Prince’s “Graffiti Bridge” Reviewed
At first glance, the movie sucked and one would guess that the the album soundtrack, Prince’s album # 12 if you’re keeping track at home, Graffiti Bridge was not so much better. What I remember most about it, was how little I cared about it at the time. The album was pretty successful, got to #6 on Billboard (though the previous album spent six weeks at the top), # 1 in the UK. And in some ways it was very Elvis Presley. Only one original song written for the album, all the rest were outtakes re-recorded and rewritten going back as far as Controversy, and as near as the never released (yet) Crystal Ball. So, between the lack of cool and the lack of freshness, and while the critical reception wasn’t bad, no Sign O’ The Times but no Lovesexy either, my own feeling was put a fork in him.
I was wrong. This is a terrific album, whether funking with George Clinton or Gospel grooving with Mavis staples, Prince’s tracks are sublime, the title track is his best heaven is a world called Bridge maybe ever, and the hit single “Thieves In The Temple” has the sugary hook of your dreams.
The problem, as is the problem with the movie, and also the problem with Prince, as a political commentator, Prince wasn’t good enough. His ode to his new band, but also himself, “The New Power Generation” is a pretty good workout not weighted by insight. Prince was 32 years old, what the hell was “We’re sick and tired of you telling us what to do” doing there? Why? Where? If it is blatant nonsense as a political manifesto, as a funk workout with heavy pop leanings, the album is aces all the way. The arty weird ones is essentially just “Joy In Repetition”, and the rest of the tracks, if nothing like a new world older of sound, are still essential funk jams, very on the one, very exacting. “We Can Funk” is something George Clinton can do in his sleep but he can’t do it in his sleep with Prince.
However, the best song is by the Time, Morris Day has three songs on the album, lively and cheeky, aggressive and mean spirited and spearheaded by “The Latest Fashion”. With a hook that goes “the hos, the hos, the hos”, a maniacal cackle better than Jack Nicholson’s on the previous album and vicious put down, “Have you heard of the latest fashion, lying in the heat of passion?, it is bottom line misogogynistic hatdcore hysteria that only Morris Day could get away with.
Placed near the end of Prince’s golden ages, the 90s were not Prince’s decade as a recording star, for all its power and success, despite my extreme appreciation of the album, Prince had stepped down a peg with this one.