10th anniversary of the -album (1992)

"I've got 3 chains o' gold and they will shine 4 ever..."



1. My name is Prince
2. Sexy M.F.
3. Love 2 the 9´s
4. The morning papers
5. The max
6. (SEGUE)
7. Blue light
8. I wanna melt with U
9. Sweet baby
10. The continental
11. Damn U
12. Arrogance
13. The Flow
14. 7
15. And god created woman
16. 3 chains o´ gold
17. (SEGUE)
18. The sacrifice of Victor

Release date: October 13, 1992
on Paisley Park Records/Warner Bros. Records
© 1992


Prince & The New Power Generation: Prince, Levi Seacer Jr., Tony M., Tommy Barbarella,
Kirk Johnson, Damon Dickson, Sonny Thompson, Michael Bland, Mayte.

Additional personnel: Carmen Electra (rap); Eric Leeds (saxophone); Mike Nelson,
Kathy J., Dave Jensen, Brian Gallagher, Steve Strand (horns); Michael Kopelman (bass);
Airiq Anest (programming); D.J. Graves (scratches); Jevetta Steele, Jearlyn, J.D.,
Fred (background vocals).

Producers: The New Power Generation, Keith "KC" Cohen, George Black, Prince.

Engineers: Michael Koppelman, Dave Friedlander, Ray Hahnfeldt, Brian Poer, Steve Noonan.

Recorded at Paisley Park Studios, Minneapolis, Minnesota.

All songs written or co-written by Prince.


The concept for this album was originally to be something like a "funky rock soap opera"
based on the tale of a rock star (Prince) and a princess (Mayte) of a middle eastern kingdom
(Cairo/Egypt), who has lived in a constant fear of her father's murderers since she witnessed
the crime as a young girl. In a desperate attempt to save herself and as an act of rebellion,
the princess gives the rock star an enchanted religious icon known as "Three chains o' gold"
(or "3 chains of Turin").
Both of thier lives are endangered as the conspirator / murderers hunt down the couple in
pursuit of the magical chains.

On the other hand you can see the growing relationship between Prince and Mayte, his inspiration
- and finally his wife (1996).
The story also is featuring the voice of reporter Vanessa Bartholomew (Kirstie Alley) linking
the saga in-between the tracks. Most of her contributions (see under 'Lost segues') didn't
make it in the final cut, making the album's storyline indecipherable. A concept video feat.
most of the songs was later released, but didn't help towards making the storyline any clearer.
In was later revealed that the album was inspired by and written for Mayte.


"The cover of the album, the futuristic city, may represent "new Jerusalem", the city
mentioned in the Book of Revelation 21:1 "And I saw a new heaven and a new earth: for
the first heaven and the first earth were passed away: and there was no more sea.
And I John saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down from God out of heaven,
prepared as a bride adorned for her husband."

Taken from Controversy, Issue 38


Prince's 14th album was simply titled after the mysteriously symbol (what later become his 'name' -
or trademark/sign - or was this his first release as 'O(+>'?) - sometimes called "the love symbol"
or "Androgyny" or "Symbol album" is available in three versions (identical tracklists):

  • edited "clean" version, without 'explicit lyrics', embossed symbol in gold on case
  • unedited version, with 'explicit lyrics', embossed symbol in gold on case
  • special ltd. edition, a deluxe 'gold' box, gold foil slip-case, with a purple symbol embossed


1. "Sexy M.F." / "Strollin'"
2. "My Name Is Prince" / "Sexy Mutha"
3. "My Name is Prince" (Remixes)
4. "7" / "7 (Acoustic Version)" + remixes
5. "The morning papers" / "Live 4 Love"
6. "Damn U" / "2 Whom It May Concern" (Promo only!)


"3 chains o' gold", 1992

(12 videos connected to a storyline, incl. videos to "My name is Prince",
"Damn U", "7", "3 chains o' gold")

"Sexy MF", 1992

(Video single "Sexy MF" 9 min. - Prince feat. The NPG + starring Troy Beyer!)

Prince & The NPG!

"When the Egyptian princess Mayte's father is murdered by 7 men, she inherits 3 sacred
chains of gold. Seeking help to find her father's murderers, she sends a tape of her
dancing to the musical genius Prince. He is so impressed that he falls in love with her.
Fearing the commitment, he tries to escape by having sex with others only to find out
that there is no escape. Prince's name-change to the-unpronouncable-symbol is also
explained as he kills of 7 older versions of himself, i.e. the 7 murderers."

Did U know?

