Prince: Welcome 2 America – A one-star rating for an album that should have stayed locked away

Tue, Jul 27, 2021, 05:00

   
 

Album:
Welcome 2 America

Artist:
Prince

Label:
Legacy Recordings

Genre:
Pop

Prince, David Bowie and Leonard Cohen all shuffled off this mortal coil in 2016. Rest assured that material by all three artists will be released, rereleased, repackaged, remastered and rehashed for all eternity.

Welcome 2 America, which dates from 2010, is, amazingly, the first proper studio album from the vast vaults that are said to house realms of unreleased Prince material. (Piano and a Microphone 1983, from 2018, and Originals, from 2019, were both demo albums.) Bearing in mind that Prince’s favoured method of relaxation after a marathon show tended to be getting onstage for yet another three or four hours, and that he is said to have written at least a song a day, the amount of such material is hardly surprising.

This doesn’t mean it’s any good, regardless of the stature of the deceased artist. Welcome 2 America is a half-baked concept album of slow funk jams, spoken-word segments and Curtis Mayfield impressions. It does occasionally hit a sweet spot, such as on 1000 Light Years from Here, but overall it is an excruciating, boring mess – a gruelling 23-track odyssey of farcical self-indulgence.

Apparently, his Purpleness framed this album as a response to the United States in the Obama era. “The world is fraught with misin4mation,” he stated with characteristically annoying spelling. “George Orwell’s vision of the future is here. We need 2 remain steadfast in faith in the trying times ahead.”

Bowie, Eurythmics, Rage Against the Machine, Radiohead, The Dead Kennedys, Aesop Rock and The Jam are just some of the artists who have milked George Orwell for inspiration. Considering the tumult of the past five years or so in the US, saying this kind of thing in 2010 was little more than vacuous placard politics: a boring exercise in saying the patently obvious.

Prince also could be appallingly naff. Stand Up and B Strong is a terrible self-help song, complete with horrendously hammy riffs and peddling patently obvious cod-gospel sentiments. The problem, really, is that pretty much anything he did was heralded by far too many people as genius, despite producing precious little of any notable quality outside his 1980s heyday.

In 2010 Prince distributed millions of free copies of his album (gulp) 20Ten intabloid newspapers and magazines while shelving this one in the vaults, where it really should have stayed. It looks as if the posthumous Prince industry, in all its bloated glory, is here to stay.