“Chaos & Disorder” by Prince was originally released in July 1996 under the unpronounceable symbol he’d adopted three years earlier as a result of his battle with Warner Brothers. The album received no promotion, hence, its mysterious appearance in the “Prince” section of my then-local HMV store. The back of the CD booklet states that it was “originally intended 4 private use only” and that it “serves as the last original material recorded by (SYMBOL) 4 Warner Bros. Records.” Fast forward to 1999 and another CD handed in at the same time, titled “The Vault,” is issued as another contractual obligation. Of course, that’s another story. For now, let’s get into this Chaotic & Disorderly review:
Chaos & Disorder – Back in 1996 when this song was first released, it sounded absolutely explosive! While it still does, it’s also another one of those songs where Prince is illustrating the point after certain words and phrases. So you hear certain sound affects that would spoil the mood if you were listening to this song while you were angry. He was not very impressed with the overall state of the world at the time, in particular the drug use, the homophobia and the unsafe sex. Seeing as how he was using a symbol as his name, he referred to himself as a “No Name Reporter” in the chorus. The main guitar riff that runs throughout this song was originally featured in the live version of the song “Peach,” which he first performed back in 1993. The song then concludes with former back-up singer, Rosie Gaines, warbling, followed by a sample of a heartbeat. Prince revisited the song in concert, both in 2007 and 2009.
I Like It There – A much rawer song featuring Prince, Sonny T and Michael B, known collectively as the Power Trio. Most likely written for his wife at the time, Maybe Garcia. No, Auto Correct, you are Auto INCORRECT, her name is MAYTE. And Mr Nelson loved lying on her heavenly body. “U know how much I love ya.… more than eye love my hair.” Now that right there is classic Prince. This song contains the line: “All my emotional ejaculate on the floor.” Charming. Another one that he revisited later on in his career.
Dinner With Delores – The first and only single lifted from the album was a much calmer pop ditty with occasional Beatle-like harmonies about an incredibly horny lady named Delores who was trying to get Prince aroused, but he was actually refusing! Prince’s metaphors and innuendos are absolutely fantastic in this song: “Like a brontosaurs, she was packing it in.” “Damn, Delores pick another subject please. Introduce the carpet 2 something other than your knees.” Whoa! That “Parental Advisory” logo on the front cover was not lying! By the way, speaking of metaphors, he was most probably referring to his record label when he wrote this song, hence the very blunt, yet most creative ending ever: “Dinner with Delores… no more, that’s the end.”
The Same December – Quite a melodious rock tune, in which Prince is singing about a ball with a line straight down the middle, one side is black, the other is white. Most probably a lyric about racial division. The next verse then talks about a “golden idol that was given 2 the winners,” yet the world was the same the next day. Mr Nelson was referring to not being bothered about winning awards. See this song’s video for proof as he sings this very line. Other than that, it seems to be quite spiritual: “We all come from the same December and in the end that’s where we’ll go,” which could very well mean that regardless of our skin colour, we are all God’s children…. and that one day we will be asked to return to Him. It’s such a shame this song was never a hit, as it has a really great chorus: “You only know what you know, you only see what your heart will show.”
Right The Wrong – There’s no other way to look at this song other than it being a hundred percent pure Prince. He sings of a Native American Indian woman burying her grandfather in the black hills. Then she reflects on him telling her that one day they’d be able to reclaim their land. The second verse is about a teenage boy being sentenced to three years for stealing ice cream… most probably something Prince just made up on the spot, but still he was trying to say that it was wrong. Towards the end, he breaks out his symbol shaped guitar and lays down some funky ass riffs, while of course yelping, “AOWAH!” Not usually a fan favourite, but THIS Prince fan never had a problem with it.
Zannalee – Previously released as a very short “prelude” on “The Undertaker” home video, the much more fleshed out version features quite a bluesy guitar riff and Prince assuming the role of a voyeuristic policeman. This fictitious girl named Zannalee has a “sister named Fendi,” but don’t get it twisted: They are definitely not blood related! Oh, let’s just stop messing around here, Prince is trying to get these girls aroused and he’s creating quite the image in all of his listener’s minds, with such lyrics as: “To get ‘em in the mood, I give ‘em some cherry wine. Then we play some pool and they watch me bank the 6 and the 9.” In other words, it’s yet another horny Prince song… which ends with him muttering: “See you tomorrow…. big ass.” Lord have mercy.
I Rock Therefore I Am- “NPG to the maximum!,” bellows dance hall chanter Steppa Ranks. Whew! Most fans were definitely not expecting that, as Prince had never included such sounds on his albums before. Still, he made it funky and he even broke out a killer guitar solo towards the end. Lyrically, he was expressing his outrage about the music industry: People seeing 12 CDs for a dollar, not wanting to follow trends, not caring that lacklustre music was selling instead of his. Rosie Gaines joined him on this one as well. As did another rapper named Scrap D, who is spitting verses such as: “Make some noise if you’re with me NPG rocks the city, rugged and raw, lift up your bra show me your titties.” What’ll they think of next? He sounds a bit like Ice Cube, which begs the question, why didn’t Prince just get him instead? Scrap D would also feature on the “Emancipation” album, released only a few months later.
Into The Light- A very spiritual rock ballad, which begins with Prince describing the process that he goes through when he’s writing a song: He hears a sound in his mind and it travels all the way through his body and soul. Seemed as though he was continuing his theme about us returning to God after we’ve passed, as the chorus states: “Every soul must return into the light.” There are even a few backwards guitars riff in the second verse, which also features him asking: “If you could sell your worries, would anyone buy them?” Maybe nobody was buying his records back then… except us hardcore fans, that is. “Into The Light” once again features Rosie Gaines on backing vocals. It segues into….
I Will – Prince is in quite a reflective mood in this song, with his falsetto vocals really emphasising his vulnerability. Though it makes one wonder whether or not he was singing directly about his battle with Warners, as he sings such lines as: “I will fight this fight” and “I will sleep tonight.” Again, Rosie Gaines backs him up on the track. Reflective is definitely the operative word, as Prince later streamed the song on his website, “The NPG Music Club” in a place that he called “The Reflection Room.” Clearly this song meant a lot to him, despite its inclusion on a so-called throwaway album.
Dig U Better Dead – One more dance number from Prince. This one is more electronic based and it sounds as though he was experimenting with house music, which he did quite a lot at the time. Lyrically, it’s definitely not a pleasant song and it’s certainly not nice to tell somebody you prefer them dead. He talks about folks being pressured into smoking illegal substances, while in the process, dropping the F bomb. Though it’s still unclear who this song was aimed at. Obviously they didn’t like him very much. Rosie Gaines can be heard at the very beginning of this song as well, but then she mysteriously disappears.
Had U – A very strange closer, yet quite a brief one at the same time. Prince is strumming his guitar and singing about having done certain things to a female: “Missed you, called you, found you, begged you… tempt you.. undress you,” which all inevitably leads to: “Disappoint you.. fuck you.” But of course, you knew that was coming from a mile away. Supposedly written as a final kiss-off to Warners and it definitely shows. If you listen carefully you can hear samples of him breathing in the background, which creates somewhat of an eerie vibe.
Verdict – Back when this album was first released, Warners were comparing it to “Dirty Mind,” but, alas, they were wrong! “Chaos & Disorder” is an album that stands entirely on its own. Despite it being labelled as throwaway by Prince at the time, it’s still quite enjoyable to listen to and clearly quite spiritual in places. What more needs to be said? Find yourself a copy, crank it up and enjoy.