This article belongs to the story Prince starts his genius run with the fantastic Dirty Mind.
Dirty Mind the album and Dirty Mind the tour provided Prince with a lot of attention from the press. This article contains a selection of that attention. He also did some interviews around this time, some of them have been added below.
This article has been divided into three parts:
Dirty Mind the album
Prince – Dirty Mind
From the album cover and graphics, it is obvious Prince has only one thing on his mind. This leads to some tracks (“Head”, “Sister” and “When You Were Mine”) being totally unplayable on radio despite their appealingly funky dance rhythms. The best of the set deals basically with partying and having a good time though some may object to the general tone of the LP. Musically this set is more rock oriented with “Sister,” “When You Were Mine” and “Gotta Broken Heart Again” having overt rock influences. Again, this set features Prince on all instruments and the sound is good. The only questionable aspects is his narrow-mindedness concerning one topic and his choice of album art.
Best cuts: “Uptown,” “Gotta Broken Heart Again,” “Partyup.”
Prince Dirty Mind
Despite the contrived visual sensationalism of the sleeve – which has him pouting in flasher ace, black stockings and bikini briefs – Prince is still a blessing in (bizarre) disguise. In the same assertive way as Sly Stone and George Clinton before him, Prince is keen to clear the decks and establish a new wave within the cliched environs of black dance music.
Everything here is stripped right back to the knuckle – a taut rhythm team of skipping bass and metallic pepper-shot drums act as a spring board for Prince’s fragile (yet passionate) falsetto and a bank of provocative synthesisers. And the lyrics reflect the pursuit of hedonism as the ultimate escapism.
Whilst rock usually chooses to deal with sexual matters by employing hackneyed euphemisms, innuendos and double-entendres, Prince is overtly explicit in his revelations of conquest and betrayal: be it the double-dealing triolism of ‘When You Were Mine’ incestuous sex education as portrayed in ‘Sister’, or ‘Do it All Night’ when he’s overwhelmed with paranoia and insecurity as to the outcome of a relationship.
‘Head’ is self-explanatory. Careers have been instantly ruined for much less than a song like ‘Head’. It’s not just that it deals with oral sex but that the lady in question makes no secret that she’s both willing and white – a neat reversal of the Stones controversial ‘Some Girls’ schtick. The fact that the actual track is arguably the most sensual length of raw rhythm since James Brown’s ‘Sex Machine’ means this precocious 20-years-old may pose the biggest potential threat to ‘Born again’ Wasp Amerika since Jimi Hendrix’s guitar-humpin’ had him dumped from the Monkees’ tour in 1967.
Throughout, both the subject matter and the explicit language used will greatly restrict airplay, but it’s an album which will be sold by word-of-mouth-invariably the best possible recommendation. If Prince indicates that he has the ability to re-evaluate the actual sound of black American music, it’s evident that he’s also extremely keen to embrace the widest possible audience. And for once, a black artist is seen to borrow effectively from recent white innovations, so Prince displays more empathy with F-Beat than P-Funk.Fo instance, ‘Sister’ is 93 seconds of pure soul punk, exposing everyone from The Knack to The Dead Kennedys for the derivative and revivalist opportunists that they are.
Prince refuses to play safe. If he did, he wouldn’t have made this album. At this stage, he may employ shock tactics to get himself noticed but Prince would shortchange himself if, like Alice Cooper, he allowed the media to embrace him and adopting him as the token, friendly neighbourhood pervert.
New Musical Express, 11/29-1980
Love and lust in Minneapolis
By Ken Tucker
Dirty Mind is a pop record of Rabelaisian achievement: entirely, ditheringly obsessed with the body, yet full of sentiments that please and provoke the mind. It also may be the most generous album about sex ever made by a man.
Like the good lovemaking he celebrates, Prince is both subtle and forceful. His voice is a high, tinkling soprano that curls into delicate squeals when he’s excited and dips into a scratchy murmur when he’s figuring out his next move. As if to offset the ingratiating hesitancy of his vocals and phrasing, Princes comes off like a cocky boy wonder. Just barely twenty, he’s written, produced and played all the instruments on each of his three LPs.
