Five Song Guide to Weird Prince Music
Everybody loves Prince. I am not gonna waste full sentences telling you what makes 1999 or Purple Rain great. That is on you to figure out. One of the great things about Prince is how much crazy stuff he has out there and how darn good it is. All of the songs below are from albums far outside his “best album” discussion. All of these songs (in my eyes) are as good as any of his best work. He was an artist with a lot of dimension and I hope if you hear any of these for the first time it helps you get closer to how much of a unicorn this dude was.
Cherry, Cherry from Exodus
Exodus from 1995 is a big sloppy funk album by the New Power Generation that is not for everyone. It is definitely for me. Exodus is messier than other Prince albums, it is thick with horns and bass in the way peak Parliament is. Prince knew how to make his work digestible; to teach a funkless white audience how the genre worked. By doing that he spent a lot of time grooving at 70% of his powers. Exodus gives him the chance to concoct overpowering funk. Get Wild is loud and very Digital Underground. Cherry, Cherry is the masterpiece for me. It feels like it could have been on Purple Rain as a bonus cut but it’s him years later. This song is timeless in how it takes that glimmering preciousness adds finger snaps, basketball, and maintains the real feeling of starry eyed romantic connection.
Don’t Play Me from The Truth
You’ve heard the stories about how much of a talent Prince was with the playing of multiple instruments. He was such a good composer it’s hard to isolate his talent on any given instrument. Prince was too much of a mastermind to flex outside the needs of the song. Best place to really get in touch with the ability he had on lead is an acoustic guitar album called The Truth. It is one of my favorite Prince albums PERIOD. The warmth and precision of his guitar work is miraculous but just as fly and once a generation is the swagger he has along with that ability. He brags about being over 30 speaking proper English and not smoking weed. This song is about being grown and past foolish things. That moment when he says “Don’t play me I already do that in my car,” is the illest brag a pop star ever made. Most people do acoustic albums to spill their feelings. Prince is Prince no matter what the form. His formula is too perfect to change.
Black Sweat from 3121
Its criminal how the listening audience turned away from Prince in the mid to late 90’s and on. 3121 is an album from 2006 and It is one of his best. Black Sweat in particular is one of the top five nastiest funk songs he ever constructed. My face screws up every time it starts. The hook is incredible, the drums are next level. You should listen to this song but you should make sure you have nice headphones. If you don’t then take it to the car; trust me.
A Case Of U from One Nite Alone…
I might sound whiny about the left behind music hanging around one of music’s most important careers but I am not mad at anyone. Prince was so productive he buried treasure all over the map. I love Joni Mitchell A LOT. I don’t love her like Prince did. He pulls A Case Of U from Joni’s most pulverizing and vulnerable album Blue from 1971. Prince lets his voice tip toe through the emotional vulnerability and stand to declare strength the way she always did. He gets the mixture. Throughout One Night Alone… his piano work is staggering. His sense of time is exact on a mechanized level. You can listen to him play piano and guitar (on The Truth) so well you’d think he was an artificial intelligence robot sent from the future to teach us music. Add to that how intuitive his song selection musical vision and vocal tone is and it is an eye opening listen.
Paisley Park from Around The World In A Day
Prince loved Stevie Wonder but he loved Joni Mitchell just as much. He was very influenced by the psychedelic music of the 1960’s. Around The World In A Day is an exploration of the spirit brought on music by The Beatles and others. The reason it doesn’t get much love outside of Raspberry Beret is its placement as follow up album to Purple Rain. No one expected an exploration of psychedelia following a world dominating classic. Wouldn’t you just do that again?! You would. Prince wouldn’t. Outside of all that contextual jibber jabber Paisley Park is a hypnotic song. His vocals float above the hammering drum machine and the characters he etches go through sadness, forgiveness, and growth. He cares about everyone he mentions and paints them like Renoir watching dancing couples. All the colors are bright and lustrous.
Most of these songs and albums mentioned are on your basic streaming services but Exodus could be tough. Here is a youtube link for the album in case.