P Emancipation (1996)

Emancipation (1996)
Prince Unchained

The Artist Formerly Known As… was catching tons of shit by the time this 3CD declaration of independence hit the shelves in 1996. After years of unpronounceable, face-painting, anti-label, superstar antics, the nameless one had lost millions of the fans he had once so easily seduced with Purple Rain, and was now playing to a relatively small house of devoted followers. Even in retrospect, it’s still hard to believe how ignored he was, as mid-90s Prince is some of his best work (Gold Experience, Love Symbol). Once TAFKAP had secured his ‘artistic freedom’ from Warner Bros., and won the right to release what he wanted, when he wanted, Prince assaulted the world with this, a 3 hour album – which AMG calculated was “easily, the longest album of all-new original material ever released by a popular artist.” While I’m admittedly biased, it ranks as a minor favorite of mine – even if it did take me years to digest it. And I still haven’t fully embraced disc 2. Critics, who spent a week with it before deadline, weren’t as kind, and because the set was self-released through NPG/Capitol, it quickly went out of print. It lingers at Amazon for under 2 bucks. I’d be the first to admit it would have been a far better 2 disc set, but I generally prefer Prince when he indulges himself. Emancipation is not groundbreaking, as much as an affirmation of his diversity and depth. I won’t bore you with a track breakdown, but a mention should go to Prince’s stellar cover Joan Osborne’s (What If God Was) “One Of Us” (actually, an Eric Bazilian/Hooters tune). Hear some below. There’s more Prince in the archives.

Jam Of The Year (6:10)
Right Back Here In My Arms (4:44)
Somebody’s Somebody (4:44)
Get Yo Groove On (6:32)
Courtin‘ Time (2:47)
Betcha By Golly Wow! (3:31)
We Gets Up (4:19)
White Mansion (4:48)
Damned If I Do (5:21)
I Can’t Make U Love Me (6:38)
Mr. Happy (4:47)
In This Bed I Scream (5:41)

Sex In The Summer
One Kiss At A Time (4:41)
Soul Sanctuary (4:42)
Emale (3:39)
Curious Child (2:57)
Dreamin‘ About U (3:53)
Joint 2 Joint (7:53)
The Holy River (6:56)
Let’s Have A Baby (4:08)
Saviour (5:49)
The Plan (1:48)
Friend, Lover, Sister, Mother/ Wife (7:38)

New World (3:43)
The Human Body (5:42)
Face Down (3:17)
La-La (Means I Love U) (3:59)
Style (6:41)
Sleep Around (7:43)
Da Da Da (5:16)
My Computer (4:37)
One Of Us (5:20)
The Love We Make (4:39)
Emancipation (4:13)


  • Roger Camden
    March 23, 2010 - 15:11 | Permalink

    I picked this up used many years ago for about $4
    well worth three times that, I'd say

    definitely a too-much-at-one-time situation
    could easily be an excellent single disc
    could easily be a great double disc
    triple disc is boxed set territory

  • Capt. Willard
    March 23, 2010 - 15:33 | Permalink

    Yeah, when it was deleted I saw tons of them in the major chain cut out bins for $3 & $4. It all might have wised Prince up (some), because his 2000 releases have been much more conventional. (His 2009 3CD set was really 2, 45 minute discs, with a free 'new artist' CD attached. Which was pretty shrewd.) Of course, the record companies already knew the odds were against the number of releases Prince wanted to put out. It's why they fought each other. Zappa had the same battles. Record companies are idiots when it comes to art, but they do know about selling plastic boxes.

  • or
    March 23, 2010 - 21:55 | Permalink

    so true… but the difference is that Zappa was never a big international hit, incredibly sadly.
    i can see "One of us" being in a movie soundtrack- that would revive this album like a lightning strike.
    Hollywood loves taking covers of touchy songs and dressing them over lacking scenes.

  • Miles
    March 27, 2010 - 04:43 | Permalink

    well written essay, captain. i stand accused as one of those who strayed while the purple one was busy fighting his legal battles. then one afternoon i heard some incredible music oming from my neighbors open window. inquiring, she handed me 'emancipation' and told me to borrow it for a few days, and i was reminded of prince's true genius. additionally, i still marvel at how each side clocks in at 60 minutes exactly.

  • Capt. Willard
    March 27, 2010 - 05:15 | Permalink

    Miles, if you haven't yet, you need to check out The Dawn. It's a stunning 3CD fan compilation that compiles his best 90s work under the guise of a lost Prince project. It might also appeal to your sense of precision, as each disc clocks in at exactly 77 minutes.

  • cowculator
    March 27, 2010 - 14:40 | Permalink

    I find it's not too long at all if you only listen to one disc at a time.
    As for cutting it down to one or two discs…to paraphrase a certain beatle "iT'S BLOODY pRINCE!"

  • Miles
    March 27, 2010 - 19:58 | Permalink

    I'll take your recommendation Captain, as I haven't heard it. In fact, it's kind of you to offer it from within your archives.

    Time has served to indicate that I seem to come and go with Prince's music — there's just so much of it to absorb. So I follow his path for a bit, then stray, and eventually find my way back. I'm familiar with some of his 90's output, but 'Dawn' will no doubt contain many revelations. Midway thru that decade, I had the privilege of catching an unannounced show by His Highness when I was still in S.F., and I can't say that I recognized anything that he played that night, so I look forward to checking this out. Thanks for steering me to it.

    BTW — Disc Two of 'Emancipation' is my favorite, hands down.

  • Capt. Willard
    March 27, 2010 - 22:00 | Permalink

    I have the same problem with some prolific types. John Zorn, for me. But Prince's vast output often forces me into certain corners of his catalog. I want to hear some, then wind up gravitating to what I know I like, which is why I still haven't conquered Disc 2. I keep drifting towards 1 & 3. My fear was that it might be inferior. Your judgement, however, which has always proven solid, suggests that it's just a matter of my not absorbing it yet. Which is good news and an incentive to give 2 its due.

    I'm jealous about seeing him in '95. I've only caught him twice – The 1999 Tour (in '83, with The Time) and the recent Musicology Tour, which I would trade immediately for a mid-90s show. Thanks as always for your insight.

  • Dan
    April 7, 2010 - 11:46 | Permalink

    Did Prince ever make an instrumental album? I'd be interested in that.

  • Capt. Willard
    April 7, 2010 - 13:53 | Permalink

    Yeah. The most notable is N.E.W.S.. Didn't go down very well with people as it's a largely jazzy affair.

  • kindsaluv
    April 11, 2010 - 13:59 | Permalink

    have you got something from the parade tour? i have a bad video version of the "parade – birthday concert" and it's mindblowing. thank you

  • Anonymous
    March 20, 2011 - 01:09 | Permalink

    For anybody:

    I was just out of the service in the late 70's in Hawaii and a friend took me to see a her friend Prince who was doiing a jimi hendrix tribute show out by Honolulu airport. I cannot find anything on this on the net. Does anyone here know of any documentation or was anybody else fortunate enough to see Prince before success?

  • Willard
    July 31, 2011 - 02:30 | Permalink

    Search HERE

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