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May 01 2016

Prince, top 50, numbers 50 to 26

Prince-top-50-1

This is part 2 (of 5) of the memory of Prince, who passed away on April 21st 2016. Recently I compiled and published my album and concert top 50 lists. As a logical extension I compiled my top 50 (officially released) Prince songs. So in this post: numbers 50 to 26 (numbers 25 to 1 in parts 3 and 4). The top 50 doesn’t contain I Wanna be Your Lover, Do Me Baby, Computer Blue, Darling Nikki, Raspberry Beret, Anotherloverholenyohead, U Got The Look, Alphabet St, Batdance, etc. All great, but one has to choose… Still, create a playlist of these 50 songs and you feel great while listening. Enjoy!

 

N.E.W.S. (album), 2003

N.E.W.S. (album), 2003

50. East

(N.E.W.S., 2003)

This song is from the album N.E.W.S. which was released on Prince’s own NPG Records. The album only contains 4 instrumental pieces of music; each piece is 14 minutes long. Recorded in one day at Paisley Park Studios the album initially was exclusively available through the NPG Music Club. Supposedly it’s Prince’s weakest selling album, but I thought (and still think) it’s an intriguing album, in which Prince tries new ways. From time to time I play the album and every time the spontaneity, inventiveness and musicality surprises me.

Sign O' The Times (album), 1987

Sign O’ The Times (album), 1987

49. The Ballad Of Dorothy Parker

(Sign O’ The Times, 1987)

The song sounds a bit monotone due to a technical problem. The song was written after Prince dreamed of the song. The song references Joni Mitchell’s Help Me (‘Oh, my favorite song she said / And it was Joni singing /’ Help me I think I’m falling’), off her album Court And Spark from 1974. The lyrics are lively and funny: Prince has an argument with his girlfriend and goes to a restaurant  alone(Yeah, lemme get a fruit cocktail, I ain’t too hungry). The waitress (Dorothy) says ‘You’re kinda cute — wanna take a bath?’. They decide to spend the night together, and not have sex, because Prince is kinda going with someone. Prince keeps his pants on in the tub and during the course of the night he learns how to be a friend to his girlfriend. So he goes home, gets in the tub with his girlfriend, and the fighting stops.

Girls & Boys (single), 1986

Girls & Boys (single), 1986

48. Girls & Boys

(Parade, 1986)

Recording began at The Warehouse, Minneapolis (where Prince recorded a lot before Paisley Park Studios opened its doors). Girls & Boys is the first song Prince released under his own name, which features Eric Leeds (previously Eric Leeds played a part in the project The Family). This lyric is funny too: She had the cutest ass he’d ever seen / He did too, they were meant to be.

Paisley Park (single), 1985

Paisley Park (single), 1985

47. Paisley Park

(Around The World In A Day, 1985)

The song has a psychedelic feel and uses 1960´s Beatles influences, like echo and finger cymbals. The song details a kind of Utopian place which can be felt in your heart. This song (just like the complete Around The World In A Day album by the way) was recorded before the Purple Rain tour commenced, something Prince did more often than not. One of his complaints with record companies was by the time the companies were ready to release (way after the delivery of an album), Prince had finished another album. By the time of the tour supporting the initial album, he had finished yet another album, resulting in Prince promoting something which he already didn´t relate to anymore (been there, done that). This song contains lots of great out of control guitar work. It is mixed to the back of the song, but with earphones on you can hear the extraordinary guitar playing. Fantastic!

As an aside: It´s remarkable that a lot of his experimental work sold so well at the time. 

She's Always In My Hair (B-side Raspberry Beret single), 1985

She’s Always In My Hair (B-side Raspberry Beret single), 1985

46. She’s Always In My Hair

(B-side Raspberry Beret, 1985)

This song is also part of the The Hits/The B-Sides compilation.

Initial recording took place at the end of 1983 at Sunset Sound, Hollywood (on the same day as Erotic City). Despite the fact that the song is attributed to Prince & The Revolution, the song is a solely performed by Prince. Also covered by D’Angelo.

Irresistable Bitch (B-side Let's Pretend We're Married single), 1982

Irresistable Bitch (B-side Let’s Pretend We’re Married single), 1982

45. Irresistible Bitch

(B-side Let’s Pretend We’re Married, 1982)

This song is also part of the The Hits/The B-Sides compilation.

Taking in the date of recording, this song is a kind of proto-rap. Prince details an ‘irresistible bitch’ who treats him badly and abuses his mind, but he just can’t resist her tricks. A great funksong.

