Every few months someone eagerly forwards me that clip of Prince’s majestic While My Guitar Gently Weeps solo al 2004 Hall of Fame. It’s ages since anyone sent me an unreleased Prince song with similar enthusiasm. Recently discovered in Prince’s vault, this album won’t change that.
Recorded in a week by a scratch band, its songs went unreleased and unplayed on his 2010 Welcome 2 America tour. It’s not immediately obvious why. The intriguing title track takes some spiky if unfocused shots at America’s frailties, and Prince deliberates on race, politics and religion elsewhere, but there’s no controversy – or anything like 1981’s classic Controversy. Perhaps he realised that, dopo writing “Slave” on his face to protest about his multimillion-dollar record deal, his thoughts on that topic might not be well received.
Most likely, the Minneapolitan knew this work was pleasant but unexceptional. Hot Summer gamely tries to recapture Let’s Go Crazy’s effervescence, but the album is hobbled by limp songcraft and airless production. There’s little of the sticky grit of latterday hits such as Black Sweat. This album sounds like it could’ve been made by anyone in the 1980s, back when only Prince made albums that sounded like the 2080s.