Diamonds and Pearls:30
Willing and Able:30
Walk Don’t Walk:30
Money Don’t Matter 2 Night:30
Live 4 Love (Last Words from the Cockpit):30
Prince first uttered the words “Welcome to the New Power Generation!” in the opening moments of his 1988 album, Lovesexy. By 1990’s Graffiti Bridge, he had written and recorded a two-part anthem that featured his new vocalist, Rosie Gaines, and the lines, “We got to try to love one another, baby, we are the New Power Generation.” But it wasn’t until 1991 that the New Power Generation transitioned from a philosophy that Prince was exploring in his lyrics into a real live band — and for the first time since disbanding the Revolution, Prince brought that band into the spotlight to make their debut playing alongside him on Diamonds and Pearls.
Everybody else went out and got drum machines and computers, so I threw mine away.”
Prince, SPIN, 1991
The New Power Generation — also known as the NPG — is a band that Prince would work with off and on for the rest of his career, and over the years the band would evolve to include dozens of different members. In the early 1990s, Prince formed what many consider to be the classic lineup of the NPG, and those are the players who can be heard on Diamonds and Pearls: the drummer Michael Bland, who Prince discovered at the Minneapolis nightclub Bunker’s when Bland was only 17 and recruited to perform on the 1990 Nude Tour; the keyboardist Tommy Barbarella; and the bassist Sonny Thompson, a mentor from Prince’s childhood who used to compete with Prince in Battles of the Bands on the North Side of Minneapolis in a band called the Family.
The original NPG was rounded out by the bassist and guitarist Levi Seacer, Jr., who previously played in Prince’s touring band, and the rising vocalist and keyboardist Rosie Gaines, who became a breakout star by singing alongside Prince on the album’s title track, “Diamonds and Pearls.” “Rosie is like a tornado,” Prince would tell Details magazine in 1991. “There’s never enough hours in the day for her voice. There’s never enough tape for her voice.”
With Diamonds and Pearls, Prince married his new band to Bomb Squad-style hip-hop production and New Jack Swing, while also delivering his most accessible set of pop songs since 1984’s Purple Rain.”
Stereo Williams, SPIN, 2016
Clearly energized by the experience of recording with the NPG in the studio, Prince gushed about his new group in the liner notes for Diamonds and Pearls: “4 those of you who are wondering — a family is born and God bless us cuz we fonky.” Listeners reacted just as enthusiastically to Prince’s new band and live, funky sound. Diamonds and Pearls landed in the top 10 on album charts around the world, hitting number 1 on Australia’s ARIA chart and the U.S. Billboard R&B Albums chart, and reaching number 3 on the Billboard 200 and 2 on the U.K. chart.
The album also produced several successful singles, including the chart-topping “Cream,” “Gett Off,” “Insatiable,” and “Diamonds and Pearls.” The album was supported with a successful Diamonds and Pearls Tour through Japan, Australia, and Europe in the spring and summer of 1992.
This is a perfectly arranged marriage of funky rhythmic teamwork, pop-rock virtuosity and soul-revue showmanship.”
Robert Sandall, The Sunday Times, 1991
Diamonds and Pearls Album Credits
Prince lead vocals and various instruments Rosie Gaines keyboards, vocals Tommy Barbarella keyboards Levi Seacer, Jr. bass, rhythm guitar Sonny T. bass Michael B. drums Sheila E. synth drum fills Damon Dickson percussion Kirk Johnson percussion Eric Leeds flute Tony M. rap Elisa Fiorillo vocals