#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.

Prince-At-The-Roxy-1979-billboard-fea-1500

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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