Category: Prince

Prince releases details about three L.A. shows on March 28

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No one can say Prince doesn't enjoy the number 3. In addition to releasing his triptych of albums on March 29 at Target and on his website, Prince also announced this morning his plans to perform back-to-back shows at three downtown L.A. Live venues on March 28.

The shows will kick off at the Nokia Theatre L.A. Live at 5:30 p.m, carry over to the Conga Room at 8 p.m. and conclude at Club Nokia at 11:30 p.m. Prince promises a full-length concert at each stop.

Tickets for each show will cost $77 (plus service fees), with all shows going on sale at noon Sunday. There is a two-ticket limit for the Conga Room (21+) and Club Nokia, and a four-ticket limit for the Nokia Theatre show. Tickets will be available via Ticketmaster.com as well as at Prince's new Web portal, lotusflow3r.com. Members of LotusFlow3r.com will be able to get select premium seats beginning Tuesday.

-- Scott Sterling

Photo by Spencer Weiner/Los Angeles Times

Prince announces LOtUSFLOW3r details and three L.A. shows on March 28

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Hardcore Prince fans have been all a-twitter lately, with the Purple One releasing three new albums (“LOtUSFLOW3r,” “MPLSoUNd” and “Elixer,” the latter the debut from current protégé Bria Valente) through an exclusive deal with Target.

Much of Prince’s recent online activity has stemmed from the launch of his latest Web venture, the customarily mysterious LOtUSFLOW3r.com. So far, the site has only offered a handful of teases, such as snippets of new songs “Disco Jellyfish” and “Colonized Mind," but little else.

According to the latest press release, the site goes fully live on March 24 as a subscription-based portal, offering fans access to the new music, as well as unleashing a torrent of extremely rare concert footage from his entire career. Ranging from early shows to his already-mythologized appearance at Coachella 2008, Purple People who ante up the annual $77 fee can download all three of the new albums and all of the requisite goodies that come with them (lyrics, photos, etc).

But for L.A-area Prince fans, March 28 will be especially juicy, with the artist planning on performing no less than three different shows in the city at three different locations, and with a unique band at each stop. Details are promised on LOtUSFLOW3r.com over the days to come.

Prince’s promo blitz continues after the 24th. He'll appear on "Tonight Show With Jay Leno" as musical guest for a three-night stand beginning March 25, returning on May 28 to perform on Leno’s penultimate show as host.

This is not the first time Prince has dabbled with a subscription Web service -- his NPG Music Club lasted five years and closed in 2006.

--Scott T. Sterling

Photo credit: Afshin Shahidi

Prince partners with Target, sets release date for 3-disc set

Prince_3 Forget purple -- Prince’s favorite colors are likely to be red and white this spring.

The musician has selected Target as the sole retail outlet for his three-disc album, which is set to be released March 29 at the big box retailer's nearly 1,700 outlets nationwide, and online at target.com.

The offering will come as a three-disc bundle: two original studio albums -- "LOtUSFLOW3R" and "MPLSoUND" -- and a third disc by Prince’s latest protégé, Bria Valente (Prince also contributed music to Valente's debut).

The entire collection will retail for just $11.98.

Prince first revealed he was in talks with a “major retailer” earlier this year during a chat with The Times’ Ann Powers. Some had speculated that he might go with Best Buy for the exclusive, but the “Purple Rain” purveyor must have seen something he liked in Target’s proposal. Both Target and Best Buy share something in common with the multi-instrumentalist: roots in Minnesota. 

Retail exclusives were major news in 2008. Best Buy gained headlines for its exclusive for Guns & Roses’ anticipated “Chinese Democracy” release, and AC/DC had one of the year's top-selling rock albums in "Black Ice," a Wal-Mart exclusive. Not to be left out, Target handled Christina Aguilera’s greatest hits package in 2008.

It’s not yet known if Target will get behind Prince’s triple threat the same way it did with Aguilera last year, when it ran an aggressive television campaign for “Keeps Gettin’ Better: A Decade of Hits."

Regardless, Prince may not need commercials to sell his new material: He appears to be in the mood to gig lately (the artist has played two shows in the last week or so in the Los Angeles area).  Could a tour be in the works?

Expect hints of music from all three discs to possibly leak in the coming weeks at Prince's developing website, Lotusflow3r.com.

