by Shardae Jobson
On April 21, my music palette changed from random (per usual) to a stream of nothing but the catalog of Prince. For three weeks, only Beyoncé‘s Lemonade and occasional dips into ’70s rock (a major influence on Prince) cracked my devotion of listening to as many albums, extended mixes, B-sides, and hard to find tracks (listen to “Moonbeam Levels” RIGHT NOW) and bootlegs by the Purple One as much as possible.
As I wrote in my tribute piece the weekend following his untimely death, I’ve always appreciated the man, the myth, and the songs I already knew. But I quickly learned, into my crash course of Prince’s genius, that I didn’t have a clue about how much of a student and master he was of music. (He is truly one of few artists to make me feel inadequate and I already hold a treasured list of iconoclasts that include Frida Kahlo and Angela Davis).
So far, I can attest to two regrets. The first being, that I never got to see Prince in concert. Second, and again, that I wish I had been aware of the extent of his talent and discipline! As a little kid, the proof was handed to me, every time I heard “Kiss” or “When Doves Cry”, that he was a living legend. And thanks to my ear for a great tune, tracks like “Erotic City” further cemented the belief. But damn. I didn’t know he knew how to play twenty-seven instruments (taking cues from fellow great Stevie Wonder), much of which was self-taught. And double Lord, what a prolific guitarist he was.
Due to his severe dislike and worry over platforms such as YouTube and streaming services like Spotify (and with the decline of record stores), it however got harder in the last six years or so to view and hear Prince in his glory.
It especially bothered me to not be able to watch music videos for “1999”, “Little Red Corvette”, and “Raspberry Beret.” They became virtually absent online around the same time the three major music-based channels of VH1, MTV, and BET all became more geared towards reality TV. I feel that if fans had access to these videos, even without cable, his legacy would’ve been fuller when he was still with us. He all upheld him as an icon. But it’s kind of lame that only just recently, for example, I viewed his total blast of a “Baby, I’m A Star” performance with the Revolution and Sheila E. that closed the 1985 Grammy Awards. I should’ve seen this years ago!
Since his death, Prince fans have uploaded tons of amazing archival concert footage and album gems (like the live 1988 bootleg of Small Club, and 1994’s The Black Album that was supposed to drop at the end of 1987) along with his classic music videos. It goes against Prince’s wishes of his music resume made so available. But we’re still in the mourning phase, and fans seem to be collectively thinking: “All we got is his music now.” Let us celebrate.
Prince’s death is still hard to process. It’s not my place to say that it doesn’t feel right, but I got to be honest. It doesn’t.
Thanks to TIDAL, the only streaming service Prince approved of having his discography (before he died), I’ve been able to relive my favorites but also hear a boatload of his music. Finally! For Part 1, I’ve listened to his albums starting with 1978’s For You to his 1989 soundtrack to Batman.
Here are my favorite songs from each album!
Prince’s debut album was an under the radar release. Prince Rogers Nelson was 19 going on 20 years old. And For You is funky with nods to disco and soul. From the start, he displayed his astounding ability to play twenty-seven different instruments on the spread of nine tracks.
The opening track “In Love“, after the intro of “For You”, I found more sonically pleasing than his minor hit (and first indication of not so subtle lyrics about sex) “Soft & Wet.” “In Love” is a wonderland of lush beats and his assuring falsetto.
“Crazy You” is a short love song. For no specific reason, I liked it.
The title of “Just As Long As We’re Together” reminded me of the Judy Blume teen novel that would be published nine years later in 1987. The extended instrumental that begins at 3:36 is effortlessly sedative.
“My Love Is Forever” is another boogie soul space that was worthy of being a hit.
The closer “I’m Yours” is unexpectedly rock. If released, I think it could’ve been a breakthrough for Prince. Lyrically, he sang of an impending “Like A Virgin” experience. The mix of R&B and rock is almost dreamy.
