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HITNRUN Phase Two, NPG Records (2015)

HITNRUN Phase Two © 2015, NPG Records
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HITNRUN Phase One
(2015)

HITNRUN Phase Two

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HITNRUN Phase Two

NPG Records

Albums – remember those?

HITNRUN Phase Two was tragically the final album released by Prince during his lifetime.

Not a body of thematic work written at the same to form an album, HITNRUN Phase Two could be described as a compilation giving a home to four tracks Prince previously made available as standalone singles: Extraloveable (2011), Rock And Roll Love Affair (2012), Screwdriver (2013) and Baltimore (2015), none of course in support of the album. Groovy Potential (2013) was also previously available, as a separate download from 3rdeyetunes.com. In fact just three tracks were created specifically for HITNRUN Phase Two; the jazzy Look At Me, Look At U, the bass-laden Stare – released to the streaming service Spotify on 30 July 2015 a matter of days after Prince demanded the removal of all his material from the service to grant exclusivity to Jay-Z’s rival platform TIDAL, and the spellbinding Revelation.

The remaining tracks are reworkings from songs stored in the vault: Black Muse – which at 3:35 slides into 1000 Light Years From Here; it and When She Comes hail from studio sessions intended for an abandoned album titled Welcome 2 America in 2010. The original version of 1000 Light Years From Here was posthumously released on Welcome 2 America in 2021. Prince laid down the original Extraloverble in 1982 (when named Xtraloveable) and although was reinterpreted and renamed in 2011 when only then was released as a single, its 2013 HITNRUN Phase Two iteration sees its name returned to Xtraloveable, furthermore Andy Allo’s rap from its 2011 version is replaced with horns. 2Y. 2D., When She Comes and the Broadway worthy Big City filed away into the vault in 2011 are given new lease of life will a full horn section to fit onto HITNRUN Phase Two. The collection was embellished and tweaked in 2014 to form a cohesive album.

Without notice or fanfare HITNRUN Phase Two debuted on TIDAL on 12 December 2015 as an MP3 / FLAC file download and bundled with the already available HITNRUN Phase One – issued on iTunes 3 days later. The two albums were created in parallel at Paisley Park Studios, with Joshua Welton programming tracks for HITNRUN Phase One in studio B and Prince in studio A producing two albums; polishing up old as well as recording new material for HITNRUN Phase Two and co-producing Back In Time for Judith Hill. HITNRUN Phase Two was no mere continuation of HITNRUN Phase One. Whilst Welton’s very electronic project extended Prince into new genres such dubstep, HITNRUN Phase Two was a more conventional Prince-sounding LP.

Following its release, Prince appealed to his Twitter followers to ‘petition’ Warner Brothers to issue it on physical format, and when the CD finally dropped on 21 January 2016 was obtainable only by mail order from his favourite record store, Minneapolis’s The Electric Fetus. A supporting tour named Piano & A Microphone Tour was launched that night and continued into April 2016. The full worldwide retail release HITNRUN Phase Two came on 29 April 2016, which by tragic coincidence was scheduled in the week following Prince’s death (21 April). By which time most fans owned a copy already, and because of its stuttered release HITNRUN Phase Two retailed just 57,000 units and suffered in the US Billboard album chart in result, entering at number 40. Faring better in the UK the album peaked at a respectable 21. Poignantly HITNRUN Phase Two was recognised with a Grammy nomination for Best Engineered Album in 2016.

Prince | HitNRun Phase 2
Photography by Nandy McLean

Cover story

British illustrator Martin Homent’s series ‘The Many Faces of Prince’ features in his second collaboration with cover artwork, continuing the theme began with HITNRUN Phase One. Homent would also be commissioned to design backdrops for Prince’s Piano & A Microphone Tour, the last artwork created for Prince in his lifetime.

