The thump of the music could still be considered R&B, the tinny synthesizers and trebly guitars on the title track are straight out of new wave. “When You Were Mine” has the same sound, but is even more catchy, with Beatlesque harmonies that made it an obvious choice for covers early on. An ascending arpeggio opens “Do It All Night”, and he’d apparently just bought a Yamaha electric piano, but the slap funk bass keeps this squarely in the disco. “Gotta Broken Heart Again” practically swings; a little slight but genuinely tuneful.
Side two is all about provocation. “Uptown” and “Partyup” start and close the side respectively, and disguise racial relations, anti-war concerns and sexual identity issues within boisterous beats. But most people talked about the two songs in between. “Head” is the option offered by one particular conquest, voiced here by new band member Lisa Coleman. “Sister” is exactly what you suspect, delivered at pogo-speed in 90 seconds. Each track is crammed up against the next, sometimes with a dissonant flourish, and no room to breathe.
Barely half an hour long, Dirty Mind brings Prince solidly into the ‘80s, and closer still to the icon he’d become. Best of all, he was getting more confident in his voice, doubling the falsetto with a more natural register. And even though they’re not on the bulk of the album (a keyboard here, a vocal there), the inner sleeve shows future members of the Revolution. Not pictured, but supposedly involved in “Partyup”, is one Morris Day.
Prince Dirty Mind (1980)—3