Rainbow Children (album), 2001

Rainbow Children (album), 2001

44. Rainbow Children

(The Rainbow Children, 2001)

Rainbow Children is the first song off the album with the same name. Prince used this song to open up all the shows to the One Nite Alone… tour. His song Sexuality (Controversy, 1981) is quoted with the lyric Reproduction of the New Breed, Leaders, stand up! Organize!. The album The Rainbow Children is a new phase for Prince musically. However, thematically and lyrically, it’s not my cup of tea. It tells the tale of a specific group of people (rainbow children) who went through some kind of spiritual awakening flying on the wings of the New Translation (Jehovah’s Witnesses use the New World Translation of the Holy Scriptures as the Bible). The album (and this song also) are jazzier than anything coming before this. Coupled to the fact that Prince was clearly impassioned, it resulted in great attention to the album and its production. The tour that followed (One Nite Alone…) was an extremely good, inspired tour, which was played with visible joy and passion by his most volatile backing band ever.

The Truth (album), 1998

The Truth (album), 1998

43. Don’t Play Me

(The Truth, 1998)

Probably recorded some time in 1996 at Paisley Park Studios. Addition to the Crystal Ball 3-cd set. The album is (mainly) acoustic (guitars coupled with some sparse percussion). Beautiful melancholy atmosphere: Don’t play me / I’m the wrong color & I play guitar / My only competition is well in the past / Time & time if time existed movin ever so fast / Don’t play me.

The Black Album (album), 1994 release

The Black Album (album), 1994 release

42. Superfunkycalifragisexy

(The Black Album, 1987/1994)

The Black Album was officially released in 1994, but was initially planned for a 12/07/1987 release, as successor to Sign O’ The Times. It was to be released in a black cover, without title, performer’s name, production data of photos. The release would only contain the catalog number (25677) on the side of the cover. It was an attempt to win back his black audience, which he had lost around the time of Parade and Sign O’ The Times, because those albums, supposedly, sounded too white. One week prior to the release date Prince ordered that the release be stopped and all pressed copies (500.000 !) were to be destroyed. Some 100 copies survived. Reasons for cancelling The Black Album were never really made clear, but could be:

  • Prince was convinced that the album was too dark and angry;
  • Prince’s conscience acted up concerning the eroticism and violence in the lyrics. In the videoclip to Alphabet St., about 24 seconds in, the text Don’t buy The Black Album. I’m sorry is shown;
  • Prince decided to pull the album after a bad, one time experience with ecstasy (and its hallucinations as a result), which made him realize that the album was too negative and hateful and that wasn’t the message he wanted to convey.

Immediately after the decision to destroy The Black Album, the album appeared as a bootleg (it also was one of my first Prince bootlegs). It became one of the most legendary bootlegs of all time. Several musicians and critics cited The Black Album as one of their favorite albums of 1988. Superfunkycalifragisexy was a regular during the Lovesexy tour. The first recording probably took place in September 1986. The lyrics are funny en is semi-rapped over a funkgroove: Maybe I’ll see u next Thursday night, maybe I won’t / But that’s alright, cuz in my possession, there’s a signed confession / that says, I was the best u ever had / 2 bad.

My Name Is Prince (single), 1992

My Name Is Prince (single), 1992

41. My Name Is Prince

(O(+>, 1992)

The song mentions Prince himself and his musical prowess. It is a funk stomper, that makes me very happy. I think the lyrics are very funny: In the beginning / God made the sea / But on the 7th day / He made me / He was tryin’ to rest y’all / When He heard the sound / Sound like a guitar, cold gettin’ down / I tried to bust a high note / But I bust a string / My God was worried / ‘Til he heard me sing / My name is Prince / and I am funky / My name is Prince/ the one and only.

Parade (album), 1986

Parade (album), 1986

40. Life Can Be So Nice

(Parade, 1986)

Recording commenced in April 1985 on the same day as Sometimes It Snows In April. One of my favorites off the Parade album. The song makes me happy. The song is very layered with all types of instruments: Life can be so nice / It’s a wonderful world, sweet paradise / Kiss me once, kiss me twice / Life can be so nice / So nice.

Sign O' The Times (album), 1987

Sign O’ The Times (album), 1987

39. It’s Gonna Be A Beautiful Night

(Sign O’ The Times, 1987)

The song’s base was recorded on 08/25/1986 in concert with The Revolution during the Parade tour. A lot of overdubs have been added to the base, among them the transmississippirap by Sheila E. Overdubs started in October 1986, after The Revolution was disbanded. It´s the ultimate Prince party song. Its length is almost 9 minutes and has got a vibrant live vibe throughout.

