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Jio's HoF :NOW:WEEKLY PICKS (31/8/2021)

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  • jio
    replied
    "Parade" was always among my favorites from Prince (and "Kiss" wasn't, I like it but I wouldn't consider it among his absolute best songs), it's such a different, weird and funky album. I prefer it to ATWIAD, SOTT and Lovesexy.

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  • NothingFails
    replied
    i generally never look at pop stars from my childhood a certain way, but Prince was at his hottest in 1986 (I also thought he looked sexy during Lovesexy/Batman with the long straight hair).

    Parade is a real sleeper in his 80s catalog, totally overshadowed by Kiss but actually a lot of great tracks on it. Mountains has been one of my faves of his of late for some reason.

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  • jio
    replied
    REMEMBERING PRINCE: 1986




    Having already a major hit-movie under his belt, the inevitable follow up came in 1986 with a romantic comedy named "Under The Cherry Moon". Prince co-starred with Kristin Scott-Thomas (who replaced Prince's fiance Susannah Melvoin when it became obvious that she couldn't act) and Revolution member Jerome Benton and also directed this pretty ambitious film. Despite its relative box-office failure (it entered at #10 at the box-office charts and disappeared a couple of weeks later) and its huge victory at the year's Razzie Awards (where Prince won "Worst Director", "Worst Actor" and "Worst Picture" honors), the movie remains an interesting curiosity and definitely a guilty pleasure not just for me, but also for many other Prince fans I suppose. The very stylish black-and-white cinematography coupled with the intentional use of modern-day features and items in a movie supposedly taking place decades ago, Prince and Jerome's refusal to act anything else but themselves throughout the movie, the extravagant clothing and the glorious music makes this definitely a must-see.

    The movie itself wasn't a musical (just one song is actually performed in the film), but Prince's new music is all over this movie and of course a soundtrack with those new songs was released. "Parade" (R&B #2, BB200 #3, UK #4) is something of a return to R&B/funk for Prince after a couple of pop albums. Of course Prince never abandoned the genre but almost all of the R&B songs he composed during 1984 and 1985 were given to protege bands. This time Prince kept the funk for himself.

    How funky the "Parade" album is was a bit hard to understand from the album's first single "Kiss" (R&B #1, BB Hot 100 #1, dance #1, UK #6), an essentially pop/dance song which took the world by storm in 1986 with its crazy vocals, its video featuring Prince dance-flirting to a girl that has her face covered throughout the video and its clever tongue-n-cheek lyrics. "Kiss" was nominated for "Best R&B Song" in the year's Grammies but it had to settle with winning just in the "Best R&B Performance By A Duo Or Group" category. The song is nothing short but an '80s classic, proven by several covers which appeared over the years, most famous of which, the rather horrid take on the song by Art Of Noise feat. Tom Jones (BB Hot 100 #31, UK #5) a couple of years later. Another "Under The Cherry Moon" song "Love Or $" appeared as the b-side and although that song is the only one not to appear in the actual "Parade" album, it was much more indicative of the funky stripped nature of that album than "Kiss".

