434 . Retrieved September 16, 2011.
  4. Graff, Gary; Durchholz, Daniel (eds.) (1999). MusicHound Rock: The Essential Album Guide (2nd ed.). Farmington Hills, MI: Visible Ink Press. p.  899. ISBN   1-57859-061-2.CS1 maint: extra text: authors list (link)
  5. Pareles, Jon (May 22, 1988). "Prince Twice Is Still Prince Charming". The New York Times . ISSN   0362-4331. OCLC   1645522 . Retrieved September 16, 2011.
  6. "Prince - Black Album CD Album". CDUniverse.com. Retrieved August 4, 2012.
  7. Hoard (2004), p. 655. Portions posted at "Prince: Album Guide". RollingStone.com. Archived from the original on March 20, 2011. Retrieved August 4, 2012.
  8. Hall, Matt (February 1995). "Prince - The Black Album". Select . Retrieved October 29, 2019.
  9. Hull, Tom (n.d.). "Rock (1970s)". tomhull.com. Retrieved July 1, 2020.
  10. Christgau, Robert (June 28, 1988). "Christgau's Consumer Guide". The Village Voice . Retrieved May 31, 2016.
  11. "1987 - Welcome to the Funk Bible". The Black Album. theblackalbum.info. August 13, 2006. Retrieved September 16, 2011.
  12. Gottschalk, Kurt. "In Which Prince at Last Wins the Battle Against Evil, and Yet Y'all Still Make Fun of Him". Brooklyn Rail. Retrieved February 2, 2017.
  13. Carcieri, Matthew Prince: A Life in MusiciUniverse.com (2004), p. 49
  14. Nilsen, Per. Dance Music Sex Romance: Prince: The First Decade. SAF Publishing Ltd; 2nd Revised edition (2003), p. 229
  15. YouTube
  16. Hahn 2004, pp. 121–122.
  17. Price, Simon. "Battle Of The Black Album: Jay-Z vs Metallica vs Prince". The Quietus . Retrieved February 2, 2017.
  18. Marcheese, David. "http://www.vulture.com/2014/09/24-outrageous-prince-stories.html". Vulture. Retrieved February 4, 2017.External link in |title= (help)
  19. Nilsen, Per Dance Music Sex Romance: Prince: The First Decade SAF Publishing Ltd; 2nd Revised edition (2003) p305
  20. Deriso, Nick (December 8, 2017). "30 Years Ago: Prince Suddenly Shelves 'The Black Album,' But Why?". diffuser.fm. Retrieved March 25, 2018.
  21. 1 2 "Rare Prince album surfaces in Canada". BBC News. Retrieved June 5, 2018.
  22. Cox, Jamieson (June 7, 2016). "A bunch of Prince's weirdest albums are now available on Tidal". The Verge. Retrieved June 11, 2016.
  23. Billboard, November 26, 1994 p. 138
  24. "Australiancharts.com – Prince – The Black Album". Hung Medien. Retrieved May 1, 2016.
  25. "Austriancharts.at – Prince – The Black Album" (in German). Hung Medien. Retrieved May 1, 2016.
  26. "Dutchcharts.nl – Prince – The Black Album" (in Dutch). Hung Medien. Retrieved May 1, 2016.
  27. "Offiziellecharts.de – Prince – The Black Album" (in German). GfK Entertainment Charts. Retrieved May 1, 2016.
  28. "Swisscharts.com – Prince – The Black Album". Hung Medien. Retrieved May 1, 2016.
  29. "Prince | Artist | Official Charts". UK Albums Chart. Retrieved May 1, 2016.
  30. "Prince Chart History (Billboard 200)". Billboard. Retrieved May 1, 2016.
  31. "Prince Chart History (Top R&B/Hip-Hop Albums)". Billboard. Retrieved May 1, 2016.

Sources