#7 Prince: Dirty Mind

We’re into year three of my potentially lifelong commitment to annually live with and reevaluate each one of Prince’s officially released albums. Why? Because shut up, that’s why. We’re due to finish with ‘HITnRUN Phase 2’ in 2046 if we ignore those weird years where he didn’t release an official record (1983, 1993, 1997, 2000, 2005, 2008, 2011-13. What are known as the ‘dark ages’). Currently, we’re still on a somewhat appropriate 40th anniversary flex, so in 2020 we come to 1980’s seminal* ‘Dirty Mind’.

(*or should that be semenal?? No. No, ‘seminal’ is the correct spelling. I just checked)

After his first two albums, all things considered, Prince was really nothing special aside from an admittedly talented performer with the nice little gimmick of being able to play a lot of instruments. Aside from taking a little detour into filthiness with Soft and Wet and proving his rock chops, if only briefly, with I’m Yours, his first album was deserving of little more than a polite applause for the ability on show. His second album, although technically superior in almost every sense, containing his first hit in the heavily disco influenced I Wanna Be Your Lover and, to me, his first stone cold classic in When We’re Dancing Close and Slow* , it was actually frustrating to listen to 40 years later with the benefit of hindsight and knowing exactly what this talent would one day become. There was close to nothing to these albums, they were more often than not box ticking genre albums. Where was the invention? Where was the subversion? Where was the star quality? There was next to no clue where Prince was about to take his sound, his image or his provocativeness.

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54 Prince: Prince

The potentially 29 year project to revisit each album in Prince’s back catalogue year by year continues. And, to be honest, living with his self-titled second album (what?! You self-title your first album, not your fricking second!! Jesus absolutely nothing about this album is quite right!) for a year has felt more like a slog, an irritating inconvenience, than the wonderful dissection of genius that I’d hoped this project would be.

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I thought 1978’s ‘For You’ was an extremely accomplished debut, if chronically unexciting in places, that nonetheless showed occasional hints of real talent buried deep beneath the beautiful if uninspired orchestral arrangements. The real disappointment with ‘Prince’ is that, despite it probably being a better and more accomplished album than its predecessor, there doesn’t seem to be much desire to push his sound further and evolve much from his debut. If anything, it’s basically a simple reworking of his debut with eyes on making his sound more commercial. As great as it is in places (and, as we’ll get into, it really is great in places), there’s an ever so slightly mercenary feel to ‘Prince’, it must have felt to most observers in 1979 that this shy little weirdo from Minneapolis was obviously happy to just keep releasing the same album again and again, perhaps with slightly more commercial styling than last time.

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68 Prince: For You

And so I embark on the largest, most  ambitious, vital and- dare I say it?- woke undertaking of my young life. Yes: ‘young’. Relatively, I mean. In comparison to most trees.

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Starting with Necessary Evil 2018, I am going to include one Prince album a year on the list, starting with His 1977 debut and ending when I reach His final album, ‘Hit N Run Phase 2’ that was released in 2015 (one of the very few Prince albums I’ve never actually heard, though I was sufficiently unimpressed with it’s predecessor to beg “oh God please don’t subject us to phase 2…”). I will eventually provide the definitive reaction to each and every officially released album credited to either Prince or New Power Generation (word to the wise, New Power Generation released some stinkers). Prince was a recording artist for thirty seven years, but I’m going to be concentrating on the years in which He actually released music. That means this will take me thirty years. It’s a big task, but I’m man enough to do it.

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Prince: The Ejaculate Collection- My Albums Ranked

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I’m not going to bore you with dog piss stories about how Prince was so important to me and he made an impression on my life  and how this is all actually a tragedy for me

No, it goes without saying that Prince should be recognised as at least as important a musical figure as dreary tossers like Bob Dylan or Paul McCartney. He was one of music’s all time great visionaries, yet he never neglected the importance of a great cod-piece. Prince’s run of albums from 1980’s Dirty Mind through to maybe 88’s Lovesexy is a burst of musical creativity and productiveness that has only been matched by the Beatles in the late 60s. Only the Beatles never wrote a lyric as good as “Look here, Marsha, I’m not saying this just 2 be nasty/I sincerely wanna f**k the taste out of your mouth”

So difficult not to refer to it as a ‘purple patch’…

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So instead I’m going to attempt something near impossible: ranking all the Prince albums I own, which probably amounts to about 2.8% of his recorded. Prince has an irritating and presumably mischievously intentional habit of putting at least one stone cold classic on even his shittest albums, so just dive in people!!

Right, so I count 30..

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