I haven’t been to the record store since January. I decided to go to the Soundgarden with Lily this morning.
This is what I picked up:
- Dennis Wilson’s Pacific Ocean Blue (remaster double disc)
- Elliot Smith’s x/o
- K-Swift’s Jump Off Vol. 10
Recently acquired music from Other Music:
One can never go wrong at Other Music. Emily made a remarkable remark while leaving the record store:
Isn’t it funny that Tower Records [which used to be across the street from Other Music] is no longer around while Other Music still is? It’s no longer Other Music.
Because Prince is a Jehovah’s Witness, he isn’t allowed to celebrate his birthday today, but I can (and will!) by giving you my Top 10 Favorite Prince Records, as of 7 June 2006. Please note this list is known to change by the minute. This is just a rough guide and only pertains to officially released records. Perhaps in the future I will do an unreleased Top 10.
- 1999 (1982) – Without this record, Purple Rain never would have happened the way it did. It was the springboard for the serious synths to come in Purple Rain and beyond. As a rather obvious [to me] nod to Kraftwerk, there is a strange element of cold dancy kraut in this record. Prince really pushed the envelope [for 1982] with the funk drums overlaid with the Linn Drum in “Lady Cab Driver.” If you get a chance to hear the extended mix, it’s a treat. Dance on, sister.
- Prince (1979) – Here we have Prince’s second record based around R&B and funk with all songs sung in falsetto. This self-titled album was definitely an extension of his first record but with much better songs. His songwriting grew exponentially on this record, and perhaps he learned about how an edit of a song can make a serious difference by cutting the fluff, etc. Songs like “I Wanna Be Your Lover” and “Bambi” begin to show his strengths in his songwriting abilities. And, by the way, you can’t beat a record cover like that. Those words become an ongoing theme with Prince’s record covers.
- Sign ‘O’ The Times (1987) – While I did much more prefer the track listing for The Dream Factory (dated June 3rd. 1986), not to mention the involvement of Wendy and Lisa (and the rest of the Revolution) – Prince did eventually decide to ‘disband’ the Revolution and more or less put out The Crystal Ball (a three record – six sided album which included a few cuts from the album from the same time, Camille) by himself and rerecorded a lot of the songs solo. Prince was amazing if not equally frustrating in that respect. Luckily Wendy and Lisa’s influence had already been set in motion and he couldn’t avoid that. The record was rejected by the label due to it’s sheer volume and eventually got cut to two records or 4 sides and was released as Sign ‘O’ The Times. Songs like “Hot Thing” and “Housequake” brought back a lot of the funk that had been lost in previous records. “Housequake” was probably a nod to the growth of hip-hop during that time. Songs like “Starfish and Coffee”, “I Could Never Take the Place of Your Man”, “Sign ‘O’ the Times”, & “Adore” solidify the fact that Prince was the most versatile and talented songwriter of the 1980s. This was also a notably political record. Not since Controversy had Prince been so openly political. The stark production of “The Cross” is breathtaking and highly effective. This was also the last real double record of the 1980s. With record meaning vinyl. 4 sides, etc. The end of an era, some say. A remaster of this disc with the outtakes from Dream Factory and Crystal Ball would rule.
- Purple Rain (1984) – Yes, this record is clichÃ©d but with good reason. It’s badass! “Take Me With U”, “Baby I’m A Star” and “Purple Rain”. Please note this was the only use of a sequencer, up to this point, serving as the bassline to “I Would Die 4 U”. The synth was synched up with the Linn Drum that was MIDI retrofitted. How’s that for a factoid?! Also noteworthy is the fact that “Purple Rain,” as well as I Would Die 4 U” and “Baby I’m A Star,” were all recorded at Wendy’s first show when she was just 19. That hot and humid August night in 1983 at First Avenue will forever been remembered. You should also realize that at that show was the first time Prince covered a song publicly. He covered “A Case of You” by Joni Mitchell. Oh yeah, and it sold something like 13 million units domestically. This era also was one of his most prolific. He was also writing, producing and performing on records by Sheila E., Apollonia 6, The Family and the Time. My favorite B-sides, “Another Lonely Christmas” and “17 Days”, come from the era. Note: the extended mix of “17 Days” is great and clocks in over 10 minutes.
