April 25, 2016

Prince - Dirty Mind (1980)

Prince debuted as a fun pop star singing likable soul pieces, but it's safe to assume that not many people in the late 70s recognized the mysterious genius he would come to be remembered by. The album prior to Dirty Mind was an expensive, self-titled effort that was supposed to be an early magnum opus, but it did not generate any real hits and did not receive much attention. As you can imagine, this didn't sit well with Prince and he immediately sought out to do better. Secluded in his home studio, he produced, wrote every song for, recorded, and played every instrument on the album (with some select help from Morris Day and Dr. Fink on just two songs). Prince went all out for this surprise breakthrough album; he shed everything he was supposed to be and incorporated more rock, distinct funk licks, and disco into his weird brand of R&B. He didn't shy away from increasing the amount of risqué subject matter in his music either. His subsequent albums, Purple Rain and 1999 especially, feature noticeably more help from The Revolution and The Time, and while those records rightfully deserve their legendary acclaim, there is a unique sense of intimacy in hearing Prince harmonize with himself on simplistic synth funk tracks. Dirty Mind is less than 30 minutes long and the individual arrangements are concise as well, yet the album remains a raw and close look into the core of Prince's music and personality. Only artists with something truly incredible to offer can display the same insight and originality in their most rudimentary works that is heard in their career defining epics.