The album as a whole is undoubtedly sentimental and heavy on the lovey-dovey. I don’t feel that the presentation came from a recalcitrant place, but critics tend to be unreasonably hard on it for the simple( yet big facts) that Prince would go on to create epics like 1982’s 1999. Even by 1980, he had concocted the provocative Dirty Mind. I imagine that it’s easy for critics to forget that legends had to start somewhere. But they do.
For his second self-titled album, Prince got his first major hit on the charts with “I Wanna Be Your Lover.” It’s so damn good. The song still slays, thirty-eight years later.
“Why You Wanna Treat Me So Bad” is a terrific plea to stop the bullshit of playing games with someone’s heart. It’s a highlight of Prince and later tracks like “When You Were Mine” remind me of it. His childhood friend and bandmate Andre Cymone also sang on the track, providing the background vocals.
On “Sexy Dancer”, Prince sang with a comfortable slickness. It’s pure disco and also marks the beginning of orgasmic like embellishments or sweet nothing hissing in his music. We’ll endure it again on songs like “Lady Cab Driver” and “Temptation.”
When I heard “Bambi”, I couldn’t get enough of it. The loud, arena rock of it was similar to “I’m Yours”, but all-around, more demanding. However, with deeper research, I learned, from a Pitchfork article, that “Bambi” was lyrically about a bitter, desperate man that was jealous of his lady friend hook-up being sexually infatuated (and in love) with another woman.
“I knew from the start
That I loved you with all my heart
But you were untrue.
You had another lover and she looked just like you
Bambi, can’t you understand?
Bambi, it’s better with a man”
The song title suddenly became condescending as well. Little supposed Bambi with the doe eyes. Too naive to know that she needs a real man in her life. I somewhat chuckle when I listen to it now. (After the fact, I acknowledged that “ignorance is bliss” certainly has its moments). Musically, it’s still a standout for Prince. (And was this autobiographical?! The storyline’s too specific to be a random ditty).
“Still Waiting” has a cool country feel to it. The song pushes you to grab the nearest lemonade or sweet tea on site and indulge in some much-needed respite.
R&B great Chaka Khan smashed her cover of Prince’s “I Feel For You” for her 1984 comeback album of the same name. Yet the original is sung by Prince and is on track 8. It’s actually a bit endearing because we all know how it would be remixed and revised for the 1980s (featuring the early influence of New York City hip-hop. And who could forget Stevie Wonder‘s harmonica on it!) Its second life earned Prince a Grammy Award for Best R&B Song at the 1985 Grammys.
Then there’s the closer ballad of “It’s Gonna Be Lonely.” Who you telling?
So did I think that Prince was an improvement from For You? I do, but I chose around the same amount of songs as ear candy. I would say that Prince is cleaner in production and direction. And the cover art is iconic for Prince’s Farrah Fawcett-like feathered ‘do. The album also officially brought on his live band, later known as the Revolution, and included fan favorite, the original Revolution guitarist Dez Dickerson.
Dirty Mind is when Prince became a hot mess in the most talented way. For the cover art and overall image for this period, the Minneapolis native chose to come through in ensembles that clearly showcased semi-skimpy black briefs. Never had a Black male musician so openly challenged what was supposed to define his sexuality and image (at least since Little Richard, for the former). The music industry wasn’t ready. But it was his first album to be largely critically acclaimed. Back in 1981 (though the album came out 1980), Rolling Stone declared Prince’s third album as the “the most generous album about sex ever made by a man.” The thought still rings true through a 2016 analysis.
“When You Were Mine”, despite the wanton nature of Dirty Mind‘s artwork, is a pure pop carousel and it’s charming. It’s the classic case of oddly loving someone more after the relationship has ended. Cyndi Lauper would re-record it for her 1983 solo debut, the girls night out classic, She’s So Unusual.
“Do It All Night” is similarly dance-pop and continued using the ingredients of “Mine.” Here, it appears that the protagonist from “When You Were Mine”, is ready to be single and mingle with a little positivity.
