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Jio's HoF :NOW:WEEKLY PICKS (17/8/2021)

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  • Nippian93
    replied
    Awesome contribution Jio, I will read later when I have some spare time, it is very much appreciated.

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  • navi
    replied
    I'm speechless on this Prince Biography
    Hats off for doing this

    just one addition
    He wrote Sugar walls under the pseudonym Alexander Nevermind, one of his numerous monikers

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  • AlphaMale
    replied
    Great thread. I got a lot to catch up to.

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  • jio
    replied
    REMEMBERING PRINCE: 1984




    If you ask anyone about 1984's pop culture, two words would come as an obvious answer: "Purple Rain". The movie which made Prince the first artist to simultaneously top the box office, albums and singles' charts in the US began rather modestly as a semi-autobiographical musical starring Prince and his proteges The Time and Vanity 6 (replaced by Apollonia 6). Nobody could have foreseen the success of this movie which topped the Box Office charts for a week and spent 3 months in the Top 10. The movie to me is the most impressive musical of the '80s (and that was a decade with many legendary musicals) and my second most favorite musical ever (after "Hair"). It is just extremely powerful both as a film and as individual songs and is a very important piece of work not just for Prince or 80s' fans but for any art lover. But let's take the year step by step:

    It all began with "When Doves Cry" (R&B #1, pop #1, dance #1, UK #4) of course, a now classic R&B tune about difficult family relationships that, unusually for an R&B single, had no bass whatsoever. That didn't stop it becoming the first (and biggest) Prince #1 hit ever by spending 5 weeks on top of Billboard's Hot 100. Quite a legendary song, its hook was used 6 years later as the basis for MC Hammer's Pray (US #2, UK #8) and 7 years after that Ginuwine took the song again in the UK Top 10, this time as a straight cover. I have to say that I prefer the full version of the song as it is way superior to the radio edit that misses the now-classic Prince screams. It was also the first Prince song ever to have a proper studio-shot video, a very 80s' one with the now-retro but still legendary use of the split camera effect. It was the only song in the album to actually have a video, all other songs were promoted with either straight cuts from the movie or concert footage.

    Next up was the "Purple Rain" (R&B #1, pop #1, UK #4) album's and movie's release time. The album was credited to Prince and the Revolution instead of solely to Prince and although it was presented as a soundtrack it actually did not feature all songs from the movie but just the Prince ones. The album was an unimaginable success spending a massive 24 weeks on top of the album charts and becoming his most successful album ever, as well as the biggest selling album of 1984. It has re-charted numerous times but its UK peak came only this year (originally it had peaked at #7) after Prince's tragic passing. The album of course was the main focus in that year's music awards receiving "Best Rock Performance by Duo or Group" and "Top Soundtrack" honors (and getting nominated for "Album Of The Year") at the Grammies and winning "Best Original Score" at the Academy Awards, whereas "When Doves Cry" was nominated for "Best Original Song" in the Golden Globes and "Best Choreography" at the MTV awards. Even Chaka Khan's cover of Prince's "I Feel For You" managed winning "Best R&B Song" in the year's Grammies whereas the whole "Purple Rain" album was inducted in the Grammy Hall Of Fame in 2011.

    In contrast with all previous Prince releases, there was no R&B/funk song included in the album, other than "When Doves Cry". The rest of the album was pop/rock/new wave. Opening song "Let's Go Crazy" (R&B #1, pop #1, dance #1, UK #7) although nowhere near a bad song, it is probably the worst song on the album. It's a happy optimistic pop song done with electric guitars and I guess the chart positions above are a testament to Prince's popularity at the time (although there is a further explanation to be mentioned later). If "Let's Go Crazy" could achieve an R&B and BB Hot 100 #1, any Prince song released at that period could. "Take Me With You" (R&B #40, pop #25) is very similar to "Let's Go Crazy" (no wonder it got released in the UK as a double A-side along with "Let's Go Crazy") albeit without so much electric guitars. It's clearly an even more optimistic and IMO a far more catchy song. The much lower chart positions must have been simply due to the fact that it was the 5th and final single from "Purple Rain". "The Beautiful Ones" is one of two ballads in the album and obviously the less famous one. Now this is a great song, to me better than "Purple Rain" (the song). It just has much more feeling, especially during the end when Prince screams the lyrics in agony. It's just so beautiful and dramatic. The most powerful performance in the movie happens during "Computer Blue", Even if one isn't interested in seeing the movie just has to see this performance. Prince and the revolution topless with guitars and the changing colours of the lightning just create one of the most iconic musical spectacles on screen one can see. Musically the song is clearly among Prince's best ever, thanks to the amazing guitar work. It's just one of those songs that the singing parts are kinda irrelevant and just serve to increase the anticipation for the mega guitar solo in the second half of the song. Just awesome, sorry not awesome, out of this world is a much more precise description. And then comes "Darlin' Nicky". Another iconic performance in the movie and a very very historically significant song since this is the song that caused the introduction of the "Parental Advisory Explicit Content" label on cds because of its content. Of course it wasn't the first time Prince was singing about masturbation but it was the first time that conservative America took notice. So it's a testament to the power of this hard-rock song that ever since its release, the "Parental Advisory" label helps increase sales of music albums that offend political correctness. "I Would Die 4 U" (R&B #11, pop #8) is an '80s classic jam. Super-romantic and at the same time dreamy, playful and very electronic-sounding, this is exactly the type of song that makes the '80s the best decade in music ever. "Baby I'm A Star" is back to "Let's Go Crazy"-type of optimistic songs and it pretty much sounds like the closing song of the album. But there is more... the title track of course. "Purple Rain" (R&B #4, pop #2, UK #8) was the big ballad in the movie and probably the song the average Joe associates with Prince the most. Not a personal favorite of mine but I can understand its appeal. The song was the main one people bought this year to pay tribute to Prince so it re-charted reaching #4 on BB Hot 100 and even climbing higher than its original peak at R&B (#3) and in the UK (#6).

