Various Artists 

If I Was Prince (Reks)

It's bewildering that after 21 years and 23 albums of alternately masterful and confused sonic output, Prince Nelson Rogers has only been able to engender two tribute albums. After all, whose work is more rife for interpretation and parody than this oversexed, overspiritualized and overhyped glam-funk king? Prince is a maniacal genius who's absorbed most of American pop music into his body and sweated out some of the most compelling and absurd black music ever.

Cleopatra Records' 1999 release of the miraculously bad Party of the Times (which featured covers by both the '80s disco hair-farmers Dead or Alive and anti-talent/model Rebecca Romijn-Stamos) might have put many off the Prince tribute effort permanently. But with If I Was Prince, Reks Records embraces the Purple Kid with an open heart, handing over ten of his less-obvious tunes to some of his young disciples in electronica. The mixed (but overall impressive) results range from flat downtempo takes, to swinging countrified dub, to playful Kid 606-style cutups. But Prince's true spirit shines in Peaches & Bitch Lap Lap's saucy and imaginative "Sexy Dancer" and Simian's wonderful Pink Floyd-ization of "Under the Cherry Moon." Throw in the Broadway Project's dramatic, soaring treatment of "The Ballad of Dorothy Parker," and Misty Dixon's grandiose electro-folk take on "The Beautiful Ones," and one can picture the man on his throne either smirking or grimacing - or maybe a little bit of both.

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