Category Archives: The Seventies (70’s)

As a teen, Prince shows off his immense musical talents and abilities. The world needed to know and Prince was determined to show us how good he was!

Prince Self Titled album

Prince (1979)

Prince Self Titled album


Prince “Prince” (1979)

Prince’s second album is self titled and a more polished piece compared to For You. For You was not a big seller, and Prince had a 3 album contract with Warner Brothers at the time, so this album appears to be an attempt at a more commercial set of songs. The outcome is a set of polished pop songs, big ballads and catchy funk tunes, fusing together his funk/rock/pop influences and using the sounds of the late seventies to good effect. It is also the first time he had full control over the production and composition of the album.

The album kicks off with “I wanna be your lover”, the catchiest song he has made at that point and the first single. This song is very commercial and was a hit on the R&B charts. It achieved Prince’s aim for some commercial success, and allowed him to experiment in other areas. This song is not my favourite, but it’s an important piece in Prince’s career progression. Many fans would have first encountered his music through this song. The most interesting part of the song for me is the second part, which (like For You’s “Just as long as were together”) has a funky, bassy disco ending.

The second song is very much more of the same, but with more of a rockier edge “Why you wanna treat me so bad” is perhaps a good insight to Prince’s “white” music influences, a very rock and radio friendly song except for the falsetto which doesn’t really go with the rock feel, but Prince at this time sang all his songs in falsetto because he felt more in “control” of his voice there was also the late 70’s falsetto disco/ballad classics (like Bee Gees, Chicago, etc) which were really popular at the time as well. “Why you wanna treat me so bad” is a taste of things to come in terms of Prince’s general rock direction, in a way it is quite similar to “Little Red Corvette” but in a falsetto voice and high heels. For me, the album really kicks off on the third song….

I wanna be your lover live..

 

“Sexy Dancer” is a real classic, this song to me is the first time he seems natural on a song. It is ahead of it’s time, super funky and yet again a taste of things to come. You can see how powerful Prince’s influence is in recent pop music (ie Timberland, Rihanna, Timberlake) and you can hear Sexy Dancer all over their records…

Listen 2 Sexy Dancer


The mood changes from funk to slow stuff with “When We’re Dancing Close and Slow”, this ballad is has a hypnotic piano charged tempo, and is as fragile as they come – it is sung in gentle falsetto and builds up pace as the acoustic guitar and drums blend in at the end. The song is sparse, but superb – with so little he achieves a lot and to my one of the best songs on the album. One of the criticisms of “For You” is that it appears to be a bit childish in parts, this song seems to be an attempt to quell this notion, as it is very much a mature and thoughtful song.

The second “side” of the LP, start off with another ballad – “With You” is the spiritual successor to “Baby”, it is sugar sweet, yet it is a really big ballad, that in years to come is covered by female artists. It’s almost as if Prince’s Diva lets loose on this song, it is in a way really camp and over the top – but it’s ultimately a great early ballad from Prince. Then there is a surprise in the next song – “BAMBI”, what a song, is a growling, screaming, rock funk song, that is very much the successor to “I’m Yours” in the For You album, however, this time he really get’s it right, bringing the noise and upping the tempo to tell everyone about a lesbian that he is not so much trying to seduce, but trying to convert into heterosexuality first (Prince doesn’t do things the easy way round). By saying it’s better with a man” he means it’s better with him, great fun, and really done with a tongue firmly in cheek.

The mood changes again for the next song, which sounds almost like country and western, in “Still Waiting”. It’s clear that Prince is still very much in an experimental mode trying to determine what his audience like best. He played all these songs in concerts too to gauge reception. The fact that he does very little country now, is a sign that “Still Waiting” wasn’t probably as well received as his other music. There are touches of country throughout his career, “Purple Rain” one of his greatest ever songs, could be sung by any country and western singer and it wouldn’t sound strange. “Right the Wrong” on his Chaos and Disorder record sounds downright country. All in all, “Still waiting” is OK, and a nice song which you could sing along to, not the most memorable song though..

