Robert Christgau: Dean of American Rock Critics

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Consumer Guide Album

Prince: Chaos and Disorder [Warner Bros., 1996]
Always a slippery devil, he's damn near vaporized commercially over the past few years, as has his promotional budget, basically because he's reached that certain age--way too familiar for ye olde shock of the new, way too boyish for intimations of immortality. So it's understandable that what's sworn to be "the last original material recorded by [File Under Prince] 4 warner brothers records" has been ignored all around. But anybody expecting a kissoff or a throwaway radically underestimates his irrepressible musicality. Apropos of nothing, here's a guitar album for your earhole, enhanced by a fresh if not shocking array of voices and trick sounds and cluttered now and then by horns. Theme song: "I Rock, Therefore I Am." And right, WEA, it wouldn't have been a hit even with some muscle behind it. A-