This video contains the song "The Call" (© 1993 by Prince; build around the
telephone conversation with Vanessa); also "Barbarella" (from the movie); "Quit
observer" (by
Andreas Vollenweider - from "Down to the moon", 1986) and finally
the tune "That's incredible"!

The song "7"

Besides other so called mirror messages in the album booklet you find the words "revelation"
and "the book" next to the lyrics to the song "7" - and this lyrics indeed correspond closley
to the portrayal of the Apocalypse in the Book of Revelations in the Bible!
It describes how God's people will triumph over seven kings and talks about finding eternal
love in heaven. In the left out segue you can hear Mayte saying to Prince: "Look now into the
mirror. If you're the beginning, I am the end, and things in between are reflected therein."
Like in many Prince songs there are spiritual contens or religious quotations (from "Rebirth of
the flesh", "I would die 4 U", "God", "The cross", "In2 the light" or "One song" - up to
the concept albums like "Lovesexy" or the latest "The Rainbow Children").

Most critics dislike the combination of 'preaching' or songs with messages of faith, salvation,
personal beliefs and results of bible study - but maybe this visions and insights or feelings
make the difference!

"7" - The meaning

Basics about the number "7"


Philosopher, sage, wisdom seeker, reserved, inventor, stoic, contemplative, aloof, deep-thinker.

Taken from Aisling - The Meaning of Numbers in Dreams:

7 This number always indicates Spiritual Enlightenment. Our Spiritual Center is our 7th Chakra.
For example, a dream where you catch the number 37 bus to Church is a request to commit (number 3)
yourself to developing your Spiritual side (number 7 and church). Paying $47 for something
indicates that the dreamer is limiting (number 4) their Spiritual nature (number 7) by not
putting enough energy (paying for something) into developing it.

Taken from Torralvoma Numerology Center - Meaning of Number 7:

A year of rest, dedicated to spiritual evolution. You will be lonely for some time, even with
others around you. You will spend more time at home. Love interests will tend to be reserved,
but nature may try and play some tricks on you. The more you try to pursue money, the less you
will see of it. The key is to know the difference. You should avoid too much diet and exercise,
and get plenty of rest.

The Chinese Valentine's Day is on the 7th day of the 7th lunar month in the Chinese calendar.

And finally there are countless links to the Holy Bible (7th day, 7 kings, 7 years, 7 lambs):

Genesis 2:

2 "By the seventh day God had finished the work he had been doing; so on the seventh day he
rested [1] from all his work. 3 And God blessed the seventh day and made it holy, because on it
he rested from all the work of creating that he had done."

Greg Killian (The Watchman) found some very intersting things:

- Music that “moves” us is music which is based on a seven tone scale.
- The rainbow with its seven colors reflected the beauty and divinity of the Seven
Commandments of the Children of Noah.
- Seven seas is an ancient term describing all the seas and oceans of the world.
Many people believe the seven seas referred to are the Arctic, Antarctic, North
and South Pacific, North and South Atlantic, and Indian oceans. However, the
phrase has no literal meaning, and it came into use before some of the oceans
were even known to exist.
- There are seven visible moving celestial objects: Mercury, Venus, Mars, Saturn,
Jupiter, Moon, and Sun.
- The Golden Gate is one of seven entrances to the Old City that is currently blocked
but will be opened when the Messiah arrives.
- Seven "eyes" of God watch over all Creation.

Related linx:

  • The Bilbe Gateway
  • The Number Seven and Scripture
  • When is Jesus Coming?
  • "The World of Seven" (By Greg Killian)

    The lost album segues / original version

    The original version of the album contains many more segues (about nearly 8 min.) to tell the
    story very well. Unfortunatly Prince cut off most of the spoken segues to enable the inclusion
    of "I wanna melt with U" (orignally planned as a single B-side). The segues are circulating on
    various bootlegs.

    Here's the original sequence / somtimes called 'uncut album':

    Segue 1 (Intro):

