Cutting-edge CD from the star with no name

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The Independent Online
THIS image of Prince (or 'Symbol', as he now likes to be known only by a self-designed sign rather than by name) is taken from the latest merger of technology and music - a combination of music, graphics and video on a compact disc.

Fans will be able to buy the CD - the latest in multimedia technology - from next Monday.

Prince - the Minneapolis-based star whose acclaimed pop-soul albums and singles have sold millions of copies since 1978 - recorded the title track, 'Interactive', especially for the CD. It also includes four full-length videos (one of these, Endorphinemachine, has its first release on the disc) and 52 sample clips and computer animation sequences featuring the unconventional star.

Viewers are offered 'an adventure for your eyes, ears and minds as each experience brings you closer to the artist and his music'. The disc allows fans to remix his latest single, 'Race', and roam around his bedroom, recording studio, dance club and library. They can pick up one of Prince's guitars and hear him play a few riffs or read up on his career.

The pop star is one of a small group of artists to exploit CD-Rom (Compact Disc Read Only Memory) technology. The best known is probably Peter Gabriel and his Xplorer CD-Rom, although the Prince disc claims to be the first to contain exclusive new material.

Promotional material for the disc says it offers 'a whole new world of creative and sensory experiences' - a central theme of much of Prince's work. It includes a version of his 1988 hit single 'Kiss' from which fans can remove the vocal and sing along themselves, karaoke style.

It also includes computer games-style challenges, with parts of the Prince symbol as rewards. Successful fans can enter secret areas behind paintings or inside a locked safe where they will receive a 'video treat'. John Doughty, computer games buyer for HMV, was not sure what these might be: 'This being Prince, we have very little information on these treats, but we are all desperately trying to get to that level of the game so we can find out.'

The disc, which costs pounds 49.99, will play on IBM PCs and Macintosh computer drives. It will be available from HMV stores and Prince's New Power Generation Store in north London. Mr Doughty said it is the first product that will be sold through all three of HMV's departments - games, audio and video.

(Photograph omitted)