FALL ALBUM ROUNDUP : With 'Gold,' Prince Regains His Midas Touch


"The Gold Experience"

Warner Bros.

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Although he says "Prince is dead" countless ways on this record, "The Gold Experience" finds the man formerly known as himself very much alive. What's really laid to rest are the corny rapping dancers, the ineffective sampled beats and the overblown productions, replaced by a taut live band (mostly Prince on all instruments) that keeps perfect time with His Royal Badness during his musically complex tales of unrequited love and sex and cryptic contemplations on higher powers.

"Shhhh," originally recorded by Tevin Campbell, ranks with "Adore," "Joy in Repetition" and other legendary Prince slow jams, with a throaty tenor that seduces with each coo and a soaring guitar solo that takes the song higher and higher. "I Hate You," a ballad reminiscent of "International Lover," finds Prince pulling out his famous falsetto to castigate a lover foolish enough to leave him for another man.

"The Gold Experience" (most of which was recorded in 1993, at the same time he was making last year's "Come") sounds as if Prince stopped trying to copy other trends and instead followed his own drummer as in the old days--the result being his most effective and meaningful album since 1990's "Graffiti Bridge."

New albums are rated on a scale of one star (poor), two stars (fair), three stars (good) and four stars (excellent).

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