    A great bunch of songs, sure but they were far from everything Prince had to release in 1984. First of all there was "Erotic City", the most famous Prince b-side ever. Taking inspiration from Lipps Inc's "Funky Town", Prince created a monster of a dance track and then relegated it as the b-side of "Let's Go Crazy"... "Erotic City" most certainly had everything to do with that song going #1 and with Prince acquiring such a massive reputation in 1984, I mean who else could have a massive movie and an album and, at the same time, an absolutely massive song played in clubs seemingly coming out of nowhere? "Erotic City" gained such a legendary status that five years later, in 1989, Warner's released it as a stand-alone single, albeit only in Germany. Then there was "God" an operatic ballad which was actually the only Prince-performed song in "Purple Rain" not to appear in the soundtrack. Instead it was the b-side to the "Purple Rain" single. The song just showcases a whole new side to Prince's compositions and performances, one which wouldn't sound out of place in a Broadway musical. "When Doves Cry" had also a previously unreleased song as a b-side, that being the pop perfection of "17 Days", a song of the same quality as anything in "Purple Rain" but in a much more mainstream pop way. And then there was "Another Lonely Christmas", the ballad b-side to "I Would Die 4 U", a song which is not your typical Christmas song, instead it's an Elton John type of piano-driven mega-ballad.

    Other than Prince, The Time's Morris Day was also starring in the film and the band had two prominent songs in the soundtrack. Those songs were not included in the "Purple Rain" album but they were the main attraction in their third Prince-penned album "Ice Cream Castle" (R&B #3, pop #24). Of course fab first single "Jungle Love" (R&B #6, pop #20) is the most popular Time song ever thanks partially to its inclusion in the "Purple Rain" film but also because it's so much fun. It's up there with classics such as "Get It Up" and "777-9311" and I absolutely love it. The other song present in "Purple Rain" was "The Bird" (#33 R&B, #36 pop) a song which came with its own fab dance. Musically is nowhere as good as "Jungle Love" but it is still loads of fun. Hit singles aside, the album's other songs showcase a slight musical redirection from funk to pop, albeit not as radical as Prince's. Songs such as "Ice Cream Castles" (R&B #11) and "My Drawers" are classic The Time sound all the way. That said the album feels somehow less good than their previous attempts and its fillers destroy its flow in a disappointing way. Morris Day's acting and performing of two songs in the "Purple Rain" movie turned him and The Time into household names for the first time. That however, combined with the very difficult relationship they had with Prince, gave the band an opportunity to follow their own path. So by the end of this era, the band had unfortunately disbanded and Prince lost the most talented proteges he ever had, mostly by his own fault.

    Besides Prince and Morris, the other major role in "Purple Rain", the one of Prince's love interest went to Apollonia Kotero. Vanity was the one who was supposed to play the role but after abandoning Vanity 6 and all Prince-related projects including the movie following her split-up with Prince, an audition was held and Kotero got the role. She also replaced Vanity in Vanity 6 so the band was now renamed Apollonia 6. This protege-band also had a song performed in the movie, "Sex Shooter" (R%B #7) but as with the Time's songs, it did not appear in the released soundtrack but in Apollonia 6's debut album "Apollonia 6" (R&B #24). "Sex Shooter" was a gorgeous dance track, even if I prefer the longer movie version much more to the short album version. Not as famous as "Nasty Girl" in my view it is a much much better track. The rest of the album was also far better than the Vanity 6 album, it was much more within the so-called Minneapolis sound and far more cohesive as a body of work. "Happy Birthday Mr. Christian" is classic Prince pop perfection, as is second single "Blue Limousine", definitely a great song and a song which could have been in any post-1985 Prince album and still sound like an obvious single. It's great to the extent that I just cannot understand why it wasn't a hit. The best song in the album was one that inexplicably was not released as a single. "A Million Miles" has a dreamy feel to it which just elevates it above anything else in this album, it's just gorgeous. Sounds a bit similar to "17 Days" only it is way better. That song alone should have made Apollonia 6 a household name. The band even tries a bit of rock in "Oooh She She Wa Wa" and you know what? It's so much fun. All in all this was a much better album than "Ice Cream Castle" and although virtually unknown I count it as one of Prince's masterpieces. Apollonia 6 did not manage to survive much longer than Vanity 6. Prince reportedly was not that happy with Kotero's vocal abilities (and presumably the album's sales did not help either) so the band dissolved shortly after the movie's promotion was done. Material which were meant to be for the band's next album were later given to already established performers, guaranteeing their commercial success.

    "Purple Rain"-related material aside, in 1984 Prince also composed the first album of his drummer Sheila E. called "In The Glamorous Life" (R&B #7, pop #28). Unlike Prince's other female proteges Sheila E. did have a strong musical background before joining Prince's gang having already worked with legends such as Marvin Gaye and Diana Ross. She was also much better received than Apollonia 6 as an artist, despite her album being not as good as theirs IMO. The very Prince sounding "The Belle Of St. Mark" (pop #34, UK #18) became the first Prince-penned song to become a bigger hit in the UK than the US. Debut single "Glamorous Life" (R&B #9, pop #7, dance #1) is classic Prince and one of the best tracks he ever composed. That said, the rest of the album's efforts in exploring funk, pop and balladry sound somehow unfinished or as an afterthought resulting in the album sounding a bit like the one-hit-plus-fillers type of album.

