Tuesday, September 13, 2016

Prince 2: Prince

The inner sleeve of his debut album depicted Prince in triptych, shirtless and possibly pantsless, with a guitar for modesty. For his self-titled follow-up, we get to see his hairy chest in living color, life size on the front cover, and riding a winged white horse on the back.
The lyrics are not only more suggestive, but more blatant. The music is much the same, made for dancing, but he’s been working on his hooks. One of those kicks off the proceedings, and “I Wanna Be Your Lover” became his first real hit. (The album cut contains another two minutes of synth and clavinet.) “Why You Wanna Treat Me So Bad” is in the same mode, but he lets loose with a ripping guitar solo that’s unmistakably him. “Sexy Dancer” is a throwaway dance number, except that the musical interplay (again, all him) is excellent. That trifle to one side, “When We’re Dancing Close And Slow” is a seduction over two chords, with a lot of melodic variations to keep it from being monotonous.
In the same slow jam vein, “With You” could almost be a Bee Gees ballad from the same period. Then, with heavy fuzzed guitars and even a cowbell, “Bambi” approaches rock, and appears to be an angry lament for a woman who spurned him for—wait for it—another woman. The piano and acoustic guitar on “Still Waiting” sound both R&B and country, giving more spectrum to his sound. If you listen carefully to “I Feel For You”, you can hear the basis of the arrangement Chaka Khan made a hit five years on. The album ends with “It’s Gonna Be Lonely”, another slow jam that at least tries to stay out of lyrical clich├ęs.
While more diverse than his first album, Prince relies too much on the falsetto. But it starts strong, and the rock elements scattered throughout are a good sign. Plus, it’s always nice to hear real drums when machines are handy.

Prince Prince (1979)—

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