    Male Voice: Minneapolis, dust, 1997, a baby boy plays in the grass. Five years old, digging in the dirt he finds 3 gold chains. They're far more interesting than his purple ball. His mother's voice calls out, "Michael come on inside, it's time for bed." but the baby's attention is focused down the street.
    Vanessa: You little asshole, cut it out while I'm trying to talk.
    Male Voice: Thousands of people have gathered.
    Vanessa: Hello there, this is Vanessa Bartholomew live just outside Minneapolis at Prince's Paisley Park Studios. Prince and his band, the N.P.G., have embarked on yet another, what seems to be a strange, strange, bizarre career move.
    Female voice (in the crowd): Uh, huh! Baby, this is going to be good!
    Vanessa: In the wake of this current recession feeling in this country, and the low concert grossing of even the biggest of superstar acts, Prince and the N.P.G. have begun a series of concerts in which they perform an opera of entirely new music.
    Male Voice: The baby jumps into its mother's arms.
    Baby: I love you, Mama.
    Mayte: Where did you get these?
    Baby: Outside.
    Mayte: Where? Where? In the garden?
    Baby: Yeah...
    Mayte: Oh, my God I can't believe this...
    Baby:I'll put them back.
    Mayte: No, no, it's OK. Give them to me.
    Male Voice: The young mother holds the chains to her bosom and begins to remember back, back... five years ago.
    "My name is Prince"
    "Sexy MF"
    Segue 2:

    Male Voice: She's gone. I couldn't stop her. She had seven goons with her. Here, I'm supposed to give you this.
    Mayte: Hello, darling. So, finally we meet. By the time you get this, I'll be strolling the streets of Cairo. Along with this visual recording of me, you now have in your possession the '3 Chains of Turin'. Please guard them with all the love inside you. They're all I have in this world, besides you.
    "Love 2 the 9's"
    "The morning papers"
    "The Max"
    Segue 3:

    [Telephone rings]
    Prince: Hello.
    Vanessa: Hello, Prince?
    Prince: Yes.
    Vanessa: This is Vanessa Bartholomew.
    Prince: Where have you been?
    Vanessa: I've been trying to interview you now for a long time.
    Prince: No?
    Vanessa: You're a hard man to track down. I hope you don't mind, I'm recording our conversation... hello? Son of a bitch hung up!

    [Telephone rings]
    Vanessa: Hello?
    Prince: Vanessa?
    Vanessa: Oh, I'm sorry about our conversation last night... I'm not recording this time. So how are you?
    Prince: How are you?
    Vanessa: Fine.
    Prince: Fine.
    Vanessa: Excuse me, but what's up with your voice?
    Prince: It's a special phone, a tongue box.
    Vanessa: A tongue box? Oh, like in the movie Barbarella?
    Prince: Yeah, it gives me courage you know, like a veil I can hide behind. I talk at, around and through it.
    Vanessa: OK, so why are you giving me an interview?
    Prince: ...to tell the truth.
    Vanessa: Oh, well, I will if you will. For example, the first song of your opera...
    Prince: Ah, yeah, the opera...
    Vanessa: Why don't you tell me your real name?
    Prince: My name is Victor.
    Vanessa: That's not the truth and you know it. How old are you?
    Prince: I'm into my fifth soul now, so that makes me 300...
    Vanessa: Why do you pretend to be a maze?
    Prince: ...and 20. I'm amazed at your beauty. I saw you on television.
    Vanessa: 320, hmm, don't sweat it, honey. I'm too young for you, although rumor has it that the crown princess of Cairo is now a member of the N.P.G.?

    "Blue light"
    Segue 4:

    Vanessa: Do you know about the '3 Chains of Turin'?
    Prince: No.
    Vanessa: Well, they're worth a fortune. So much so, there's a half a million reward out for the capture of the thieves. Story has that they're as old as the pyramids that possess magical powers. They seem to have brought amazing good luck to all around.
    Vanessa: Are you there?
    Vanessa: Do you know that the princess is 16 years old? How about this for a story: 320-year old robs the cradle. Ha, ha, what a scandal.
    Prince (whispering): Scandal.
    Vanessa: You know if you don't give me the real story, I'll have to make one up on my own. So why don't you tell me the truth?
    [Phone hangs up]
    Vanessa: Hello? That son of a bitch.
    Male voice: When the princess awakens, he is gone.

    "Sweet baby"
    Segue 5:

    N.P.G. Member Voice: Listen girl, come on here, leave that boom box here, we don't need it. Hey man! What you doing here sitting by yourself? Oh! You're still trippin' over Prince's whatever her name is. Listen man, come on and go to the party with us, hang out and things will be cool.... later, then fool.
    [3 Chains o' Gold]
    Mayte: They're all I have in this world...
    [3 Chains o' Gold]
    Mayte: ...they're all I have in this world, besides you.

    "The Continental"
    "Damn U"

    Prince: That one's dedicated to all the lovers...
    Vanessa: That was beautiful...
    Prince: This one's dedicated to the whores...
    Vanessa: What? You just...
    [Pimprag, check - Pimprag]
    Vanessa: ...just once will U talk 2 me?
    [Tootsie pop, check - Tootsie pop]
    Vanessa:Not at me, not around me, not through me?
    [Raise your cane - cane]
    Vanessa: What do you believe in?
    Prince: God.
    Vanessa: Who is your God?
    Prince: You.
    Vanessa: Is it reality or just another facade?
    Prince: Ha ha ha...
    Vanessa: Why are you so arrogant?