    The album itself (third and final to be credited to "Prince & The Revolution") was a funk feast, unlike anything Prince released up to that time and, taking into account that it was essentially a soundtrack, an unusually cohesive album. "Christopher Tracy's Parade" opened the show with a song that is both funky at heart but also gives you a feeling of welcoming you to a musical chapter or something (I don't know how to explain it better). "New Position" is the song that coupled with the previous one gives you exactly an idea of what to expect next. A deeply funky and at the same time very instrumentally minimalistic R&B song. "I Wonder U" is more of a bridge to the next song and a musical experiment than a fully completed song. That next song in question is "Under The Cherry Moon", a gorgeous ballad which sounds like coming right out of a musical. That song showcased a whole new side to Prince's artistry that was not apparent in previous releases. "Girls And Boys" (UK #11) was the only song in the album that was actually performed in the film. Another deeply funky affair which also introduces even more jazz to Prince's music (courtesy of saxophonist Eric Leeds) is a hell of a tune which, who knows why, was never released in the States. The lyrics talk about events in the actual film, however those evens were not seen on-screen so in a way it is a musical expansion to the film's mythology. "Life Can Be So Nice" may sound a bit weird at first and it does take a few listens to get used to it but once one does, the genius nature of a song that sounds messy at first but makes perfect sense eventually is apparent. The songs on the latter half of the album are clearly the ones with the most commercial value. Single "Mountains" (R&B #15, BB Hot 100 #23) is essentially a gospel/soul track delivered in Prince's characteristic high-pitch voice. The song arrived complete with a video showing Prince, Wendy & Lisa performing the song up in the clouds. The same video (albeit in black-n-white) can be seen in the movie while the end-credits roll. "Do U Lie" is a piano-driven chanson. Although an interesting piece of music, its inclusion is justified only considering the soundtrack nature of the album. The strangely named "Anotherloverholenyohead" (R&B #18, UK #36) is my personal favorite due to its deep '80s funky nature. One should listen to this song in a club to realize its magnificence. The extended version takes the song in a very different direction adding a long jazz instrumental in the end and is a definite pleasure to the ears. Although virtually among Prince's lesser-known songs through the years, album closer "Sometimes It Snows In April" took a whole new meaning after Prince's passing this year due to many chilling coincidences: a song about death and a song composed on the same day music died.

    Prince toured the world in 1986 with his "Parade tour" focusing mainly in Europe and Japan and limiting the American shows to a few hit-and-run dates (shows that were announced in very short advance thus driving ticket prices sky-high). It was a far more organic and stripped-down tour than anything Prince had done up to that time, focusing far more on the music than on visuals. Many of the songs were expanded with long jazz or electric guitar parts making them even more interesting than the original versions. There was also a long section of Prince's funk classics including such songs such as Controversy, DMSR, Lady Cab Driver, Automatic etc. Prince also had a few surprises for fans including the performance of a brand new song called "Dream Factory", and performances of songs he had composed for other artists such as a fab performance of The Family's "Mutiny" and Andre Cymone's "Dance Electric" as well as having Sheila E. do her Prince-composed pop/rap song "Holly Rock". Despite its beauty the tour marked even more problems among Prince and proteges. Prince ended the tour by smashing all guitars on stage, disbanding The Revolution and firing Wendy & Lisa.

    In terms of songs composed for other artists, 1986 is most notable for The Bangles' "Manic Monday" (BB Hot 100 #2, UK #2), a song Prince originally composed for Apollonia 6's second album which never happened. The pop classic was prevented reaching the top by Prince's own "Kiss", a feat which gave Prince the two top-selling songs in that particular week in the States. Much better than "Manic Monday" IMO was the song Prince composed for Revolution member's Brown Mark's band Mazarati, named "100 MPH" (R&B #19) which was a hell of a funky tune, among Prince's best ever. It is interesting to note that "Kiss" was initially composed for Mazarati too but Prince, obviously realizing its potential, took it back as soon as he heard the band performing it. Other than that Prince also contributed a rather indifferent song to Kenny Rogers in 1986. The extra projects of 1986 may sound way too few in comparison to 1984 and 1985 but that was perhaps due to the fact that Prince was preparing such a multitude of releases to come out in 1987.





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  • jio
    replied
    You're right.... I got that from somewhere and looked a bit weird. Yeah it was #25, thanks

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  • Jack
    replied
    Hats off for doing this "Raspberry Beret" is one of my faves but bizarrely it only reached #25 in the UK not #13 as you mentioned.

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  • NothingFails
    replied
    Your Prince album homages are a total treat to read.

