Prince (1979)


  
1. I Wanna Be Your Lover 2. Why You Wanna Treat Me So Bad 3. Sexy Dancer 4. When We're Dancing Close and Slow 5. With You 6. Bambi 7. Still Waiting 8. I'll Feel For You 9. It's Gonna Be Lonely

 

For years, I always thought that Prince’s eponymous album was his first album. Don’t most artists name their first album after themselves? Not that this is really important. This album is actually tons better than his first album (which was pretty good), yet at the same time, not nearly as daring or adventures as his immediate records that followed. Music wise, Prince is still doing everything himself. He wrote, produced, and played 99% of the instruments. It’s just that this time he’s a bit more seasoned, a bit more experienced, and seems to have learned how to perfect the structure of a song.

Side one of this album is darn near flawless. The first three tracks I Wanna Be Your Lover, Why You Wanna Treat Me So Bad and Sexy Dancer seem to all follow a similar pattern – each song begins with a couple of minutes of a straight-forward, pop-heavy R&B tune followed by a nice little extended jam. The second of these songs finally gives Prince a chance to show off his mean guitar playing. He was always so highly underrated in the guitar department, and this one was his first “guitar” masterpiece, yet until the jam at the end, his playing manages to say a bit buried in the mix. The last minute of the song, though, - pretty incredible stuff. His piano playing at the end of Sexy Dancer is pretty impressive as well. He closes side one with When We’re Dancing Slow and Close which shows off his softer, slower side and he doesn’t disappoint in the department either.

Side two isn’t quite as strong. Most of the material is good however. Sadly, there’s one turkey. The cut Bambi has Prince trying too hard to be an all-out rock and roller. It’s loud, it’s heavy, it screeches, it screams, but it seems a bit too out of place within all this great pure R&B music. Most music fans are familiar with I Feel For You, although it may be recognizable by most in a different version by a different artist. This may have been the first of Prince’s many songs that he wrote that was made famous by another artist (Chaka Khan released it around 1984, I think).

This would be the last Prince album, for awhile anyway, that was pretty straightforward soul and R&B. He was about to conquer the world with his unique brand of hard, pulsating, funk while showing a bit of a nasty, sexy side. So, you could say that this album was still a phase of his maturing, or growing up. Fortunately, though there are no seams to show in this process. This album stands out just fine on its own without any growing pains. And let’s also remember, the kid was only 20 years old at the time.

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