    "The flow"
    Segue 6:

    Mayte: Imagine.... imagine (whispers)... I know those seven men killed my father and then they will come for me and the chains, they must never find them. They must never find us. If anything should happen to...

    Segue 7:
    Mayte: Look now into the mirror. If you are the beginning, I am the end and all things in between are reflected there end.
    "And God created woman"
    "3 Chains o' Gold"
    Segue 8:

    Prince: Happy?
    Mayte: Yeah. Look, a little girl in the mirror, she's smiling.
    Male Voice: And Vanessa B. is happy as well. Not, she poses the question. Once more.
    Vanessa: Why don't you tell me the truth. The truth... the truth.

    Michael B.: What is sacriface?

    "The sacriface of Victor"

    Related linx:

    THE BOOK (1994):

    © 1994 Paisley Park Enterprises

    In 1994 the book "Prince presents - The Sacrifice of Victor" - titled after one song from the
    "O(+>"-album was released. This item contains black and white photographs, taken by the
    photojournalist Terry Gydesen during the '93 tour, a portrait of the name change from
    Prince to O(+>! Latley one of the photos became the album cover for the "Come" (1994).

    "In July 1992 she (Terry) got a telephone call inquiring as to whether or not she was
    interested in going to Europe. A few days later she was headed for Sweden where she
    says "my adventure began."

    You can discover this and other related books in our section [BOOKS].

    "FINISH SCHOOL - TEACH YOUR BABY, THERE WILL BE ANOTHER WORLD!" - mirror message from the intro


  • Mayte (http://www.mayte.com) was credited by Prince as being the inspiration for
    his "next 4thcoming" album. She's also performing her famous 'arabic sworddance' in the
    short film / video "3 chain's o' gold"!

  • The "eye"-symbol - for the word "I" - is back (also used on 'Lovesexy')

  • Maybe the "ankh"-symbol was also an inspiration to Prince.
    Please read our section [BOOKS: Where the O(+> comes from]

    "The ankh was used as an emblem and appears as one of the most powerful cultural and
    religious symbols of Pharaonic Egypt. In Egytpian art and mythology the ankh is a tau
    or "t-shaped" cross having a looped top. Sacred and mystical, it portrayed the eternal
    life of the soul. The ankh is seen in many Egyptian art forms and is considered to be
    one of their most powerful amulets."

  • The track numbers and the time counts of the album tracks are written in roman numerals
    (i.e. VIII = 8, V:XXXI = 5:31) - this fits perfectly with the Egyption pyramid theme.

  • The arabic lookin' font is available as True Type font mostly called "Sexy MF".

  • There was a DC Comic "Prince - Alter ego" (published by Piranha Press), tells the tale of a rock star (Prince)!

  • The song "3 chains o' gold" was compared - by music critics and fans - because of its 'opera
    -style singing' to Queen's "Bohamion Rhapsody" (from the album "A Night at the Opera", 1975).

  • The album was recorded newly - except for the trax "Blue light" (May 1991), "My name is Prince"
    (September 1991) and "Sweet baby" (October 1991)

  • The song "The Max" has nothing to do with the song of the same name from 1988.

  • Once it was announced that Prince recorded 30 songs for the album. Known outtakes from
    the O(+>-album session are "Race" (finally released on "Come", 1994), "She spoke 2 me"
    (from the Soundtrack "Girl 6", 1996), "However much U want" (released in '95 as duet with
    Mayte on her album "Child of the sun"), "Goodbye" (released on "Crystal Ball", 1998).

  • The outtake "However much U want" starts with a backward spoken intro by Prince/Mayte:
    PRINCE: "Mayte, darling, I´m diggin´ U aside, but I´m - I think we need 2 do something 4
    the baby of the New Power Generation...what R U thinkin´?"
    MAYTE: "Cool - what do U want 2 do?" -
    PRINCE: "However much U want." - MAYTE: "Get up then, boy!"

  • A more or less remix of (the second part of) "The continental" was later released on CD 1
    of the box-set "Crystal Ball" (from 1998) titled "Tell me how U wanna be done".

  • There's another remix circulating called "The Sacrifice Of Victor (Kirky J's Remix)".

  • The '92 version of "The Flow" is a remake of the original take from 1990 or outtake from
    the album "Diamonds and Pearls" (1991).