Prince’s first two collections (For You, Prince) established him as a doe-eyed romantic: i.e., his carnal desires were kept in check. Though the chorus of his first hit single was “Your love is soft and wet,” the raunchiest interpretation permitted by its slightly damp melody was that perhaps the object of Prince’s love had been caught in a sudden rainstorm. And while the song that made him a star, 1979’s “I Wanna Be Your Lover,” snuck the line “I wanna be the only one you come for” onto AM radio, the singer delivered it with such coy ignorance, as if feigning ignorance of what the words meant but confident they’d please his lover.
Nothing, therefore, could have prepared us for the liberating lewdness of Dirty Mind. Here, Prince lets it all hang out: the cover photograph depicts our hero, smartly attired in a trench coat and black bikini briefs, staring soberly into the camera. The major tunes are paeans to bisexuality, incest and cunniligual technique, each tucked between such sprightly dance raveups as “Partyup” and the smash single “Uptown.” Throughout, Prince’s melodies peel back layers of disco rhythm to insert slender, smooth funk grooves and wiggly, hard-rock guitar riffing. In his favorite musical trick, the artist contrasts a pumping, low-toned drum sound with a light, abrupt guitar or keyboard riff pitched as high as his voice (which is often double-tracked to emphasize its airiness). Though Prince is playing everything himself, the result isn’t bloodless studio virtuosity. His music attains the warmth and inspiration of a group collaboration because it sounds as if he’s constantly competing against himself: Prince the drummer tries to drown out Prince the balladeer, and so forth.
Dirty Mind jolts with the unsettled tension that arises from rubbing complex erotic wordplay against clean, simple melodies. Across this electric surface glides Prince’s graceful quaver, tossing off lyrics with an exhilarating breathlessness He takes the sweet romanticism of Smokey Robinson and combines it with the powerful vulgate poetry of Richard Pryor. The result is cool music dealing with hot emotions.
At its best, Dirty Mind is absolutely filthy. Sex, with its lasting urges and temporary satisfactions, holds a fascination that drives the singer to extremes of ribald fantasy. “When I met you, baby/You were on your way to be wed” is how he begins “Head,” a jittery rocker about the pleasures of oral sex. In Prince’s wet dream, no woman is forced to do anything she doesn’t want to do: her lust always matches her cocksman’s. As the guitar groove of “Head” winds tighter and tighter, Prince brings off the young bride in a quick interlude en route to join her fiancé at the altar. She is more than eager to return the favor. By the time Prince yelps, “You wouldn’t have stopped/But I came on your wedding gown,” the entire album has climaxed in more ways than one. This is lewdness cleansed by art, with joy its socially redeeming feature. Dirty Mind may be dirty, but it certainly isn’t pornographic.
Somehow Prince manages to be both blunt and ambiguous — and occasionally just dreamily confusing. “When You Were Mine” (in which the line “I used to let you wear all my clothes” is offered as proof of a man’s devotion) blithely condones infidelity of the most brazen sort — “I never cared…/When he was there/Sleepin’ in between the two of us” — as long as the artist can be sure that the woman continues to love only him. Yet in “Sister,” Prince notes that his female sibling is responsible for his bisexuality, a word whose syllables he draws out with a lascivious relish. Little more than a brisk pop-funk riff, “Sister” forces the pace, making it build, until the singer finally blurts out a jabbering confession: “Incest is everything it’s said to be.” What can you do with a guy like this?
Love him, obviously. If Prince indulges his appetites with a bold and lusty vigor, his pleasure is always dependent upon his partner’s satisfaction. In a reversal of the usual pop-song aesthetic, the artist’s crisp, artfully constructed compositions are a metaphor for the care and consideration that inform the lovemaking detailed in his lyrics.
