As I promised in my last post, I am making a list of the tracks - that in my opinion - are the must listen to tracks from all of Prince's 39 studio albums. There was a simple rule I set; for a single Album I could select 2 tracks. For a double Album I could select 4 tracks, and for a triple Album I could select 6 tracks. (In addition * is a track that gets an honourable mention). Here are my choices from his first 19 albums.
Baby - for his first album the orchestral arrangement is sublime. It’s a soulful, sensitive track that would still sound fresh if covered today by a strong singer.
I’m Yours - a 50 second intro with a falsetto voice over the top followed by a raw, screeching guitar throughout.
* Soft and Wet - Funk based, driving bass. The first single offered to the public.
Why You Wanna Treat Me So Bad - synth, guitar mix with a disco drum track. Combination of falsetto voice and a great bridge showed Prince’s potential for experimentation. Ends with a great 40 second guitar piece.
Bambi - Rock styled track with a forey into lyrics that would shock over the years to come. Again, another track with a guitar focus at the end.
* With You - simply a beautiful track. Just listen to it.
Dirty Mind - 15 seconds of drum and bass to introduce it with a simple repeated bass / synth riff throughout the song.
Gotta Broken Heart Again - Slow, soulful song about love and loss.
* Sister - Controversial lyrics, but the music itself is a high energy ‘disco pop’ style track.
Controversy - Guitar and bass used to created a repeated hook. An emerging funky synth sound. Contains a rap of the Lord’s Prayer.
Private Joy - Upbeat poppy track about keeping a lover secret. Guitar feedback features prominently towards the end of the track.
* Annie Christian - A screaming guitar track with discordant synth chords over the top, as Prince raps about love, fear, God and religious fanaticism.
Little Red Corvette - A soft drum machine with quiet vocals that build as a bass and synths kick in to create a seminal track in the Prince catalogue.
Free - Based at the piano, with overplayed bass and guitar, this track builds and builds to become a classic. “Be Happy With What You’ve Got”.
*1999 - So well known there’s nothing to add about this track!
When Doves Cry - A guitar. A drum machine. A looped vocal. A synth riff. Oh, and no bass at all. But who needs a bass when you’ve created such a classic dance / funk track as this.
Purple Rain - Soulful. Mournful. Beautifully arranged with an orchestral backing. A must listen to as the track rises through to an unmistakable Prince Guitar solo. An unforgettable live concert track.
* Baby I’m a Star - A fast paced pop track. Full of synthesisers and a drum machine. Just try and listen to this track without tapping along.
Around the World In a Day
Paisley Park - A stripped back track reminiscent of late Beatles songs with recollections of a psychedelic sound.
Raspberry Beret - Violins, drums, bass and guitars combine to create a joyful upbeat trippy pop sound.
* The Ladder - An orchestral score, with Prince reading out verses before The Revolution join in to sing the soulful chorus.
Mountains - A laid back melody that somehow manages to work as a upbeat track.
Sometimes It Snows In April - A track with just piano and guitar as Prince sings about the demise of the main character from the “Under the Cherry Moon” movie. Following Prince’s death in April 2016, the lyrics of the chorus have more relevance than ever.
* Venus De Milo - An instrumental track. Because sometimes the arrangement of a piano, violins, a cymbal and a trumpet doesn’t need a vocal. Short. but perfect.
Sign O The Times
Sign O The Times - Social commentary sung over the top of a sparse sound (a drum machine, additional percussion, limited guitar riffs and occasional synth sounds). A modern day blues track.
Starfish and Coffee - A fun track. A jazz drum beat, a simple repeat of a piano riff with lyrics and melody that just ooze creativity.
I Could Never Take The Place of Your Man - A mainstream pop track, with simple keyboard hooks and two guitar solos to remember. When Prince kicks in with the second solo of the track he moves the track to a blues based sound, before returning to a pop feel for the end.
The Cross - A track of two halves. Prince singing over an acoustic sounding guitar, before a drum beat begins joins in and then the song restarts with a more rock based sound and Prince’s breaking vocals over the top.
* U Got The Look - “boy versus girl in the World Series of love” is sung about on this drum heavy track as Prince and Sheena Easton take it in turns to sing lead vocal.
* If I Was Your Girlfriend - With vocals speeded up slightly, Prince assumed a new persona (Camille) to ask the title question in this sparsely orchestrated track.
Eye No - A horn heavy track full of positive thoughts. A fusion of gospel and funk.
Alphabet Street - A simple guitar based riff, with a funky bass sound and screaming guitar carry this track along before the horns kick in, and the backing singer begins rapping.