  • An earlier configuration of the album starts with "Sexy MF"; later "My Name is Prince"
    was choosen for the opening.

  • Maybe Prince watched the movies "Barbarella" (feat. Jane Fonda who used a 'tongue box'
    like Prince used in the conversation with Vanessa) and "And god created woman"?

    And who renamed Tom Elm (real name, NPG member) "Tommy Barbarella"? Prince!

  • The back and booklet cover of the album contains a look of a Pyramid - very similar to
    the CD-Single of The NPG: "Peace" / "2045: Radical Man" (from 2001).

  • Take a look at the album cover, is this a vision of the City of Gold ("There will be a
    new city with streets of gold" - from "7")

  • The parody of "My name is Prince" - retitled "My Name is Bart" (!) - this time with lead vocals
    by Nancy Cartwright - was Prince's contribution to the 'Yello Album' of the FOX-TV program
    'The Simpsons" (1993). Unfortunatly this album was delayed until the end of 1998. Finally
    released without this Prince track; but there's an early test pressing of the original
    album - with "My name is Bart" - in circulation.

  • "7" - Jevetta Steele (of The Steeles) asked Prince 4 an explanation of this song. He only smiled.

  • In the radio edit of "Sexy MF" (MF = "Mother fucka") the naughty word is being overdubbed with
    one of Prince's scream!

  • The video to "Sexy MF" is starring the actess and model Troy Beyer.

  • Other mirror messages (in the booklet):


  • Secret messages in the booklet - arabic-style writing behind the lyrics:

    have u had your "plus" sign 2 day
    we told u not 2 come 2 the concert
    if u're so brave then kiss ur enenmy
    don't buy the black album
    the yellow cloud will croon
    2 whomever it may concern: u must come to ur senses -
    there r no kings on this earth, only princes
    prince's favorite food is stewardesses
    live 4 love without love u don't live
    prince likes 2 hug
    may u live 2 c the dawn
    live 4 love
    prince's mother's 1st name is mattie
    today is the 1st day of the rest of ur life


    "This album followed Prince's debut with the New Power Generation, DIAMONDS AND PEARLS, and
    marked a turning point in the career of one of the most talented, prolific, and successful
    pop stars of the '80s and '90s. For many, the album introduced a new Prince whose music now
    encompassed rap and other contemporary radio-friendly sounds. For others, SYMBOL signaled
    the beginning of Prince's downward spiral into self-indulgence and lack of focus. After the
    album's release, Prince changed his name to the unpronounceable symbol emblazoned on the cover.
    It is hard to argue with Prince's innovative, accessible, and utterly singular musical vision.
    While not everything on this double-length set is strong, SYMBOL offers such an abundance of
    material that there is sure to be something here for everyone. Dance floor booty-movers like
    "The Max" and "Damn U" alternate with atmospheric ballads ("Sweet Baby") Other tracks (the
    chaotic free-funk of "Arrogance;" the dark gospel pulse of "7") are more resistant to
    categorization. The hit singles "My Name Is Prince" and the irresistible James Brown-style
    jam (complete with JB's-ish horns) of "Sexy M.F." provide sing-along dance anthems. There is
    enough intensity and diversity here to prove that Prince is still a force to be reckoned with."

    Spin (12/92, p.69) - Ranked #19 in Spin's list of the `20 Best Albums Of The Year' - "...the
    ultimate gas. Prince has finally caught up with the new jack culture..."

    Village Voice (3/2/93, p.5) - Ranked #14 in the Village Voice's list of the 40 Best Albums Of '92.

    Q Magazine (1/93, p.72) - Included in Q's list of the 50 Best Albums Of 1992.

    Spin (11/92, p.109) - Highly Recommended - "...some of Prince's buggiest doo-doo in years...
    ["Sexy MF" is] his first party-tape must-have since "Housequake" from 1987's SIGN O' THE TIMES.
    And most of the rest of this record cream-sh-boogie-bops with aggressive aplomb..."

    Entertainment Weekly (10/23/92, p.62) - "...Prince is funky, funkier than ever before, maybe
    even the funkiest musician around right now...irrepressibly catchy..." - Rating: A-

    Rolling Stone (11/26/92, p.70) - 3.5 Stars - Very Good - "...he's funkier than he's been in
    ages... recalls the glory days of James Brown and the JB's...rarely has his protean musicality
    been more pleasurable..."

    Q Magazine (12/92, p.124) - 4 Stars - Excellent - "...Prince bounces back with 75 minutes' worth
    of music celebrating his irrepressible libido...The New Power Generation have developed into a
    formidable unit...a barrage of full-blooded funk workouts...this collection is as robust as any
    in Prince's career..."

