Prince - Emancipation (3xCD)
Emancipation-Prince's first release off Warner Bros. in a one-off agreement between NPG Records and EMI came in November of 1996 just 4 months after Chaos And Disorder-was as expansive an album as anything he'd ever release. A triple album constituting exactly three hours of music, Emancipation found Prince celebrating the release of music solely on his terms. ''This is my most important record,'' he proclaimed to the Minneapolis Star Tribune upon its release. ''I'm free, and my music is free.'' Much like Paisley Park, the recording complex in which Prince created Emancipation, the album represents the incredible variety of his influences and moods. Romance and family are key themes (''Somebody's Somebody,'' ''The Holy River,'' ''The Love We Make''), reflecting his recent marriage to back-up dancer and muse Mayte Garcia that year as well as the impending arrival of their child. (Tragically, their son suffered from a rare disease at birth and passed away weeks before the album's release.) Elsewhere, Prince reflects on technology (''My Computer'') and sex (''In This Bed Eye Scream''), and offers new, upbeat grooves (''Face Down,'' ''Jam Of The Year'') as well as four unique covers (Bonnie Raitt's ''I Can't Make You Love Me,'' the Philly soul classics ''Betcha By Golly Wow'' and ''La, La, La Means I Love U,'' Joan Osborne's then-recent rock hit ''One Of Us'').