|09-08-2017, 12:39 PM||#1 (permalink)|
Join Date: Nov 2012
Location: Birmingham, UK
Prince - Dream Factory (1986)
I don't think this album has been discussed on here. A bit of a shame, so I thought I'd review it.
I will start with the artwork.
This got revealed by Susannah Melvoin a few months back. Here is what she said on Facebook:
2. nevaeH ni ecalP A
3. Dream Factory
5. The Ballad of Dorothy Parker
7. Strange Relationship
8. Starfish & Coffee
10. Slow Love
11. I Could Never Take the Place of Your Man
12. Sign 'O' the Times
13. Crystal Ball
14. A Place In Heaven
15. The Cross
16. Last Heart
17. Witness 4 the Prosecution
18. Movie Star
19. All My Dreams
I will try to be as accurate as I can be though I've probably made an error somewhere. So some of you will no doubt recognise that a number of these tracks are on Sign O' The Times (though some are reworked versions). Prince was working on Dream Factory in 1986 and when The Revolution disbanded, some of the tracks on here were put onto a triple album called Crystal Ball. Warner Bros did not want to release a triple album so they compromised on a double album, which also featured some tracks from another project he was working on called at the time called Camille. Tracks from those two albums were taken and it became SOTT, and this one never got released (along with Crystal Ball and Camille), though most of the tracks have come out on officially released albums over the years. I think this album is looked at fondly by fans as the last Revolution album.
The album starts with a short, instrumental piano piece played and written by Lisa Coleman. The track is called Visions. Not much to say, other than it's a nice intro and works well as an introduction to Dream Factory. This version of Dream Factory then has a second track called:
nevaeH ni ecalP A, it's 52 seconds long and kind of a mash up of different things, some heavy guitar, and Wendy & Lisa talking to some guy outside a nightclub trying to get in. It feels like the second half of the intro. The album really starts from the next track though.
Dream Factory, the title track. One of the album's funkiest songs and is just over two minutes long. The guitar is great, the melody is great and the vocals are on point. They have been edited to sound high pitched, a thing Prince had started doing and then planned to do an album in this style (Camille).
Next up is Train. Prince's vocals on this one are really good for me, he sings in his more high pitched voice and I love the guitar work. I believe this one was later sent/given to Mavis Staples who recorded it and released it on her album. But this one as far as I know was never officially released.
The Ballad of Dorothy Parker, same version as on SOTT, chilled out balled, sounds almost like Hip-Hop to me. I could imagine Outkast releasing something like this. Good tune, nothing wrong with it.
After this, is It. This is the same version as on SOTT, and is a song about sex, and how Prince wants to do it all the time. The instruments and mood of the track have quite an eerie feel on this one, especially toward the end. Prince played all the instruments here, and it works really well. In my opinion it's one of the album's strongest tracks.
Strange Relationship is next, another one of the tracks that made it onto SOTT, but this one is the original version before it was reworked. It has what sounds like a sitar at the start and the drums are heavier and more bassy. I prefer this version to the officially released one.
The next track is such a cute, adorable song, Starfish & Coffee. The lyrics are based on a classmate that Susannah Melvoin told Prince about that she went to school with. This version is pretty much the same as the SOTT version, except that the alarm clock on the intro has been removed (good decision imo). Prince did everything on this one too. Great track.
There is now a short guitar piece written and played by Wendy Melvoin titled 'Interlude', it's nothing to really write home about, but it's nicely done and works well as the album moves into the next track, which is...
Slow Love. This is classic Prince. It's a sexy ballad. It is close to being cringe worthy but not quite there for me. There is a prominent saxophone on this and the guitar work is nice and chilled, I think Wendy plays the guitar on this one. Identical to the version on SOTT. Nothing bad I can say about this one really.