Less obviously, Prince deserves our admiration. Though Dirty Mind is an undeniably appositive title, the LP might just as accurately have been called Prince Confronts the Moral Majority: except for “Uptown,” “Partyup” and the loping “Gotta Broken Heart Again,” none of Dirty Mind could make it onto the most liberal radio-station playlists these days. In a time where Brooke Shields’ blue-jeaned backside provokes howls of shock and calls for censorship from mature adults, Prince’s sly wit — intentionally coarse — amounts to nothing less than an early, prescient call to arms against the elitist puritanism of the Reagan era. Let Prince have the last word: “White, black, Puerto Rican/Everybody’s just a-freakin’.”
Rolling Stone, 02/19/1981
Prince – Dirty Mind
By Robert Christgau
After going gold in 1979 as an utterly uncrossedover falsetto love man, he takes care of the songwriting, transmutes the persona, revs up the guitar, muscles into the vocals, leans down hard on a rock-steady, funk-tinged four-four, and conceptualizes–about sex, mostly. Thus he becomes the first commercially viable artist in a decade to claim the visionary high ground of Lennon and Dylan and Hendrix (and Jim Morrison), whose rebel turf has been ceded to such marginal heroes-by-fiat as Patti Smith and John Rotten-Lydon. Brashly lubricious where the typical love man plays the lead in “He’s So Shy,” he specializes here in full-fledged fuckbook fantasies–the kid sleeps with his sister and digs it, sleeps with his girlfriend’s boyfriend and doesn’t, stops a wedding by gamahuching the bride on her way to church. Mick Jagger should fold up his penis and go home. A
Village Voice, 1980/1981
Dirty Mind the live shows
Below six reviews of Dirty Mind concerts are shown.
Click on the reviews to enlarge.
Overige pers en interviews
Below a number of (overview)articles and interviews published around the time of the release of the Dirty Mind album and the tour that followed it.
Click on the articles/pages to enlarge.
Will the little girls understand?
By Bill Adler
Snaking out from the wings toward center stage at the Ritz, prancing like a pony with his hands on his hips and then flinging a clorine kick with a coquettish toss of his head, Prince is androgyny personified. Slender and doe-eyed, with a faint pubescent mustache, he is bare-chested beneath a gray, hip-length Edwardian jacket. There’s a raffish red scarf at this neck, and he’s wearing tight black bikini briefs, thigh-high black leg-warmers and black-fringed go-go boots. With his racially and sexually mixed five-piece band churning out the terse rhythms of “Sexy Dancer” behind him, the effect is at once truly sexy and more than a little disorienting , and his breathy falsetto only adds to his ambiguity — for sheer girlish vulnerability, there’s no one around to touch him: not Michael Jackson, not even fourteen-year-old soul songbird Stacy Lattisaw. At age twenty, Prince may be the unlikeliest rock star, black or white, in recent memory — but a star he definitely is.
As quickly becomes apparent, Prince’s lyrics bear little relation to standard AM radio floss. In addition to bald sexual come-ons and twisted love plaints, he champions the need for independence and self-expression. And one song, “Uptown,” is, among other things, an antiwar chant. Further complicating the proceedings are the heavy-metal moans Prince wrenches out of his guitar and the punchy dance-rock rhythms of his band (bassist Andre Cymone, guitarist Dez Dickerson, keyboardists Lisa Coleman and Dr. Fink and drummer Bobby Z.), all of whom are longtime cohorts from Prince’s hometown — Minneapolis, of all places.
“I grew up on the borderline,” Prince says after the show. “I had a bunch of white friends, and I had a bunch of black friends. I never grew up in any one particular culture.” The son of a half-black father and an Italian mother who divorced when he was seven, Prince pretty much raised himself from the age of twelve, when he formed his first band. Oddly, he claims that the normalcy and remoteness of Minneapolis provided just artistic nourishment he needed.
