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Saturday Deluxe / 23 April 2016

babythatwasmuchtoofast

When big brands ‘pay their respects’ to musicians or other artists who have died, in print or online, it’s normally an occasion to roll your eyes – and can often border on the crass – but this ‘ad’ that Chevrolet ran on Friday in the Minneapolis Star Tribune, The New York Times, the Detroit Free Press, the Los Angeles Times, and USA Today after the shock news about Prince, was brilliant and very moving. It’s perfect and says everything in six short words – words written by Prince, of course, in Little Red Corvette.

Because it really was too fast. No one should die at 57 and as has been said by so many commentators, we are left to wonder what could have been. Unlike Michael Jackson, who never really looked likely to produce anything approaching his best work in the last 15-20 years of his life, there was always that feeling with Prince that he really was capable of that, if he wanted to do it. Sure, his output was frustratingly variable, but there were still some fantastic songs and albums in later years – you just had to be willing to search them out.

Who would have thought that after the under-promoted The Rainbow Children from 2001 and a few years of messing around with instrumental albums (Xpectation, N.E.W.S.) Prince would go on to have his biggest hit album since 1991’s Diamonds and Pearls with Musicology? In fact, for a while, it really looked like the ‘old’ Prince was back because he followed up Musicology with 3121, in my opinion, an even better album (he did also issue a couple of download-only albums in between – The Chocolate Invasion, anyone?)

3121

3121 was another album with a decent front cover (not some computer graphic generated abomination) that was distributed by a major label (in this case Universal). Most importantly, it was another ‘tight’ 12-track long-player with some brilliant tunes and arrangements that echoed some of his best work from the past, like the title track, Black Sweat, Love and The Word. Fury even features some 1999-style synths. In fact, if you ‘gave up’ on the purple one in the mid-nineties I’d highly recommend you start with 3121 – I’ll put my neck on the line and state that it’s a better ‘listen’, as an album, than Diamonds and Pearls, despite the latter’s high points of Gett Off and Money Don’t Matter 2 Night.

Much of this good work was rather undone in the following years with Prince giving away Planet Earth (2007) and 20Ten (2010) in the UK with national newspapers. Probably financially rewarding for him, but as usual anything ‘free’ tends to be rather undervalued and just having a disc in a cheap card wallet wasn’t exactly satisfying. Released between those two, Prince reverted back to his penchant for issuing triple albums and the confusing Lotusflow3r three-CD package came out, where fans were force-fed a Bria Valente long-player. Inevitably, hidden amongst the hours of music was some great stuff.  Check out Colonized Mind from Lotusflow3r, for instance. 

Like many in their mid-forties, I first got into the music of Prince via the singles 1999 and Little Red Corvette. I’m not sure how 1999 failed to be a top ten hit in America, but those songs were absolutely massive in the UK (both peaked at number two). I was young, I had no idea about which albums the songs were from, but I just remember every ‘new’ Prince single I heard on the radio or saw on Top of the Pops was AMAZING. We ‘skipped’ a few singles from 1999 here in the UK, so Prince’s run of 45s were as follows: 1999, Little Red Corvette, When Doves Cry, Let’s Go Crazy, Purple Rain, I Would Die 4 U, and Take Me With U. Unbelievable. Thirty-five years later their power remains undiminished. Big choruses, superb melodies, and amazingly creative arrangements. The funny thing was, I wasn’t really buying his music at this point, just absorbing it through radio and TV (perhaps bizarrely, I think the first Prince single I bought was the rather forgotten Mountains from Parade).

A bit like David Bowie, whose commercial breakthrough came with his fourth album, I would later discover that Prince already had a long history and had himself issued four albums, starting with 1978’s For You. I would explore that music much later, since there was hardly time to pause for breath as Prince released a new album every year for most of the 1980s.

The creativity was like a tap that couldn’t be turned off. Prince didn’t fall into the trap of trying to create ‘commercial’ albums designed to outsell previous efforts, rather he followed his instincts and did whatever the hell he wanted.

To that end, 1985’s Around the World in a Day was issued without a lead single and was more experimental and ‘psychedelic’ than previous efforts, as the colourful cover reflects. It was hardly Neither Fish Nor Flesh though, and still sold more than 7m copies worldwide and boasted a big hit single in Raspberry Beret. It has to be said that it did do much better in America, with the UK rather resistant to the charms of the singles, especially Pop Life, which should have been a much bigger hit than it was (it peaked at number 60).

