Controversy (1981)

1. Controversy 2. Sexuality 3. Do Me, Baby 4. Private Joy 5. Ronnie Talk To Russia 6. Let's Work 7. Annie Christian 8. Jack U Off


I wasn’t following the career of Prince this early in his career, but apparently this album was a response to the….well………controversy surrounding the artist. For the most part, artists and records weren’t quite as explicit as they would be in following years, so when Prince was appearing on his album covers with more clothes off than on and singing some risqué lyrics in places, it caused a minor stir. So this album is sort of a loose response. I say “loose” because with all the talk of sex, religion, and politics on this album, it mostly hovers in the background, and in the foreground, once again, is some excellent music. In other words, regardless of whatever lyrics he decided to include, nothing could cause this great set of songs be anything but incredible.

He does turn the pulsating funk down a bit from last year’s Dirty Mind, but in its place remains some great soul filled, r&b, and lightly funk filled well….controversial tunes. Prince’s largest offences were always in the area of explicit sex, and this record is no exception. The one song here that is slightly weaker than the rest is the eight minute Do Me, Baby that seems to spend as much of its song length emulating an orgasm as it does in putting forth memorable music. For those who don’t want their albums sounding like a porno movie, you can skip the last three minutes or so of this track. The music is good, but it’s almost a bit much. Then we get to the closing number Jack U Off. Nothing else really needs to be said. Except, for, well again the music is exceptional despite the overt suggestive tones.

For pure listening joy, songs such as Sexuality, Private Joy, and Let’s Work seem to be nothing but classic Prince tunes. Listen closely, you can hear his guitar strongly enhancing the pieces. I’ve talked about his guitar in a lot of my reviews. I’m not sure why since he basically plays every instrument, and does quite well no matter which one he’s playing.

In the slightly bizarre department, we have Ronnie Talk to Russia and the chant-like Annie Christian. Lots of politics hidden behind the weirdness, but both of these tracks rank amongst his very best even though most are probably not foo familiar. Despite their weirdness, they’re awfully fun to dance and chant along with while listening.

So, yes, this album does get labeled as “political” but Prince proves that he can pull this off without sounding preachy and alienating anyone that might take offense. Like the last few records that came out before this one, and the next few that would follow, this album remains one of his best during this particular phase of his career – arguably his best career phase.

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