"So... why do you like Prince?". I think that was one of the most-asked questions I came across in my third-of-a-century lifetime. Well, actually my first encounter with Prince wasn't much of a success. I got the "Lovesexy" tape as a present while at primary school, gave it a listen and recorded stuff from radio over it. After all I was into Madonna, Michael Jackson and Sabrina then.
I actually became a fan in the early '90s. I did like "Thieves In The Temple" and I adored "Gett Off" and "Cream" but it was the sequence of "Sexy M.F." and "My Name Is Prince" in 1992 which made me go out and buy my first Prince album ("Symbol"). And then I bought "Diamonds And Pearls", "Graffiti Bridge", "The Beautiful Experience". I even got into some trouble at late high school for drawing Prince's symbol in one of my books (and everybody misunderstanding what I meant by it lol). But it was easy then. You just had to lent everyone the "Symbol" tape and everyone would be like "wow I had no idea he is that good". That was then.
In 1994 I was a troubled kid looking for work in Athens. I was just walking and saw the "Come" tape in a cd-store. I went in and bought it without a second thought and put it in my walkman right away. I thought it would have "The Most Beautiful Girl In The World" in, well it didn't. But still what an album. It was my soundtrack throughout the rest of 1994. And I also bought "The Hits" on vinyl (it just looked better than the box-set cd). But there was a problem: my vinyl-player had just stopped working. It would take ages before I finally listened to that album.
By the late '90s it became progressively more difficult for people to understand why I love Prince. His music became erratic, his releases numerous and subpar. But that was the time for me to dig into his glorious '80s and love him even more. And then came that comeback. First a quality comeback ("The Rainbow Children") and then a commercial comeback ("Musicology"). And the rest is history
So the list is finally completed but it would feel a job half-done without a mention at the albums which didn't make the cut. So let's have a look at the Prince studio albums (or other artists' albums with at least half of their songs composed by Prince) which don't have a song making it into the Top 100:
Jill Jones (performed by Jill Jones) (1987)
Prince composed the debut album for Jill Jones and despite the album being a nice piece of pop/dance music, it was a flop on the charts. I do enjoy this one, however nothing here is strong enough to make my Top 100.
Sheila E. (performed by Sheila E.) (1987)
This was Sheila E.'s third studio album and Prince composed half the songs on this one. Although this is not a bad album per se, it is notably weaker than her debut and as a result it suffered chart wise. It only made it to #56 on the BB200 and #24 on R&B.
The Black Album (1987)
This one was supposed to be released in 1987 after "Sign O' The Times" but instead Prince scrapped its release because he thought it was too weak. However some vinyls had already been pressed, the album leaked and became probably Prince's most notorious bootleg. The album finally got a full release in 1994, as part of Prince's effort of completing his Warner contract fast. It charted at #36 in the UK, #47 in the US and #18 on R&B. Looking at it in retrospect, Prince was right: this was indeed a weak effort but one which had its (many) charms
Unlike all the albums above, this one was a huge success making it to #1 on both UK and US albums charts (and #5 on R&B), helped greatly by the success of the movie. "Batdance" remains one of Prince's most successful singles ever, becoming his fourth US #1 hit and making it to #2 in the UK. It was also a #1 hit on the United World Chart. Other hit singles from this album include "Partyman" (#14 UK, #18 US) and his duet with Sheena Easton "The Arms Of Orion" (#27 UK, #36 US). Despite its commercial appeal, this remains the worst 80s Prince album in my book.
Time Waits For No One (performed by Mavis Staples) (1989)
Mavis Staples was releasing albums since the '70s. In the '80s she became Prince's backing vocalist and Prince composed most of this soulful album, which unfortunately was a flop on the charts
Times Squared (performed by Eric Leeds) (1991)
Eric Leeds has a long history of working with Prince mainly as a saxophonist. He was a member of the Family and he performed in Madhouse as well back in the '80s. In 1991 Prince composed this jazz album for him. It's a fantastic instrumental album and I recommend it to everyone, even though none of its tracks makes it in my Top 100. Eric Leeds continued working with Prince in the '00s as well.
Carmen Electra (performed by Carmen Electra) (1993)
Yes, before Carmen Electra became a television and tabloid personality, she dated Prince and the result was this weak rap album which despite floping everywhere, did produce the #33 Club/Dance play "hit" "Everybody Get On Up".
Goldnigga (performed/credited to New Power Generation) (1993)
The New Power Generation was Prince's backing band in the early '90s. He used them in several albums and also as a vehicle for releasing material outside the Warner label (by using their name instead of his own which was owned by Warner at the time). This was the first album credited solely to them. It was never released in the shops, instead you could buy it in Prince concerts, ordering lines etc. The general public didn't miss much though as the album is rather weak
The Voice (performed by Mavis Stapes)(1993)
Prince composed half of this rather charming album which unfortunately didn't bother the charts at all.
