His Majesty's Pop Life is a curious Prince release that I want to love more than I do. Don't get me wrong, the music on this limited edition release which came out on Record Store Day is fabulous, compiling extended remixes of popular songs from one of my favorite Prince albums, Around The World In A Day as well as some tracks from just before that period. This is peak period Prince, in many ways. His Majesty's Pop Life was originally only available in Japan in the mid 1980s and even then it was a super limited run of 500 copies back in the day (click here for a Prince wiki page to read more about it).
No, there is nothing wrong with the music here. Extended mixes of "Pop Life," "Raspberry Beret" and "Erotic City" alone are worth the price of admission.
A two LP set, one side of His Majesty's Pop Life spins at 45 RPM and the other 33 1/3. And here is where it gets curious: the 45 disc doesn't sound as pleasing as the 33, at least to my ear. This goes against logic in some ways because you'd think that if the music is spinning at 45 RPM it will deliver the most out of the music on vinyl.
A quick look at the wiki shows that Around The World In A Day was recorded in a bunch of different studios (five listed here). So that might have contributed to a certain edginess to the mixes relative to the other songs/mixes.
Or perhaps -- again, this is all speculation here folks -- it was an early digital recording? Well, from most of the searches I've done it seems Prince was fairly anti-digital in those early days of Sony PCM 3324 multi-tracks and such. So perhaps that is not the issue.
But perhaps some of the processors used his vocals as well as the keyboards and drum machines were early digital? Heck, I just sampled a bit of the Prince "B-sides" collection streaming on Tidal (click here for that) and even through my computer speakers I'm hearing difference between the overall sonic texture of the Around The World In A Day material compared to other releases from either side of that period (Purple Rain, Sign of the Times). Maybe it was just the production style he chose for that album at the time?
Its curious... its ... a little, well, tinnier sounding I guess...
What ever the issue is, the 45 side of His Majesty's Pop Life doesn't sound as warm and welcoming to these ears as the other disc at 33 1/3.
So, take that for what it is. Again, the music is great and even though most 12-inch dance remixes can get a little wonky -- they were after all designed for DJs to play with in their dance floor mixes -- these seem to hold your interest as a bonafide album listen.
His Majesty's Pop Life is not available on Tidal at present but you can still find the vinyl out there if you poke around. There are copies available on Amazon even (click any of the titles here on this review and it will take you there). If you love Around The World In A Day as I do, you probably need this one.