    1984 marked also the first time Prince would work with an already successful musician. UK-born Sheena Easton already had a string of hits in both sides of the Atlantic having scored eight British and nine American Top 40 hits since the beginning of the decade including the American #1 "9 To 5 (Morning Train)" in 1980. For her sixth studio album, Sheena attempted to sex-up her image and who better to help her with that than Prince? He composed the album's second single "Sugar Walls" (pop #9, dance #1). And this is the point where I am officially out of words to describe 1984, I could write "a fantastic single" or "classic" but I realized I wrote that so many times already I am in danger of repeating myself... but that was 1984... a year all about Prince.


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  • NothingFails
    replied
    What Time Is It? is the best Time album IMO. Vanity 6 is a classic too, was upset when she passed away a few months ago, hard to believe Prince would join her shortly afterwards :(

    1999 of course in the US was where it all truly began for him on a commercial level. That was the earliest I remember because my older sister loved him and had the cassette and I remember loving 1999 and Little Red Corvette but she never played anything post-Delirious around me, and as I got older and got a copy of my own, I understood why

    To be fair, for an album like that to be as successful as it was was very impressive since outside of the three big hits, it wasn't really a very commercial album and plus most of the songs were 6-9 mins long at a timee where 3 minute pop singles ruled the roost.

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  • jio
    replied
    REMEMBERING PRINCE: 1983





    So it's end of 1982 and Prince released his 5th studio album "1999" (#4 R&B, #9 pop, #30 UK) which was the album which firmly took him off the underground and on to megastardom. The album however did not find much success immediately. It was only after the second single, 1983's "Little Red Corvette" (#15 R&B, #6 pop) that the album took off. The success of this song about an one-night stand in a car happened because the song was far more pop than anything else on the album which helped it to become only the second single by a black artist ever (after MJ's "Billie Jean") to get heavy rotation on MTV. And that's despite the fact that its video was an effective but rather simple performance of the song (especially compared with the "Billie Jean" video). With MTV supporting Prince for the very first time, a Top 10 hit in the US was just a matter of time. "Little Red Corvette" however opened the doors to the rest of the album becoming popular as well. Lead single "1999" (#4 R&B, #12 pop, #2 UK), a party tune about celebrating in the face of apocalypse was not especially successful upon release in late 1982. But after the public became interested at Prince due to "Little Red Corvette" the song re-charted in 1983 eventually reaching its peak just outside the Top 10. On the other side of the Atlantic Prince scored his first ever hit with "1999" which initially reached an average #25 on the charts. One year later, in the midst of the "Purple Rain"-mania "1999" would get re-released as a double A-side with "Little Red Corvette" and reach its UK peak of #2. As year 1999 got into full effect, Prince released a new version of the now classic party tune re-charting on both sides of the Atlantic at #10 in the UK and #40 in the US. One year later "1999" becomes a UK hit for the 4th time hitting #40...

    The "1999" album itself was something of a departure musically for Prince. While he continues exploring R&B and funk, the use of electronic elements is very prominent throughout the album giving the songs a cold, robotic feel. That did help songs such as third single "Delirious" (R&B #18, pop #8) sound modern and become a hit despite its very traditional rock-n-roll melody but the magic of the album is really hidden in its album tracks. "DMSR" and "Lady Cab Driver" are two of the most funky songs ever recorded and the electronic elements here enhance and not substitute the otherwise traditional R&B/funk composition of those two songs. "Automatic" (which got a video treatment too hot for MTV to show), "Something In The Water" and "All The Critics Love You In New York" are the three most electronic songs in the album, these three are really compositions which could not have found a home in any previous Prince album and I guess provide the essence of the album. Fourth single "Let's Pretend We're Married" stands somewhere between those two extremes. So the album was a massive innovation musically not just for Prince but also for the funk genre in general. That was not fully recognized back in the day (he just received an Academy Award nomination for Best Male R&B performance for "International Lover" which was probably the most traditional song in the album) but the whole album was inducted in the Grammy Hall Of Fame in 2008, the first year it was eligible thus recognizing its musical importance.

    Despite Prince delivering such a strong album, he had even more songs to release. B-side to "1999" was "How Come You Don't Call Me Anymore", the first of many non-album b-sides which would start appearing on his singles. This particular song was a monster of an R&B ballad, probably the best one Prince recorded to that date so it was quite bizarre to see Prince relegating it to b-side status. So it's understandable that the song got a life of its own, becoming a staple in Prince tours and finally becoming a UK hit 20 years later as an Alicia Keys cover which peaked at #26. Also the rather unimpressive all-new song "Horny Toad" appeared as a b-side to "Delirious". 1983 was also the year when Prince's talent was felt by the biggest names in the scene. Ex-Fleetwood Mac singer Stevie Nicks was preparing to unleash a comeback after a very successful solo debut. For comeback single "Stand Back" (US #5) Stevie asked Prince for help completing the song. In typical fashion Prince came to the studio unannounced, played synthesizers to the song and left without saying a word. Prince's contribution helped the song become the second Top 5 for Stevie and remains until today her 3rd biggest hit ever.

    In 1983 Prince embarked in his "1999 Triple Threat tour" named like that because it began as a joined show of Prince, The Time and Vanity 6. Prince on this tour effectively abandoned the most controversial aspects of his previous tours and let his talent shine with an impressive show which featured sleek choreography ("Let's Work", "Lady Cab Driver"), impressive vocals ("Do Me Baby") and even impressive improvisation in the super-long performed version of "How Come You Don't Call Me Anymore" which was clearly the highlight of this tour. A very impressive set of songs which clearly show an artist on top of his game. The tour would also see the rivalry between Prince and The Time reaching a new peak due to the Time having to act as Vanity 6's backing band, hidden behind a curtain for no extra pay. During this tour Prince had Jimmy Jam and Terry Lewis fired from The Time, officially due to their failure to appear in a concert, in reality because the two had already started producing for other labels. Despite all this 1983 will end in a high note for Prince as he gets the chance to perform (and totally steal the show) alongside Michael Jackson and James Brown at one of the Brown's concerts.


