Tuesday, April 26, 2016

Prince 1: For You

It took a while for Prince to prove himself as the musical genius he knew he was, but he makes a bold statement with his debut album. For You begins with the lush chorale of a title track, several voices layered, all him. In fact, as it would be going forward, he “produced, arranged, composed and performed” the entire contents of the album, at the age of only 19. The original inner sleeve even went ahead and detailed the instruments used on each track.
One-man bands always inspire at least an eyebrow raise, and sometimes they even impress. With its late-‘70s studio production, it’s far from a glorified demo. Much of the album is right in line with disco-funk, dominated by a falsetto voice. “In Love” is heavily synth-driven, with an almost puppy love lyric; maybe he wanted to get that out of the way before the more provocative “Soft And Wet”. The one time he displays a deep voice leaps out of the track. “Crazy You” is brief, smooth and jazzy, and a good diversion before the danceable “Just As Long As We’re Together” is extended to a six-minute jam.
The kid knew how to program albums, so “Baby” kicks off the second side with a strong intro before moving into more of a romantic slow jam with swirling string parts. “My Love Is Forever” covers the same lyrical territory, and is back in line with the dance tracks on side one, but lets a few guitar solos through. Which brings us to “So Blue”, with a hammered bass and acoustic harmonics intro that seems to predict some of the more upbeat Windham Hill albums, and turns into another jazzy piece. He turns the guitars back up for “I’m Yours”, making the track much more aggressive than the lyrics suggest. (“Never have I ever made love before.” Good to know.)
For You is competent, though not striking. Outside of “Soft And Wet”, there’s nothing really “decadent” here, none of the words R abbreviated, and God is the 1st 2 B thanked. (Sorry.) Beyond that, variety would make a difference, and he’d get going on that soon enough.

Prince For You (1978)—

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