There’s something very Motown about “Gotta Broken Heart Again” and the topic is taken in stride. This too shall pass.
“Uptown” is fantastic and is again dance, disco, and R&B. It gives you great vibes of nights out on the town in cities like Manhattan and Los Angeles. Yet thanks to the fansite, Prince Vault, “Uptown” is an ode to the “uptown” section of Minneapolis, such as the popular spot of Calhoun Square and intersections of Hennepin Avenue and Lagoon Avenue.
The raunchiest offerings of Dirty Mind are “Head” and “Sister.” (Especially “Sister.” An under two-minute song about an incestual situation between an older sister and younger brother. Uh…). I personally don’t care for these tracks much, (I can admit that “Head” is upsettingly dance-friendly) but I observed the sheer outrageousness and proclivity Prince had to talk about sexual acts or taboo suggestions. The legend was forming. Dirty Mind is #206 on Rolling Stone‘s 500 Greatest Albums of All-Time.
There are some great songs on Controversy. The title track I discovered two years and I recognized Prince’s voice but couldn’t pinpoint the song itself. I even hummed it to whoever would listen and they didn’t know either. Once I found it, my reaction was similar to when I first heard “I Wanna Be Your Lover.” At seven minutes long, the funk of it is so markedly entertaining and bumping. “Controversy” is one of my all-time favorite Prince tracks. Looking back at my 2001 purchase of The Very Best of Prince, how was it not included? The lyrics tackled the fascination that surrounded the artist about his sexual orientation and racial background.
“Do Me, Baby” is all foreplay and is more tolerable than most tracks that have attempted to evoke the intimate occasion. (According to Prince Vault, bandmate Andre Cymone originally wrote the song. Debatable).
“Private Joy” is one of his best dance tunes. It swirls in its “post-disco” aura and in expressing attraction and adulation for its unknown muse (rumor has it that it was inspired by Susan Moonsie, who was 1/3 of Vanity 6). Fans also like to joke that it’s about getting to know oneself if you know what I mean. Either way, I love, love, love this one. (LaToya Jackson re-recorded it for her 1984 album Heart Don’t Lie).
“Let’s Work” is good time too.
The year and album where Prince became PRINCE.
First of all, I never knew that the title track of “1999” had the creepy, robotic intro of: “I won’t hurt you. I only want you to have some fun.” But after that salutation, the epic synthesizers embarked into the song we all know and have jammed to at the drop off: “I was dreaming when I wrote this…”
I’ll be truthful. I wasn’t feeling 1999 at first. I had to listen to it two more times to grasp the dopeness of it. This is also the album where Prince’s songs began to be nearly nine minutes, or longer, in length. One of those are “Automatic”, a synthpop cabana of Prince’s gooey tone delivering promises such as “You ask me if I’ll kiss you…it’s automatic.” A video was made for the track featuring Prince and the Revolution performing on a soundstage and in a haze of muted gold, purple, and black lights. Prince is sexy like always with a sailor hat tipped off to the side and noticeably heeled boots.
Towards the end of the clip and after Prince’s muttered monologue, conveniently he drops onto a mattress and bandmates Lisa Coleman and Jill Jones appear to, without hesitation, take off his jacket, tie his hands to the bed post, and whip him (Lisa does). (In the song, a woman, warns: “I will proceed to torture you now.” I thought this wasn’t going to happen based on the “1999” intro!?) The S&M ending caused the video to not get played on MTV (which was fine considering how much of a video hit “Little Red Corvette” was). And BET played the abridged version minus the whipping. The video was mainly made for the clubs in the 1980s.
When the lyrics are sexual on 1999, aside from “Little Red Corvette” (Jack Hamilton of Slate declared Dez Dickerson’s guitar solo on “LRC” as: “the finest instrumental moment on a Prince record performed by someone who isn’t Prince.” And there’s argument about it. It is superb) there are often spoken or sung in low whispers. Such as on “Let’s Pretend We’re Married”, a giddy pop (audible) pinata.