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  • jio
    replied
    REMEMBERING PRINCE: 1982




    Perhaps due to the fact that The Time had been proven to be way too talented and independent-thinking for a protege-band, Prince proceeded in creating yet another protege-band in 1982. In comes all-female trio Vanity 6 fronted by Prince's then-girlfriend Denise Matthews aka Vanity. The number 6 apparently refers to the number of breasts present in the group. The band released their debut (and only) album "Vanity 6" (R&B #6) in 1982. All songs in the album except first single "He's So Dull" were composed by Prince. Stylistically the album is more dance/pop than anything Prince did to that time. Second single "Nasty Girl" (R&B #7, dance #1) is nothing short of a Minneapolis-sound dance classic and the song which basically drove the sales of the album. After appearing in a number of movies, the song finally became a UK hit 22 years later when a much inferior house cover by Inaya Day hit #9. Album track "Wet Dream" is classic pop Prince, exactly the type of hit music Prince would be doing the next few years but unlike the funk and R&B he was doing up to 1982. The rest of the album is electronic/dance fusion and it is an album which clearly paves the way for "1999". I guess people who were familiar with Prince's music were pretty surprised with the radical change of musical direction in "1999" but whoever was familiar with "Vanity 6" could have expected it since many songs in this album sound similar to the music in "1999"... The most interesting album track is without a doubt "If A Girl Answers", a song about 2 girls catfighting over a guy on the phone. This is also the only song which is more funk than dance and sounds the most similar to what Prince and The Time had been releasing at the time (killer hook by the way). Third single "Drive Me Wild" as well as album track "Make-Up" obviously come from the same mindset that will produce songs like "Automatic" a few months later whereas fourth single "Bite The Beat" is Prince doing his best impression of the Go-Gos. The album loses considerable steam in its second half where the talking/rapping and the filler songs become a bit too much and frankly boring. The band itself, as was perhaps expected, did not survive the end of Prince's relationship with Vanity. After that happened, Vanity abandoned the group as well as other Prince-related projects she had going on at the time including a tour and starring in "Purple Rain" and the band had to rename itself. In a tragic game of fate Vanity died just months before Prince did, also at age 57 after also becoming, just like Prince, a very religious person, albeit a born-again Christian...

    But despite Vanity 6 getting all the attention from Prince himself, it was The Time who released the best Prince-protege album in 1982 and that is obviously a testament to that group's talent and ability, especially given the problems the band had with the composer of all their material, Prince. "What Time Is It" (#2 R&B, #26 pop) is the masterpiece in The Time's discography and their first ever hit album. First single "777-9311" (R&B #2) is just an unbelievably catchy 8 minutes of funk, just as good (if not better) than "Get It Up"... and by the way the song's title is the real phone-number of band member Dez Dickerson at the time. Second single "The Walk" (#24 R&B) is a more mellow affair but still a heavily funky great number. The song plays like a purple gang collective as it actually features lead vocals mostly by Morris Day but also by Vanity 6 and even Prince himself. Third single "Gigolos Get Lonely Too" is the album's ballad, albeit a very streetwise ballad with a very Prince-type of content ("All my lovers need stimulation But honey babe, I think that I need you Just once, I wanna love without takin' off my clothes") and is quite fab. The rest of the album never really disappoints. Opener "Wild And Loose" should have been a single and indeed got considerable airplay at the time without ever being released while closing song "I Don't Wanna Leave You" is funk-meats-pop perfection which could have also easily been a classic single. This album may not be exactly on the level of "Dirty Mind" or "Controversy" but is easily better than "Prince" or "For You" and it is the only protege album which can compete in terms of quality with some of the best Prince albums. Good stuff...

    Of course 1982 was also the year that Prince finally broke through with his 5th studio album released at the very end of the year... But I think that deserves a mention all of its own...



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  • NothingFails
    replied
    Originally posted by jio
    When I hear someone covered "Purple Rain" what comes to my mind (perhaps unfairly) is that they were not really fans because how could any Prince fan choose that song to cover? I mean it's nice and all but waaaaay overplayed and Prince has much better. Sorta like when I heard Wendy Williams proclaiming "Adore" and "The Most Beautiful Girl" her favorite Prince songs... how could she have any idea of Prince's music and choose those two I just don't get it...
    The Purple Rain thing I see both arguments for... I think the thing with artists doing it live in tribute is that they know it's a song 90% of the audience will know since they're at their concert, not a Prince show. Someone like Springsteen doing Purple Rain his first show after Prince's passing made sense because he knew it was a song that pretty much everyone there who might not be "Prince people" know.

    But doing standalone tribute songs, it's great to see some artists going beyond Purple Rain and a few of the other big 80s hits, since they're doing it as personal tributes and not for 20,000 fans in concert as acknowledgement that they respected him.

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  • jio
    replied
    When I hear someone covered "Purple Rain" what comes to my mind (perhaps unfairly) is that they were not really fans because how could any Prince fan choose that song to cover? I mean it's nice and all but waaaaay overplayed and Prince has much better. Sorta like when I heard Wendy Williams proclaiming "Adore" and "The Most Beautiful Girl" her favorite Prince songs... how could she have any idea of Prince's music and choose those two I just don't get it...

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  • NothingFails
    replied
    Originally posted by jio
    I like it actually more than "Dirty Mind" but I know that's a very unpopular opinion among Prince fans... I guess because it is a bit more pop than "Dirty Mind"...
    True.

