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Classic Album Review: Prince | The Rainbow Children / Various Artists | If I Was Prince

A 70-minute neo-rock opera concept album — and a freaky-deaky tribute album.


This came out in 2002 – or at least that’s when I got it. Here’s what I said about it back then (with some minor editing):


He’s ditched the squiggle and reclaimed his old name. He’s letting his music be sold by a major label again. But don’t think for a second that The Artist Formerly Known as the Artist Formerly Known as Prince is settling back into his groovy old ways.

If anything, in fact, he’s even getting weirder, if his latest disc The Rainbow Children is anything to go by. A 70-minute neo-rock opera concept album about spirituality, brotherhood, sin and redemption, the crazily ambitious set finds Prince deftly and confidently swirling jazzy funk, fiery James Brown R&B, psychedelic P-Funk grooves and umpteen real and synthesized voices into a mammoth piece of epic, theatrical songcraft that’s easily as challenging — and, ultimately, as rewarding — to listen to as it must have been to create. Nothing could be further from Purple Rain, and for that alone, I give him props. Those looking for something a little more familiar might want to seek out If I Was Prince, a freaky-deaky set of covers by the likes of Toronto sleaze-mistress Peaches (who bumps and grinds to Sexy Dancer), U.K. alt-popsters Hefner (who outline a smoke-filled Controversy) and April Bastards (who seem to think If I Was Your Girlfriend was actually a Kraftwerk number). Granted, most of these songs are more concerned with recreating the mood and spirit of His Purpleness than with revamping his music, but even so, if I was Prince, I’d be complimented.