I Could Never Take The Place Of Your Man. In my opinion Prince was just at the absolute top of his game here. The version on this album is almost identical to the SOTT version with the addition of a blues solo before the main guitar solo which he later removed. It's a nice, pop rock kind of track, until about 3 minutes in where it changes into a blues guitar solo, which kind of builds up until the end where the rock comes back in. Any time I listen to either album this is included on, I go straight to the 7 minute version of this track. It's a probably a top 5 song in his career. Just a flawless track for me. The video went up recently which is a shorter edit of the performance in the Sign O' The Times concert film. The audio is a different recording and both of them are worth hearing:
After that 7 minute epic of a track we have one of Prince's most well known songs, Sign O' The Times. Likely if you're reading this you've heard this one already, no differences here to the released version (though this is the shorter single edit as opposed to the longer version on the SOTT album), excellent track and lyrically I think it's one of his best. I can certainly see why he kept it for SOTT.
Next one is one of the most influenced by Lisa I think, A Place In Heaven. The instrumental is pretty much just a piano with some bass in the background, there are a couple other sounds but the piano is the main focus here, with Lisa and Prince doing the vocals. It's a really sweet track that I feel fits Dream Factory very well. Lisa's voice sounds so beautiful on it. This is definitely one of the album highlights for me. It's just a really lovely song.
Crystal Ball comes next, bit of a slow burning funk rock track. It takes a while to get going and is a bit long (something I think was one of Prince's faults at times, for example on the 1999 album with Automatic), in fact it doesn't really get going until about three minutes in and the instruments start becoming more intense, the track suffers a bit as it feels quite repetitive up to that point but it's not a bad song by any means. It sounds like something I could imagine him performing live alongside his band. The second half is much better than the first, with some nice guitar work included and a section where the drums go a bit mad. The song then switches into a smooth melody and chills out a bit. One of the more interesting tracks I guess, but if he had not included it on here, then I don't think the album's quality would have suffered.
The Cross is next up, one of Prince's most religious songs, as the name suggests. It's also one of the more hard rock sounding inclusions on here. It takes a while to build up, but when it does it kicks in hard, and Prince's vocals sound like he is almost shouting at points. I think there is a sitar in here too.
Now we move onto Last Heart, this got released a few years later on the Crystal Ball (1998) triple album. One of Prince's best hooks on here. He sounds like he is singing in his normal voice (in other words not the high pitched one he usually uses). It's a funky, catchy song that lasts about three minutes, with a lovely saxophone 'solo' toward the end.
Witness 4 The Prosecution follows, and I really like this one. Another funk rock track, this one is nicely done. The guitar reminds me of the stuff on the recent Deliverance EP (particularly the first track). This is one of the strongest tracks on here, with some of the best guitar work.
Almost at the end now, and before the final track comes Movie Star. This is a chilled funk type track. There's not much going on here, and not really anything that makes me want to keep going back to it. I'd say this is the album's weakest track.
All My Dreams, the album's closer and maybe it's best track. This one has never been officially released, which is a great shame. This is up there for me as one of Prince's greatest tracks, maybe his best unreleased one that we know of, and the sole reason I spent a long time searching the internet for this album. For whatever reason it wasn't included on either Crystal Ball, Camille or Sign O' The Times. It's over 7 minutes long and starts with a piano fading in over some vocals that sound like a choir, then the guitar and drums kick in and the melody starts. Prince sounds like he's singing through a telephone on here and about halfway through, the song switches up into pretty much an instrumental, some lovely piano work and strange vocal bits here and there, until the song gathers momentum and ends with the melody again. I think that this song is one of those where you hear it first time and it just hooks you in, and you're bopping your head to it without knowing. It's a real gem, a definite standout on this album and a great way to finish Dream Factory off.
Love Symbol Rating Out Of 5:
So that's my take on this unreleased 80s Prince & The Revolution album. Overall, I'd say it's a superb album and a must listen for Prince fans especially if you're looking for unreleased material. It's not perfect, and could do with one or two of the tracks being shortened or just left off entirely. Of course if you have heard Sign O' the Times then you will have heard a fair amount of material on here, but even so, the songs that were reworked on there are worth checking on here. I am happy that we got SOTT as it was, and it was probably the right decision to release that and not the 1986 Crystal Ball album, but it would still be nice if Dream Factory could get a real release.
Last edited by Man like Monkey; 09-08-2017 at 01:14 PM. Reason: I ****ed up.
|09-08-2017, 02:16 PM||#3 (permalink)|
Join Date: Mar 2015
Location: Under Charles' Bed
good review mate
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|great album, prince|