    I always loved the DIY sound and production of Dirty Mind, like I said above, it was kind of his answer to punk

    BTW while we're on the pre-1999 stuff, indie artist Mac Demarco covered It's Gonna be Lonely in tribute. It's kind of refreshing given that 100 different artists have given us their takes on Purple Rain, Raspberry Beret and Kiss, yet he opted for a non-single from his second album. He does a good job though of course nothing tops the original.
    http://www.stereogum.com/1875071/watch- ... ely/video/

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  • jio
    replied
    I like it actually more than "Dirty Mind" but I know that's a very unpopular opinion among Prince fans... I guess because it is a bit more pop than "Dirty Mind"...

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  • NothingFails
    replied
    I always found Controversy to be slightly lesser than Dirty Mind, but Do Me Baby is one of his sexiest songs ever.

    My vinyl copy has the shower poster still.

    The Stones thing was ridiculous considering I've seen them live too and they weren't even comparable to how brilliant Prince was live. They were the definition of phoned in and lazy.

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  • jio
    replied
    REMEMBERING PRINCE: 1981





    Prince's fourth album "Controversy" (#3 R&B, #21 pop) musically was a sort of "Dirty Mind" part 2. It was another album full of deep funk exploring further the musical direction of "Dirty Mind". Thematically the album had quite a few differences however. "Dirty Mind" was an album mostly focused on sex with only a hint of a social message in the sing-a-long part of "PartyUp" ("You're gonna have to fight your own damn war 'Cause we don't wanna fight no more"). "Controversy" on the other hand had quite a few politically conscious songs beginning from lead single "Controversy" (#3 R&B). While the song managed to become Prince's first-ever dance #1 and musically was a deeply funky piece of work, lyrically it was a song questioning human nature and addressing issues of war, environment and human isolation. Featuring some of the most impressive Prince lyrics ever the song remains in my view one of Prince's absolutely best and it's sort of a classic: It had to wait no less than 12 years before finally becoming a hit in the UK when it peaked at #5 upon re-release in 1993. The album also criticizes American president's Ronald Reagan's cold-war policy and the effects it could have had had it escalated in a full-blown nuclear standoff in "Ronnie Talk To Russia", religious fundamentalism in "Annie Christian" and the ever-current issue of racism and the need for politically pro-active people in "Sexuality". Not to say that the album didn't have its fair share of songs about sex. "Private Joy" (what a crime this wasn't a single) was probably the most popish song Prince did to that time and it was another ode to masturbation. But whereas "Private Joy" talks about doing it solo, "Jack U Off", a song debuted in the "Dirty Mind" tour and probably the only filler-song in the album, talks about doing it in pairs. Second single "Let's Work" (#9 R&B, #1 dance) is a sex invitation towards Prince's object of desire. a theme explored also in the album's only but definitely most accomplished to that time ballad "Do Me Baby". Despite it being released as a single in 1982, the song only became a #1 R&B hit as a 1986 Melissa Morgan cover. The bold mix of political songs and songs about sex delivered through what is essentially party music with melodies ranging from R&B/funk in most of the tracks to new-wave ("Annie Christian", "Ronnie Talk To Russia") and pop ("Private Joy") is what makes this album to me an even more accomplished album than "Dirty Mind". The only two songs which got music video treatment here were "Controversy" and "Sexuality". The two videos are very similar to the videos from the "Dirty Mind" era once again bringing his live act to the small screen. This time though the background of the videos is a church, hinting to the theme of the album.

    Not being satisfied with releasing a masterpiece of an album Prince had more things going on in 1981. Having decided to pursue a more diverse musical career, Prince wasn't exactly willing to abandon the funk perfection of "Dirty Mind" and "Controversy". So he created a protege-band through which he would continue to release funk material, albeit not under his name. The band was The Time with lead vocals by Morris Day and also including among others. Jimmy Jam and Terry Lewis (who would go on to become two of the most important producers of the '80s and the '90s responsible among others for Janet Jackson's rise to fame), Jellybean Johnson (who will go on to produce songs for Janet jackson, Alexander O'Neal and New Edition among others). In 1981 shortly before the release of the "Controversy" album, The Time's debut simply called "The Time" (#7 R&B) was released with songs composed and sang by Prince with Morris Day substituting Prince's vocals in the released album. This arrangement left the talented members of the band quite unhappy (more on that later). The album was quite mixed and nowhere close to the quality of either "Dirty Mind" or "Controversy". Lead single "Get It Up" (#6 R&B) was as majestically funky and as masterpiece-level great as any of the greatest Prince songs to that time. The song would get a second life 12 years later as an R&B #15 cover by TLC. The album's closer "The Stick" was the only other song in there which could compete with "Get It Up" in terms of quality. The rest of the album is pleasing enough but just doesn't compare with the rest of Prince's output to that time. "Cool" is a good party tune too and was another R&B hit reaching #7 on the black charts.

    And of course the year couldn't be complete without a tour. The "Controversy tour" brought Prince's act to an even bigger audience. Stylistically the tour was a considerably more reserved affair than the "Dirty Mind" tour with Prince becoming more accessible by heavily limiting the provocative aspects of his shows, perhaps as a result of him being booed off the stage when performing as an opening act to the Rolling Stones shortly before the tour. The legendary masturbation-mimicking during "Head" remained but became a little bit more family-friendly, the sex-blending look remained but was limited to the last few songs in the show. Still though Prince delivered a hell of a wtf moment in the strip-tease during "Do Me Baby", proving that he remained firmly a super-talented but highly controversial artist. Meanwhile the tour marked also the debut of The Time on stage as an opening act, an arrangement which resulted in the band's grievances with the way Prince was treating them to blow into a full-scale war by the time the tour was completed with Prince throwing eggs (!!!) at them while performing, the band throwing Doritos (!!!) at Prince while he was performing and the food fight continuing at the hotel causing damages to the premises.


