Review #326: Dirty Mind, Prince

#326: Dirty Mind, Prince

The line between profane and offensive is always changing. Prince picked it up and moved it himself.

Prince is so sex forward that you forget he’s a genius — he’s wearing a banana hammock on this album cover with a fully straight face. He’s the one with the “Dirty Mind,” but he forces you into having one as well, a perverse chicken-and-egg situation. I was prepared for Prince to tell me to “Do It All Night,” but I wasn’t expecting the Love you ’til your dead frankness of “Head” with collaborator Lisa Coleman. And “Sister” made even ME uncomfortable.

At the same time, I wouldn’t even call this incest-happy song “offensive.” Why? Something about his delivery. Maybe if Prince had a deep, cocksure voice, it would be nasty instead of lurid. But Prince sounds like a girl, on purpose. And his energy is so different than the love-you-and-leave-you attitude of Johnny or Merle or Jerry Lee. Album standout “When You Were Mine” is so, I don’t know, submissive Cyndi Lauper’s cover is more assertive. (Though I LOVE this version—he’s even playing my guitar.)

Rolling Stone calls this record his “first great album,” and says that “Uptown” is the first song where he dared to make a political statement. That’s probably true — you can almost make the statement out, under the Donna Summer beat. Again, Prince wasn’t just some horndog, he was brilliant, considered one of the greatest guitarists of all time. (RS ranked him #33.) See “Gotta Broken Heart Again” for an underrated slinky guitar part.

In fact, he basically recorded every single track on this album by himself, in a rented house in Minneapolis that was doctored up as a studio. The only song with any meaningful contribution is the title track, with Doctor Fink from the Revolution. Every time I get to “Partyup,” a true dance-punk fusion track, that’s all I can think about: the fact that Prince built himself a party all by himself, instrument by instrument, probably alone in his room. Honestly, as a writer, it really endears him to me.

Finally, after #323 and #325, it was nice to have an hour that was only half an hour long.

Review #325: All Killer No Filler!, Jerry Lee Lewis

Review #327: Live At Leeds, The Who

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