By the time you read these words, you’ll likely be sick of hearing about “Prince’s second act.” A slobbering fan of his music since the early ’80s (my first honest-to-god “favorite album” being Purple Rain), I eventually wrote him off as closer to throwing out his hip than once more being considered hip. But here we are in the wake of already legendary performances at the Grammys and his own Rock and Roll Hall of Fame induction ceremony, not to mention a wildly successful arena tour rolling along. All of this may scream out “comeback,” but what of the new record that accompanied it?
Musicology, released on (surprise!) Columbia Records, is without question a return to form (though Mr. Nelson himself might disagree). With moments ranging from classic Prince (“Musicology,” “Call My Name”) to truly funny (“Illusion, Coma, Pimp & Circumstance”) and overtly political (“Cinnamon Girl”), what comes through most clearly is that while most of us were looking the other way, Prince remained his same brilliant self. With funk rather than blood dancing through his veins, this “new” Prince may never again make anthems on the level of “Let’s Go Crazy,” “Purple Rain” or “Little Red Corvette,” but he’s still got it. And he still matters.