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  • NothingFails
    replied
    Dirty Mind is life itself. I love the lo-fi type of production on it too, kind of like Prince's "punk" album in terms of the way the album was produced, especially contrasting from the sound of the s/t album. I am sure he might've still had an interesting career had he stayed on that path, but Dirty Mind was definitely where Prince became "Prince" to me and where the whole Minneapolis sound was born.

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  • hellohello
    replied
    Dawn what a thread. I need to read on Prince's greatness.

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  • jio
    replied
    REMEMBERING PRINCE: 1980




    The previous era may have given Prince a hit single and a hit album but it is the "Dirty Mind" (#7 R&B, #45 pop) era really which debuted Prince as the superstar of the 80s in any meaningful way. The "Dirty Mind" era practically began during the "Fire It Up tour" when Prince debuted a song not included in his two released albums. The song was a perfect companion to his looks at the time and it was called "Head". Musically it was fantastic deep funk and lyrically it was about the art of... getting head. The song became an immediate sensation to whoever had the honor to watch those early concerts and even caused his female bassist to quit the tour, but there was much more to come. Previewing the release of his third solo album Prince released "Uptown" (#5 R&B), the best disco song Prince ever did. Although not nearly as explicit as "Head" the song had its fair share of tease in the lyrics which incorporate the word "gay" something pretty bold for 1980. Those two songs were a fair preview of the album but the album had so much more. There was plenty of more disco/funk in there and although "Uptown" and "Head" are clearly the two best tracks "Dirty Mind" comes really close. Here Prince imagines all the sex positions he could do with the object of his desire and he is even willing to pay her for that, even though he admits it's out of his character. Classic Prince lyrics all the way. The final single was "Do It All Night" another deeply funky song about sex. Other than the singles the album included a perfect piece of pop in "When You Were Mine" (famously covered by Cyndi Lauper a few years later although Prince's version remains the best one IMO) a new-wave song about incest called "Sister", a gorgeous ballad called "Gotta Broken Heart Again" and a funky closing song called "PartyUp". The album was a perfect slice of underground funk that remains classic to this day. To me this album is probably more classic than even "Purple Rain" in so many ways, it's the essence of early Prince all the way. The two songs which got music video treatment ("Uptown" and "Dirty Mind") brought Prince's live porn look to the small screen (although their video version was far more restrained than the actual tour performances. There Prince performed the two songs as a very memorable encore dressed just in underwear and stockings). Although the album was not a hit, it gave Prince enough credibility and hype to enable him to embark to his first solo tour. The "Dirty Mind tour" assembled a number of people who would all go on to achieve fame of their own as pioneers of the Minneapolis sound: Andre Cymone, Dr. Fink. Liza Coleman, Dez Dickerson... Unfortunately the tour won't be concluded without drama: this time is Prince's childhood friend Andre Cymone who would abandon the fold, accusing Prince of incorporating many of his own ideas to his music without crediting him. The tour is also notable for marking the debut of "Gotta Stop (Messin' About)", another deeply funky piece of music which would be released as a stand-alone single in 1981 despite not being included in any Prince album. It was the first indication of the prolific nature of Prince.



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  • trebor
    replied
    Great work, @jio!
    Listening to early Prince, now!

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  • NothingFails
    replied
    Awesome!!! Hopefilly this will go all the way until the end.

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  • jio
    replied
    REMEMBERING PRINCE: 1979




    So 1979 was a year of firsts for Prince. First hit single, first hit album, first music video, first tour. Warner Bros was disappointed with the lack of success of the debut so asked Prince to release the follow-up quickly. Prince actually composed and recorded the "Prince" album in just a few weeks famously playing all instruments and doing all vocals. The release of the album was preceded by the release of the single "I Wanna Be Your Lover", a rather fabulous R&B/disco song (whose short single version makes it no justice at all) which was promoted with the release of a video showing Prince performing the song in a room... well actually there were two very similar videos, difference was that you could actually see the backing band in one of them and you couldn't in the other. The song became Prince's first-ever R&B #1 but perhaps more importantly was also a pop hit reaching #11 on BB Hot 100. It paved the way for the release of the "Prince" album which was also a hit reaching #22 on the BB 200. Although the album is musically far from the music that would make Prince famous in the 80s and it was more of a cousin to his debut, it's very much Prince's first classic album IMO as everything is great. Three more singles were taken from this album with "Why You Wanna Treat Me So Bad" (#13 R&B) being the only one with a video, a video very similar to Prince's first. That song was essentially an R&B song done with electric guitars, a bold move for a single but not something Prince hadn't done before. "Bambi" was the real rocker in the album and one of the most classic Prince songs ever. It wasn't just use of electric guitars in an otherwise R&B song but an all-out rocker which is perfect in every sense. However the label felt it was not commercial enough and was released only in Belgium with other territories getting it as a b-side to the much-inferior ballad "Still Waiting". Now that wasn't a bad song (not at all) just it was no "Bambi". It was a very R&B ballad, perhaps the most commercial of the 4 included in the album the other three being the far more melancholic "When We Are Dancing Close And Slow", "With You" and my personal favorite "It's Gonna Be Lonely". The remaining single was the disco jam "Sexy Dancer", a song which is more of a long instrumental with Prince whispering its few lyrics rather than singing verses and choruses but it's so much fun in a club or even at home. Other than the singles the album is mostly famous for the original version of "I Feel For You", a song that Chaka Khan covered and took to UK's #1 and USA's #3 five years later. I like Chaka's version but I have to say Prince's is so much superior (I think is just as good as the lead single), more mellow and more R&B. During this era Prince made his first TV appearance on "American Bandstand" where he stole the show with an incredibly awkward (due to his shyness) interview and also his first ever tour opening for funk legend Rick James' "Fire It Up tour" with a setlist including all his single releases to date besides "Bambi". That was the tour where Prince debuted his controversial early semi-naked porn look on stage and was the tour where he upstaged Rick James so much that there were notorious arguments throughout the tour complete with the two artists sabotaging each other by stealing instruments. Famously the two gods of late 70s and early 80s funk never spoke again after the end of this tour which is a shame really because musically they remained very similar.