Prince was a bit like those businessmen who say that you need to be prepared to fail in order to succeed. He seemed almost unbothered by failure, so while his second film, Under A Cherry Moon flopped badly, he just shrugged it off and had a massive worldwide hit single with Kiss from the ‘soundtrack’ album Parade. Kiss was deservedly a number one in America and hit the higher reaches of the charts almost everywhere, but the other singles from the record, in particular Mountains and Anotherloverholenyohead, weren’t big hits at all. No matter, Parade is wonderful and was justifiably acclaimed. It contains the now poignant piano ballad – and fan favourite – Sometimes It Snows In April.

signothetimesPrince was so prolific, had such a high profile, and was producing such interesting work, that he was firmly in ‘what’s he going to do next territory’. A new album was a major event.

However, this was the 1980s; no internet and no rolling news coverage. I remember walking into HMV in London one day and seeing this import cassette single (left) on the shelves in the Prince section. Yes, there was an era when the first time you’d know about a single was when it was sitting on the shelves waiting to be bought. No ‘pre-order’, no three months of being bombarded with information via ‘social channels’ – just a new product on the shelf which, when you saw it, would result in that momentary ‘fizz’ of anticipation, because you were having to process so much exciting information at one time. In this case: 1. Prince has a new single out. 2. It’s not off the old album, it’s brand new. And 3. It’s right in front of me and I can and buy it right now and play it when I get home! It also looked cool – with its groovy typography and the mysterious use of the CND (peace) symbol.

Like many people, I consider Sign ‘O’ The Times to be Prince’s best album. It just has everything, including the stunningly good lead single, with its brilliant lyric, full of social commentary. The album jumps around in terms of styles but it’s never to its detriment – it even has a 9 minute live track on ‘side 4′ of the record (It’s Gonna Be A Beautiful Night), which, on paper, sounds like a terrible idea. It’s one of the few double albums that should be a double, and is also an advert for being A&R’d by a major label, because Warners’ commercial instincts, in insisting that Prince reduce his proposed Crystal Ball three-LP set to a double, was spot on.

Lovesexy’s Alphabet St. was arguably the last brilliant single of Prince’s ‘imperial’ phase, but while the albums in the 1990s got patchier, the singles could still impress. Thieves in the Temple, Gett Off, Sexy MF, Money Don’t Matter 2 Night, Letitgo, and The Most Beautiful Girl In The World aren’t bad when you’re supposedly past your peak!

Prince’s single-mindedness was largely a positive force, but his name-changing and power struggles with Warners was something of a distraction and hurt him commercially. His fantastic duet with Nona Gaye, Lovesign could have been another massive hit on the back of The Most Beautiful Girl In the World, but the major label (not unreasonably) refused to allow him to license it out to NPG (it was eventually issued on the 1-800 New Funk compilation and a remix can also be found on the 1997 Crystal Ball set).

The nineties were dogged by these kind of problems and albums bounced from grudging ‘contractual obligation’ efforts like Come and Chaos and Disorder to bloated sets like Emancipation. But, as discussed at the beginning of this piece, with all these distractions behind him, Prince’s output definitely improved in the following decade, particularly in the mid-noughties, even if it never really felt like he solved the problems in how best to release his music (major label, internet, independently, cover-mount CD, give it away at concerts etc.).

Prince will be remembered as an iconic superstar whose stature was matched by his talent and abilities. He was a virtuoso musician (master of all trades, jack of none) and an amazing and prolific songwriter. His music will endure and like so many greats before him (Beatles, Bowie, The ‘Stones) he produced his best work in his twenties. It is this output, in particular his run of albums from Purple Rain to Lovesexy, that secures his place at the table of the all-time greats.

So goodnight, Prince. I Wish U Heaven.

prince_heart

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85 responses to Saturday Deluxe / 23 April 2016

  1. Jerome says:

    Not just a single (good or bad) word about the Batman era? I kinda liked that album and the singles that came from it. It is a forgotten (or musically hated) period in Prince’s life.

    • David McCallum says:

      There is a good album of material across Batman and its singles. The Future (remix)/Electric Chair (remix) by Mark Moore and William Orbit is a great single. (And listen closely to William Orbit’s “Water from a Vine Leaf” mixes and you’ll hear a Prince grunt from this Guerilla Studios era.)

    • Carlton Fisher says:

      I’ve never understood the hate on Batman. Aside from “Batdance,” which is truly horrid, even if it was a huge hit, the album as a whole sounds like some of the most fun he had had in a long time. It’s a tight album with some great songs on it, and I would argue that “Electric Chair” deserves a place amongst the most revered of his tracks.

  2. Darren Briscoe says:

    First Bowie…now Prince. The pieces of my past fall away one by one. Prince was so prolific that there was always a new album to buy for my birthday. A new collection of wonderful songs to devour. Today is my birthday. I am 49. And there is no Prince album to look forward to.

  3. Ollie Carlisle says:

    I wish you didn’t have to keep writing these warmly personal and eloquent tributes to fallen legends but they’re a terrific and comforting read in these sad times. Nicely done, thanks Paul.