I enjoyed “D.M.S.R.” which stands for “Dance, Music, Sex, Romance” and it’s another eight-minute epic.
“Lady Cab Driver” is a favorite of hardcore Prince fans and it’s easy to hear why on first listen. Prince sang in a relaxed, yet spoiled, tone against a minimal backdrop . It’s a tad pre-“Darling Nikki” with lyrics like “Drive it, baby, drive it, drive this demon out of me. Take me to your mansion. Honey, let’s go everywhere.” Mid-way though, a woman’s moans provocatively carried on behind Prince’s reading a list of grievances. Along with “Free”, “Lady” was unexpected after the rush of new wave R&B that 1999 mostly consisted of.
Prince received his first Grammy nomination for the closer and mile-high club crooner “International Lover” in the category of Best R&B Male Vocal Performance. 1999 is #163 on Rolling Stone Magazine’s 500 Greatest Albums of All Time.
Thank GAWD I was smart enough to cop an original vinyl pressing of Purple Rain (from Northampton, Massachusetts’ Turn It Up record store) when I saw it in discounted bin for $3 years ago! I know a classic when I see it!
Following the only year he didn’t release an album in the ’80s (1983), in 1984, Prince evolved as one of the biggest stars in the world through Purple Rain. The project would serve as his swan album. It was revered on arrival as a magnum opus and was also the soundtrack to his feature film debut of the same name. The film was equally as big a hit at the box office. Thus, the summer of 1984 was the summer of Prince.
An extremely experimental effort and at nine tracks total, the album was recorded at studios in Minneapolis and Los Angeles, as well as live on stage. Purple Rain is remarkable. From the somber ballad of “The Beautiful Ones”, the overzealous (and the reason we have the Parental Advisory sticker) “Darling Nikki”, the dynamic “Computer Blue”, to the groundbreaking bass-free “When Doves Cry”, you’d be trying why to hard to not appreciate this music masterpiece.“I Would Die 4 U.”
The band the Revolution also shined and were pop stars in their own right during this era (especially the two female bandmates, the awesomely tagged Wendy & Lisa). The line-up had slightly changed by then, as Dez Dickerson and Andre Cymone had left.
Credited as Prince and the Revolution, Purple Rain is regularly included on “Best Of” lists, including Rolling Stone Magazine’s 500 Greatest Albums of All-Time at #76, and Entertainment Weekly‘s New Classics: Top 100 Best Albums of the Past 25 Years, at #1. In 2012, it joined the Library of Congress’ National Recording Registry , for being “culturally, historically, or aesthetically important”.
Amazingly, it lost to Lionel Richie‘s Can’t Slow Down at the 1985 Grammys for Album of the Year, but did win two awards, including Best Rock Vocal Performance by a Duo or Group.
There are plenty of essays and books that feature the history of how Purple Rain was created, including Alan Light’s Let’s Go Crazy. In 2009, SPIN Magazine published a cover story for the 25th anniversary that featured an oral history of the making of the film with the Revolution and director. It’s a pretty great read. Check it out…here!
Below is fan upload of the eight-minute version of “Computer Blue.” It was shortened to 3:59, from its original twelve minutes, for the 1984 release. (I can’t even begin to explain the emotions I feel when the breakdown kicks in at 2:30 on the LP version. For the extended, it’s 3:18).
Around the World An A Day
The album that features your favorite worst boss ever, Mr. McGee, Around the World In A Day feels a bit dry after the commotion of Purple Rain. But it’s not a bad album or boring at all. It’s actually one of his most complete works and obtains a likable ease.
Said to be inspired by the late 1960s flower children era and George Clinton (and possibly indirectly, the Beatles, though Prince downplayed the reference in his 1985 Rolling Stone cover story. Nonetheless, he appreciated the band’s Sgt. Peppers time frame), In A Day is remembered for containing the delightful “Raspberry Beret.” “Beret” remains heralded as one of Prince’s finest pop and songwriting moments. But there are some others tracks to note on his album too (such as the title track).
