I know that this is a series of "favorite" albums but I think that I should call it my top 10 most influential albums. The albums on this list of mine did not only shape my formative years as a young musician but also influenced the way that I showed up in the world. "1999" comes in third on my list.
Look, Prince was to my 12-year-old self in 1982 what Bruno Mars or Beyonce is to kids of a similar age today. I'm certainly not comparing their talents but the extent of their popularity. And, its really worth mentioning that although "1999" makes the list it's also everything happening in MPLS; The Time, Vanity 6...the first glimpses into the Purple Universe, like the Marvel Universe with a 23-year-old Prince at the helm.
"1999" to Prince from the garage rock of "Dirty Mind" to (then) high-tech electro funk and threw off the shackles of the 3-minute pop song. "1999", an 11 song double album doesn't have a song on it under 4 minutes but rarely was I even close to bored. Songs like "Automatic", "Let's Pretend We're Married" and "International Lover" spoke loudly to my curious adolescent self while "D.M.S.R", "Lady Cab Driver" and "All the Critics Love You in New York" attracted the budding young funkateer.
Since I'm a bass player and you may be reading this directly from my blog I should mention something about the role "bass" plays on this record. It's almost more about the way bass isn't played. The bass is a sound or feeling supplied either by the bass guitar or synth and is never on display. Nothing is ever on display save for vocals. Everything other sound is a support player in a larger story. Take a song like "1999" where you only hear the groove in solid lock with the kick from on beats 1 & 3, the same on "Little Red Corvette". "Lady Cab Driver" is a great example of that MPLS "rumble" where the percussive aspect of the bass, the 'non-notes' are what make it so greasy, so funky. What isn't played is just as, if not more important than what is!