  4. pinkfloyd says:

    “…Purple Rain to Lovesexy”?
    No mention of 1989 Batman OST, Paul?
    Prince ended the 80s strongly with a better album than Lovesexy, I must add…
    It’s a well written tribute to the Purple One, nevertheless Paul

    • Paul Sinclair says:

      I definitely wouldn’t put the Batman album in the same league as those others, but I do like it. Especially enjoyed the US singles (Scandalous Sex Suite etc.)

    • Bert says:

      Batman is Prince on repeat, just a rehash of previous efforts (mostly Controversy and 1999) aimed at a large audience — hence the bland FM ballad “Arms Of Orion” and fairly mediocre attempts at dance tracks like “Lemon Crush”. It’s Prince aiming for a hit, and he’d reach the nadir of that with Diamonds And Pearls, a blatant attempt at having a massive hit album (hence the extensive world tour and the surprising amount of promotional efforts) in order to strengthen his negotiations with Warner Bros. for a new recording contract.

      • angeliczg says:

        “Lemon Crush” is one of my favourite Prince tracks EVER :) Funny how people have different views on music.

  5. Auntie Sabrina says:

    Darren Briscoe, HITNRUN Phase 2 has been postponed to May 6

  6. Straker says:

    The quality of that Chevrolet ad matched by the personal piece underneath.

    Never saw Prince in concert but I was at the HMV Oxford Street in the late eighties where he, Sheila E and The Revolution stopped traffic as they made a dressed-to-the-nines personal appearance to a heaving crowd. Weird to be stood just a few feet away from all of them – I was smitten with Sheila E back then, The Glamorous Life being a particular fave and she did not disappoint in person.

    • Paul Sinclair says:

      Thanks. Forget to point out in the piece that I saw Prince live during the Diamonds and Pearls tour and once more in 2007 in London when he did a warm up show for 02 at Koko in Camden.

  7. Dave Gilmour's Cat says:

    Nice piece. I am interested to hear recommendations of overlooked post-Lovesexy albums. I have heard some and they all have their moments. Planet Earth, for example, I recall as being pretty good in places. Likewise the ‘symbol’ CD. And agree about 3121. Was so disappointed by Graffitti Bridge and Batman. Anyone want to suggest some other high points?

  8. Chris says:

    Thanks Paul for this lovely essay. Although the sentence “[…] produced his best work in his twenties.” is such a massive slap in the face of every artist and a thesis we could have a huge debate about. :-)

    • Paul Sinclair says:

      It’s not meant to be a slap in the face. I don’t think it’s a particularly controversial thing to say – the hunger, passion and energy of youth, combined with a massive talent is hard to beat.

      • Ben in Colorado says:

        Like Stewart Copeland of the Police said (paraphrasing), “…it’s hard to retain that fire, anger, and passion of your youth once you own three houses.”

  9. bob says:

    That was a great read Paul, and in my opinion summed up his recording career brilliantly.

  10. Bert says:

    “Yes, there was an era when the first time you’d know about a single was when it was sitting on the shelves waiting to be bought.”

    Sorry, but that’s not true. Major singles like “SOTT” were promoted heavily on radio in the weeks before release, and getting the premiere of such a release was a major coup for a radio station. Same with albums, which were often previewed a week or more ahead of their release and getting those premieres was an even bigger deal.

    Matter of fact “SOTT” (the album) leaked a day before the radio premiere in Holland because a listener had bought a CD and had discovered it contained the wrong music: instead of whatever artist they’d wanted, it contained one of the discs of SOTT. He delivered the CD to TROS radio which broadcast on Thursday, and they played several tracks in their “CD Show” (yes, there was a special program dedicated to playing CD tracks!), which was one or more days before the official premiere of the album (which was promised to Veronica on Friday or another broadcaster on Saturday, IIRC).

    And “SOTT”-the-single got massive press attention anyway thanks to its cover featuring Cat Glover, who many mistook for Prince in a dress.

    • Paul Sinclair says:

      I was 17, still at school. Going about my daily life. Probably worrying about my A levels :) Yes, I listened to the radio, but the general point I was making was that looking around record shops was much more fun because you got so many more surprises.

      • gwynogue says:

        I agree. Hearing the song on radio or seeing the videoclip on TV is just airwaves from far away. It’s not the same as having it right in front of you. But finding the physical product instore and being able to hold it in your hot little hands was when the buzz really kicked in – especially when it was something you weren’t even aware of.