    Vox (12/92, p.65) - 9 - Excellent - "...it's funny, funky, brilliant, kooky, sexy and cosmo-
    politan, all things synonymous with Prince...a work of genius..."

    Stereo Review (1/93, p.84) - "...ranks with his most enjoyable albums..."

    New Musical Express (11/7/92, p.38) - "...Prince's musical vision is positively hallucinogenic..."

    "The next waves of artist genius came in 1992 with the release of the CD titled "O(+>" which
    would become his new name in a couple of years. This "Love Symbol" as it was dubbed, offered
    great airplay hits like "Sexy M.F.", "Gett Off", and "7" as well as much anticipated slow jams
    (by me that is) that include "Blue Light," "Damn U," "And God Created Woman," and "Sweet Baby."
    The New Power Generation really stepped in on this one and helped create a lot of funk!"

    Billed as a "rock soap opera," there's a lot of very strong material here, from old-school funk
    "Sexy M.F." to the tuneful rocker "The Morning Papers" to the amazing personal-is-political jam
    "The Sacrifice of Victor." "Love 2 The 9's" starts out as a lovely ballad, then shifts to hip-hop
    influenced funk and comes out the other end as pure melody. The hit single was another religious
    pop tune ("7"), the flop single was "My Name Is Prince," which doesn't succeed as hip-hop but is
    quite amusing. There's even a nightclub ballad ("Damn U") and a 70's prog-rock pastiche ("3 Chains
    O' Gold"). There's also a fair amount of filler ("The Max") and failed experiments with rave ("I
    Wanna Melt With U") and hip hop ("Arrogance"). But Tony's raps here are better integrated into the
    overall sound, and the NPG Hornz add depth and variety to the mix. (DBW)


    by Paul Hennessy
    <HYUDR@csv.warwick.ac.uk> © 1997

    "People better start looking back: dates, times, names, they better
    see those coincidences...it's so simple...it's all there for you to
    see, to help you, if your eyes are open." O(+>, NME, 14th December '96

    In 1992 Prince underwent a profound and providential change,
    pre-empting and preparing the ground for the notorious name change of
    '93. The O(+> album was as much a look back as a look forward, with
    songs both sampling his earlier hits (My Name Is Prince) and
    sonically referring to them (Sweet Baby). Indeed, in many ways the
    O(+> album encapsulated the Prince persona even as it pointed the way
    forward: bookended by summations of his professional and personal
    life, it swung from his early soul style to his latest hard funk with
    titles that could be seen as nods to different aspects of his
    persona, continental, arrogant, a sexy mf who takes it to the max.
    Michael B called the album a time capsule, and the profusion of
    mirror messages in the sleeve notes suggests that this is an album to
    be read backwards.

    That "Prince" was a persona whose usefulness was nearing an end was
    confirmed throughout '93. In June, Prince "put into practice the
    precepts of perfection" and changed his name. As he toured with his
    old songs in Act II, Warner Bros. released the triple CD Hits
    epitaph; he followed the 7th September Wembley concert, after being
    wrapped in a black shroud and borne aloft from the stage, with a
    performance of "The Undertaker" at Bagley's Warehouse. In the dead of
    night. Of course, Prince was always an artist in perpetual
    reinvention, chopping and changing fashions and styles every other
    year - no other '80s artist, to retread hackneyed Prince mythology,
    proved themselves so consistently inconsistent, from Purple Rain
    baroque to the naked evangelism of Lovesexy, from psychedelic pop
    life to stark signs of the times, from the carnal to the carnival.
    But this was more than a change in haircut and wardrobe: he wasn't
    teasing out new elements so much as discarding the whole she-bang.
    From the shelved Undertaker album to the Chaos and Disorder set the
    artist entered a new, unexplored and ultimately transitory phase of
    his career, a phase preceded and followed by critically acclaimed
    triple CD sets, a phase that threw up Black and Gold, Dark and Sun,
    but one that in the end took his audience on a journey, an Exodus, if
    they were willing to Come.

    The Undertaker opens with the words "If you've got the time...I've
    got the ride." It ends with the refrain "I'll come back again." An
    album recorded at four in the morning in the form of a rehearsal
    should serve as a warning not to read too much into its structure -
    roughly, "something old, something new, something borrowed, something
    blue" - yet the fact that it became emblematic of the entire O(+> Vs.
    Warners debate (he wanted to prove his garage credentials, they
    preferred to release it as a video two years later) is temptation
    enough to treat it as a microcosm of the ensuing journey. These are
    songs of frustration - Poor Goo sees his honky tonk women turn into
    bambis before his eyes - resolved only through a rebirth. How
    beautiful do the words have to be?

