Tuesday, April 16, 2024

(Review) Prince’s “Welcome 2 America” is a Classic Soul Jam, Sings Eerily About Taking “too many pills when you’ve lost the thrill”


Prince’s posthumous album, “Welcome 2 America,” is out, and it’s got hits on it, the kind you’d like to hear on the radio.

The best of these is “Hot Summer,” which Legacy should have led with instead of the title track, but what can you do? The sequencing of tracks on this album is not good, I think, making it more work than we need.

The title track, based on Thom Bell’s Stylistics classic “People Make the World Go Round,” would have been better in the middle as a centerpiece. It’s not a lead off track. That would have been the blast off in “Check the Record,” a total clarion call for Prince fans. But no one asked me.

There’s a number called “Stand Up and B Strong” that starts off like an ode to Sting’s “Every Little Thing She Does Is Magic,” then picks up an almost a showtune. The lyrics are disarmingly prescient, a kind of pep talk Prince is giving himself about “taking too many pills.” This is 2010, six years before he would die from exactly that– too many pills.

“If you live in the hills (If you live in the hills)
Listen, take too many pills (Oh, too many pulls)
‘Cause you’ve lost the thrill
Against your own will
Stand up and be strong
Yes sir”

“Stand Up” shows off the album’s strong classic R&B melodies, and is part of a series of songs in the center of this collection that are potential Prince classics. “Hot Summer” and “Check the Record” are included, as is “Same Page, Different Look.”

I don’t know if the songs on “Welcome” were all supposed to be together, and found each other by the archivists. But it’s a very commercial album, there’s no doubt. If Prince had released this album even with this sequence when it first existed he would have had a long overdue hit.

One of the problems with his post-hits era is that he completely succumbed to self-indulgence. It was as if he was determined not to please his audience at all costs. I went to that crazy show in the Hamptons years ago where the tickets were $1500, we were all outside in some field with a caterer. The set list was designed to repel the 99% white preppy audience. He did it on purpose. (Mo and Michael Ostin were there, they’ll remember.) He would never have given them an album as accessible and tuneful as this. No “Raspberry Beret,” or “Pop Star.” Just long, meandering riffs.

But I digress. We’re not getting anything else from Prince, obviously, so we’ll be happy to settle for “Welcome 2 America.” Trust me, start in the middle and then go back go the beginning and to the end, with “One Day We Will All Be Free.” But find “Yes,” before you get there. In the old days it would have kicked off Side 2 with a real punch, not been hidden at the end.

Roger Friedman
Roger Friedmanhttps://www.showbiz411.com
Roger Friedman began his Showbiz411 column in April 2009 after 10 years with Fox News, where he created the Fox411 column. His movie reviews are carried by Rotten Tomatoes, and he is a member of both the movie and TV branches of the Critics Choice Awards. His articles have appeared in dozens of publications over the years including New York Magazine, where he wrote the Intelligencer column in the mid 90s and covered the OJ Simpson trial, and Fox News (when it wasn't so crazy) where he covered Michael Jackson. He is also the writer and co-producer of "Only the Strong Survive," a selection of the Cannes, Sundance, and Telluride Film festivals, directed by DA Pennebaker and Chris Hegedus.

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