        Even just going to the record store was a buzz in itself – my teenage years (the 1990’s) were spent in a small country town, the closest I had to a record store was the petrol station or the electrical goods store, LOL. Their ranges were quite limited (although they still managed to give me a few surprises). The nearest proper record stores were 30-60 minutes drive away so it was a real day out, once or twice a month. You just didn’t know what you were going to find so it was an exciting adventure.

        gwynogue (the poster formally known as Gordon – I changed my name to avoid confusion with another Gordon)

  11. vikerii says:

    I have about 20 bands in my top 10. But Prince and the Beatles were always my top two. I never met him of course, but it was hard news to take on Thursday. His music was in my regular rotation. I can’t play any at the moment, but I will get back to it in time.

    @Jerome – I too liked the Batman soundtrack. For me, not so much Arms of Orion nor Lemon Drop, but the rest of it I liked a lot. Electric Chair is a fantastic track!

  12. Dave Gilmour's Cat says:

    I so wish I had bought all of those albums as they were released instead of thinking I could catch up later: a) because I wish I had followed his evolution more closely and b) because his death means that they are now selling for silly prices. For example, The Rainbow Children is selling for £81.79 on Amazon today. Presumably I will never now get a copy of that. Unless all of it gets reissued. How likely is that?

    • Paul Sinclair says:

      the reality is that reissues are now probably more likely that before his death… but that’s a whole other conversation.

      • gwynogue says:

        DG’s Cat – I know the feeling! I Even though I consider myself quite a fan, the issue of distribution methods* (‘internet-only’, ‘free-with-newspaper’, etc.) means I have a lot of gaps in my collection. Plus I’m not from the generation that visits their favourite artists/groups websites/fansites frequently or stays in touch with social media, so the added issue of little-to-no mainstream media promotion/publicity means there’s bound to be a lot more gaps that I’m not even aware of yet. Especially with an artist as prolific and productive as Prince.

        So as much as I respect Prince’s wishes and efforts to control/protect his output and legacy/estate, the ‘anorak complete-ist’ in me really wants to see a comprehensive reissue campaign with extras and unreleased. Even though it’s just to satisfy my selfish need to ‘fill the gaps’.

        *both artist/company and retail

  13. Lee Taylor says:

    LOVE “Mountains.” Definitely one of his most under-appreciated tracks.

  14. Auntie Sabrina says:

    Didn’t Warners give Prince the master tapes to his recordings? There was talk of a 30th Anniversary Purple Rain wasn’t there?

  15. PDS says:

    Great price of writing again. Perfectly pitched.

  16. DJ Control says:

    Yeah Paul that’s all spot on. Though my run of albums starts at 1999 to lovesexy. And eye just adore the 12″ of Mountains. Never really got into the NPG stuff. Thought he was trying too hard. So lucky to have seen him twice. Most recently on the Welcome 2 Australia tour in 2012. We got a three hour show with four encores. http://www.setlist.fm/setlist/prince/2012/brisbane-entertainment-centre-brisbane-australia-33dff0a5.html
    He then went to a local music venue for an after party jam. Such a prolific and hugely talented musician, his presence will be missed by the music world.

  17. WILLIAM ENGLAND says:

    I hope that ALL the major “record” labels (not that there’s many left) that monitor this super site take good note of how to engender good will from music lovers – that’s a really classy tribute/advert.
    Good on ya Chevrolet!

  18. Daniel says:

    Maybe my taste is unusual, but my favourite PRINCE song was and is “God”
    – b-side of “Purple Rain”.
    Paul you found very moving words in every article you write.
    I’m waiting now to see a Super Deluxe Edition of “Purple Rain” coming out
    with all full length and alternate versions. That would be great for 2016.
    Are there any studio versions of “Purple Rain” and “I Would Die 4 u” from 1983/84 ?
    Because on the album both songs were live recordings with overdubs.

  19. Randy Otto says:

    When I started working at Milwaukee’s legendary Radio Doctors record store in Nov ’79, there were 2 red-hot albums that Christmas season: Pink Floyd’s “The Wall” and the self-titled album from Prince, featuring the smash hit single “I Wanna Be Your Lover.” It goes without saying I was already familiar with one act, and the other I became familiar with VERY quickly, and I’m happy to say he was along for my entire ride at Radio Docs! Beautiful eulogy, Paul!

  20. fredpostman says:

    Lovely piece Paul;i my first Prince record was ‘I wanna Be Your Lover’ followed by ‘Sexy Dancer’ both on 12″ back in 1979,though afterwards i lost touch until the ‘1999’ album and then his tremendous run of albums and singles [with brilliant b sides..’Erotic City’ anyone?].
    For me the last consistent album was ‘The Gold Experience’,though all further albums had glorious moments,for instance ‘The One’ from ‘New Power Soul’ though promoed never received single status [a great video for it is on YouTube].and i’ve been listening to ‘HITnRUN Phase Two’ for a couple of months now and really enjoy it’.
    With his amazing cache of unreleased recordings i wonder what will happen now,though i personally would love a box set of cd singles of the original 12” singles from the 80s.
    ‘Sometimes It Snows In April’ …..

