Chaos And Disorder

Prince

Warner Brothers, 1996

REVIEW BY: Mark Millan

ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED: 10/18/2013

[READ THIS FIRST.]

By the mid ‘90s, Prince’s long, drawn out and public fight with his label (Warner Bros.) was nearing an end; he quickly released a succession of albums to comply with his contractual obligations and finally was able to sever his ties with the label and move on to greener pastures. The fight was an ugly one, which resulted in Prince changing his name to an indescribable symbol (a variation of his famous “love symbol”) and scrawling the word “slave” across his cheek in eyeliner whenever he appeared in public. 

All of this hid the fact that he had also endured personal hardship in 1996 of the worst kind when his first (and to this date only) child was born with a rare deformity known as Pfiffer Disease and only lived for a week before passing away. Prince had married the baby’s mother, Mayte Garcia (his longtime dancer), on Valentine’s Day of ’96. That year was to be a turning point in Prince’s life, as he had finally reached the end game with Warner Bros., and although he suffered such tragedy, he was able to somehow carry on. He put together his first release away from Warner with his stellar three disc set, the aptly titled my_heart_sings_the_harmony_web_ad_alt_250 Emancipation

In the middle of all of this drama, Prince casually dropped his last obligatory release for Warner, the even more aptly titled Chaos And Disorder. Prince went to great lengths in the liner notes to inform us that these tracks were never meant for our ears and it pained him that they had to be released at all. I don’t really buy this, because these heavily sheened and tightly spun tracks sound far to complete to have been cannon fodder collecting dust in his infamous Vault (which allegedly holds some two thousand songs and even more pieces of music and instrumentation).

 As a Prince album (self-produced and performed as usual), Chaos And Disorder holds up well enough as a straightforward rock album, sadly one of only a few in his entire catalogue. When Prince rocks out, he really goes at it hammer and tong, and this record is no exception as he blasts his way through this 11-track set. Most potent of these rockers are the title track, the sizzling “Right The Wrong” and the up-tempo blues-rock of “Zannalee.” The latter, along with “I Like It There,” join the annals of Prince songs about sex, a massive collection by this point if there ever was one. 

“I Rock, Therefor I Am” feature members of the N.P.G., namely Rosie Gains sharing lead vocals and along with “Dig U Better Dead” are almost certainly leftovers from their albums such as Diamonds And Pearls and The Love Symbol Album. The only single that Warner released from this set was the sweet in sound but cruel in nature “Dinner With Delores,” which died a pretty quick death despite Prince performing the song on Letterman’s Late Show. “Into The Light” and “I Will” are more in line with the sound that Prince explored throughout the expansive Emancipation set and were possibly the most current songs to be included here at the time. 

Overall, Chaos And Disorder is a fairly satisfying Prince album, but it is a long way off his best work and the two records that bookended this (1995’s The Gold Experience and 1996’s Emancipation) are far more superior in every way.

Rating: B-

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