Monday, 24 September 2018
Prince - Prince (1979)
Released October 1979
Recorded in Burbank, California
Recorded and released three or four years before Prince seriously broke big, this is actually one of my favourite albums of his. Firstly, despite not being remastered (as is the case with most of his albums, unfortunately) the sound quality is excellent - good stereo, nice warm bass sound, no overwhelming tinniness.
The album, his second, is an appealing collection of disco-funk tracks, characterised, of course, by Prince's unique vocal style and, as was to be his thing, some searing electric guitar parts in amongst the disco/funk rhythms. Check out the guitar on "Why You Wanna Treat Me So Bad?" for evidence. Great stuff. "I Wanna Be Your Lover" is an excellent, catchy song that was a hit in the USA but nowhere else, surprisingly, as it is a good one. I guess it didn't fit in the UK at the time, with all the new wave/ska/post punk material dominating the charts. Disco had been and gone and funk was not hitting the charts yet. In many ways, the material on this album was several years ahead of its time. Songs like this would have been hits by 1983-84. "Sexy Dancer" is an infectious and lively funk number, while "When We're Dancing Close And Slow" is a slow-tempo, piano-driven smoocher. "I want to come inside of you...I want to hold you when we're through...". Saucy old Prince starting early as he meant to continue. He always got away with it too, even in those far more draconian times, censorship-wise.
"With You" is another ballad, with Prince sounding for all he's worth like Michael Jackson from the same era. "Bambi" has Prince strapping on his guitar again for some excellent, buzzsaw riffs on the intro. One thing I never understood about Prince was that many people in the eighties and nineties and beyond who were into him would never listen to electric guitar-driven rock music at all, yet they loved Prince, and, at times, he seriously rocked out. They probably didn't listen to this album, however, as it went under the radar, even for those who latched on to him when he became massive. For me, there is a edgy rawness to it, showing an artist who had no idea whether he would make it truly big or not.
"Still Waiting" is a mini-masterpiece of sensual seductiveness wrapped up in seventies-style soulful melody. A bit of jazzy piano floats around in it too. "I Feel For You" is a slice of the effortless funk lite that he would have such success with in a few times. There is a great trumpet interjection in it at one point. Heaven only knows why this wasn't a success in 1979, I guess it just didn't fit at the time. "It's Gonna Be Lonely" is a sublime piece of laid-back sweet soul. Good album. It needs more credit.