-- Charlie Amter

Photo of Prince at Coachella last year by Spencer Weiner/Los Angeles Times

Live at Prince’s mansion: Everything but the pancakes

Prince It was two years ago to the Sunday when Prince, under a torrent of rain in the middle of Miami’s Dolphin Stadium at Super Bowl XLI, dazzled the world with a panoramic 12 minutes of his biggest hits next to pumped-up covers of “Proud Mary” and the Foo Fighters’ “Best of You.”

But in the wee hours of Feb. 1 in the opulent basement of his Beverly Hills mansion -- a rec room that boasts a Prince-emblazoned pool table and and an encased "Purple Rain" motorcycle -- Prince played an equally wide-ranging and mind-boggling set for a far more intimate gathering of fewer than 50 people, all of it designed to celebrate the launch of his Website lotusflow3r.com.

After a presentation of the new site, which looks to be an all-encompassing portal to Prince's history as well as a direct line to the three albums he has slated for 2009 (the first being "Lotus Flow3r", the electro-charged '80s flashback "MPLSound" and the debut of his latest protégé Bria Valente), Prince emerged for post-press conference concert with a blistering rendition of the Cars’ 1979 new wave hit “Let’s Go.”

Prince led his lethal band, including the amazingly hard-hitting female drummer Cora Coleman-Dunham, through a nearly two-hour set. It was a rollicking, celebratory affair, and it included takes on the Rolling Stones (“Miss You”), the Doobie Brothers (“Long Train Running”), Mary J. Blige (“Be Happy”) and a Sly & the Family Stone medley.

Among the small but enthusiastic crowd were "Fame's" Debbie Allen and singer Anita Baker, the latter of whom eventually joined the band to trade vocals with Prince and his stellar trio of female vocalists, Liv Warfield, Shelby J and Marva King. When he launched into his own well of hits to churn out his 1981 single “Controversy” and “Feel For You,” the song made famous by Chaka Khan, a small dance floor erupted into what could have been a scene for a surreal music video commemorating the “Electric Slide."

“Y’all done tore up my carpet!” Prince chuckled afterward.

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One night with Prince

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Rockin' the limo, boudoir ballads, Prop. 8, Barry White, sex, faith, Pro Tools. Was it a dream?

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It was 11 p.m. on the night before New Year's Eve, and I was doing something I hadn't expected would crown my 2008: sitting in Prince's limousine as the legend lounged beside me, playing unreleased tracks on the stereo. "This is my car for Minneapolis," he said before excusing himself to let me judge a few songs in private. "It's great for listening to music." He laughed. "I don't do drugs or I'd give you a joint. That's what this record is." 

That morning I'd received an e-mail inviting me to preview new music at Prince's mansion in the celebrity-infested estate community of Beverly Park, where he's currently keeping his shoe rack. The summons wasn't entirely unexpected. Prince, who's less reclusive than his reputation would indicate, has spent a year and a half consulting with culture industry leaders and occasionally entertaining media types, with an eye toward taking complete control of his own musical output.

His new mantra is "The gatekeepers must change," and he's refashioned his career to become one of them.

Since beginning his gradual relocation from the Midwest to the Left Coast, Prince has headlined the Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival and 2007's Super Bowl halftime show. He sold out a 21-night run at London's O2 Arena and released an album, a high-end photo book and a perfume. Most recently, he's whetted fans' appetites with sneaks of songs from three upcoming releases, first on the popular "Jonesy's Jukebox" radio program on Indie 103 and then on two websites, the now-dark MPLSound.com and the still-evolving Lotusflow3r.com.

This flurry of activity has been characterized by what might be called methodical spontaneity. Everything happens quickly, whether it's a show that takes place only a few days after its announcement or an evening interview arranged that morning. But Prince's personality seems to be governed by two oppositional impulses: the hunger to create and an equally powerful craving for control. Intense productivity battles with meticulousness within his working process. Others might not anticipate his next move, but it is all part of the chess game for him.

That's why I was there, on the eve of a holiday eve, as the mainstream music industry was enjoying a break from its ongoing plunge toward insolvency. The turn of the year is a slow time for pop, not the moment blockbuster artists usually release material. But Prince has been hinting for a while that his upcoming recordings might not be tied to a conventional label. Abandoning that machine, including its publicity arm, requires other ways of getting the word out.

Prince began experimenting with new methods of distributing music more than a decade ago, and his early efforts with the now-defunct NPG Music Club paved the way for later bold moves by Radiohead and others. Most recently he's partnered with major labels to get copies into stores. Columbia handled the release of 2006's "Planet Earth," except in Britain, where copies were distributed free via a London newspaper, the Mail on Sunday.

