Bloomberg News

Prince Follows Bowie, Bloody Valentine Springs Comeback

February 11, 2013

Prince

Prince at the 55th Annual Grammy Awards in Los Angeles, California. The musician is releasing new songs online, starting with the single "Screwdriver." Photographer: Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images via Bloomberg

Prince is following David Bowie’s lead in springing a comeback on the world.

Prince’s new single “Screwdriver,” out today, was made available online with no advance notice on new websites, 3rdEyeGirl and 20pr1nc3.com.

The purple one has been an Internet skeptic for years, regularly blocking unauthorized copies of his recordings. The latest is a back-to-basics riff laced with double entendres.

“I’m your driver, you’re my screw,” goes the childish chorus. Oh dear. It’s so obvious it’s cringeworthy and surprising it hasn’t been done before. The track at least has amusing echoes of 1984’s “Purple Rain” freaked-out guitar.

A second track, “Breakfast Can Wait,” has Prince starting his day with a roll in bed with a little honey. Its falsetto speeded-up vocal harks back to 1987’s “Sign ‘O’ The Times.”

Another new song, the poppy “Rock ’n’ Roll Love Affair,” sounds like an outtake off “Lovesexy.” Prince looks the same as he did in the 1980s in the video. Let’s hope his elixir of youth doesn’t run out before his next CD emerges.

Prince still virtually lives in the studio and has squirreled away hundreds of tracks. Some of his last releases were given away for free with newspapers so he’s got a long way to climb back. Rating: **½ for the singles so far.

Bloody Valentine

My Bloody Valentine also made some of the finest rock of two decades ago. Its return, with “MBV,” is even more dramatic.

There were some clues in 2012 with a flurry of activity (by the Irish band’s standards.) First, there was a deluxe version of the last album, “Loveless” from 1991.

Second, leader Kevin Shields announced a concert tour. Fans assumed the quartet would be making a racket before going back to their houses and probably doing nothing for a long time.

Shields also mentioned in passing at one show that new music was coming within days. The result popped out as a stream on his website -- which promptly crashed. It can be downloaded with physical copies due only later this month.

(All signs that CDs look headed for extinction. The way things are going, there are hardly any record shops left, with the U.K.-based HMV the latest to run into trouble.)

“MBV” has a bright blue sleeve mimicking the lurid pink of “Loveless.” Like Prince, Shields has just tweaked the mix. Like the Jesus and Mary Chain, there are great pop tunes and vocals buried deep under a dense mesh of tremolo-crazy guitars, echoing feedback and samples.

This is scary stuff, like they are coming through the wall at you with a pneumatic drill at times. It’s a challenging listen, often rewarding. I’m still finding my way into this: The closing “Wonder 2” is outstanding and the rest isn’t far off. Rating: ****.

What the Stars Mean:
*****      Exceptional
****       Excellent
***        Good
**         Average
*          Poor
(No stars) Worthless

(Mark Beech writes for Muse, the arts and leisure section of Bloomberg News. The opinions expressed are his own.)

Muse highlights include James Russell on architecture and Stephanie Green’s Scene Last Night.

To contact the writer on the story: Mark Beech in London at mbeech@bloomberg.net or http://twitter.com/home/Mark_Beech.

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Manuela Hoelterhoff at mhoelterhoff@bloomberg.net.


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