    It was a premature re-birth thanks to Warners, yet the spirit
    continued to call, and Come proved why. Come most clearly bears the
    scars of the fight with Warners: the title song changed almost out of
    recognition, the fluctuating set list saw songs removed, some never
    to see the light of day (Strays of the World), some to surface on the
    Interactive CD ROM, and the original concept shifted from a loose
    narration of Ulysses to a supposed sentence spelt out by the song
    titles (Come to a Space where Pheromone is Loose? Papa(father) Race?
    A Dark Solo? Letitgo to Orgasm?) to a graveyard of allegedly pre-name
    change Prince compositions culminating in the hatchet job of 1982
    sounds - Ronnie Talk to Russia guitar with Vanity on vocals. As with
    Undertaker, frustration is a prominent theme of the album, with a
    quartet of songs dealing with unrequited love. The first two songs
    suggest a destination to the journey, describing it in overtly sexual
    tones, with Letitgo suggesting that you can leave all your baggage
    behind: you just need to get loose. Come is, at the end of the day,
    an album of much black and little light - women abused, children
    beaten, men rejected, races clashing: the closing "I love you" is
    perhaps the least convincing statement to come from the artist,
    deadpan, detached and distant.

    If Come invited listeners on a journey, the NPG's Exodus took them
    round the bend, a funky no-turning-back foot forward. A slab of
    relentlessly phat funk from the Old Skool, fashioned loosely into
    some sort of "day in the life" story of Sonny T, it seemed the
    product of a week-end on drugs and drums, no sleep and non-stop. Set
    in a world of guns and gigs, it presented the NPG as a gang of
    musicians bravely battling against the homogeny of faceless dance
    music, frustrated with the real world yet determined to have Big Fun.
    The lyrics, like the segues, appear to be relaxed and vernacular, yet
    still find the time to quote the bible, name check cinema, and in
    Cherry Cherry, narrate a convincing story of young suicide. The
    sleeve quotes the lyrics to the Exodus Has Begun, a song that most
    clearly states the artist's grievances with WB. It also depicts O(+>
    on the back, dressed in black and holding three fingers up on one
    hand to the other's fist: 3-0. 1 800 New Funk, TMBGITW and Exodus to
    NPG Vs. a poor selling collection of 'old' songs to WB? A sell out UK
    tour, Brit Award and first #1 Vs. 3 Chains of Gold video? A sellout
    ballet, Interactive CD ROM, and worldwide broadcast of The Beautiful
    Experience Vs. ? Whatever, it is clear that the Exodus is a cheeky
    statement of confidence - from the longer 6 minute jams to the
    profusion of symbols on a nominally separate act's album. Behind the
    bullish bravado, the two fingers to WB, lies a continuation of the
    Come motif, namely a journey defined only by its source of departure,
    uncertain about it's destination. From the two-minute monologues to
    the multitracked bad mouthed music, this is a new step forward into
    unprecedented territory, disorientating whether you like it or not.

    The heavy promotion the Exodus received from O(+> in the spring of
    '95 was in stark contrast to the low key fanfare given to NPG
    Record's next release. This was the fifth step to freedom, the debut
    of O(+>'s future bride Mayte. Containing some of the artist's most
    solidly commercial compositions since Diamonds and Pearls, the album
    nevertheless died a death at the hands of the distributors, being
    only available at the Camden store for a long time. Yet it is here
    that some answers are found, that the road is signposted. It pointed
    the possible ways forward from the Exodus, containing traces of its
    anger yet more a sense of overwhelming acceptance and calm that
    prefigures the maturity of the Emancipation set. In Your Gracious
    Name asks for the strength to forgive those who inflict upon us pain,
    and the overall theme of the album seems to be a desire for security
    and a belief in the self, a theme which even the older material falls
    within. Yet the newer songs are more clearly informed by the sense of
    spiritual worth that is characteristic of O(+>'s songs from around
    '95 onwards. Ain't No Place Like You is not merely a tale of
    obsessional desire a la Pheromone, but locates the Space where no
    tears flow in one person - no matter where you are, you're with me,
    you're my world. Mayte is a crucial figure in O(+>'s life, the angel
    in whose hand lies the key to open words of compassion and words of
    peace. It is clear the O(+> is more in touch with himself, is more
    fulfilled and understanding, when he is with Mayte. She gives him the
    power to do however much he wants, to listen to his feelings so that
    they keep getting stronger. It is a nice touch that the album ends
    with Mayte repaying the compliments of '94 back to her man: their
    love for one another reflected back and forth across albums.