1-800-NEW-FUNK (performed by various artists) (1994)
This was basically a promotional album for the artists signed at Prince's NPG records. The album features Prince's duet with Nona Gaye "Love Sign" as well as a new song credited to Madhouse. It made it to #45 on R&B albums.
Chaos And Disorder (1996)
Another album which came out mainly to complete Prince's contract with Warner, this rock album divided fans with some of them loving it, others disliking it. I am in the latter category. The album made it to #14 UK and #26 USA whereas the single "Dinner With Delores" peaked at #33 on the UK Singles Chart.
And whereas "Chaos And Disorder" was an afterthought for Prince, this triple-album released under his own label was supposed to be Prince's big comeback, an artistic and commercial powerhouse. In the end it was neither, it was just a pretty average album for Prince's standards which was way too long for its own good and included way too many fillers. It peaked at #11 USA & #18 UK launching two UK hit singles: "Betcha By Golly Wow" peaked at #11 and "The Holy River" peaked at #19.
Crystal Ball (1998)
Prince's fans long wanted him to release outtakes from his famous "vault" and Prince gave them what they wanted with this triple-cd collection of outtakes. Well almost... The album is focusing on the '90s whereas most fans were interested much more on the '80s. Still the album contains several gems, none of which made it on my countdown. It peaked at #62 on the BB200. Some versions of the album included an extra fourth-cd of acoustic guitar songs called "The Truth" and even an extra fifth instrumental cd called "Kamasutra"
This was one of three jazz/instrumental albums Prince released in the early '00s and, together, they were his first such work since his projects with Madhouse in the '80s and Eric Leeds in the early '90s. The instrumentals in this saxophone-based album are deeper and more complex than Prince's '80s jazz work and it is yet another fantastic set from the purple one. It was released through NPG club as a download only.
The Chocolate Invasion (2004)
During 2000-2001 Prince had his own website called NPG Music Club through which members could gain access to exclusive material including brand new songs. Those new songs were released on two online albums also available exclusively through the same website. This was one of them. The music on the album doesn't deviate much from Prince's '90s material and although a generally pleasant album, it doesn't include anything too exceptional tbh. It includes the 2001 single "U Make My Sun Shine", a duet with Angie Stone
The Slaughterhouse (2004)
And this was the second such album. It includes the singles "Peace" and "Daisy Chain"
Although this was one of the two albums by Prince included in the triple-cd package "LotusFlow3r/Elix3r/MPLSound, the fact that this cd exists in some EU countries (notably France) as a single-disc edition, qualifies it for its own mention. Personally I consider bizarre that this was the one chosen to be released on its own (instead of the much better "LotusFlow3r" or some kind of combination of the two) because as a whole it is rather weak. It doesn't deviate much from Prince's '90s material and, in my opinion, that's a step down from his other '00s stuff.
This is Prince's latest album, the one famously released in the UK through the "Daily Mirror" newspaper. That's how I got it too and it's not a bad album at all. It is an album where Prince provides simple funky 80s-tinched wholly enjoyable songs and it works. No track from this one makes it into my Top 100 but "Sticky Like Glue" did come really close
So on to the cold chart facts now (we are in UKmix after all). Prince's career so far includes 43 UK Top 40 hits
(including features and his work with the New Power Generation), including 16 Top 10s
and a single #1 hit
("The Most Beautiful Girl In The World
"). He is also the composer of a further 12 Top 40 hits
, 6 of which went Top 10 and two made it to #1
(Chaka Khan's "I Feel For You
" & Sinead O' Connor's "Nothing Compares 2 U
"). In the USA he had 32 hit singles
, including 19 Top 10s
and five #1s
("When Doves Cry
", "Let's Go Crazy
" & "Cream
"). He is also the composer of a further 13 Top 40 hits
including 8 Top 10s
and a #1
(Sinead O'Connor's "Nothing Compares 2 U
On the album charts he had 24 UK Top 40 albums
, including 18 Top 10s
and five #1s
", "Graffiti Bridge
" and "Come
"). In the USA he had 23 Top 40 albums
, including 14 Top 10s
and four #1s
", "Around The World In A Day
" and "3121
"). He also composed a further 3 Top 40 albums
for other artists.
My top 100 includes both hits and album tracks. Around half the songs are from the '80s and around a quarter are from other artists. You'll notice that some of the most famous Prince hits are either low on the countdown or completely absent. That's not because I don't like them, but because I think some of them are overplayed. I'll provide youtube or grooveshark links to all the songs so have a good listen to find out why I love Prince:)