Shockadelica (B-side If I Was Your Girlfriend single), 1987

Shockadelica (B-side If I Was Your Girlfriend single), 1987

38. Shockadelica

(B-side If I Was Your Girlfriend, 1987)

This song is also part of the The Hits/The B-Sides compilation.

This is a so-called Camille track. Camille was a pseudonym (for an alter-ego) of Prince. All Camille tracks have sped/up vocals. To get the effect the tapes were slowed down during the recording of the vocals. The song was written in response to an album of the same name by former The Time member Jesse Johnson. Prince heard that Johnson’s album would be called Shockadelica and told him that an album with such a great name deserved a song with the same (album) title. Johnson disagreed, so Prince recorded this song and made sure it was played on a Minneapolis radio-station one week prior to the release of Johnson’s album.

Eye Hate U (single), 1995

Eye Hate U (single), 1995

37. Eye Hate U

(The Gold Experience, 1995)

I Hate U (or Eye Hate U to mimic the eye/icon of the published title) was the first single off the great 1995 album (the first to be released under his new moniker O(+>). A solo recording, which commenced early 1994 at Paisley Park. The first airing of the song took place at a party at (Prince club) Glam Slam in Minneapolis on March 16th 1994. One of the reasons I like this song so much is the way the guitar solo is introduced (after 05:26 minutes). It seems that Prince can barely control his guitar which is followed up by one of his many great solo’s.

1999 (single), 1982

1999 (single), 1982

36. 1999

(1999, 1982)

Party song to an apocalyptic background (Yeah, everybody’s got a bomb / we could all die any day / But before I’ll let that happen / I’ll dance my life away). The first release of this song as a single tanked. After Little Red Corvette made it big, it was released again and it turned out be his breakthrough song in America. The album-version starts with a slowed down voice (Don’t worry / I won’t hurt you / I only want you to have some fun). Prince shares vocals with Dez Dickerson, Lisa Coleman and Jill Jones.

In 1999 a re-recording of the song, with a number of remixes, was released as 1999: The New Master. Right about that time Prince announced that he would re-record his entire back/catalog, release them and consider them the new masters (as the original masters were the property of Warner Bros., not Prince´s). Whether Prince actually did this is questionable.

Purple Rain (single), 1984

Purple Rain (single), 1984

35. Purple Rain

(Purple Rain, 1984)

Purple Rain is the title of the song, the album and the movie. It is his best known song. Sales of Purple Rain the album (about 18 million copies) were astronomical. The song was the third single off the album and is recognized as the ultimate Prince song. The guitar solo is awesome.

It was recorded during a benefit show for the Minnesota Dance Theatre at First Avenue in Minneapolis on August 3rd 1983. This concert is widely considered to be one of the most important and best of his entire career. It was guitarist Wendy Melvoin´s first Prince show. The entire concert was recorded using a mobile recording studio. Overdubs were done at Sunset Sound in Los Angeles in August/September 1983. The original version was 11 minutus long, which was edited down to 8 (one verse didn´t make the cut, as well as a part of the guitar solo).

Parade (album), 1986

Parade (album), 1986

34. New Position

(Parade, 1986)

Off my favorite album Parade. New Position is part of the first four songs off the album. The first four songs (Wendy’s Parade, New Position, I Wonder U en Under The Cherry Moon) were recorded on April 17th 1985 in one take, with Prince laying down the drumtrack at once, followed by bass, guitar and other instruments. The end result was already fully formed in his mind; it just needed to be put to tape. These kind of stories make the admiration even bigger. The end result sounds like loose jams, with a lot of interaction between the players, but it is all Prince. The song New Position was previously recorded at the beginning of 1982; this has never been released.

America (single), 1985

America (single), 1985

33. America

(Around The World In A Day, 1985)

Last single of the album. It refers to communism, minimum wage and fear of a nuclear war. The song starts, stops, starts, stops and starts once again just as if a DJ holds and releases the (vinyl) record. It’s irresistibly funky and features great guitar work. The 12-inch extended version lasts well over 21 minutes and features multiple instrumental solo’s. The song fades out, because the tape ran out while recording. It is said that Prince wanted this recording on the album, but Warner Bros. declined. The song was cut short for the album. The video to the song is an exciting live-recording made in Nice, France, where Prince was recording his movie Under The Cherry Moon at the time.