    The great thing now is that so much of this stuff is able to be heard on YouTube so those who don't know the albums back and front like we do can check it out

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  • jio
    replied
    REMEMBERING PRINCE: 1985




    Late 1984- early 1985 Prince toured the world with his "Purple Rain tour". Having achieved international superstardom, the tour was bigger and longer than anything he had done thus far (he played for over 2 hours in each date, that's double the time any of his previous tours lasted). That was also a very much happy tour in the sense that it really looked like a celebration of Prince finally hitting the big time. All of the big hits were performed along with some b-sides such as "Irresistible Bitch", the funky b-side of "Let's Pretend We're Married" and even material unreleased to this day such as "Possessed". The strongest part of the "Purple Rain" album became also the strongest part of the tour. After an impressive skit showing Prince taking shower (!!!) on stage (reminiscent of course of the "When Doves Cry" video), Prince got on with amazing back to back performances of "Computer Blue" and "Darlin' Nicki" (complete with an oral sex imitation on stage). In this tour several unreleased songs debuted during the final dates, songs such as Temptation, Raspberry Beret, 4 The Tears In Your Eyes, America etc. None of those songs appeared in Prince's first ever home video, a depiction of the tour simply called "Prince and the Revolution Live" a video which hit #1 on the US Top Music Video charts. But where did those songs come from?

    Prince never stopped composing songs during his tour and in February of 1985 he presented his new material in a very interesting way to about 20 Warners' officials. Having them all sit down on the floor for the occasion and having Revolution members Wendy and Lisa walking in the room as the music started holding flowers, this was obviously a very different kind of project. And indeed, new album "Around The World In A Day" (R&B #4, BB 200 #1, UK #5) came out when nobody was expecting it with the Purple Rain hype still in full effect, without a single promoting it (all of the singles were released later than the album), without an announcement, without a video, without even Prince's face on the cover. People just walked in a record store one day and just found a new Prince & the Revolution album sitting there.

    Indeed the album was very very different from "Purple Rain" and that's obvious right from opening track "Around The World In A Day", a song starting with flute and a scream and progressing to mixing oriental sounds (kind of previewing the more spiritual nature of this album) with the Minneapolis sound. European-only first single "Paisley Park" (UK #18) takes a page from the Beatles' songbook creating a song which is both retro and at the same time very Prince even if he does things with his voice that we had never heard before. "Condition Of The Heart" begins with impressive piano before it develops into a melancholic ballad of "The Beautiful Ones"-type, only slightly less pop and far more introspective. First American and second international single "Raspberry Beret" (R&B #3, Hot 100 #2, UK #25) was a more uptempo and optimistic song of the "Paisley Park"-type with a video featuring Prince and the Revolution in a dreamy cartoonish-type of world performing the song. The video eventually won the "Best Choreography In A Video" award at the MTV Awards. "Tamborine" is a dirty little gem which takes a few listens before one can realize its magnificence. The hard rock track on the album is "America" (R&B #35) a song whose album version was a 4-minutes cut of a 20+ minutes original composition which appeared fully on the single and the video of the song. The song is great but it's that 20-minute version which really elevates it into a masterpiece. Like "Purple Rain", "Around The World In A Day" featured just one R&B track and that was the excellent "Pop Life" (R&B #8, Hot 100 #7). Much more mellow than "When Doves Cry", this is probably the most commercial moment on the album. The song remains a classic even if Prince mostly talks the lyrics . "The Ladder" is another melancholic ballad, not too dissimilar to "Condition Of The Heart" but with a slightly more sing-a-long chorus and a straight-forward spiritual religious message. The album closes with "Temptation" a rock-pop song which fails to impress as a standalone song but works pretty good as a closer.

    All in all this is an album made more for being heard as a cohesive body of work rather than as individual singles. Perhaps that's the reason that some of Prince's most commercial songs ever did not appear on this album but were used as b-sides to the album's singles. Take for example the fab "She's Always In My Hair", b-side to the first single release of the album ("Raspberry Beret" in the US, "Paisley Park" in the UK). The song is fantastic, with more chart potential than anything in the album, yet it's pop and doesn't really suit the melancholia of the record. So it was a b-side, albeit one that was played thousands of times by every Prince fan and some more. The b-side to the American "Pop Life" single and European "Raspberry Beret" single "Hello" was a rock track, quite similar to "America". As b-side to "America" the pop ballad "Girl" appeared. Unlike the ballads in the album, this was a sexy suggestive ballad, more in-tune with the themes on the "Dirty Mind" album.