  21. Paul Kent says:

    Everyone should check out “The Rainbow Children” which is a phenomenal album and massively underrated. It’s a serious piece of work and makes no concessions to the hit parade, which was rare for Prince. Some of his best late-era material is here, particularly the trio of songs that close the album, “Family Name”, “The Everlasting Now” and “Last December”. Seek it out, it’s wonderful.

  22. Nick B says:

    Great piece of writing Paul about a great artist

  23. Anthony C says:

    There are more ‘unreleased’ Prince tracks in circulation than there are official releases.

    The unreleased material fills the gaps in between albums and helps with explaining the musical evolution and journey.

    There are more unreleased albums / configurations than there are released albums.

    He has to be the most prolific genius of all time….

    Velvet Kitty Cat leaked today in it’s full form shows Prince at his most playful.

    Having been a fan for 34 years, I’m going to miss him so very much.

    :-(

  24. asianwolf says:

    I saw Prince circa 10 times from ’88 to 2014. In 2002 I managed to get in with 30 other fan club members for a sound check in Manchester on the Rainbow Children tour. An incredibly generous and normal person. He knew his closest fans by name and on this particular evening there was a fan in a wheelchair that he knew by name, chatted with her for 5 mins or so and then took requests from us all during sound check. All of us being in the front 2 rows. We all got invited up on stage during the gig too…I didn’t go on stage. Bowie and Prince, both incredible artists that I had the fortune to meet and was not disappointed by meeting my idols.

  25. Mark says:

    Very nice piece Paul. Wasn’t a die hard fan but still had most of the 80 ‘s albums and The Hits set. no doubting his genius though and very sad to hear the news.
    Hopefully we might get a retrospective which shines more light on the last 20 years. As you said there’s a lot of good stuff there that the casual punter mightn’t be aware of.

  26. Robert says:

    Is my memory playing tricks, or didn’t 1999 fail to make the UK top 10 on initial release (peaking at #25) And LRC I think was a veritable flop (only reaching 54 on initial release and 66 on its first re-release). Once Purple Rain Mania had hit the UK, 1999/LRC was re-issued as a double-A-side that reached #2, finally. Although it really should have been #1. And I still remember ATWIAD being preceded by the single Paisley Park, which was a bigger UK hit than the follow-up, Raspberry Beret. Bizarrely. Agree that Pop Life was a criminally overlooked UK flop though. And post-imperial phase, I was totally in love with Emancipation, Kate Bush track et al.

    • Eric says:

      Robert, no you’re right….1999 and LRC only made #2 together as a UK-only AA-side release in Jan 1985, to make the most of the Purple Rain success. The run of Purple Rain singles here was: When Doves Cry, Purple Rain, I Would Die 4 U, and then after the 1999/LRC release, finished up with Let’s Go Crazy/Take Me With U (they were issued separately in the US, about 6 months apart!). It really was a strange campaign on this side of the pond. And then Around The World landed in the shops one Monday morning in late April, with no lead single! Paisley Park only got issued a few weeks later (and weirdly took an age to reach #18).

      In the US it felt like he could release anything and go top 3 at that time. That appearance of ATWIAD on the shelves remains the single biggest buzz I ever had in a record store…new Prince, from nowhere, with no idea what it might sound like. Never mind, let’s buy it, take it home (poring over the sleeve and lyrics on the bus back) and find out!

  27. Robert says:

    And the Mark Moore/Wliiam Orbit remix of Electric Chair just might be the Best Thing Ever!

  28. Mike says:

    Bar the imperious phase, still fond of Symbol, Chaos and Disorder, News, Musicology and 3121, and the last three albums had their moments. Every Prince album had something, even if they got more frequently patchy. Listening to Dream Factory and Black Album today, wouldnt sell them even for the silly money theyre selling for currently.

  29. elliott buckingham says:

    he also had some of the best b-sides that could have been big hits in their own right

  30. patjoller says:

    I definitely gave up after the gold experience, but your article made me wanna investigate some of his later work. Will try to avoid most of them though….

  31. Brian says:

    Any ever hear his album N.E.W.S.? probably his most experimental

    • Paul Kent says:

      Love that album, Brian. If you like N.E.W.S. you should listen to Xpectation, C-Note and the two Madhouse albums.

  32. RJSWinchester says:

    1999 and Little Red Corvette did indeed reach No.2 in the UK but only when re-released together as a double A-side in January 1985, following the success of Purple Rain.

