Personnel: Prince (guitar, Fender Rhodes piano, keyboards, percussion);
Eric Leeds (tenor saxophone, baritone saxophone); Renato Neto (piano, synthesizer); Rhonda Smith (acoustic & electric basses); John Blackwell (drums).
Recorded at Paisley Park Studios, Minneapolis, Minnesota on February 6, 2003.
N.E.W.S. was nominated for the 2004 Grammy Award for Best Pop Instrumental Album.
The ever-unpredictable Prince seemingly grew even more mercurial after he started releasing albums on his own label. Free from record company restraints since the mid-1990s, he put out such outre items as the two-disc tour de force EMANCIPATION; the jazzy, Jehovah's Witnesses-themed concept album THE RAINBOW CHILDREN; and then the most unexpected of them all, N.E.W.S. The name stands for North, East, South, and West--the four track titles--and each is an instrumental exactly 14 minutes long. Without a hook or chorus in sight, Prince leads his loyal accompanists through a mostly mellow program that melds low-key fusion, smooth jazz, and slow-jam R&B for 56 minutes of mood music. If you're expecting another 1999 or PURPLE RAIN, you'd best look elsewhere, but if you're willing to give up your preconceptions, you can lose yourself in N.E.W.S.
What the critics say...
JazzTimes (11/03, p.111) - "Exploratory and evocative, N.E.W.S. is an intriguing departure for this enigmatic and unpredictable artist."