- Parade (1986)- While not the critics’ favorite, this record is chock full of funky goodness. Songs like “Anotherloverholenyohead” “Kiss” and “Mountains” – Again the 12″ mix of Mountains is superb. If you can get it, do it. This was also the last record with the Revolution. There was still a little bit of left over psychedelics from the Around the World In A Day record, but it’s less obvious here. This record is becoming a favorite of mine. Oh, and don’t even bother seeing the accompanying movie, Under the Cherry Moon. It’s trash. But interesting to see Kristin Scott Thomas in it. Jerome Benton is however in excellent form, a la Purple Rain.
- Batman (1989) – Definitely not a favorite amongst fans and critics, but it was one of the first records that really spoke to me by Prince. I was 12 when I first heard this record on a cassette. What really got to me was the simplicity of the drum programming. Songs like “Vicky Waiting” and “The Future” still hold a special place in my pop life. And while “Batdance” did use the sampler to a sickening degree it was pretty innovative for the time. The breakdown groove is still to die for. That funky guitar is the sickness. And yes, we can all do without the Scandalous songs. Make sure to not buy the Scandalous Suite which has 18 minutes of that song. Yikes!
- The Love Symbol Album (1992) – All you need to do is make out to this album one time and it’s forever ingrained in your mind. Yeah, I made out with a girl from senior year of high school to this record the first time I heard it. The production is sickeningly good. Like Ocean Way good. It definitely gets interesting once you get to the deep cuts like “The Continental” and “7”. Speaking of “7” – that is perhaps the best cut on the record and despite its seeming simplicity. Acoustic guitar. Drum machine. Finger cymbal. Whip. Bass tones. And stax of vocals. Ok, maybe it’s not that simple, but compared to other music of that time, it sure sounds like it.
- The Gold Experience (1993) – The first record released under his new unpronounceable name. ( O(+> ) – Yes, it was a weird stunt, but it also got him out of a Warner Bros. contract. Genius if you ask me. This record was a response to his love of rock music and guitars that had been put to the side for the past few years. It’s not as funky and soulful as his other records, however it’s definitely an interesting one. It just reiterates how diverse his influences are. “Endorphinmachine” and “319” are standout tracks for me, but this whole album sans “The Most Beautiful Girl in the World” is a keeper. “Gold” also has a great guitar solo, but the song itself borders on cheesy most of the way through. As a whole it’s pretty cohesive in a similar vein as the The Love Symbol record. Less pop and more rock, however.
- Lovesexy (1988) – This record as a whole sounds rushed and not well put together, but there are songs like “Dance On” and “Alphabet Street” which bring it all home for me. His drums on “Dance On” are funky as ever. It might be worth it based on that alone. You decide. A simple beat ganked from Sheila E. goes a long way. Also notable is the record cover, very Georgia O’Keeffe a la Penisville.
- Around the World In a Day (1985) – To release this record after Purple Rain‘s success was ballsy as it was so different from its predecessor, and definitely was not the Purple Rain II that everyone expected. That would have been the “smart” and safe thing to do, at least from a record label’s perspective. Prince wouldn’t have any part in it. He clearly was making a statement above and beyond. He decided to do something 180 from what was expected. Songs like the title track, “Paisley Park” and “Tamborine” are keepers and “Raspberry Beret” is quite possibly the greatest pop song ever written. Note the slight dis to Jesse Johnson for leaving The Time to pursue a solo career with the lyrics “And we went riding down by old man Johnson’s farm.”
Honorable Mention: the 3rd disc from The Hits 3-Disc set. Those B-sides are incredible even if they are the edits of most of the songs. A lot of those B-sides are better than the A-sides they mirror.
Thanks for humoring me with my obsession. And thanks to Feets for playing the role as Editor to save my writing from a seriously derailing train wreck.