“We basically got all the new music and dances three months late, so I just decided that I was gonna do my own thing. Otherwise, when we did split Minneapolis, we were gonna be way behind and dated. The white radio stations were mostly country, and the one black radio station was really boring to me. For that matter, I didn’t really have a record player when I was growing up, and I never got a chance to check out Hendrix and the rest of them because they were dead by the time I was really getting serious. I didn’t even start playing guitar until 1974.”
With his taste for outlandish clothes and his “lunatic” friends, Prince says he “took a lot of heat all the time. People would say something about our clothes or the way we looked or who we were with, and we’d end up fighting. I was a very good fighter,” he says with a soft, shy laugh. “I never lost. I don’t know if I fight fair, but I go for it. That’s what ‘Uptown’ is about — we do whatever we want, and those who cannot deal with it have a problem within themselves.”
Prince has written, arranged, performed and produced three albums to date (For You, Prince and Dirty Mind), all presenting the same unique persona. Appearances to the contrary, though, he says he’s not gay, and he has a standard rebuff for overenthusiastic male fans: “I’m not about that; we can be friends, but that’s as far as it goes. My sexual preferences really aren’t any of their business.” A Penthouse “Pet of the Month” centerfold laid out on a nearby table silently underscores his point.
It took Prince six months alone in the studio to concoct his 1978 debut album, because, he says, “I was younger then.” Prince required six weeks. He controlled the making of both records, but notes that they were “overseen” by record company and management representatives. Dirty Mind, however, was made in isolation in Minneapolis. “Nobody knew what was going on, and I became totally engulfed in it,” he says. “It really felt like me for once.”
The result of this increased freedom was a collection of songs celebrating incest (“Sister”) and oral sex (“Head”) in language raw enough to merit a warning sticker on the album’s cover. “When I brought it to the record company it shocked a lot of people,” he says. “But they didn’t ask me to go back and change anything, and I’m real grateful. Anyway, I wasn’t being deliberately provocative. I was being deliberately me.”
Obviously, judging by the polished eclecticism of Dirty Mind, being himself is the best course. “I ran away from home when I was twelve,” Prince says. “I’ve changed address in Minneapolis thirty-two times, and there was a great deal of loneliness. But when I think about it, I know I’m here for a purpose, and I don’t worry about it so much.”
Rolling Stone, 02/19/1981
Probing the “dirty mind” of Prince
By Tony Mitchell
For someone who’s chosen stage attire consist of black posing briefs and legwarmers under a long raincoat, and who gets so visibly excited by stimulating oral sex with his guitar that he could do it with a permanently running cold shower at the side of the stage, Prince is a remarkable private and undemonstrative person once he’s out of the spotlight.
It hardly seems believable that this diminutive doe-eyed 21-year-old from Minnesota who shuffles silently ahead of his manager to the car waiting outside the venue, or sits quietly in the corner of his dressing room, expression impenetrable behind mirrored shades while his band indulge in the usual backstage chat and tomfoolery, is the same Prince whose first two albums, ‘For You’ and ‘Prince’ have both gone platinum in the States while his current, most controversial cutting ‘Dirty Mind’ is also heading that way with over half a million sales already knocked up despite total lack of airplay.
What kind of man is he, whose lyrics deal openly with just about every sexual taboo subject you can think of, whose stage show is a vehicle for flashiness and and eroticism, and yet who would probably rather run a mile than to talk to a journalist or post for an impromptu photo session “because it’s like robbery.”
Well this enigmatic prodigy did lift the veil slightly – but only slightly – for the Soundsprobe team of Mitchell and Turbett who were dispatched to Amsterdam last week to catch his first ever European appearance at the Paradiso club. I’d already met him briefly at Steve Strange’s Embassy birthday party; I shook his hand, which felt limply from mine, and he stood gazing into the middle distance while manager Steve Fargnoli did the talking.
It was almost as if he was embarrassed that people should be hailing him as the natural successor to everyone from Jimi Hendrix downwards. Even from my sceptic’s viewpoint, I had to concede that the state show is capable of revoking that kind of excitement, though not necessarily by the same means. Camp touches like tiger skin-covered guitars and amps were offset by slick choreography, and (contrary to expectations) the eroticism was powerfully heterosexual – witness swooning girls in audience – despite the falsetto vocals and ballet dancers flashing gear.