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  • jio
    replied
    REMEMBERING PRINCE 1: 1978



    So I'd like to do this as a tribute to Prince... just go little by little back to his career and celebrate it for what it is. So let's start right from the start: 1978 and "For You". That is not the actual cover of the album but I just found that pic online and thought it was much better than the actual cover and I posted it. The album starts with the bizarre chant that was the title track before it gets into the disco jam "In Love". The song sounds cool and very raw and synthesizer-heavy. It's a good track but it pales in comparison to the disco jam which comes next: Prince's first-ever single "Soft And Wet". The song didn't do much in the charts but it did make #12 R&B (and #92 pop) and it provided an audience for Prince for the first time. The song is just gorgeous and is the obvious single in the album and a personal favorite of mine. But good songs continue. "Crazy You" is a sort of mellow acoustic ballad showcasing a more romantic side of the singer and then there is another great disco song "Just As Long As We're Together". This was Prince's second single and another worthy disco-workout song here. It made #92 on R&B and it has become something of a classic since then. "Baby" is a more traditional type of R&B ballad which Prince delivers with the upper reaches of his voice as he does throughout the album. "My Love Is Forever" is back to disco but in a more mid-tempo pace compared to the two singles and "In Love". It is still a very good song though and very 70s. "So Blue" is another ballad although this time we have a very beautiful more acoustic type of song. This is my favorite ballad from the album. The most surprising song on the album is the closing song "I'm Yours" which is less of a straightforward rock song and more of a disco song done with electric guitars. Prince showcases his love for and skills on electric guitar here. Definitely my favorite album track in "For You". Although this album is not nearly as impressive as what would come next, there is still not a single bad song in here and quite a few jams worthy of classic status (the two singles, I'm Yours). I think it sort of functions as a preview as all the ideas presented here would be perfected in his next offering. As Prince was still a newcomer there was no particular promotion for this album, no tour or video promoting it. The album made #163 on BB 200


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  • jio
    replied
    R&B 1997 Top 40 part 2



    1997 was rocked by the murder of yet another rapper. Notorious BIG was shot dead in March of that year while promoting his second studio album. Coming two years after the death of 2Pac (in which a feud with Notorious BIG was widely speculated to be involved), all eyes fell on 2Pac's former label, Death Row but the initial criminal investigation did not manage to prove it. However, the case was re-opened 14 years later, when it was proven that the LAPD officers charged to watch over the party Notorious BIG was heading when he was shot dead, were also working for Death Row's boss. Musically, the year was dominated by Puff Daddy's productions for both himself and other artists which commercialized hip-hop to the extreme, mainly by sampling well-known songs from the 80s. So this is R&B's best of 1997... according to me... You can view the videos by clicking on the sleeves. Enjoy...
    30.
    Lose My Cool-S.W.V. feat. REDMAN


    The 1997 attempt to rehabilitate SWV as a-list R&B stars was a failure. Their 1997 "Release Some Tension" album, despite its multiple guest stars, failed to cross the gold-level certification mark in the States and it was the last studio album for the girls (until their comeback last year) as SWV disbanded one year later. Which is a shame because, even though the album lacked in character thanks to all those features, it did include some ace jams, including this single. The world largely slept on "Lose My Cool" partly because it was released as the fourth and final single from the album, whereas far weaker tracks such as "Can We" and "Someone" managed to become (minor) hits by being released early. That at least means that the girls went out with an underrated masterpiece rather than underwhelming songs and, despite having effectively slipped into commercial irrelevancy, they did go out with a bang musically.

    29.
    Femininity-ERIC BENET


    Following on the footsteps of Maxwell and D'Angelo but with a slightly more commercial sensitivity to his sound, Eric Benet broke through in 1997 with this single which, although it failed to become a hit, it did break into the R&B Top 40 (unlike his two 1996 releases). Despite this somehow understated debut, Eric Benet became a major name in R&B during the following couple of years. The man has accumulated a total of nine R&B Top 40 hits to date, the last of which came only last year with "Real Love".

    28.
    You Make Me Wanna...-USHER


    Although Usher was scoring R&B hits since 1993, it was the release of this single that turned him into an international pop mega-star, a status he still holds. This single peaked at #2 on the BB Hot 100 and became Usher's first (out of four) UK #1 hit. The success of the single is based on its very commercial sound (which borders latin-pop) without sacrificing the R&B foundations of the song.It is also a song which gets better with time. I do remember hating it back in the day, but I do like it now and I think it is one of Usher's good (but definitely not finest) moments.

    27.
    The Good Life-PRINCE & THE NEW POWER GENERATION


    During most of the '90s Prince was far too preoccupied with his fight for getting out of his Warners' contract to care much about image or commercial strategies. That fight, besides providing the pop world some hilarious moments, resulted in Prince releasing a vast amount of albums during the first half of the '90s. Most of them were so called contractual obligations released solely with the purpose of fulfilling his Warners' contract fast. Others were "real music", "where his heart really was" and those were the ones that were released outside Warners. But since Warners had the right to Prince's own name, those records were released under The New Power Generation moniker. It is quite bizarre then that the Prince releases were far better than the New Power Generation ones throughout the decade. "The Good Life" was originally released back in 1995 when it peaked at #29 on the UK Singles chart. But by 1997 Prince was finally released from his Sony contract and the song was re-released peaking at #15 on the UK Singles chart. To be honest, the song sounds far more in tune with 1997's music scene than with 1995's one, partly because it has a retro feel to it that was well in demand in 1997 and partly because R&B was far bigger in Europe in 1997 than in 1995. In any case, this is a cute jam from Prince, not really credited to Prince, but being Prince in any way that matters.