Performers

Vocals / all Instr
Prince
Keyboards
Cassandra O'Neal Big City
Xavier Taplin Look At Me, Look At U and Revelation
Justin Stanley 2Y, 2D
Drums
Michael B Groovy Potential
Hannah Ford Big City
John Blackwell
Bass Guitar
Ida Nielsen Rocknroll Loveaffair, Xtraloveable, Screwdriver and Big City
Andrew Gouché When She Comes and Revelation
Guitar
Donna Grantis Big City, Screwdriver
Trombone
Michael B. Nelson
Joey Rayfield Rocknroll Loveaffair, Stare and Big City
Roy Agee Rocknroll Loveaffair, Stare and Big City
Trumpet
Steve Strand
Dave Jensen
Lynn Grissett Rocknroll Loveaffair, Stare and Big City
Steve Reid Rocknroll Loveaffair, Stare and Big City
Phil Lassiter Rocknroll Loveaffair, Stare and Big City
Nick Marchione Rocknroll Loveaffair, Stare and Big City
Tenor Saxophone
Kenni Holmen
Keith Anderson Rocknroll Loveaffair, Stare and Big City
Marcus Anderson Look At Me, Look At U and Revalation
Alto Saxophone
Adrian Crutchfield Rocknroll Loveaffair, Stare and Big City
Baritone Sax
Kathy Jensen
Sylvester Onyejiaka Rocknroll Loveaffair and Big City
BK Jackson Rocknroll Loveaffair, Stare and Big City
Orchestration
Adi Yeshaya Baltimore

Data

Production
Prince
Label
NPG Records
Distribution
NPG Records
Cover/Design
Martin Homent
Released
8 years ago on 12 December 2015
Running Time
58:00
US Chart Peak
40
UK Chart Peak
21
Prince Album
#39
Orig. Formats

Tracklist

  1. [feat. Eryn Allen Kane] (4:33)
  2. (4:01) 1
  3. 2Y. 2D. [feat. Andy Allo] (3:50) 3
  4. Look At Me, Look At U (3:27)
  5. (3:45)
  6. (5:00) 2
  7. (6:16)
  8. When She Comes (3:45)
  9. (4:15)
  10. Black Muse [feat. Shelby J, Elisa Dease & Liv Warfield] (7:21)
  11. Revelation (5:21)
  12. Big City [feat. Shelby J, Elisa Dease, Liv Warfield & Ledisi] (6:26)

Released as a single

1 Originally Rock And Roll Love Affair when released as a single.
2 Originally Extraloveable when released as a single.
3 Also known as 2 Young, 2 Dare.

Singles from HITNRUN Phase Two

Extraloveable, single from HITNRUN Phase Two, NPG Records (2011)

Extraloveable

NPG Records

Released
23 November 2011
Distribution
Universal Music Group
US Chart Peak
Did not chart
UK Chart Peak
Did not chart
Cover/Art
Randee St. Nicholas
Format
  1. Extraloveable [feat. Andy Allo] (5:01)
Rock And Roll Love Affair, single from HITNRUN Phase Two, NPG Records (2012)

Rock And Roll Love Affair

NPG Records

Released
22 November 2012
Distribution
Purple Music
US Chart Peak
22
UK Chart Peak
Did not chart
Cover/Art
Justine Walpole
Formats
  1. Rock And Roll Love Affair [Extended Mix] (5:25)
  2. Rock And Roll Love Affair [Jamie Lewis Club Mix] (7:40)
  3. Rock And Roll Love Affair [Jamie Lewis Stripped Down Mix] (6:48)
  4. Rock And Roll Love Affair (4:01)
  5. Rock And Roll Love Affair [Jamie Lewis Club Radio Mix] (3:36)
  6. Rock And Roll Love Affair [Jamie Lewis Stripped Down Radio Mix] (3:42)

Also available as a 12" picture disc (tracks 1-3).

