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Thread started 06/07/20 10:19am

jayceman

St Paul Pioneer Press- Prince's 10 greatest albums ranked

In lieu of any REAL news (like a SOTT deluxe tracklist), looks like the PiPress had to publish SOME content on P's birthday, so columnist Ross Raihala ranked his Top 10 LPs.

(The more I see these lists, the more they mean nothing to me, as it all seems subjective and just an extension of one person's opinion-- spoiler, no real surprises below, but discuss...)

https://www.twincities.co...ms-ranked/


To celebrate Prince’s birthday, here are his 10 greatest albums ranked

Prince would have turned 62 on Sunday.
For the first time, his estate had planned to hold its annual Paisley Park Celebration event to tie in with the date of his birth, not the anniversary of his death. But that, like everything else, has been delayed into an uncertain future due to the pandemic.
One can only imagine what Prince would think about the world right now if he was still around. He’s not, yet his spirit lives on through his music and his fans. While it’s a gift he would not have welcomed, I decided to mark the Purple One’s birthday by ranking his 10 finest albums. If anyone ever tells you they don’t understand why Prince was such a big deal, give them one of these records, a nod and a smile.

10.) “Parade” (1986)

“Kiss,” the epic lead single from Prince’s eighth album stands as one of his greatest achievements. It’s the sort of song every musician would love to write, but could never pull off. And, at first, Prince was ready to give it away.
In the mid-’80s, Prince and Revolution bassist Mark “Brownmark” Brown assembled a new R&B band dubbed Mazarati. The Purple One gave the nascent group an acoustic demo of “Kiss” with the idea Mazarati would record it for their debut album. After the band and producer David Z. tinkered with the arrangement, Prince snatched it back, made a few more changes and pushed for it to be a single over the wishes of his record label. It went on to become his third No. 1 hit, win a Grammy and inspire memorable covers by Art of Noise (with Tom Jones on vocals) and Age of Chance.
As for the rest of “Parade,” it serves as the soundtrack to “Under the Cherry Moon,” the utterly bonkers feature film written and directed by Prince. It’s a collection of adventurous, sometimes off-kilter songs, from the joyous “Mountains” (one of Prince’s often overlooked classics) to the tragic “Sometimes it Snows in April” (Prince died 31 years to the day he recorded it).


9.) “Come” (1994)

By 1994, Prince was well into his widely publicized battle with Warner Bros. over the control of his career’s direction. He was churning out new songs at a rapid pace, but his label worried about oversaturating the market, which was a valid argument as Prince’s commercial standing in 1994 was, at best, starting to wobble.
At the time, Prince had several projects in various states of completion, from an “interactive musical experience” loosely based on Homer’s “Odyssey” to a triple-album dubbed “The Dawn.” He ended up assembling a pair of albums from the material – “Come” and “The Gold Experience” – and turned them in to his label on the same day.
Warner Bros. put out “Come” first, but for whatever reason, Prince tried his hardest to sabotage it. The dramatic cover art included the words “Prince: 1958-1993,” a signal that from that point on the Prince we thought we knew was gone. He changed his name to a symbol and essentially pretended “Come” never existed. Which is too bad, as it’s a thrilling listen with a dark, techno-inspired vibe quite unlike anything he had done at that point.


8.) “3121” (2006)

After spending the first few years of the new century toiling away in semi-obscurity, Prince decided he was ready to be famous again in 2004. He released “Musicology” – his most commercial album in a decade – and embarked on what would be his final traditional arena tour. Oh, and he was also inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.
But in retrospect, “Musicology” seems far too safe and polite. With “3121,” Prince produced a record oozing with confidence, to the point of cockiness. From the lush bossa nova of “Te Amo Corazon” to the taut electrofunk of “Black Sweat,” pretty much every song on “3121” is a winner.
Prince had plenty of ideas to promote the record, from a (not great) perfume to a never-launched magazine, but he ended up playing a series of theaters backing his then-current protege Tamar, his duet partner on “Beautiful, Loved and Blessed.” Despite showing great Tina Turner-style promise, Tamar soon got the boot and Prince, as always, marched forward.


7.) “Prince” (1979)

Prince was still a teenager when he recorded his debut album “For You,” an impressive first effort that he wrote, recorded and performed almost entirely by himself. The following year, Prince started a live band and played his first show at Minneapolis’ Capri Theater. The experience clearly broadened the young Minnesotan’s horizons as his self-titled sophomore record crackles with excitement, starting with the bold one-two-three punch of the opening tracks “I Wanna Be Your Lover” (his first major hit), “Why You Wanna Treat Me So Bad” and “Sexy Dancer.”
“Prince” is such a strong album, one of its best tracks, “I Feel for You,” wasn’t even a single. Five years later, Chaka Khan wisely resurrected it and her distinctive cover version helped relaunch her career.