    26.
    My Love Is The Shhh!-SOMETHIN' FOR THE PEOPLE


    "Girl 6" was a 1996 movie about phone sex. Madonna made a cameo and Prince's sex-themed songs were used throughout. A soundtrack was released exclusively featuring Prince songs as well. One year later, an R&B group called Somethin' For The People took inspiration from the film and released this single, whose video partly re-creates scenes from "Girl 6". Despite that similarity, musically the song is very much a product of its time and catchy as hell. The song remains the only hit ever for Somethin' For The People, peaking at #4 on the BB Hot 100. The band fared much better on R&B charts where they scored a total of five R&B Top 40 hits in between 1995 and 2000.

    25.
    Don't Wanna Be A Player-JOE


    This saucy ballad gave Joe his first ever UK Top 20 hit by making it to #16. It also became his second American hit single by climbing as high as #21 on the BB Hot 100. The song continued building Joe's career as the most romantic of the many streetwise R&B males of the time and helped propel his sophomore album "All That I Am" to platinum territory in the US. The song proved an inspiration to many artists including rapper Big Punisher who released his own Joe-featuring version of the song two years later. Surprisingly that new version repeated the success of the original by making it to #24 on the BB Hot 100 giving Joe the rare distinction of having scored twice with essentially the same song within the space of just two years.

    24.
    You're The One I Love-SHOLA AMA


    In the first half of the '90s British R&B acts remained precious few and almost all of them adopted the so-called UK soul sound, inspired in large part by Soul II Soul's early music. But by 1997, American-style R&B had become extremely popular in the UK too so many many British R&B stars emerged, most of them adopting the more universal American style of R&B. Shola Ama was the biggest name to emerge in 1997. Like Eternal before her, she came to attention by releasing a cover, but when this second (and first original) single was released, the world could see that Shola was perfectly capable for fantastic original music as well. The single peaked at #3 on the UK Singles chart and remains the biggest hit ever for Shola who nevertheless managed nine UK hit singles in between 1997 and 2004 .

    23.
    Too Gone, Too Long-EN VOGUE


    Despite this being essentially "Don't Let Go (Love)" with altered lyrics, I love it so much that I couldn't resist from including it this high. Taken from the soundtrack of the motion picture "Set It Off" and En Vogue's third studio album "EV3", the song became the girls' eleventh (and final) BB Hot 100 hit by making it to #33 and their ninth (out of 11) UK hit single by making it to #20. It's really inexplicable how En Vogue went from being on top of the world from 1990 through to 1997 all the way to total irrelevance with their fourth album three years later but the girls singing in this song will always remain one of the biggest musical memories of my youth.

    22.
    Pleasure Dome-SOUL II SOUL


    And from one swan song to another. During 1997 Soul II Soul attempted updating their sound by incorporating garage influences in their familiar melodies. The result was the most experimental (and perhaps best) album of their career. Unfortunately, Soul II Soul failed to regain their fanbase with "Time For Change" and as a result that gem of an album became their last ever after it spectacularly failed even in their native UK. This smash of a song, which would have been a sure-fire Top 5 hit had it been released when the band was still in their prime, was the second (and final) single taken from "Time For Change" and became the first Soul II Soul single to miss the UK Top 40 since they became famous with "Keep On Movin'" way back in 1989. But, as always, chart positions only say half the story. The song is as good as any in Soul II Soul's back-catalogue and it is definitely a big shame it just went unnoticed in the same year when Puff Daddy was scoring one Top 10 hit after another with some of the most uninteresting R&B songs of all-time.

    21.
    When You Talk About Love-PATTI LABELLE


    Patti's career began way back in 1962 and in these 35 years Patti had scored no less than 30 R&B Top 40 hits (both solo and with the LaBelles). For most of the '90s however, Patti pretty much stuck to her adult R&B sound rarely attempting to sound current (and even when she did the results were rather underwhelming to put it mildly). So it was a big surprise that this single managed to make Patti sound current again in such a refreshing way. The song became Patti's 22nd R&B Top 20 hit and also her biggest pop hit since "Oh People" way back in 1986 (although it didn't quite manage to bring Patti back into the BB Hot 100 Top 40 section). Big credit to the success of this song has to go to Janet Jackson's collaborators and former Prince proteges Jimmy Jam & Terry Lewis who produced it and brought Patti back into relevancy, at least in R&B radio. Needless to say, none of the songs Patti released since then came even remotely close to the success of this song.

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  • Dragon
    replied
    yes, great chart.

    I like your Prince's list too and it was a very surprising number 1 in his songs list

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  • jio
    replied
    Oh I didn't mean to sound annoyed, Just I had actually spent a few moments considering whether I should have included "Stranger In Moscow" because it sounded borderline R&B to me. It's just funny that some songs I consider R&B, others wouldn't and the other way round. Thanks for your comments by the way, I hope u enjoy the charts

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  • Dragon
    replied
    Dirty Diana was also in top 10 of Hot R&B Singles.
    I think that given the enormous influence of MJ on the R&B music, almost all of his songs appeared in this chart.
    Stranger In Moscow sounds like R&B/pop for me, but with the addition of other styles, very interesting song.

    these were not objections. why there might be an objection if it's your chart and you know better what songs should include.
    I'm not a great expert in the R&B music.

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  • jio
    replied
    I expected objections for "Stranger In Moscow" and not for TDCAU. TDCAU was an R&B Top 10 hit so...

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