  33. RJSWinchester says:

    Every album Prince released after Lovesexy was average or below but in the eighties… Wow, some of the best albums imaginable. I still remember saving up to buy his pre-Purple Rain albums on cassette at £6.99 each, a not inconsiderable amount of money in 1985. I bought all the 12″ singles from Purple Rain, Around the World in a Day, Parade and Sign ‘O’ the Times and a few cassingles from Sign ‘O’ the Times and Lovesexy (including the import shown above). Some great B-Sides, particularly 17 Days, Erotic City and She’s Always In My Hair. I first saw Prince when a clip of the 1999 video was shown on Entartainment USA. The whole image and sound was amazing and when When Doves Cry was released the following year it just confirmed that Prince was a Bona fide superstar.

    I expect there will be Deluxe Editions of his Warners albums at some stage but probably not his non Warners stuff. Favourite five albums (in order): Dirty Mind, Sign ‘O’ the Times, Around the World In a Day, Parade & Purple Rain.

  34. PC says:

    A lovely piece, Paul. You are correct about walking into a record shop and seeing something new. It can even happen today, although it’s more likely to be a new band on a trusted label than from a band you’re already aware of. But it can still happen with artists you’re already a fan of too. A few years ago I was in my local record shop in Sydney and came across the deluxe edition of Matthew Sweet’s Girlfriend. I had no idea such a thing existed and bought it immediately.

  35. Thorsten says:

    I worked as local crew in the 80’s at the Parade concert – i was at the backstage entrance. Prince arrived with his crew, went in right in, in front of me and i asked my colleague: “Now where is Prince?” He said: “It was the little kid in the middle, didn’t you notice?” Ahhh shhh… nope i missed him :( I was a big fan in the 80’s, lost interest in the 90’s and since ONA i’m a big fan again. Just watched the Purple Rain concert on DVD.
    I have the feeling i’m in a bad dream. I hope i will wake up soon!

  36. Robert says:

    Thanks for writing this Paul.

    I really enjoyed reading it and the following comments and conversations.

  37. David says:

    Two of my favourite Prince albums are Come and Emancipation, from 94 and 97 respectively. In many ways I’ve enjoyed his 90s output more than his 80s and 00s.

  38. Fat Old Bloke says:

    I feel Prince was at his peak in the 1980s however, quite a few of those classic songs from that era used the same drum machine sounds over and over again that made them less musically compelling in my opinion. Imagine if he’d used acoustic drums rather than those 1980s electric drums. Listen to any Sly Stone classic songs or James Brown in comparison.

  39. Tman says:

    RIP PRINCE
    A loss to this world,

    P.s. I own a little red corvette.

  40. Ronald says:

    I just hope that the record companies respect the legacy Prince has left us and not go pumping out re-issues just to make a quick buck. I’m, almost, sure we had gotten a Purple Rain re-issue at some point, if that happens let’s hope it is done in his memory. Same with his other albums of course but still this is the one I’m looking forward to the most. If it ever happens……..RIP

    • Paul Sinclair says:

      I don’t welcome Prince’s passing (obviously) but I do think an environment *may* exist in the near future where his superb body of work can be represented and reissued without some of the roadblocks that may have existed. Think about how Stanley Kubrick stubbornly refused to allow the release of “A Clockwork Orange”, theatrically or on VHS/DVD, in the UK. He enforced that right up to his death. But once he was gone his estate took a different view and it was issued. I think there may be parallels with Prince and his body of work, but we shall see.

  41. Mike Bushell says:

    I’m still absolutely stunned by Prince’s passing. Sorry to say he meant far more to me than Bowie.

    When the Sign O The Times single was first played on Radio 1, I heard it on my car radio and had to stop the car. I really couldn’t believe it -a completely new way to sing a social reclaim message and to protest.

    Absolute genius

    • Paul Sinclair says:

      You don’t have to apologise about who means more to you – Prince was a phenomenal artist.

  42. Matt Charles says:

    Thanks Paul, good to read something from a music lover,… not a news agency Wikipedia cut and paste…

  43. baward says:

    Virtually unmatched brilliance in his field, perhaps only David Bowie produced such a varied and fantastic set of recordings over his short life.

    My only caveat is that I think the drum machine he used to death in the 80’s (a Linndrum) became a little irritating to listen to after a while. I’d have so much sooner he used a real drummer, Sheila E for example, than a machine. But such were the 80’s, SAW even credited it as a band member on most of the records that they produced :-)

  44. Kauwgompie says:

    Paul,
    Thanks for that beautiful tribute. I missed the ad and i have to agree that t’s beyond brilliant. You did not write anything about what’s next for the Prince catalogue. Yes, too early, I know. He had no wife, no kids so someone in his extended family (probably, unless he has a will saying otherwise) is going to be very lucky. Are they going to issue deluxe versions? Are his out of print albums going to be re-issued? Boxsets? Unreleased tracks? Of anyone dying, Prince must be the one with the most unreleased tracks. And probably the most out of print albums (Gold, The Black Album, The Live Box) not to mention his side projects that are all out of print (The Family, Vanity 6, Appolonia 6, Madhouse, etc). The bog question is, who is going to be in charge and what is going to happen with all the things? Would be great to hear your opinion on this Paul, at some point.

