Of course, there was going to be more Prince on my list....c'maaaaaahhhhn! Lovesexy is Prince at one of his most brilliant moments. His tenth studio album was released on May 10, 1988, just over a year after Sign O' the Times which received critical praise and a Grammy nomination for Album of the Year Coincidentally, the 30 year anniversary was a couple of days ago on May 10. Lovesexy was issued as a substitute record after the last minute cancellation of the infamous Black Album which was planned for release as a follow up to Sign O' the Times but wouldn't officially see the light of day for many years.Read More
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!
Day 2 - Top 10 favorite albums
Prince - Dirty Mind
I got the single “Uptown” as a gift in 1980 in a stack of 45s given to me by my auntie. This was the lead single from Prince’s third album, “Dirty Mind” which, in my opinion, marked the first real introduction to the Prince persona that the world would come to know throughout the 80’s.
It’s rock, it’s funk, it’s new wave. It was on the funkin’ edge, man. For me, the song “Uptown” fed into my imagination in a pretty profound way. The vision of a utopia where people were free to be who they wanted to be
“Now, where I come from we don't give a damn
We do whatever we please
It ain't about no downtown, nowhere-bound, narrow-minded drag
It's all about being free
Everybody's going uptown
It's where I want to be
This is, oddly enough - considering how funky bass playing was in this golden era - the first place I really feel like I noticed bass. I’ve credited this song as being the one that made me want to be a bassist which may be a bit of a stretch but it definitely had a profound impact on me.
“Dirty Mind” is indeed pretty out there for the times with songs like “Head” and “Sister” but it just isn’t about the dirty part. The grooves are insane. I mean absolutely insane. The rhythm playing is quintessential cake, pocket for days and days just the right amount of synth and guitar icing. I also think that this really marks the entrance of that rhythm guitar playing that has become so synonymous with the MPLS vibe particularly on “Party Up”. This album truly is “Revolutionary Rock & Roll”.
Still relevant lyric:
“Because of their half-baked mistakes
We get ice cream, no cake, all lies, no truth
Is it fair to kill the youth?