Now Prince is about to unleash not one but three albums without major label affiliation, and talking to well-vetted writers is one part of the rollout. How well vetted? "You're blond," he said when we met. "I thought you were a redhead." (He'd done his research; I'd changed my hair color only the year before.)

When I entered the house, which has the vaguely European opulence of an upscale spa, I found Prince with designers Anthony Malzone and Scott Addison Clay, examining mock-ups for a "highly interactive" website. "It's a universe," said Malzone, showing how a mouse click could make the whole screen rotate. "There's a lyric in one of the new songs about an 'entirely new galaxy.' We took that cue, and from there on, we thought that everything would emanate from Prince."

The website, still under construction, revealed the recognizable logo of a major big-box retailer with whom Prince is finalizing negotiations to distribute the albums. The three will hit the Web and that retailer, the artist said, "as soon as the holidays are over."

I'd be hearing music from each of them.

"Let's go to my car," Prince said. "We'll listen to the first album there."

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Five things I learned from visiting with Prince: From album plans to thoughts on Prop. 8

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Tuesday morning, I received the Golden Ticket of journalistic invitations: a summons to Prince's mansion, high atop Mulholland Drive, to hear the new music he'll be releasing sometime after the holidays. At 8 p.m. that evening, I drove my dirty Mazda past the fountain in his courtyard, parked by the limo in the back, and entered his manse. The man himself greeted me in a candelit study, where he was laboring over a laptop with his Web designers, Anthony Malzone and Scott Addison Clay.

The next five hours took me from that room to a car Prince referred to as "Miles Davis," where we listened to one set of songs; into a back room furnished with a round bed, faux-fur carpeting and a plexiglass Rhodes piano, where he played cuts by his new protege, the comely Bria Valente; and into that white limo, where the entirety of "Lotus Flower," the album previewed earlier this month on Indie 103.1, boomed through the speakers as we drove through Hollywood.

Needless to say, it was an amazing experience. After the jump, a few tidbits, including Prince's promise of three albums in 2009 and his thoughts on Proposition 8.

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Snap Judgment: Four New Prince Songs on Indie 103.1

Princered Decades before Radiohead or Trent Reznor became the rebel darlings of a new media age, Prince was raising a well-manicured middle finger toward anyone who'd tell him how to be a pop star. It was 1984 when "Purple Rain" forced the world to remember that "black music" and "rock" are not contradictory terms, and as he's moved through various phases, he's never given up on that mission. So it's not surprising that today he debuted four new songs on the Steve Jones-helmed "Jonesy's Jukebox" on Indie 103.1 -- a rock show, and the closest thing to anarchy on commercial radio today.

Prince wasn't there to play the songs; he'd handed them over in CD form to the station's music director, Mark Sovel (a.k.a. "Mr. Shovel"), after playing them for Sovel on the "club-level" sound system in his mansion's basement home entertainment center. Sovel was, unsurprisingly, enthusiastic, and so his Purpleness agreed to let him take the songs to Jonesy. 

On air, Sovel told Jones that Prince hadn't yet decided how to release the music: "He actually wants nothing to do with record labels," he said. "He's meeting with people, trying to figure out what to do." Sovel said he'd heard about an album's worth of material. Partnering with Indie 103.1 seemed like a logical first step, he added, because the material was "really heavy guitar." After playing Coachella and covering the Foo Fighters during his Super Bowl halftime show, "he's reaching out to the rock audience."

So how rocking was the new material? Beyond such generic judgment calls, was it great?

A track-by-track assessment is after the jump.

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Prince keeps his remarks by the Book on homosexuality

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There must be something about former LA Times writer Claire Hoffman that makes people say controversial things in her presence, because her recent sit-down with noted pancake chef Prince in the New Yorker is a humdinger. In the piece, Hoffman drops by Prince's Beverly Park compound (he's lived in L.A. since last spring) and dryly notes his decorating style (Neo-Narcissist, as in more than one purple throne) and samples his idiosyncratic poetry that accompanies a new anthology of photographs.

But when Hoffman's conversation with the converted Jehovah's Witness turned to the testy topic of gay marriage and the nature of homosexuality, Prince let slip some unexpectedly fundamentalist ideas, especially for a man who made his career in ascots and eyeliner.

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