Screwdriver, single from HITNRUN Phase Two, NPG Records (2013)

Screwdriver

NPG Records

Released
4 February 2013
Distribution
Purple Music
US Chart Peak
Did not chart
UK Chart Peak
Did not chart
Format
  1. Screwdriver (4:13)
Baltimore, single from HITNRUN Phase Two, NPG Records (2015)

Baltimore

NPG Records

Released
26 May 2015
US Chart Peak
Did not chart
UK Chart Peak
Did not chart
Cover/Art
Martin Homent
Format
  1. Baltimore [feat. Eryn Allen Kane] (4:33)

Supporting tour

Piano & A Microphone Tour

Piano & A Microphone Tour

2016

  • 11 shows 16 to 25 February, 2016 (Australia and New Zealand)
  • 9 shows 28 February to 14 April, 2016 (North America)
  • 18 original dates 24 November to 22 December, 2015 (cancelled Europe leg)

HITNRUN Phase Two – review

HITNRUN Phase Two was released without notice, catching fans out – I was checking into a hotel in Nice when spotting the news on Twitter and being completely unable to report on it. HITNRUN Phase Two opens with Baltimore, Prince’s upbeat tribute to Freddie Gray whose death in police hands resulted in unrest in the city. For its time when released Baltimore as a standalone track over half a year earlier became one of six repackaged within what became Prince’s final LP, to give more casual fans the chance to hear these songs that would have would have otherwise passed them by. Hardcore fans have longer memories. Reissued track 1 leads into reissued track #2, Rocknroll Loveaffair first released 2012. Joining it are 2013’s Groovy Potential and the even older Xtraloveable of 2011, all reworked and tightened in their 2015 outing, proving yet again the never satisfied Prince was firmly of the school of George Lucas, that given the opportunity shall forever tinker with their creations whether the outcome is for better or worse. Unlike HITNRUN Phase One which was recorded and compiled within a mere 90 days from conception to delivery, HITNRUN Phase Two is at the other extreme and a markedly unspontaneous affair. The result of allowing tracks too much time to marinate between original recording and this album is its overall lack of cohesion and a project which feels more of a wash-up collection rather than a ‘written for’ album – more Crystal Ball than Lovesexy. Some don’t fit at all; Baltimore, and most notably 2013’s Screwdriver is an odd inclusion since it that was essentially reclaimed by 3rdEyeGirl and remains a mystery it never appeared on Plectrumelectrum. Baltimore was created to mark a particular moment and has its presence diminishes poignancy so far after the circumstances of its creation. Crusade singles are better left as standalone releases, think S.S.T. and F.U.N.K. That is not to say HITNRUN Phase Two is a less worthy addition to Prince’s canon, it simply lacks that box fresh vibe, although neither did Graffiti Bridge and so it keeps good company. Yet the consequence is a loss of sense of occasion. HITNRUN Phase Two is a far cry from the urgency of Art Official Age and HNR1. The best material are the new additions; the lively 2Y. 2D (2 Young 2 Dare), dating from 2013 gets its first studio release. We then slide into Look At Me, Look At U this and Revelation restoring the mark of Prince’s unmistakable quality. Proceedings are slowed further with the Parisian flavoured When She Comes (think Satisfied) only to pick up sharply with Screwdriver – the contrast quite not unlike turning on a light in a pitch dark room that the promptitude of the light offends the eyes. The best is Black Muse, a delicious Chelsea Rodgers reboot impossible to crank loud enough to do justice, and the old skool Look At Me, Look At U. The finale is Big City, a theatrical affair boosted with its vast horn ensemble and is the closing reminder that HITNRUN Phase Two is a hotchpotch but one which will flower even further over time when the listener is able to consider all its tracks a body of work than a herding up of the old and the new. A wash-up album, issued so close to Prince’s death barely four months later. Had he, like his sister said, given all he had in the tank and fulfilled his life’s purpose? Rest in peace Prince, lay down your funky weapon.

HITNRUN Phase Two

Related release

HITNRUN Phase One

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