Reference CD: Prince

Planet Earth Columbia
Music ••••½ Sound ••••
Maybe it's no coincidence that, at first glance, the cover looks like the one for Emancipation. After all, that 1996 (triple) set was the first of many to be released with the hype that "Prince Is Back." But Planet Earth reveals exactly what Emancipation and more recent comebacks like Musicology and 3121 were missing: melody. Prince has finally rediscovered his eclectic pop/rock side; add to that the funk and soul he has put forth all along, and this time Prince really is back. And his songwriting isn't the only thing that's restored to full strength. Thanks in large part to the return of Wendy & Lisa's harmonies, the disc has a lively, communal vibe that's downright Revolutionary, and a marked change from the colder sound of his last batch. The sly humor and the sexuality flow naturally (and usually simultaneously) and are somehow integrated with the Jehovah's Witnesses faith that Prince has espoused lately - as well as the hippie/utopian stance of old.

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