    If the Child of the Sun is a step forward, then the release date of
    the Gold Experience represents a step backward in the journey to
    Emancipation. Its sentiments and themes are not those of O(+> in '95,
    but reflect his mind set of preceding year. As the album was tugged
    between O(+> and WB it acquired a semi-mythic status, the acrimony of
    the conflict acting as the alchemy which turned a collection of
    strong songs into some sort of reward at the end of the rainbow. Thus
    a canny mix of commercial and experimental jams was made into
    definitive statement of where the artist was at in the '90s, as hype
    served to heightened the expectations of the record buying public
    beyond the capability of the album to deliver. For the fans, of
    course, it was sufficiently well known before its release for O(+> to
    tour with it in Europe and Japan, so that the occasion of its release
    offered nothing much new beyond Shy. It was the real Victor who was
    Sacrificed on the road to O(+>'s emancipation - not surprising enough
    to stop the grumblings of the long term fans, not promoted enough to
    crossover into a mainstream audience, it was left floundering between
    a rock and a funky place. A shame for an album with 8 strong songs
    and only one real disappointment, and possibly most damaging for
    O(+>'s general standing in the music scene, the effects of which he
    is still trying to recover from. Chronologically, it benefited from
    being written mostly before the real embittered contractual battles
    began, yet it sounds dated lyrically when compared to Exodus or Child
    of the Sun. In its original guise as the Gold to Come's Dark, it
    would have had a greater impact, the two albums together presenting a
    stunning example of the wide spectrum of O(+>'s prodigious talents,
    underlining the death of Prince and the rebirth of O(+> motif which
    '94 could(should?) have encapsulated. As it is, the Gold Experience
    suffers from the same problem as The Black Album: if released when
    planned their impact could have been spectacular, but delayed by
    company wrangles...

    If the Gold Experience caused few ripples on its final release, the
    Chaos and Disorder set skimmed right across the surface of the record
    buying public. Yet because of its chronological position its lyrics
    and themes are perhaps the most interesting of all the albums
    released in this four year period. The seventh, and final, step to
    his emancipation sees O(+> in defiantly playful mood, mixing and
    matching as many different styles of music as his muse wants to,
    enjoying the inevitably uncommerciality of the project. A tune half
    started on the Undertaker set is given the full works here, complete
    with Fargo style voice over, seemingly unaware that the twelve bar
    blues format does not normally favour stories of a two sister blow
    out. He takes the Country and Western and uses it to tell of Native
    American injustice. A song about the spiritual destiny of man is
    given a tune that could easily increase the sales of Coca-Cola.
    Subject matter and style mesh best on Had U, where the most loveless
    and pointless sexual encounter of any in the artist's long history is
    staccato spoken over synth and guitar, but it's all over in a minute.
    O(+> is sonically punning on this album, as he verbally puns in the
    title track, but the lyrics tell of a man who has his destination in
    sight. If you only see what your heart will show, then O(+>'s heart
    is that of a happy man who knows that he must return into the light.

    The seven steps from slave to free man were not part of a master plan
    which O(+> had laid out before him in '92. Rather, O(+> reacted to
    what was happening in his world, developing both spiritually and
    artistically as the journey progressed. He set himself walking down
    that road, but he did not know where its bends might take him. Where
    they did take him, and us, is on an exceptional route through the
    myriad of the possibilities available to raw talent and self belief,
    ending up with a greater self-knowledge and contentment than could
    ever have been possible if he had no had the courage of his
    convictions. I find the views that O(+> and his work continually
    expounds the dogma of this or that mythology or religious sect
    misleading simply because it presupposes that O(+> has a blinkered
    and closed mind to all things spiritual: if the last five years prove
    anything to us, it is that beyond a few certainties such as a belief
    in God, O(+> is continually questioning and re-examining his faith
    and his beliefs, and this progression and development motivates and
    informs all his work. Put simply, the seven albums of the last five
    years describes a journey that only takes shape and direction when
    viewed from the vantage point of the harmony of the Emancipation set.
    From this point of view, the '90s are the most fascinating years of
    the artist's creative life, and afford the fan a direct gaze into the
    complexities of the creative process of O(+>. Welcome to the Dawn.

    Related linx:

  • The Purple Music Experience
  • The Symbol Album
  • Tarkan's O(+> album special
  • Music Spotlight: Prince

    This compilation © 2002 by DAWNATION.

    Copyright © 1995-2002 DAWNATION