I did ask him what drove him to choose his particular mode of dress. His answer? “It’s hard to dance with a lot of stuff on your leg.” And that was the end of that.
‘Dirty Mind’ is not an album you’ll be hearing on the radio, and even though a claims of the live show go to drop a much-needed mine and placid waters of Old Grey Whistle Test you won’t be seeing friends on TV either.
“It doesn’t bother me,” he claims. “Since the album was released I’ve learned to live with it. I only write from experience. I don’t plan to shock people. I write about things I guess people are afraid to talk about.”
Like incest for example. “I was only 16” goes the first verse of ‘Sister’, “but I guess that’s no excuse. My sister was 32, lovely and – loose.” And in case you don’t get the implication, “incest” declares Prince “is everything it’s said to be.”
What makes ‘Dirty Mind’ special, however, is that the lyrics and delivery are completely devoid of that nudge-nudge lavatorial prurience that passes for humour on Judge Dread records. Not only is Prince deadly earnest on lyrical level but the music stands up(!) For itself too – and I’ll have you know it was the latter, and not the former, that turned me on to the guy.
His previous two albums, pretty well conventional disco records, he now regards as “forgotten adopted children”, although about half of the material on ‘Prince’ still features in his life act. ‘Dirty Mind’ – written record it and produce almost totally by the man himself – may have started life as a bunch of demos but it has ended up as one of the most original dance records in a long time. The demoing style has endowed the songs with the kind of hip minimalism that could probably never have been achieved if Prince had set out to create it with a big production budget, and the basic ideas are a unique blend of classic soul, modern funk, White rock ‘n’ roll and probably hundred of other minor influences. So how did that come about?
“I think I matured in a sense. I reached puberty, I got new management, I got a new guitar which brought life into the sound of the album – most of the songs were written on guitar. The second album was written mostly on the piano.”
But was it a conscience effort to move away from disco influences?
“No, nothing’s conscious. I don’t sit down and plan anything. I was too young really, I was in diapers, I didn’t hear much. All I heard was my dad pounding away on his piano downstairs. He was a jazz band leader and my mother was a singer.
“I had an executive producer when I did the first two albums but the last one I did it all on my own; it’s more me. I wasn’t thinking, I was just singing and playing… So I guess I sort of found myself. I think all artists you produce themselves. I really do. I mean I don’t know how someone else can be in the same frame of mind – unless they eat and sleep with the person.”
He delivers these answers in an almost in audible monotone that makes you wonder if he was seriously mistreated as a kid. He seems at times to have that resigned air of someone who has given up bucking the system and survives just by doing what he’s told. He admits he doesn’t know what he’s doing playing in Europe at this particular time. “I don’t ask too many questions,” he explains. “I just play whenever I get the chance.”
His black funk/white rock crossover style interest me so I ask him where it originates. Dead bit of the conversation goes like this: “it might be where I come from – I’m surrounded by it… Country and Western.”
I’m not very familiar with Minnesota.
You still lived there, so you haven’t found the attraction of New York or LA irresistible?
“There are too many plastic bags in LA. Sometimes when I’m in a certain mental state I can get into New York, but I’m not always like that. It’s hard to be passionate in that city.”
Do you have any immediate recording plans?
But you’ll be making another album soon?
“Well if I keep going to the red light district I’ll come out with something.”
Will people expect it to be more excessive than ‘Dirty Mind’?
“I think so. I think they’ll expect it.”
But will they get it?
“Aha – that’s hard to say. Depends what frame of mind I’m in. I haven’t met anyone for a long time so, er, I find it hard to write when I don’t have anything to write about. I’ve been pretty much alone and I haven’t gone anywhere cos we haven’t played. Now that I’m out on the road and I met you and other people… I get ideas. I don’t just want to sit in the house alone and make up these nasty vulgar songs and put ’em out – I’d rather wait until I have something to write about.”