6.) “Emancipation” (1996)

One of the many issues Prince had with Warner Bros. is that the label wanted to release music on its schedule, not Prince’s. So when he finally was free from the contract, Prince surprised nobody by releasing the sprawling three-hour epic “Emancipation.”
For the bulk of his career, Prince hid behind his larger-than-life persona, but “Emancipation” offers some of his most personal, intimate songs that celebrate both his newfound musical freedom and his then-new wife, Mayte Garcia. The couple had a child that died shortly after birth, about a month before “Emancipation” hit stores. Prince used a recording of his baby’s heartbeat in the song “Sex in the Summer.”
Prince dabbled in the blues and house music and, for the first time, covered songs from other artists: “I Can’t Make You Love Me” (Bonnie Raitt), “Betcha by Golly Wow” (the Stylistics), “La-La (Means I Love You)” (the Delfonics) and, weirdly, “One of Us” (Joan Osborne). Not every one of “Emancipation’s” 36 songs works, but the sheer depth and breadth of “Emancipation” remains impressive to this day.


5.) “Around the World in a Day” (1985)

“Purple Rain” made Prince a worldwide superstar and Warner Bros. surely would have been happy to let its success spill over into a second year. Prince, of course, had other ideas and handed the label “Around the World in a Day,” a psychedelic rock album that shared little in common with its predecessor, let alone anything else on radio at the time.
Prince also insisted the label issue the album with little fanfare. He wanted it to be seen and heard as a complete work and refused to release a single until several weeks after the record was in stores. The giddy “Raspberry Beret” gave Prince another hit, while the sly “Pop Life” has never gotten its proper due as a minor masterpiece.
“Around the World in a Day” was far too insular and contemplative to replicate the success of “Purple Rain,” but it sounds stronger than ever some 35 years later.


4.) “Dirty Mind” (1980)

Prince meant it when he called his third album “Dirty Mind.” It’s stuffed with sometimes still-shockingly explicit songs and wrapped in a cover featuring a come-hither, bare-chested Prince clad in a bikini bottom, open jacket and little else (other than a criminal amount of mascara).
Beyond its lyrics, though, “Dirty Mind” is most notable for its diversity in sounds, with Prince exploring rock, new wave and funk after sticking largely to straightforward R&B on his first two records. This was Prince declaring to the world for the first time that he could do any style and he could do it better than anyone else.
The title track, “Uptown” and “Partyup” are highlights, but once again, it took another artist to turn one of the best songs into a hit, which is what Cyndi Lauper did with her winning take on “When You Were Mine.”


3.) “1999” (1982)

Prince’s first four albums earned warm reviews and a cult following. But “1999” firmly established Prince in the mainstream thanks to its title track, “Delirious” and “Little Red Corvette.” It didn’t hurt matters that it arrived just as MTV started to play black artists. With his distinct image, infectious songs and general air of mystery and danger, Prince proved to be the ideal star for the video age.
The idea of the Minneapolis Sound really coalesced with “1999,” with its taut electronic rhythms, raging guitars and Prince’s otherworldly vocals. At 70 minutes and 11 songs, it was Prince’s first double album. But he had plenty more material under his belt, as was revealed through the two dozen previously unreleased studio tracks from the era that appeared on this past November’s deluxe reissue of the record.


2.) “Purple Rain” (1984)

When an artist in any medium produces something as wildly successful as “Purple Rain,” it’s can be tempting to dismiss it. But “Purple Rain” more than holds up. If anything, it’s hard to believe it could be any better. Now more than ever, it feels like an instant greatest hits album that opens with “Let’s Go Crazy” and wraps with “Purple Rain.” Prince was burning so hot, even one of the b-sides – the steamy “Erotic City” – is nearly as well known and regarded as any of the songs that made the album.
Michael Jackson’s “Thriller” may have sold more copies, but “Purple Rain” changed music forever.