But the lull doesn’t last too long, because the next song is one of Prince’s best – “I feel for You”. This song is a classic funk masterpiece, brilliantly covered in 1983 by Chaka Khan, and is one of the biggest selling songs of all time. You wouldn’t know it by listening to the version on “prince” as this version is failry low key (no Steve Wonder playing harmonica here ) but the falsetto of Prince is really much improved by the soaring voice of Chaka and the more modern dance beats of 1983. In any case, the structure of the song, the look and feel is still there – the bass line is amazingly funky and for this reason it still is a stand out on this record. If you are not sure whether to buy this record, “I feel for you” should be a compelling reason. One of the first song’s Prince wrote, he was playing it with his early bands as a youngster when he was only a guitar player (not the singer). The song was probably written when he was a teenager, in his bedroom, doing nothing one day – amazing!

(4 out of 5)


For You (1978)

Prince "For You"

For You (1978)


Prince’s first album and one of his best. He burst out on the scene in Minneapolis with this album – with brilliant elaborate works or complexity and simple ballads which give you a taste of things to come. Still finding his style, he gives us a bit of everything on this album. All the tracks are stand out tracks. The first song, “For You” is a multilayered falsetto introduction to the world of Prince and the music he wants to give to us. He really means it, and puts his all into this beautiful intro to the album. “In Love” is a sweeping second song with a real 70’s mid tempo disco feel to it.  It sounds like it is meant to be a commercial song and while it is catchy, it is not a classic – it is a short segue onto the albums most memorable song “Soft and Wet”.


Soft And Wet (Live) por Remiel27

Soft and Wet, apart from it’s kinky title is really the funkiest and most catchy song on the album. It best encapsulates the approach Prince would have over the next 10 years, sexually charged, sparse funky pop. It is a classic and still stands out on the record today. Soft and Wet is one of many styles on For You, but it is clear from listening to it, it is the most succesful approach, and a sign of things to come…. A classic. This doesnt mean that the album doesnt offer more greatness. The following tracks are all great songs in their own right.

“Crazy You” is a brief but sublime journey into Prince’s inner soul, with raindrop beats and rythmic 70’s acoustic guitar you could almost imagine yourself in a French suaret with a glass of scotch wearing a white turtle neck sweater. Theres one verse and one chorus, which are so brilliant that it makes for a disappointing listen (ie just when you are getting into it, it all ends so soon). Crazy You could be considered a throw away filler, but to me it’s a special peice of Prince legend.

“Just as long as were together” is one of the more ambitious songs, including a “dance” mix of the song at the end, which is as good as the song itself. “Baby” is a sugar sweet, song about responsibility and what seems to be the repercusions of teen pregnancies (in case (I guess) his condom breaks), which is out of the question, because he doesnt know how this could happen to a very careful man like him. Im sure he is careful, but considering the topic matter, the song is very grandious and perhaps a little immature, but its great fun to listen to and a masterpeice considering his age. The next song is “My love is Forever”, a swinging, light, and (ultimately) very catchy song. The song never gets boring and embodies “For You”, its innocence, the lightness and effortlessness all in one song. The ending of My love is forever, is about as funky as anything Prince has ever done.

The classics dont stop. The next song is another masterpeice, and like My love is forever, “So Blue” takes a few listens to truly appreciate its brilliance. How can I put this.. this song is a masterpeice, true and simple. The song is a blues song, where Prince bemoans lonliness and despair, he wallows in the the bleakness of it all. The song is perfectly structured, brilliantly sung, with all the heartfealt experience of someone 20 years older – it is a window to the genius that is Prince. The last song is “Im Yours” and in way the most impressive song on the album musically, but probably the least intersting in terms of lyrics and songwriting. It is basically a music fest where Prince shows off his guitar playing skills. It’s imbalanced, as if he was trying to catch up for the lack of guitar freakiness on the rest of the album – and who can blame him, it’s his first record and he may not have another chance to show the world all his abilities, the only time to get the world to notice – and boy did they….

“For You” was no commercial success, it is not a commercial record in that it takes a few listens to really get into. But once you do, you really get it, you realise this guy is a genius and this is only the start.

 

(4 out of 5)