Something else that emerges is the likely involvement of the whole band in the next album, whenever it might be recorded. On stage, Prince is backed by a mixed bag rockers and funkateers – redheaded, black-leather Dez on guitar, soul-brother Andre on bass, suit ‘n’ tie job Bobby Z on drums, plus two keyboard players – surgeon-masked-and-gowned Dr. Fink and Fedora ‘n’ fag-waving Lisa Coleman.
To date, credits for them on the albums have been restricted to a couple of guest spot and all cobalt to ship: date being purely a touring band all do their own thing as individuals but, according to Dez, are “just waiting by the front door with the suitcase” for the call to arms.
But why have previous albums been solo efforts?
Seems for Prince it’s a question of shared shared emotions: “When I’m recording I could have orgasm on my mind and my bass player could have pickles on his. It makes it a little rough when you listen back to a track and it’s not played with the same intensity.”
But the hypothetical idea of a band of six Princes doesn’t appeal. “No, we’d probably argue. We all want the same girlfriends. But the band are all learning more about one another’s personalities and everything, and in time hopefully will be thinking as one or two or three rather than six different individuals.”
Seeing how well these six individuals worked together at the Paradiso when they were supposedly rusty from inaction, I at least got the impression they were made for each other. And if you recording the next album with the band will be one milestone in princess career, done first OK songs to be recorded by another artist is surely one too – and that’s just happened with the eminent release by Bette Bright of a version of ‘When You Were Mine’, the most accessible and least lyrical contentious track ‘Dirty Mind.’
What does Prince think of this?
“I like it a lot. It was really kind of thrilling to hear someone else do one of my songs for the first time. “That he doesn’t envisage making a career of writing for other people. In fact he says dropping a mini bomb shell without so much as a change of expression, I’m not going to do this for much longer. “He says this like a man who has got some incurable disease, but I opt for the safe question and ask what he’s going to do next then.
“I’d rather not say.”
Mmm. The plot thickens. Something else artistic?
“It ‘s hard to say. Just something else. I just know myself. I know I won’t stay in things too long. I like to keep moving.”
The inference seems to be that he ‘II get tired of what he ‘s doing no w just like he got tired of playing Top 40 material in high school bands, which he did from the ages of 13 to 17.
“It got pretty sickening,” he explains, “because I had to dissect these songs and teach each part to each person, so when the artist got a hit again I knew exactly what was gonna go down in the music and it was just a turn off. It was sickening more so to have everyone walk out when you went into an original, then come back in when you got to Top Ten stuff.”
So why do it in the first place?
“I was broke. Primarily I did it for money. I owed people money. I wanted to pay them back, so I did it. And once I’d paid ’em back, I did it for fun. Now I don’t know why I do it. Sometimes I don’t like to do anything musical at all. I don’t like to listen to it and I don’t like to play it.”
And what does he do when he doesn’t want to be involved in music?
Answers like this have a kind of finality about them that defy you to probe deeper. It might be bullshit of course but Prince, a man of few words at the best of times, doesn’t give the impression he’d waste any of them on bullshitting. So he remains, either naturally or by design, an enigmatic, charismatic character. A real Jekyll and Hyde case, with a private life that’s publicly exposed only through those very explicit lyrics on stage a totally salacious extrovert and off stage practically a recluse.
But whatever mysteries lie beneath the fixed off-stage expression. Prince the performer has the kind of musical talent, feel and showmanship that casts a giant shadow over the efforts of blue-eyed funksters everywhere.
Dutch reviews and articles
See the Dutch version of this article for more Dirty Mind reviews and articles. Please be advised that those reviews and articles are in Dutch and haven’t been translated into English.
Prince – Dirty Mind image: rhino.com
Billboard – Logo image: pikpng.com
New Musical Express (NME) – Logo image: weebly.com
Rolling Stone – Logo image: logodownload.org
The Village Voice – Logo image: vippng.com
Sounds – Logo image: soundsmagazine.co.uk