1.) “Sign o’ the Times” (1987)

One of the greatest things about Prince was his musical flexibility and wide range. Time and time again, he proved he could tackle any style, any topic and break every rule in the book while doing so.
In terms of grand sweep, “Sign o’ the Times” is his crowning achievement. As he did throughout his career, Prince took the best bits from several in-the-works projects and created a double album of pure magic. It feels like a sonic roller coaster as it jumps from the dark minimalism of the title track to the filthy funk of “It” to the childlike pop of “Starfish and Coffee” to the deep spiritualism of “The Cross.”
“Purple Rain” proved Prince was a superstar. “Sign o’ the Times” proved Prince was one of the greatest artists of the 20th century.

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Reply #1 posted 06/07/20 10:45am

WhisperingDand
elions

avatar

jayceman said:

spoiler, no real surprises below, but discuss...


I disagree. I find the inclusion (and the modern reassessment in general) of Come to be relatively surprising. For decades on any Prince bio or album review aggregator it's been written off like a phoned-in throwaway and consistently castigated by mainstream critics as his worst album by sheer virtue of promotional design. I remember there was a poster here the other month reciting the age-old narrative that The Gold Experience was the era's quality tracks, Come was the era's filler.

I think most modern fans who actually go back can discover Come has some very strong, still relevant material and time wasn't as kind Gold's overall design... I've definitely witnessed the appraisals here evolve over many years... I'm one who agrees, Come is a great record, I thought this the first time I heard it after years of avoiding it due to its previous reputation and having it be my absolute last Prince album to check-off the list at the time.

It's just surprising to see a mainstream list, the same mainstream that made it such a pariah, share in the same general reappraisal.

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Reply #2 posted 06/07/20 10:49am

WhisperingDand
elions

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Damn, it even edged out Parade on this list, that's gonna be some "Controversy" 'round these parts. Unprecedented. C'mon, this list is surprising based on that alone. Emancipation's placement is also unique.

[Edited 6/7/20 10:50am]

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Reply #3 posted 06/07/20 1:44pm

EnDoRpHn

WhisperingDandelions said:

Damn, it even edged out Parade on this list, that's gonna be some "Controversy" 'round these parts. Unprecedented. C'mon, this list is surprising based on that alone. Emancipation's placement is also unique.

[Edited 6/7/20 10:50am]

Everybody's got their favorites.

1999 is the only Prince album that flows more continuously than Parade. (Both do what he intended with Lovesexy.) Whether one appreciates the artistry of Parade is another question, but to deride it as a "collection of adventurous, sometimes off-kilter songs" is revealing.

I would certainly rate Come ahead of both Emancipation and 3121. TRC and LotusFlow3r should be on such a list. I'd knock 3121 and Emancipation off in their favor.

[Edited 6/7/20 13:50pm]

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Reply #4 posted 06/07/20 8:25pm

WhisperingDand
elions

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EnDoRpHn said:

Whether one appreciates the artistry of Parade is another question, but to deride it as a "collection of adventurous, sometimes off-kilter songs" is revealing.

Thing is, I wouldn't classify that descriptor to be anywhere close to derision. Especially in the context of "Top 10", not Bottom 10.

[Edited 6/7/20 20:25pm]

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Reply #5 posted 06/08/20 12:13am

EnDoRpHn

WhisperingDandelions said:

EnDoRpHn said:

Whether one appreciates the artistry of Parade is another question, but to deride it as a "collection of adventurous, sometimes off-kilter songs" is revealing.

Thing is, I wouldn't classify that descriptor to be anywhere close to derision. Especially in the context of "Top 10", not Bottom 10.

[Edited 6/7/20 20:25pm]


What's off-kilter, other than Susannah's voice on SISIA?

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Reply #6 posted 06/08/20 1:12am

TheFreakerFant
astic

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What the hell is 3121 doing on here? It was mostly crap and forgettable imo, mostly him following R and B trends!

Come is good but NOT THAT GOOD.

Where is Controversy? That definitely should be on there, also Diamonds and Pearls!

Nice to see the Prince ('79) album on there though, I always felt that has been massively underrated by fans. Also that Emancipation getting recognition that it deserves, that still sounds fresh today.

[Edited 6/8/20 1:15am]

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Reply #7 posted 06/08/20 2:05am

jaawwnn

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Not a list I necessarily agree with it but nice to see an attempt to include 90s and 2000s albums.


EnDoRpHn said:

WhisperingDandelions said:

Thing is, I wouldn't classify that descriptor to be anywhere close to derision. Especially in the context of "Top 10", not Bottom 10.

[Edited 6/7/20 20:25pm]


What's off-kilter, other than Susannah's voice on SISIA?

