Today’s song, “Act of God,” has a lot going on. Prince is tired of bad people doing bad things and calling them an “act of God.” For a song expressing his frustration toward the government, banks, the military, and the IRS (among others) this song sure is funky as hell. Prince is playing all instruments again on this track but gets a soulful assist from background vocalists Shelby J. and Liv Warfield. This song makes you want to get up and dance but also revolt against the government. It’s a cool song and I stress, once again, 20Ten was a wildly underrated album. Probably because nobody heard it unless they had a subscription to German Rolling Stone or a Dutch newspaper or whatever. I don’t remember. This album was not widely distributed.
Here’s what I really think of listening to this track: The audio quality is questionable. Prince did this intentionally on occasion, but I wonder why he would here. Before I start, I’ll confess that I’m listening to this song using Apple Music on my iPhone with a fantastic pair of Sony WH-1000XM3 bluetooth headphones. The audio quality is typically damn good. This song doesn’t sound right. The vocals sound compressed and even have some static in places. I’ve read in many places – specifically Duane Tudahl’s Prince and the Purple Rain Era Studio Sessions – that occasionally Prince would tinker with the audio and turn some levels too high just to give it a different feel. He might make it sound a little off on purpose. This is most obvious, in my opinion, on “Little Red Corvette.” There’s a noticeable hiss on the song and I’ve been under the impression that Prince was aware and had his reasons for leaving it that way. I’m also led to believe that Prince often did this because he was just in a hurry to move on to other stuff. I tend to believe this is all true only because so much of his music sounds amazing. I have think if something doesn’t come out perfectly on the final version that Prince had his reasons for signing off on it. I can’t imagine someone as brilliant as Prince being OK with something that sounds improperly mastered unless there’s a reason.
Anyway, “Act of God” is a cool track and it’s more relevant now than it was ten years ago when he released it. I encourage you to check out the entire 20Ten album.