“Paisley Park” is unconventionally wistful for the rocker. It bears the title of what would be his compound just outside of Minneapolis and record label, Paisley Park Records, a subsidiary of Warner Brothers. It was written before the creation of Purple Rain, and as Alan Light revealed in his retrospective review, so were two other In A Day songs.
“Pop Life” is another clear highlight, but despite the airy use of the bass guitar, it lyrically confronts the issues of everyday people and does so in a tone that crossfaded between sarcastic and defeated:
“What’s the matter with your life
Is the poverty bringing U down?
Is the mailman jerking U ’round?
Did he put your million dollar check
In someone else’s box?
Tell me, what’s that underneath your hair?
Is there anybody living there? (Anybody living there)
What U putting in your nose?
Is that where all your money goes (Is that where your money goes)”
I really liked the one line of : “Was it a boy when you wanted a girl?”
Some critics have made it a point to mention “Tambourine” (it is amusing how Prince playfully compared a vagina to a tambourine. Sometimes I CAN’T with the sexual innuendo), but I found “Temptation” just as memorable. The intro of the guitar rips and anticipated with an fervor that more exciting than fearful. And Eddie M. is featured on saxophone. Mid-way through the pseudo-candle light jam, Prince screamed and shrilled about vices, most of which leaned towards the sexual and sensual.
It’s a tad laughable when he coos: “I’m not talking about any ol’ kind of temptation, people, I’m talkin’ about, I’m talkin’ about… sexual temptation.” (Surprise, surprise).
What secured it as a notable from this album, for me, was the ending:
I’ll be good.
This time, I promise,
Love is more important than sex.
Now I understand.
I have 2 go now.
I don’t know when I’ll return.
There’s a delicacy to Parade, the soundtrack to his second film Under the Cherry Moon, that none of his albums had before. Taking on what I felt to be a conceptual combination of French leisure, 1960s-early 70s Manhattanite style, and the Jazz Age, apparently no one saw Cherry when it was released three months after Parade. But everyone damn sure knew the first lead single “Kiss”, another insta-classic upon radio waves and video airplay. Another bass-free gift from Prince, it also gave us one of his most iconic videos ever.
But “Kiss” is much later in the album, and there are fantastic songs up to it. I selected “New Position”, “I Wonder U” which is sung entirely by Wendy, and the clear ensemble of “Girls & Boys.“
The uppity “Life Can Be So Nice” I didn’t hear coming and loved. “Venus di Milo” is a really pretty instrumental that introduced the extremely funky pop of “Mountains” that was originally conceived by Wendy & Lisa. “Anotherloverholenyohead” is shamelessly ’80s R&B and could’ve been sung by the likes of a Jody Watley or any hot R&B/soul group of the decade. It was nice to hear Prince in such an element again. Susannah Melvoin, Wendy’s twin sister and Prince’s at the time fiancee, provided background vocals on it.
Parade crossed the finish line with “Sometimes It Snows In April.” A tearfully sincere tune about letting go. It’s become a flag of sorts for Prince fans since his death. Coincidentally, he died in April and days shy of Parade‘s 30th birthday.
D’Angelo and the Prince cover band Princess sung the track on The Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon in tribute the days following the shocking news. It was beautifully done.
“Sometimes it snows in April
Sometimes I feel so bad, so bad
Sometimes I wish that life was never ending,
But all good things, they say, never last
All good things, they say, never last
And love, it isn’t love until it’s past”
At twelve songs, Parade was a splendid package. (It borders on cute, which warrants my use of the word “splendid”!) But sadly, it would be the last project that involved Prince and the Revolution.
Sign o’ the Times
My bias towards Sign o The Times is justified by the unanimous agreement that the double album is one of Prince’s greatest works. My personal ties to it aren’t just that it was released in my (1987!) but also that the lead single of the same name was unveiled in February (my birth month!)
