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Warner Music presents

Prince and the N.P.G.: Diamonds and Pearls Video Collection (1992)

"If I gave you diamonds and pearls. Would you be a happy boy or a girl?"- from Diamonds and Pearls

Stars: Prince
Other Stars: The New Power Generation
Director: various

MPAA Rating: Not Rated for (adult content)
Run Time: 00h:57m:34s
Release Date: 2006-08-22
Genre: music

Image Transfer
Audio Transfer


DVD Review

As a quintessential Prince fan, I collect as much of his material I can get my hands on, whether it's import CDs of club dates in Denmark, rare B-sides or fan club exclusive releases, if it's Prince-related, chances are I have it. One such item is the 1990 VHS release that accompanied that year's new album, Diamonds and Pearls. Now, thanks to Warner Home Video, I can forget about that old tape and finally enjoy it on DVD.

1990 was a period of transition for Prince. After splitting from The Revolution a couple of years prior, he went it alone to provide the soundtrack to the blockbuster film, Batman. Putting his old band behind him for good, Prince formed the New Power Generation. This large ensemble featured a little bit of everything, from drums and keyboards to the gorgeous vocal stylings of Ms. Rosie Gaines. There was also a new element to the Prince mystique that hadn't previously existed: rap, which was all the rage that year, and Prince unfortunately felt the need to conform in order to move copies of his new band's inaugural album. Sales were good, which generated a few top 10 hit singles, but his Royal Badness' music hasn't been the same since.

This video collection includes clips for the title track, Diamonds and Pearls, Gett Off, Cream, Willing and Able, Insatiable, Strollin', and the Spike Lee-directed Money Don't Matter Tonight. The extended clip for Gett Off is particularly engaging, thanks to the three-minute intro showing Prince and the NPG boarding a train to Minneapolis. Only Prince and his entourage can make such a menial task look so stylish. Cream is just as intense and sexy, with a group of female dancers that are difficult to take your eyes off of. Insatiable is classic Prince seduction music, and Strollin' serves as a brief showcase for dancers Diamond and Pearl. Diamonds and Pearls and Money Don't Matter Tonight are a pair of extremely poignant songs that are among the best Prince has ever written, and, while Lee's presence is felt during Money Don't Matter Tonight his stylistic touches never overshadow this brilliant tune. The live version of Willing & Able is the highlight of this set, though, capturing this already underappreciated gem in an all new light. This is also the only song where the rap interlude is not only tolerable, but it actually flows perfectly with the rest of the song.

Revisiting these videos serves as a great way to reminisce on the '90s as well. For instance, we not only get to ponder what people were thinking as far as fashion and hair style goes, but there's also a cameo with Bill O'Reilly hosting Inside Edition, his gig at the time, discussing controversial music videos. The potential "where are they now?" references don't stop at O'Reilly, as the dancer/actress formerly known as Pearl, Robia LaMorte, has gone on to enjoy a nice career, appearing in TV and movies. Genre fans will best remember her as Giles' love interest, Jenny Calendar, in the Buffy, The Vampire Slayer series. Chalk LaMorte up as another Prince protégé who has gone on to enjoy a decent career, joining the likes of Carmen Electra and Sheena Easton, to name a few. Still, many Prince fans won't look past Parade in his discography, practically forgetting about Diamonds and Pearls altogether. Hopefully, now that this collection is on DVD, people will remember that, while these tunes signaled a change in style for Prince, they feature enough of his old genius touches to make fans want to replay the videos over and over.

Rating for Style: B+
Rating for Substance: B-


Image Transfer

Aspect Ratio1.33:1 - Full Frame
Original Aspect Ratioyes

Image Transfer Review: This transfer is barely an upgrade from the old VHS presentation. I put the old tape in to compare, and, other than slightly brighter colors and more detailed images, there wasn't much of a difference. The excessive grain is almost unbearable at times, while the shadow and contrast levels are far too low, making everything look overly dark.

Image Transfer Grade: D

Audio Transfer

 LanguageRemote Access

Audio Transfer Review: The PCM audio track is also a major disappointment, especially for die-hard Prince fans who have heard this music sound much better than this. While the lyrics are clear and easy to understand, the music just lacks any punch that even a Dolby Digital 2.0 mix might have brought. Some of these songs are quite bass-heavy as well, but this mix renders any such boom obsolete.

Audio Transfer Grade:

Disc Extras

Animated menu with music
Music/Song Access with 13 cues and remote access
Packaging: Keep Case
Picture Disc
1 Disc
1-Sided disc(s)
Layers: single

Extras Review: Sorry, Prince fans, but there isn't a single bonus feature on this disc.

Extras Grade: F

Final Comments

It isn't the best set of videos you'll ever see, but no real fan's Prince collection is complete without this new Prince and the N.P.G.: Diamonds and Pearls Video Collection DVD. The audio and video quality leaves a lot to be desired and there aren't any extras, but with Prince not being a huge fan of Warner anymore, these slights aren't exactly surprising.

Chuck Aliaga 2006-10-19