    The year ended with another hit single for Prince, this time in the shape of a duet with Sheila E. "A Love Bizarre" (R&B #2, Hot 100 #11, dance #1) was the only song in which Prince was actually credited in her second album "Romance 1600" (R&B #12) (even though he composed the whole album minus one track) and is perhaps the most funky tune of her career. Prince went uncredited as a lead performer in the single and did not appear in the video even though his vocals can be clearly heard throughout the song even more prominently than Sheila's. Minneapolis classic alert this song definitely is, the rest of the album does not really improve much on her debut. Prince's compositions take Sheila again through a variety of styles but little in this album sounds really above average. Second single "Sister Fate" (R&B #36) is a somewhat interesting composition as it is more reminiscent of DeBarge rather than Prince. Sheila E. is definitely a talented lady but there is really not much of note in this album.

    Of course Prince hadn't abandoned the idea of releasing even more material through protege bands just yet, even though both Vanity/Apollonia 6 and The Time were history at this point. In 1985 Prince resurrected the Time by creating a new band called The Family made up by the remaining members of the Time plus Wendy, Eric Leeds and future fiancee Susannah Melvoin. The band just released one album with all except one song composed by Prince before breaking-off and absorbed into the Revolution. "The Family" (R&B #17) album is mostly known for including the original version of "Nothing Compares 2 U" a song which five years later was covered by Sinead O' Connor topping the charts at both sides of the Atlantic. Although the Family version is seriously lacking in comparison to Sinead's, Prince perhaps sensed its potential so that song is the only one in the album where Prince did not use a pseudonym as a composer. Prince himself recorded the track for his 1993 "Hits" album in a Rosie Gaines-duet version which builds on the original's gospel elements. That version wasn't bad but still Sinead's version remains the best. Other than that the album includes several funky R&B songs. The two singles "Screams Of Passion" (R&B #9) and "High Fashion" (R&B #34) remain the best Prince compositions in there with the first being a fantastic mellow laid-back R&B affair and the second being a more straight-forward Minneapolis jam. "Mutiny" is another great song of similar funky vibe and a mega jazz ending. Talking about jazz, on this album we have the first taste of Prince's ever-growing interest on that genre with a couple of songs which are essentially jazz instrumentals and are quite good too. Although the band didn't release any further albums under the Family name, just like The Time it continues recording and performing under an alternative name (The Time now is the Original 7ven whereas The Family is FDeluxe) due to Prince legally owning both names

    Also in 1985 Prince helped childhood friend's and ex-Revolution member's Andre Cymone's fledging solo career by giving him an amazing funky tune called "The Dance Electric" (R&B #10). The song became the biggest hit ever for Andre and deservingly so.

    In the romantic department that was the year that Prince met then newcomer/ now biggest selling female artist of all-times Madonna at the American Music Awards. Back then Prince just asked his associates to get him Madonna's number and he proceeded on calling her and asking for a date. The two met and dated for a while but eventually Madonna got married to actor Sean Penn a few months later and Prince engaged to Sean Penn's ex girlfriend Susannah Melvoin.

    Of course 1985 was the year mostly famous to this day for two things: Madonna's rise to superstardom and the Michael Jackson-led all-star charity single "We Are The World". Prince was invited but hated the idea so refused to participate in the song, instead he composed a brand new song, the beautiful melancholic ballad "4 The Tears In Your Eyes" for the USA For Africa album. That didn't prevent the press completely missing the point of charity and turning "We Are The World" into a hate-campaign against Prince who thus got his first taste of celebrity lynching.


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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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