    By the way, I thought Gold was his last truly amazing album. Love Symbol was outstanding too. Forget which one came last. From his post Warner albums, I thought Musicology, 3121 (never understood where that title came from) and 20Ten were best. I thought 20Ten had some really nice retro 1999-like synths on it. His absolute best, and my favorite album of all time, was Sign Of The Times. For years I kept hearing new stuff on that album. Every month I had a new favorite song from that album till I played it so often I now know every note, every word and every beat on that album. My fav song on that album now is “Doin’ It”. It has those brilliant lynn-sounding-drums halfway in the song till the end. Since that never became a single, i never got sick of it. Thank you for giving us this all Prince, you will be missed and that is a massive understatement.

  45. Jason says:

    Gold Experience is one of the most overlooked great albums of all time! If it were re-released today it would outstrip all his post-Warners material. The title track alone should have been massive. Warner didn’t care as he was writing Slave on his face and wanted to leave. All of the albums post Purple Rain through Gold Experience need curated expanded remastered reissues and vinyl releases to accompany. They sure have a market now. Prince is Love…R.I.P.

  46. AlexKx says:

    REALLY?! Does one have to bash Michael Jackson in order to give accolades to PRINCE?! Prince was great but Michael was better. “Invincible” was one of his best studio l.p.s (eight years before he died) and he continued to record great stuff according to the people who worked with him. Have you heard just the demo of “Beautiful Girl” from 2004’s “The Ultimate Collection” box set?! That hands down is one his best songs and that isn’t even a finished version! Michael certainly figured out not to flood the market like Prince did if he was going to be mercilessly attacked even with U.S. and international number one hit l.p.s (ie.: “Invincible”) that would sell eight million copies (and by his death three million more copies with a worldwide total of eleven million) with his own record company sabotaging him.

    What I’d like to know is how well PRINCE is selling over seas? Or are you all too scared or incapable to find out?!!

  47. Straker says:

    “Does one have to bash Michael Jackson in order to give accolades to PRINCE?! Prince was great but Michael was better.”

    Your second sentence is guilty in reverse of what your first accuses others of. Ironic, no?

  48. David says:

    Paul, thanks for a great piece there. Around the world in a day hooked me, even though I had the singles from Purple Rain and the soundtrack and B-sides were awesome it was ATWIAD that really touched me. Great album, great B-sides, great concept, great artwork. It was a special time to be around saving my pocket money in anticipation of every Prince and related artist release between 1985-89. I remember my dad telling me when Sign of the times came out that he though it was a song people would talk about for years to come it was so unusual sounding to his ears. I fell away from his music in 1992 after I left high school although got to see him Live in 1995 in Glasgow at the SECC and again at the Garage for his small club show afterwords (the only one he ever did in Scotland). That will live with me as probably the greatest gig I have ever witnessed. I spent the weekend listening to alot of his music, both the classic 80’s aswell as his more recent outings. So sad on his passing. That ad says it all. Thanks again Paul

  49. gb says:

    thanks for writing this Paul. also thank you for reminding me about
    Mountains. had forgot all about it. loved it so much. still do. need
    to hear that 10 min version. only saw Prince live once in 1995 at NEC,
    that tour was mostly all new stuff (off the forthcoming album) so no
    big hits. I look at set lists now when he’s played all his big hits
    and can’t even imagine what that must have been like. wish I’d seen
    Lovesexy/Sign era gigs. also wish I’d gone to see him on the 21
    nights london gigs or the tour a few years back. there’s just
    always so many other things going on … and you always think
    there’s time. what I liked was that when I saw him it didn’t even
    bother me that it was all new stuff, I was just in awe watching him.
    so happy I saw that gig. nice memory haha, I’d sneaked in my camera
    and zoom lens (hey had to try and get some pics!) and was busy snapping
    away from row 15 when a security guard spotted me and whisked me away
    and made me hand over the film. makes me smile. now if I’d just got away
    with it, I’d have some Prince pics to look at right now ;) … the only way
    that whole scenario would have been better is *if* Prince would have
    spotted me taking photos ‘hey you!!!’ of course I would have been
    mortified (I already was when I was spotted) but it would have been
    something to look back at and really smile. I only ever bought one
    Prince album at the time (Diamonds and Pearls) but I kinda like that
    I have all these amazing songs and albums to catch up on. though I think
    it will also involve a lot of kicking myself about why I never bought
    them at the time/all the great gigs I could have seen.

