Tag Archives: prince

Acclaimed Albums – Sign ‘O’ The Times by Prince

List item: Listen to the 250 greatest albums
Progress: 200/250Title: Sign ‘O’ The Times
Artist: Prince
Year: 1986
Position: #29

It’s been nearly 6 years since I started this blog and this album list and I have finally reached album 200. Considering that I pretty much spend 6-7 hours a say with some sort of headphones, it’s taken me a touch too long to get to this point. Similarly, it’s been 3 years since I covered a Prince album on this blog… which is just plain ridiculous.

Of the three Prince albums within the Top 250 (the other two being 1999 and Purple RainSign ‘O’ The Times is both his highest placed in this list as well as being the longest of bunch. It might also be the most diverse that I have heard him being on one album, which isn’t something you can say too lightly about Prince. It begins with a very contemporary socially conscious song (which mentions things like the Challenger explosion and the AIDS crisis) and ends in a soulful slow jam.

Despite being a long album at 80 minutes, it’s actually quite difficult to say that he padded it out with too many filler songs. Instead you have songs that go from the quite good to the excellent. I’m not sure if, for me, there’s a song that ascends to the heights of ‘When Doves Cry’ but that might just be a familiarity thing more than anything.

The song that probably hit me the hardest on the first listen was ‘Housequake’ as Prince is a whole lot of fun at his funkiest. There was also ‘I Could Never Be Your Man’, which probably hit because of how much I love a song that fits into the “dancing with tears in your eyes” genre. I was also impressed at the live backing vocals provided by the concert goers in ‘It’s Gonna Be a Beautiful Night’, but that was more the scale than anything to do with the actual song. On further listens, ‘Hot Thing’ and ‘Starfish and Coffee’ also really started to stand out.

It breaks my heart a bit that this is the last Prince album on the list, but what a way to finish off an artist. This is one of those people whose back catalog is so immense that I’ve been a bit reluctant to make a start because who knows how long it would take to investigate. Now that I’ve heard Sign ‘O’ The Times I think this would be a really worthwhile endeavour.

So, any advice on the best way to proceed would be greatly appreciated.

Acclaimed Albums – Purple Rain by Prince

List item: Listen to the 250 greatest albums
Progress: 126/250Title: Purple Rain
Artist: Prince
Year: 1984
Position: #44

This is not my first time with a Prince album. That honour goes to 1999which left me pretty cold afterwards. I can happily say that the opposite was the case here, although I have no desire to watch the film after all the bad things I’ve heard about Under the Cherry Moon.

I will probably be in the extreme majority when I say that I prefer the second half of Purple Rain. For one thing it’s the side with ‘When Doves Cry’ on it. That song is epic and I only heard it for the first time when my mum played it for me after Prince’s death early in 2016.

The second half also has the pairing of ‘I Would Die 4 U’ and ‘Baby I’m A Star’. These are both great funk rock tracks in their own right, but it is the way that Prince mixed them to flow into each other that truly raises them up.

This is not to say that the first half of the album isn’t any good. It’s just that it pretty much pales in comparison to the second side of the disc. ‘Take Me With U’ is probably the standout track from the first side of the album, mainly because it’s the one where it feels like Prince is having the most fun before you flip the record.

I think that before ending this I need to ask something about the title track ‘Purple Rain’. Why is this the song included on the 1001 Songs list when ‘When Doves Cry’ is right there a few tracks earlier? I would argue that ‘When Doves Cry’ is the more experimental of the two and shows that particular spirit of Prince whereas ‘Purple Rain’ feels anthemic.

When my 1001 Songs playthrough reached 1984 at some point in 2019 (at this rate at least) maybe I will get more of a clue of its inclusion or completely fall for it like I did with ‘Eleanor Rigby’. Remains to be seen I guess.

Acclaimed Albums – 1999 by Prince

List item: Listen to the 250 greatest albums
Progress: 83/250Title: 1999
Artist: Prince
Year: 1982
Position: #209

As of writing this (as in prior to this year’s update to the list) 1999 sits at #199 on the albums list (boo! It moved down!). One of those strange coincidences that I love, but know that it will probably no longer exist by the time I get to publishing this. C’est la vie eh?

Anyway, I am now landed square at the feet of my first Prince album. Up until now I have had very little exposure to him outside of his appearance on New Girl and the rather infamous reference to fingerprints on Animaniacs. I am not a complete troglodyte, however. Going into this I have heard ‘1999’ and ‘The Most Beautiful Girl In The World’. I guess I would include’Fallinlove2nite’ too, but that appears to have been a song only used in New Girl.

The main thing that strikes me is – man, there are an awful lot of synths in here. The opening of the first track (‘1999’) really does pave the way for the rest of the album. Then you have ‘Automatic’ and ‘Something in the Water (Does Not Compute)’ opening up the second half the album as a way to completely cement the synth-pop agenda.

Then he zags with ‘Free’, a piano and guitar driven ballad of patriotism. He shifts again, this time into funk on ‘Lady Cab Driver’.

I guess the point I am trying to make is that 1999 is not an album where you want to try and pigeon-hole Prince. I mean, it is Prince after all. Pigeon-holing him is a rather fruitless exercise. Still, despite the fact that this album veers around the block touching synths, rock and funk as it passes there is no mistaking that this is a pop album at the core.

What I am the most surprised in, however, is the sheer sexuality on this album. I mean, the ‘orgasm noises’ on ‘Lady Cab Driver’, the album is dripping with it at points. The whole point of ‘Little Red Corvette’ is that it is about a one-night stand. Comparing this to the Prince that came into my consciousness, aka Jehovah’s Witness Price, it feels weird.

On the whole, 1999 feels so incredibly eighties. Not a bad thing by any stretch of the imagination. In fact, it is really nice to have this as a contrast to all the albums I have been doing recently. However, when it comes to timelessness, it is no Ramones.