Prince was only eight years old in 1967 when The Beatles released Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band but he has faithfully re-created the mood and stylistic nuances of 1960s psychedelia with Around the World in a Day. From its cartoon-like cover art to the whimsical songs inside, the album pays homage to the hippie era. Of all the songs, Paisley Park is the most consciously crafted in The Beatles’ style. Playful and carefree, Prince beckons the listener to “this place in your heart” where smiles, laughter and forgiveness abound. The title track also tries to conjure up the spirit of the times with mystical strains of Middle Eastern instruments. But rarely is the synthesis convincing. When he attempts a topical song with America, his views are simplistic and proestablishment. Dressed like a flower child at a costume party, Prince has come equipped with incense and love beads but without his 1960s survival manual.
BE YOURSELF TONIGHT
Last year’s inspired album Touch, featuring Annie Lennox’s moody vocals and Dave Stewart’s inventive electronics, established Eurythmies as the quintessential band for the 1980s. But now the pair seems restless with futuristic sounds and has dipped back into the past for musical solace. Be Yourself Tonight represents a return to the guitar for Stewart and for Lennox a chance to showcase her affinity with 1960s soul music. On Sisters Are Doin'It for Themselves, Motown singer Aretha Franklin joins Lennox for a soul-drenched duet that unabashedly celebrates “the conscious liberation of the female state.” On There Must Be an Angel, Stevie Wonder’s harmonica breezes through a sunny refrain. But after the guests have done their turns and Stewart’s frenzied guitar solos have peaked, the music resembles the listless aftermath of a boisterous party. While Lennox’s singing is an indisputable joy, weak compositions spoil the album. Ultimately, it is one of this year’s biggest pop disappointments.
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