In amongst everything being written about Prince (my thoughts here), this album hasn’t had much of a mention – even this review was largely written up before the news of his death. A pity, as Chaos and Disorder really is an unjustly overlooked gem which is well worth searching out, particularly if you’re a fan of his rockier tendencies.
Part of the career-damaging run of contractual obligation releases towards the end of his symbol/AFKAP phase, Chaos and Disorder was not a success. It spawned only one minor hit single and barely troubled the album chart here in the UK. However, of all those releases, from 1993’s Come to 1999’s The Vault: Old Old Friends For Sale, this is by far the most interesting.
Opening the album, the title track is in-your-face heavy funk rock at its best, the arrangement having started life as the end-jam from early live versions of Peach. Lyrically though, it’s a social commentary-led close cousin to the likes of Sign O’ the Times and Lovesexy‘s Dance On.
Prince as guitarist is to the fore throughout – Zanalee is straight-up blues rock while The Same December and Into the Light are spiritual psych-pop numbers which would not sound out of place on Around the World in a Day. Dinner With Delores, the aforementioned hit, is more of the same, a great wee track cut from the same cloth as Starfish and Coffee.
Of the eleven tracks only the more overtly commercial, poppier funk number I Rock Therefore I Am and the bizarrely cod-country tinged Right the Wrong don’t quite cut it but there’s still enough outrageous instrumentalism going on to keep things interesting. The closing track Had U (a slight song, built on a Mellotron-like guitar and vocal), is ostensibly a relationship number but we know it’s really about Warners, with the last words on Prince’s final album under his original contract for the label being “fuck you – had you”.