Graffiti Bridge (album), 1990

Graffiti Bridge (album), 1990

32. The Question Of U

(Graffiti Bridge, 1990)

Originally recorded during sessions for the Parade album, the song was featured in the (dreadful) movie Graffiti Bridge. An instrumental version was recorded on December 28th 1985 at Sunset Sound with Sheila E., Levi Seacer, Jr. and Eric Leeds during the so-called Paisley Jam session. At the time when Prince started the project Graffiti Bridge at the end of 1987 he took the original recording of The Question Of U and added to it. Plans were made to release The Question Of U as a single, but nothing ever came of it. The song is beautiful and was introduced at the Nude tour in 1990 with pounding drums. It contains very little lyrics and the instrumental coda which ends the song features a fantastic guitar solo.

Pop Life (single), 1985

Pop Life (single), 1985

31. Pop Life

(Around The World In A Day, 1985)

Pop Life was the second single off the album (Raspberry Beret being the first). Pop Life was recorded before Purple Rain was finished. Sheila E does the drumming. Wendy & Lisa do background vocals. The rest of the song is performed by Prince. Lyrically it talks about disappointments and the way you can deal with them (Life it ain’t real funky / Unless it’s got that pop) and specifically references drug use (which Prince loathed): What U putting in your nose / Is that where all your money goes / The river of addiction flows / U think it’s hot, but there won’t be no water / When the fire blows. Elvis Costello wanted to release a cover of the song with slight altercations to the lyrics, but Prince refused.

Crystal Ball (album), 1998

Crystal Ball (album), 1998

30. Crucial

(Crystal Ball, 1998)

The ballad Crucial was planned for musical The Dawn, which was scrapped. Crucial was part of the first two configurations of Sign ‘O’ The Times, but was replaced by Adore. The song comes in two versions: a guitar and a saxophone version, referencing the solo’s on the respective instruments during the outro of the song. The guitar version is stunning.

How Come You Don't Call Me Anymore? (B-side 1999 single), 1982

How Come You Don’t Call Me Anymore? (B-side 1999 single), 1982

29. How Come You Don’t Call Me Anymore?

(B-side 1999, 1982)

This song is also a part of the The Hits/The B-Sides compilation.

The song features a beat of a bassdrum, piano and Prince’s vocals and details the story of a man abandoned by his lover: I keep your picture beside my bed / And I still remember everything you said / I always thought our love was so right / I guess, I was wrong / I always thought you’d be by my side / Mama, now you’re gone. Gradually the sorrow intensifies which makes Prince burst out into (gospel) screaming. Goose bumps: Sometimes it feels like I’m gonna die / If you don’t call me, mama, girl, you gotta try / Down on my knees beggin’ you, please, please / Why can’t you call me sometime baby, yeah // It’s just one lousy dime, baby.

Around The World In A Day (album), 1985

Around The World In A Day (album), 1985

28. Around The World In A Day

(Around The World In A Day, 1985)

The song was written and recorded by David Coleman (brother of Revolution member Lisa) in June 1984, when he received two days of studio time as a birthday gift from Prince. When Prince heard the result, he loved the song so much that he wanted to record it for his next album. He re-recorded it and made some musical and lyrical changes. The song in itself is fantastic, but at 02:41 it turns into a heavenly funky synthesizer coda after hearing Prince proclaim I think I wanna dance!

Kiss (single), 1986

Kiss (single), 1986

27. Kiss

(Parade, 1986)

Kiss started out as a short acoustic blues song which lasted about 1 minute. Prince gave the demo to Mazarati for use on their debut album. Mazarati and producer David Z drastically changed the song into an irresistible funk song, containing a minimalist sound. When Prince heard the results the next day he took the song back. Hij replaced the main vocal with his won, added the famous guitar lick and removed the bass. It was added to the configuration of the Parade at the last minute. Warner Bros. didn’t want to release it as a single, because it sounded too demo-like. It turned out to be a worldwide hit for Prince en was regularly played live. The highlight is the last verse of the song in which Prince screams his lungs out. Great!

 

Videoclip

The video is a classic. Prince sings and dances in a vast empty hall. Wendy Melvoin sits on a stool playing guitar. The chemistry between the two is great and very much fun to watch.

C-Note (album), 2004

C-Note (album), 2004

26. Empty Room

(C-Note, 2004)

C-Note is a live album by Prince and The New Power Generation, released through the NPG Music Club in 2004 and consists of 5 songs recorded during soundchecks of the One Nite Alone… tour. Four of the songs were named after the cities they were played in: Copenhagen, Nagoya, Osaka, Tokyo. The fifth song was, the already existing, but never before released, among fans very popular, song Empty Room. It is written around August 1985, the immediate cause being relational troubles between Prince and Susannah Melvoin (Revolution member Wendy’s twin sister). In 1992 it was re-recorded. Even a video for the song was produced and was broadcast in 1995 during the Ultimate Live Experience tour before the shows would start.

 

Compliments/remarks? I´d love to hear them!