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Thursday, Oct. 17, 2002




The artist formerly known as the Artist Formerly Known as Prince has suddenly embarked on a world tour and will be in Japan in mid-November. You should be excited, though no one can blame you if you're not. Having spent most of the '90s trying to figure out what to call him as he dropped one multidisc anticlimax after another and dashed out of his hole every so often to throw dirt at Warner Bros., once loyal fans have reason to be wary. It's an odd place to be for a musician who, like his main influences The Beatles, James Brown and Jimi Hendrix, has affected everything that came after him.

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He assuaged the fears of fans who thought he'd be swallowed up by hip-hop only to succumb to a paranoid vision of his place in the scheme of things. Afraid of becoming irrelevant, he almost willed himself into irrelevance. But not quite. "The Rainbow Children," which barely made a blip on most people's radar screens when it was released almost a year ago, is his most consistently exciting album since "The Gold Experience," if not "Sign o' the Times." People who fret about the born-again stuff are tripping (he's always been into God) and those who complain he's trying to remake himself as a jazzbo are wimps.

Emancipated in more ways than one, he's knocked down the funk-rock walls that kept him safe and dry during his long, reluctant entry into middle age and moves out in every direction. As a concept album, "The Rainbow Children" is as much about the joys of marriage and fatherhood as it is about his new identity as a Jehovah's Witness. But that doesn't mean sex no longer informs his mojo.

Prince: Nov. 17 at 6 p.m., Act City, Hamamatsu; Nov. 18 and 19 at 7 p.m., Budokan, Tokyo; Nov. 21 at 6:30 p.m., Koseinenkin Kaikan, Sapporo; Nov. 22 at 7 p.m., Zepp Sendai; Nov. 26 at 7 p.m., Fukuoka Sun Palace; Nov. 28 at 7 p.m., Osaka Castle Hall; Nov. 29 at 7 p.m., Century Hall, Nagoya. Tickets 8 yen,300-12,000 yen. JEC International (03) 5474-5944.

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