* Dance On - Drum and bass, with Prince adding social commentary again. Sparse guitar and organ are dotted throughout the track.
The Future - A stripped back track, with a bleak sound and lyrics. Featured discordant sound effects mixed in with string samples.
The Arms of Orion - Duet featuring Sheena Easton, this piano and simple drum pattern track builds with orchestration towards each chorus, before returning to a slow verse. The harmonies and interplay between both vocals is magnificent.
* Electric Chair - Funk based with a deep drum loop. Following the drumless bridge, the track becomes more rock based with wailing guitar playing.
Can’t Stop This Feeling I Got - Reminiscent of tracks from 1999 and Purple rain, this fast paced track features synth and wailing guitar.
We Can Funk - Featuring George Clinton, this is pure funk. Kicking bass. Sliding vocals and great backing. Horns included from halfway through the track.
Thieves In The Temple - Starting quietly with a synth, this track soon cracks into life with first a thumping beat and then bass, harmonies and wailing guitar throughout.
The Latest Fashion - Another funk inspired track. Featuring The Time, this track contains a mix of rock and R&B.
* Still Would Stand All Time - a slow ballad with aspects of gospel mixed into it. This track shows the range of Prince’s voice from bass to falsetto.
* The Question of U - Close your eyes and you can imagine this track on the Parade album. A simple beat and sparse instruments are used in this waltz style track until the guitar solo kicks in.
Diamonds and Pearls
Thunder - starting with an accapela chorus, the track soons introduces a drumbeat and synth moments as Prince sings. The track builds and builds and takes several different directions on its near 6 minute journey.
Walk Don’t Walk - a pleasing melody sung by Prince and backing singers mixed with the sounds of city traffic create an unusual but interesting track.
* Strollin’ - A pleasing jazz based track with simple melody and restrained guitar. The guitar / synth interplay throughout the track is wonderful.
Love Symbol O(+>
The Morning Papers - a mainstream pop track that builds to include a saxophone and now essential guitar section.
And God Created Woman - Sung mainly Falsetto, this track uses a simple bass line repeated throughout with addition of horns and a quiet guitar. There are several moments of multi-layered Prince singing to create a chorus.
* My Name is Prince - Sounding grungy, with a booming bass line and drum loop, this track is pure Prince showing off as he shouts out who he is.
Loose - A mixture of electronic and grunge create a hyper track with samples throughout.
Letitgo - Sounding like New Age Soul, this medium tempo’d track sees Prince singing about not being able to release as much as material as he wants to, and looking forwards to leaving his record company.
* Come - A laid back, chilled out track featuring a dominant bass line and horns.
The Black Album1
When 2 R In Love - a simple ballad. It reappeared on ‘Lovesexy’ after The Black Album was initially pulled.
2 Nigs United 4 West Compton - following the opening atmospheric chatter the instrumental track starts up as lively jazz / funk fusion that just keeps on going (well, for 6 minutes).
* Cindy C - a humorous track with elements of funk and pop throughout it.
The Gold Experience
Endorphinmachine - Heavy rock. Pounding drums. Synth chords. Wailing guitar and distortion. A great underrated album track.
The Most Beautiful Girl In The World - a gorgeous ballad with guitar, drums and keyboard. Includes a spoken bridge in the middle of the song.
* I Hate You - Gospel styled with church organ playing throughout, and the bonus of a guitar solo at the end of the track.
Chaos and Disorder
Chaos and Disorder - Great guitar riff to open, before the drums and organ come in and Prince starts singing.
Into The Light - A slow start, the track builds for the chorus then fades again before rising once again for the chorus. The bridge of guitar and saxophone ends suddenly as the track drifts into the next (I Will).
* I Rock Therefore I Am - Opening with a reggae rap, the song moves into a Prince chant and then the track starts with a deep bass and horns.
Courtin’ Time - a happy, fun track with horns and jazzy bass. The melody is simple, but catchy.
Damned If I Do - Signature guitar sound scattered throughout the track. Rock sounding to begin with, this track morphs into a latin sound towards the end
The Human Body - sung over a drum beat with sparse keyboards, but additional loops and effects sounding like bodily noises.
Sleep Around - a Soul/Funk track. A mix of busy bass, keyboard chords and horns.
One of Us - a rare cover track, but the Guitar play throughout it is wonderful.
The Love We Make - A slow burner of a ballad. Drums, a subdued bass, piano and Prince singing low for the first two thirds of the track.
* Emancipation - Funky bass, horns and guitar with a joyful Prince singing about freedom from his record company. You can hear his smile!
1This is the 'official' release order for this album, although bootleg copies were available after Sign O The Times, and before Lovesexy.