Following the disbandment of the Revolution, Prince still had a band when it was time to take Times live. They just didn’t have an official name. The new roster included dancer and singer Cat Glover and percussionist extraordinaire Sheila E. Only Dr. Fink, from the Revolution, remained with Prince, until 1991. By then, the New Power Generation, Prince’s other known band, were assembled.
Times was the result of three albums that were already in process prior to 1987: Camille, Crystal Ball, and Dream Factory. Post-Revolution and Warner Brothers’ cry to not release three albums or a three-disc set, Prince got to cutting which tracks would make it on one album.
I found Times to be Prince at his artistic peak. There’s nothing flashy or overtly colorful about the album, which is not to say those attributes can’t or don’t constitute as “artistic”. Instead, there was a steadiness and matured confidence in the sixteen tracks of blended bluesy rock and woozy, cultured rhythm and blues. At this point in his career, and he was 29 years old at the time, Prince had nothing to prove and the art that came from this calm expressed that.
From Disc 1, I had on repeat “Housequake”, the quietly sexy “The Ballad of Dorothy Parker” (LOVE), the coffeehouse aura of “Starfish & Coffee”. Prince completely got his Luther Vandross-on in the serene “Slow Love.” It’s one of his most genuinely romantic songs ever. And it displayed that the artist had come along nicely since the days of “Head.” (Oh, but he’d return to form for “Cream” in 1991).
FUN FACT: The video for “Sign of The Times” is one of the first lyric-only clips in music videos.
The electric guitar smoke of “Hot Thing” is very “Hot Child in the City” and the first break on Signs given to the licentious. The second time was for the most commercial track on Times, the absolutely I will never get enough of pop-rock fantastic track of, “U Got The Look”.
Featuring Sheena Easton, the back and forth between the two contained sly lyrics that bordered on cheesy and hit the nail on carnal instinct head jusssst right (“Your body’s heck-a-slammin‘. If love is good, let’s get to rammin'”). The production experimented with the level and speed of vocals, most noticeable through Prince, who interjected his Camille tone off and on.
Then there’s “If I Was Your Girlfriend” a track that still blows my mind. Prince sang from the man’s perspective but of a man that’s imagined if the roles were reversed and what he would do for his “boyfriend” if he were the “girlfriend.” The flirtation of gender role-playing here (he again sang via Camille) has been noted as one of Prince’s most distinctive tracks. It was covered by TLC for their eventual diamond-selling CrazySexyCool in 1994. And Beyonce interpolated the second verse from “If I Was Your Girlfriend” for her cameo on Jay-Z‘s “’03 Bonnie & Clyde.”
For a title that reads as “I Could Never Take the Place of Your Man”, the beat of the song is unexpectedly rosy. On “The Cross” Prince’s voice is raw and sounded gorgeous in its acoustic-like setting. (It musically foreboded the rise of grunge in the 1990s.0
The last two tracks were live, “It’s Gonna Be A Beautiful Night” (yes) and “Adore.”
Sign O The Times is perfect. Nearly regarded as high as Purple Rain, Times is included on Rolling Stone’s 500 Greatest Albums of All Time at #93. Has scored a rating of ten on Pitchfork, and was nominated for Album of the Year at the 1988 Grammy Awards alongside Michael Jackson’s Bad and Whitney Houston‘s Whitney. (U2‘s The Joshua Tree won the top prize. At least Times lost to an album just as stunning).
In September 1987, Prince delivered his first MTV Video Music Awards performance, giving the crowd “Sign o The Times” and “Play in the Sunshine”. He would be back to bare his backside to the audience for the 1991 VMAs during “Gett Off.”
There was a concert film for the album, that briefly played in theaters in the early winter of 1987. It is extremely hard to find and it essentially out of print. It’s praised by critics as a must-have and see for anyone that loves Prince. Some of even appointed it better than Purple Rain. (But let’s be real here. The Rain concert scenes were amazing. But nobody was watching it for Golden Globe caliber acting).
