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Sunday, 2 December 2018

Prince


I've been a big Prince fan ever since my father introduced me to his 1984 movie, Purple Rain. Before that I didn't quite understand the musical sophistication of his work, although I did enjoy a few songs from the lovely 'For You', his first album which was not so well received due to a sound not acquired to the mainstream. Otherwise all the albums prior to Purple Rain seemed too sexually provocative and controversial.

It was Purple Rain (Warner Bros., 1984) where the prominent drum machine sound became more representative of the 80s era, and the lyrics became more specific, encompassing smashing pop songs that I could gratefully embrace. The songs seemed to capture the musical backing of 'The Revolution', Prince's backing band, and were arranged around the drum styles of Bobby Z rather than Brown Mark's bass lines or Lisa Coleman's keyboards.

A classic example of this is 'Let's Go Crazy' which not only was one of the albums biggest hits but also seemed to set the tone for the dramatic ensemble of lyrical content that followed, about accepting the short span of our lives and celebrating a moment while contemplating a level of spiritual tranquillity that Prince would later explore in works such as Emancipation (NPG, EMI, 1996) and arguably his song 'Sign O' The Times' which commented on the troubled state of the 1980s socio-political climate and levels of poverty. Have social problems such as the AIDs epidemic and gang violence been rendered in more intimate terms by a high-profile pop artist? I don't think so.

One of his less chart-topping albums, Come (Warner Bros., 1994), was recorded when Prince was in the middle of his infamous dispute with Warner Bros. The songs reflect deep messages about lust and sexual experimentation throughout, particularly on one of my favourite tracks of the album, 'Pheromone.' The final track of the album 'Orgasm' is simply the sound of a woman reaching sexual climax, which not only is highly experimental but also shows Prince's willingness to push boundaries and surprise the listener, not to mention finding music in all elements of the human body.

Prince began to fuse hip-hop in later elements of his music, and mixed it in with funky grooves to create something much more exciting than anything 50 Cent, Jay -Z or any hip-hop artist for that matter - could possibly do. Goldnigga (New Power Generation, 1993) is an excellent example of this, credited mostly to Prince's later band 'The New Power Generation' who represented a fusion of a brand new musical sound that mixed electronic pop with hip-hop and psychedelic rock.

1999 (Warner Bros., 1982) is an undisputed masterpiece. Its track 'Little Red Corvette' is both strange and touching, in which he compares a lover to a car, and I can't tell if he was talking about an actual car or a woman's body. The fantastic 'I Wanna be your Lover' has a sound so crisp and beautiful that you can practically hear every nuance of every instrument. His usage of melody with harmonic arrangement is so revolutionary for a young pop artist of his time that it is clear to see that Prince is still the best, most exciting musician to come out of America in the 1980s.

Big thanks to Bret Easton Ellis for this pointless yet weirdly fun ramble: https://www.e-reading.club/chapter.php/79864/17/Ellis_-_American_Psycho.html

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