Other than maybe Michael Jackson, there aren't many artists besides Prince who'd shell out the extra money for CD artwork depicting themselves in a messianic pose in a faux 3-D gimmick sleeve that looks like something you'd find in a box of Cracker Jacks. But the fuss about Planet Earth has nothing to do with kitschy artwork. The distribution of the music is what's creating controversy, since Prince has already given away 3 million free copies of the complete 10-song album in the UK as a cover-mount with the July 15 edition of conservative tabloid the Mail On Sunday, in advance of the North American release July 24.
Industry bitching about how the stunt will further undermine the troubled CD retail business has only served to boost the media profile of a substandard Prince recording that, under other circumstances, would likely have come and gone largely unnoticed. After Planet Earth's momentarily engaging eco-conscious title track opener, Prince strangely chops out an Edge-like riff for horrible U2 rip Guitar, then returns to more characteristic schmaltzy R&B balladry and corny 80s funk-lite jams tossed together like another vault-clearing of lame session outtakes. Sadly, this landfill isn't biodegradable.