You can thank me later and however watch the Sign O the Times film through this link because Google search is sometimes our bestest friend.
For too long, I thought what was the actual cover of Lovesexy was a poster from one of Prince’s many photo shoots. It’s one of the most memorable images of his career, but I still come across very little about Lovesexy. The rap-lite, pop-funk “Alphabet Street” from the album is on The Very Best of Prince and critics love to single it out as the best song from Lovesexy. One commentator did just that in the film Prince, The Glory Years: A Documentary Review. I completely disagreed with his assessment that Lovesexy overall was “an album that didn’t know what it wanted to be. Thank God for Alphabet Street. You have one great track that saves it and gives him oxygen for another year.”
So where were his ears during “Glam Slam” and “Anna Stesia”? For “Glam”, musically incorporated were the unusual mix of grand strings and a bass guitar. And was lyrically built on the old, naughty saying of “Wham, bam, thank you, ma’am” (basically: thank you for the quickie.) I particularly liked the chorus where the sound pounded exponentially and Prince’s vocals somehow still projected him as shy.
“Anna Stesia” is moody and dark, and the cavalier vibe is sexy. Prince sang in a slight slur and even interjected some spoken word. The closing chant included “God is love.” It’s an unbeloved track that would’ve been raved about if it was on Purple Rain.
I equally noticed “Dance On” and the sanguine “I Wish U Heaven.” On the title track he unleashed “New power, new power, sing to me…” hinting at the later formed New Power Generation band.
Lovesexy‘s purpose in the Prince discography was to intermix God and spirituality with romance, sex, and enlightenment. I get that it wasn’t Dirty Mind. But the songs that are good here, are pretty great. For this album, he returned to touring the U.S. and the while the albums weren’t through the roof, the tour was successful and remains one of his most highlighted.
On the original pressing of the album, the nine tracks run in a continuous manner.
And here we are. Prince finished off the 1980s with an entire soundtrack to the first film adaptation of the iconic comic book character Batman. Destined to be a blockbuster (which it was), Batman was an 180 for Prince in that he dug into his humorous, let’s have fun side. He even acted out his own take on Batman and the Joker for videos “Batdance” and “Partyman.” I was two years old in ’89 and remember the shout out of “Batdance!” on the lead single, as well as the excitement over the movie. (My family has the movie taped on a VHS. ’til this day my mother doesn’t know why because she didn’t care for the movie).
The chaotic “Batdance” is actually my least favorite on the album (!) but an A.V. Club retrospective article on the soundtrack shared its soft spot for the soundtrack as a whole. Steven Hyden wrote: “Nevertheless, ‘Batdance’ is better than it’s remembered as being. The quotes from the film are integrated with intelligence and wit, Prince plays some excellent rock guitar, and the different sections of the song gel surprisingly well.” Hyden also viewed that in the years since Batman become a “novelty.” I too appreciate “Batdance” as a part of my 1989 memories, the year I began to comprehend popular culture. But I do prefer other tracks to it.
I liked the “The Future” but Prince sounding like a quasi-pastor when he repeated the title, towards the end, got annoying. “Electric Chair” is a stand-out. And “The Arms of Orion” is mushy, but I’ll always jump to hear Prince and Sheena Easton together on a track (Okay. I still cringe when I hear “Sugar Walls”).
“Partyman” I slightly jam to despite myself. “Vicky Waiting” is pleasing but plain. (If you listen closely, there are shades of Terrence Trent D’Arby’s superior “Wishing Well”). “Trust” is a B-side in hiding from 1999. The clean mellow melodic trail of “Scandalous” is commendable.
Agreeing and wanting to do the Batman soundtrack was the equivalent of quick cash for Prince. Being directly tied to a huge movie, the LP sold eleven million copies and had him back on top, commercially. Those of us from or familiar with the ’80s, we’ve held on to “Batdance” and Batman easily for the nostalgia.
Stay tuned for Part 2!