Prince to release new albums after record label bust-up

Paris (AFP) - US pop star Prince will release two new albums at the end of September, his record label said on Tuesday, marking the end of one of the longest-running employment disputes in musical history.

Prince -- whose 1984 album "Purple Rain" sold over 13 million copies in the US -- fell out with Warner Bros Records in the early 1990s, prompting him to change his name to an unpronounceable symbol and appear in public with the word "slave" daubed across his face.

The name change bewildered fans and led the press to dub him "The Artist Formerly Known As Prince".

But following a reconciliation with the record label announced in April, two albums -- "Art Official Age" and "Plectrumelectrum -- will be released on September 30, the label said on its website.

"Art Official Age" is a 13-track solo album, described by the label as "a contemporary concoction of soul, R&B and funk".

The second is by Prince's new band 3RDEYEGIRL consisting of guitarist Donna Grantis, drummer Hannah Ford Welton and bassist Ida Nielsen. Many of its "funk-rock" tracks were performed live on the group's recent mini-tour.

In its announcement, Warner Bros acknowledged the acrimonious dispute with the 56-year-old star -- who it first signed in 1977.

The renewed partnership came about after it "returned to Prince the master recordings of his pioneering 1980s albums, including "Dirty Mind", "Purple Rain" and "Sign o' the Times", it said.

The singer had demanded that he should retain the rights to the master tapes of his albums and also clashed with the label over the frequency of releases.

The new agreement, however, looks unlikely to curb his public criticism of the way the entertainment industry is run.

Just weeks after he signed his latest record deal, he lambasted music bosses for being lazy.

"Every time I talk to the heads of large companies they're always at the beach," he told US magazine Essence.

"Middle of the afternoon. What are you doing? 'Oh, I'm at the beach with my kids'," he said.

"So we're working to send their kids to college. And to the beach. We're not supposed to accept that," he added.

A few months earlier, he also spoke out about racism, saying black people were never given "a second chance".

"It's like Chris Rock said: Leonardo DiCaprio can make one bad movie after another and he just keeps going. Chris Rock makes a bad movie and he doesn't work again. Black people aren't allowed to make mistakes," he told Britain's Mojo magazine.

Prior to Prince's reconciliation with Warner Bros., he had used his own NPG Records label to release his more recent records.

Under his new record deal, a digitally remastered deluxe edition of "Purple Rain" will also be released to mark the album's 30th anniversary.