Saturday, September 3, 2016

Prince - Prince

Warner Bros. BSK 3366

Prince's second album, which he produced, arranged and performed all by himselfThis was the first Prince album that I bought.  I picked it up used in the mid-1980s at Aron's Records here in Los Angeles back when they were still on Melrose.  I became intrigued with Prince when I read reviews of his early records which basically described him as a sexually obsessed one man band.  I loved his singles "1999" and "Little Red Corvette" as well as the songs from "Purple Rain" and decided to check him out even though I was really strapped for cash being an impoverished graduate student at the time.  I was a little disappointed by it at the time, but I came to appreciate it more with repeated playing.  It opens with "I Wanna Be Your Lover" which is a steamy come-on song.  The song has a funky groove and a lascivious vocal from Prince as well as a lengthy synth driven instrumental break perfect for hitting the dance floor.  Listening to it now I'm struck by how stripped down the production sounds compared to the denser sound and richer instrumental palette Prince favored later in his career.  I still like it a lot though, it is one of my favorite cuts.  The dance beat continues with the dynamic "Why You Wanna Treat Me So Bad" in which Prince complains about being mistreated by his lover.  Despite the whiny lyrics, the music is punchy and exuberant with a smoking hot guitar solo"Sexy Dancer" is a disco song driven by staccato guitar riffs reminiscent of James Brown's work, a technique Prince used throughout his career.  It also contains a jumping piano solo.  It is a slight song but it gets me moving.  The record slows down for "When We're Dancing Close and Slow" which is the most overtly erotic song on an album that features practically nothing but sexy songs.  Despite the highly charged lyrics I find the song dull largely because of Prince's subdued vocal and the lethargic music.  Side two opens with "With You" which is a sentimental love song.  It is another slow jam that I think could use a little more musical heat.  That is certainly not a problem for the hard rocking "Bambi" which as you can probably guess is not about the Disney movie.  In the song he admonishes his lover for wanting to be with another woman instead of him.  The song has a strong riff and lots of vigorous guitar noise which makes it another one of my favorite tracks.  The record slows down again for "Still Waiting" which finds Prince lamenting his inability to find love.  The song has a classic soul sound to it and a winning vocal from Prince that reminds me of Curtis Mayfield.  Next up is "I Feel For You" which was later a giant hit for Chaka Khan.  I greatly prefer her far more kinetic and passionate version, but Prince is definitely convincing delivering lines like "I wouldn't lie to you, baby it's mainly a physical thing."  The song exemplifies the shortcomings of the DIY stripped down sound of the record, but it is such a great song that it still stands out as the best track on the album.  The album concludes with "It's Gonna Be Lonely" in which he worries about his lover leaving him.  The song starts slow and builds in strength giving the record a solid finish.  It is a remarkably good second album from a guy who was barely 21 years old when it came out.  Of course he would get a lot better on subsequent records, but there is plenty of evidence of his genius scattered throughout the record.  I think you can make a case for Prince being the most talented pop music artist of his generation.  His mixture of soul and rock was genuinely innovative and exciting.  He was remarkably consistent, producing compelling and interesting music throughout his career which makes his premature demise all the more lamentable since he undoubtedly had much more wonderful music still in him.  One of his rivals liked to call himself the King of Pop, but if you ask me Prince was the real royalty in pop music.  Recommended to Marvin Gaye fans who think he was too celibate.

No comments:

Post a Comment