1999 (1982)


  
1. 1999 2. Little Red Corvette 3. Delirious 4. Let's Pretend We're Married 5. D.M.S.R. 6. Automatic 7. Something in the Water (Does Not Compute) 8. Free 9. Lady Cab Driver 10.All the Critics Love U In New York 11.International Lover

 

The album where Prince “crossed over” (finally) to the white audiences. Millions of new fans were born upon the very first listen. Dance Clubs and High School Gymnasiums would wear out this record. Whereas all fans have their personal favorites, you could make a strong argument that this record was Prince’s best at the particular time. It certainly was the most ambitious. A double album. Only eleven songs, mind you, meaning the average length of each song is in the seven-minute range. He pulls out all the stops on this one. Like Dirty Mind, this album is basically a non-stop musical party. Whereas that album only lasted 30 minutes, this one is allowed to go to 70.

Highlights? Well, the easy answer is everything. The majority of the music is Prince’s now trademark hard core funk. About 80% of these tracks easily fit into such a category. Highlights include , Lady Cab Driver, and the lead off single title cut that is arguably the best party anthem of the decade and sets the tone well for the rest of the record. Oh, sure, lyrically it’s about nuclear war, but let’s not kid each other, we’re not listening to this album for its lyrics. Speaking of music and lyrics, this is the first album where Prince features a backup band in the studio, this one called “The Revolution”. I guess you can say that adding musicians adds a bit of color to the recordings, but had someone told me that Prince played all the instruments himself (as he basically did on all previous releases), I probably couldn’t tell much of a difference.

He really doesn’t stray too much from the formula. Ironically, when he does, it just so happens that those particular tunes happen to be the strongest on the entire album. Witness Little Red Corvette for example. There’s really not that much funky about this tune (other than Prince’s trademark swooning and grunting) – it’s one of the most straightforward tracks here, but, at least radio wise, it could be argued that it’s the best thing on the entire album. You could make the same argument for the bippy boppy Delirious. It only takes one listen and that song’s quirky keyboard melody will be stuck in one’s head forever

The first album of this two album set is far superior and is basically flawless. The second record takes a few more chances, and whereas there definitely isn’t anything bad on record number 2, sometimes things get a bit much for the listener. Automatic is another great funk stomper, yet this is one of those songs where Prince feels it’s necessary to “have sex” during the song. In this case, it’s hard core S&M sex, and I must confess that this is a bit much for my tastes. I would recommend using an audio editor and fading out the last two and a half minutes of this song (which, oddly, still leaves you with a seven-minute song). On the other end of the spectrum is the patriotic anthem Free which seems a bit preachy. Now, there’s definitely nothing wrong with being preachy, and Prince would have a lot of first class preachy material in the years to come, but it seems a tad out of place here. It’s kinda hard to keep dancing once we get to this track.

Perhaps it’s my short attention span, but when we finally get to the closing tracks All the Critics Love U in New York and, especially International Lover, I confess that I feel a bit tired. Listening to those songs individually is almost more rewarding than hearing them at the end of a 70 minute or so marathon.

There will always be some who never “got” Prince, and that is actually fine. There’s nothing wrong with diverse people having diverse tastes in music. You could almost use this album as a litmus test. If you absolutely can’t stand this album, you probably won’t like anything Prince ever did. Odds are, though, that everyone can find some things on this sprawling record to like. To love, probably.

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