Prince’s “The Hits/The B-Sides” Reviewed
Three years before his Emancipation from Warner Brothers, Prince was at war with his record company, they wouldn’t release the New Power Generation solo album, but rushed this 16th album, a Greatest Hits platter. Perhaps his best ever Hits 1 , and its Hits 2 released separately. and then as a package with the B Sides. B Sides is an astounding 17 track stretch through something that no longer exists, non LP B-Sides. The three DC set (all 54 tracks, three hours plus of it) known as The Hits/The B Sides, extreme truth in advertising. I bought it when it was first released and was blown away, depending upon who is wanting what, “Erotic City” alone is worth the price of admission. The B Side of “Let’s Go Crazy”, it is one of his greatest achievements, parsing the line between love, sex, babies, and one night stands, it chops itself out with a three note hook that gives Kanye West’s “Runaway” a run for its life.
The entire “B Sides” is terrific, really, it is almost the equal of the A Sides, the slow ones can drag but the funk out seven inchers are brilliant, more consistent than his last couple of albums, it attacks with a pop ferocity that cements what we already know.
But when I bought it on CD back in the day, it was the hits that blew me away, 34 four songs, plus two unreleased tracks, and wait, let me name them: “Peaches” and “Pope” -any questions? I am not sure about the governing intelligence of the song placing. Far from chronological order, it jumps back and forth from 1978 to 1993, for no discernible reason except Prince needing more certifiable Triple A stuff on Hits 2. You’d have hoped that if Prince wasn’t going to tell the story in order of release date, he might at least tell it in some of intellectually, maybe I mean emotionally, development. Sex, love, politics: his only three themes anyway. Or perhaps he could have served it up by sales, right? When you see “When Doves Cry” at the top of Hits 1, you think, ok maybe, but Hits 2 starts with “Controversy” so not so much.
Rather, it is like a badly constructed playlist -it might mean something to him, but it means nothing much to me. Except one great song after another, of course