164: 3 Chains O’ Gold

O(+> (1992)
Where to start? There’s enough material in these six epic minutes to fill a book – hell, a bookshelf! It plays like a trailer for the 3 Chains O’ Gold film in Prince’s head (instead of the eventual TV movie) and features him rhapsodising like the finest bohemian and harmonising with an army of Princes filtering up from the earth’s core. The shape-shifting NPG, in turn, ply this one song with enough key and tempo changes that exceed any normal album’s quota and was amazingly recorded in one uninterrupted sitting, rather than being stitched together in the studio afterward. Over the top? Yes, but beautifully so. Fuck your albums of identikit indie rock that never stray outside their Pixies/Pavement/Punk template of choice: this shoots for the glitterball moon and doesn’t care if it falls short. It is the penultimate song on his Love Symbol album and became, along with the segues, the most obvious carrier of the rock opera concept, drawing the critics’ ire and pulling the rest of the album into their firing line. Shot down with shrill cries of “indulgence” and “bombastic” by po-faced Vanessa Bartholemews. And yes, it realms into silliness but who likes their rock earnest? This is Queen at Wembley. Ziggy Stardust at the Hammersmith Odeon. The Darkness on Mars. A spandexed testimony to the sheer, balls-out ambition and virtuosity of Prince in six glorious parts – an experiment to see how many charms will fit on one chain – but first and foremost it’s big E Entertainment son!