  50. O(+> Peter B says:

    With the triple-CD comp The Hits/The B-Sides, every home should have one

  51. Ian Mears says:

    Dear SDE, it seems we’re a similar age and had similar access and attitude to music in the 80-85 period. I fell in love with Prince (eventually) because the most beautiful girl in the world was at my school. Susan loved him and told me I was wasting my time with Michael Jackson.
    I borrowed Around The World In A Day from the library and enjoyed half, thought some was odd, and hated a couple. I took it back to the library with Dexys Midnight Runners inside the sleeve and pretended to Susan that I’d bought it because I ‘definitely liked Prince. Always have’.

    Then came Parade.

    Up until now only a few artists had hit me hard. Lennon got shot when I was 9 and The Beatles had been everywhere. Radio, ‘papers and TV. 1980 was my 1964 and music became a part of my DNA. Beatles lead you to a lot of things, including of course Motown, so when Macca and Jacko sang a duet, I got introduced to contemporary soul/disco/pop. It wasn’t long before I got Off The Wall and was hooked on funky beats.

    Then Came Parade.

    My local record shop was Golden Disc, Southend-On-Sea. I still have their Parade 4ft Prince cut-out display. Waist up, black and white, short hair, midriff. No longer the Purple Rain/Raspberry Beret ‘soul-glow’ hair. What to make of this. By this point I’d got my nicked copy of ATWIAD and Purple Rain.
    He was odd, a guitar hero, psychedelic sometimes, poetic, and dirty. But Parade. Sometimes It Snows In April, Mountains, Do U Lie, Anotherlover.. and more. If people told me they liked Kiss I told them it wasn’t even the best thing on the album.
    I was too young to go to gigs, but all my money went on music. Now I had to work backwards, Dirty Mind, Controversy, For You, Prince, 1999 – B-sides and non LP tracks like Gotta Stop..
    The Beatles had made me a collector, but now I had someone bringing out new stuff that I could get on the day of release. And Susan was right…when Bad came out the same year as Sign Of The Times, I knew I didn’t have to choose between them anymore. There was only one And His Name Is Prince.
    That was also the year I discovered he would become frustrating to me. My mum called up the stairs. In The Mirror it was announced that Prince had cancelled the Sign Of The Time Wembley Stadium show. Me and some mates already had our peach and black outfits as requested. Who was to blame? Prince? The Council? Ticket sales? If only we’d popped over to Paris with one of those tour bus & ticket companies. As it was I didn’t breathe the same air as Prince until Wembley Arena LoveSexy, 88.

    In 1987 all I wanted to see was Prince, and had managed to get permission to get the ticket. Once it was cancelled I don’t recall any other concert appealing to me. But in 1988 I saw Jacko, Whitney, Prince, Mandela Day and started to go to some smaller gigs..Mica Paris etc. The live music bug was awakened.

    Having seen over 50 Prince concerts, I feel sorry for those that didn’t and never will get to see him. When you love an artist you can become critical, especially of one that set the bar so high. Sign Of The Times was the first of many cancelled concerts, Blenheim Palace was another. I didn’t love each new album more than the last like I’d got used to up until Batman and situations with his fan club, his website, his NPG Records only releases made things frustrating. There got to be a group of fans that were drinking the kool-aid down the front each show. They obliged when he said he was no longer Prince. You were either part of the NPG or you were against him. Marry up how hard it was to follow him with how much he seemed to want your money – at a time when guitar bands, especially in the UK were becoming exciting again – and I let Prince slip out my life a bit. I’d buy the albums and a song or two would be good. But he wasn’t the pioneer anymore.

    One thing I’m grateful for is that I never stopped getting a ticket to his tours. And thankfully being in London quite a few aftershows. Live was always a treat.

    What makes me the saddest is that I saw him twice just recently here in Sydney. He was brilliant. The Piano and a Microphone shows. It could have been him and a guitar, or him and bongos. He blew the crowd away time and time again. He was full of energy and humour and life. He made me reevaluate some mid 90s songs, he took me back to the 80s, he made me glad I was alive here and now and able to be part of his world, He made me cry. And now he’s made me cry again because I won’t see that smile or hear that voice or skip a heartbeat because I am getting into an aftershow and might be within feet of HIM.

    RIP and than you, the one and only Prince

  52. Randy Metro says:

    Too many comments to read thru and another from me.

    I thought Art Official Age and HitNRun Phase 1 & 2 were all Prince back in the saddle musically. I don’t think many artists in their 50’s have #1 albums unless they die, sadly. The kids today, just like we were at one time, are not going to be bothered with an older artist.

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