Various Artists

If I Was Prince: The Tribute Album

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A bunch of relatively obscure British and European rock and electronica artists pay variegated homage to the artist formerly known as the artist formerly known as Prince. Ten or 15 years prior to this album's release, when Prince ruled MTV, this would have been an exercise in hip outsider irony, but the man's fall from commercial grace means that it's safe to profess admiration for his work. So when the Finnish techno group OP:1 Bastards deliver "If I Was Your Girlfriend" in a detached, almost Kraftwerk-ian voice supported by minimalist synth percussion, or when underground legends Hefner turn the funk anthem "Controversy" into a downtempo trip-hop exercise, it's all done in a spirit of love and devotion. Same with Bronze Age Fox's fascinating arrangement of "The Most Beautiful Girl in the World," which gives equal space to guitar harmonics and severely treated drum loops, and the loungy, horn-rich version of "Alphabet Street" offered by Blue States. Very nice.

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