Youth may be wasted on the young, but pop-music stardom long the purview of the footloose and wrinkle-free now seems poised to overlap with AARP eligibility. Madonna, she of the Timberlake duets and time- defying thighs, remains omnipresent at 50; Michael Jackson, who turns 51 in August, will perform a string of sold-out dates in London into 2010; and now Prince, also nearly 51, has just released a bundled three-disc set (available exclusively at Target stores) to surprisingly vital first-week sales of 168,000 copies.
The man's an icon, and nothing can take away the genius that is Purple Rain (1984) or Sign 'O' the Times (1987), to name only two of his best. Still, it’s hard not to wonder, after listening to this well-padded triad, if the Purple One has run out of juice. It would help to toss Elixer [sic], an entire album written and produced by Prince for protégée Bria Valente; her 10 strenuously generic tracks are pure R&B Ambien, and the lady is no Sheila E. (or Vanity, or Apollonia...). The blessedly Bria-free second act, LOtUSFLOW3R, is less narcoleptic than merely sleepy, including an anemic cover of ''Crimson and Clover'' and a number of decent but largely indistinct midtempo guitar jams (see the drum-drenched ''Boom'' and P-Funked ''4ever''). Third disc MPLSoUND is the strongest of the bunch, though that's faint praise; even standouts like the teasing, breathy ''Chocolate Box'' and the bedroom-ready ''U're Gonna C Me'' feel, at best, like pale lavender imitations of better times. C–
Download This: Listen to songs from the album ''Elixer'' on imeem.com