Prince’s Chaos And Disorder was released 16 years ago today. And while the whole album is one big “f**k you” to Warner Bros. Records, it stands as one of his best releases of the 1990s. (Of course, Prince can’t help himself to ruin “I Rock Therefore I Am” with Scrap D’s (who?) unnecessary rap, but it could have—and has—been a lot worse.)
In Episode 002 we talked about cover art and in hindsight, I really should have brought up Chaos And Disorder, because as bad as it is, Prince meant for it to look this way. To Scoop’s point of good art direction “telling the story” that continues through the music, Prince sent a message to Warner Bros. through this final contracted album with the company.
Just as a drunken rock star trashes his hotel room, art director Steve Parke “trashed” Chaos And Disorder with Polaroids of Prince’s triumphs and accolades during his tenure with the record label: gold and platinum awards, Grammys, his iconic guitars, and what appear to be Vault tapes.
Then Parke prominently juxtaposes this with a Bible, a money-filled hypodermic needle dripping with (presumably Prince’s) blood, something firery being flushed down a toilet, and a bouquet of burning flowers—symbolic of Purple Rain.
Taken out of its specific context, you’d think the album was an afterthought when in fact, Chaos And Disorder is one of Prince’s most personal statements. -AT