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N.E.W.S.

MP Media

There’s certain songs I don’t play anymore.

Keeping in the same vein as his previous instrumental album, Xpectation, N.E.W.S. named after the four compass points and the tracks of the album, is a jazz-funk instrumental release which Prince recorded over a single day on 6 February 2003, at Paisley Park Studios.

N.E.W.S. was released initially to members of the npgmusicclub.com on 30 June 2003, it received a commercial release on 29 July. In 2004, N.E.W.S. was nominated for a Grammy Award for Best Pop Instrumental Album. This was his first Grammy nomination since 1995 and Prince marked the occasion by playing a live performance to open the ceremony, with a barnstorming duet with Beyonce performing a medley of three hits from Purple Rainthis appearance is credited for heralding the revitalisation of his later career.

Fans, however, were unhappy with the direction Prince was taking his music, N.E.W.S. became his lowest selling album to date and thus he returned to more familiar form with Musicology the following year.

Performers

Keyboards/Guitar
Prince
Drums
John Blackwell
Piano
Renato Neto
Bass Guitar
Rhonda Smith
Saxophone
Eric Leeds

Data

Production
Prince
Label
NPG Records
Distribution
MP Media
Cover/Design
Jeremy Gavin
Released
17 years, 9 months ago on 30 June 2003
Running Time
56:00
US Chart Peak
Not charted
UK Chart Peak
Not charted
Prince Album
#27
Orig. Format

Tracklist

  1. North (14:00)
  2. East (14:00)
  3. West (14:00)
  4. South (14:00)

Singles from N.E.W.S.

N.E.W.S. produced no singles.

N.E.W.S. – review

N.E.W.S. is the second album in which Prince gives his voice a rest and lets the music do all the talking. And it is without a doubt one of those albums that best comes at you at the right time in life, it is probably the most overlooked release in Prince’s catalogue. On the surface, N.E.W.S. comprises four rambling tracks, named North, East, West and South, very different to what you would normally expect from Prince. This sets it back at the start. But putting the release into context with the full catalogue, things get a lot clearer. This would be like listening to Camille without first hearing Sign O’ The Times. Your reviewer must therefore admit in having previously judged N.E.W.S. unfairly; dismissing it fit only for hotel lobbies and being far too eager to hit Skip. Only when looking back on it, is the true quality come shine through and reveal a charming, absorbing journey, and one so dreamy and sometimes dark you are consumed at fine example of Prince’s genius. N.E.W.S‘s case was not helped at having followed dreary Xpectation. Although lacking the pace of urgency of Prince’s familiar albums, N.E.W.S. breaks its own ground in so many other ways, nor does it not one let up on quality. The four tracks are equally 14 minutes long. The first, North is the album’s best, helped out by the opening moody porn bass and then later on, Prince’s licks on lead guitar. Each member in this tight band comes to the fore in each track, chock-a-block with musical mastery, most notably Renato Neto on the keys, and the late and great John Blackwell’s drums. East, contains echoes of the live Family Name, you wait to hear “Rebecca Outlaw” at any minute. West presents that soring feeling of Venus De Milo. South, is Eric Leeds in full Madhouse flow. The ‘songs’ – let’s call them jams – are best appreciated played as one session, like Lovesexy. But it is far more than simply a showcase for Prince’s musical dexterity, it never succumbs to self-indulgence. The music is full of the mastery you expect of Prince, but it comes at the price of being able to enjoy his smart, albeit cleaned up, lyrical craft.

 

N.E.W.S.

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