Tell me more about how Susannah's voice is a) present, and b) off-kilter on SISIA.

[Edited 6/8/20 2:13am]

"I think people ought to know that we're anti-fascist, we're anti-violence, we're anti-racist and we're pro-creative. We're against ignorance."
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Reply #8 posted 06/08/20 6:13am

hardwork

How you can include "3121" or even "Prince" and NOT include "Controversy" utterly escapes me, although finally bringing "Come" out of the shadows is more than welcome and overdue.

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Reply #9 posted 06/08/20 6:28am

PurpleColossus

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For me, the most surprising inclusions are 3121, Prince, and Emancipation. I do consider them all great albums though.

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Reply #10 posted 06/08/20 6:31am

leecaldon

It's nice to see Emancipation get some love on a list like this - it will always be part of my top 10, and is the album that turned from a casual listener to a true fan.

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Reply #11 posted 06/08/20 6:39am

NouveauDance

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lol

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Reply #12 posted 06/08/20 6:57am

WhisperingDand
elions

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EnDoRpHn said:

WhisperingDandelions said:

Thing is, I wouldn't classify that descriptor to be anywhere close to derision. Especially in the context of "Top 10", not Bottom 10.

[Edited 6/7/20 20:25pm]


What's off-kilter, other than Susannah's voice on SISIA?

They probably mean stuff like "Do U Lie", "Life Can Be So Nice" or even "Under the Cherry Moon" and/or "Venus de Milo"... I wouldn't use the word "off-kilter" exactly, maybe "quirky" is better, but both descriptors probably work better with Around the World in a Day material to me.

I just don't think they were trying to put the album down with that term.

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Reply #13 posted 06/08/20 7:49am

rusty1

This is an awful top ten list.
"Come" & "3121" should never be on any top ten list.
These two could possibly be on his worst albums list.
Prince's top 4, in my opinion, are
"PR"
"Sign o'the Times"
"1999"
"Dirty Mind"

his next 4:
"ATWIAD"
"Controversy"
"Parade"
"Prince"

Numbers 9& 10 :
"Lovesexy"
"D&P"
BOB4theFUNK
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Reply #14 posted 06/08/20 9:47am

EnDoRpHn

rusty1 said:

This is an awful top ten list. "Come" & "3121" should never be on any top ten list. These two could possibly be on his worst albums list. Prince's top 4, in my opinion, are "PR" "Sign o'the Times" "1999" "Dirty Mind" his next 4: "ATWIAD" "Controversy" "Parade" "Prince" Numbers 9& 10 : "Lovesexy" "D&P"


ATWIAD falls apart after Pop Life. Would have been in his top 4 if Temptation and The Ladder had been jettisoned in favor of Girl and She's Always In My Hair.

But grand operatic statements win out on more than one Prince album.

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Reply #15 posted 06/08/20 9:48am

EnDoRpHn

jaawwnn said:

Not a list I necessarily agree with it but nice to see an attempt to include 90s and 2000s albums.


EnDoRpHn said:


What's off-kilter, other than Susannah's voice on SISIA?

Tell me more about how Susannah's voice is a) present, and b) off-kilter on SISIA.

[Edited 6/8/20 2:13am]


Meh, it was one of those twins who can't sing.

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Reply #16 posted 06/08/20 10:07am

jaawwnn

avatar

lol, foiled by your own blind hatred lol

"I think people ought to know that we're anti-fascist, we're anti-violence, we're anti-racist and we're pro-creative. We're against ignorance."
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Reply #17 posted 06/08/20 11:37am

TrevorAyer

where is new power soul? .. this list sux

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Reply #18 posted 06/08/20 11:51am

Ramzoo

avatar

Parade ranked #10? R U kidding me?

eek

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Reply #19 posted 06/08/20 12:35pm

fortuneandsere
ndipity

WhisperingDandelions said:

I disagree. I find the inclusion (and the modern reassessment in general) of Come to be relatively surprising. For decades on any Prince bio or album review aggregator it's been written off like a phoned-in throwaway and consistently castigated by mainstream critics as his worst album by sheer virtue of promotional design. I remember there was a poster here the other month reciting the age-old narrative that The Gold Experience was the era's quality tracks, Come was the era's filler.

I think most modern fans who actually go back can discover Come has some very strong, still relevant material and time wasn't as kind Gold's overall design... I've definitely witnessed the appraisals here evolve over many years... I'm one who agrees, Come is a great record, I thought this the first time I heard it after years of avoiding it due to its previous reputation and having it be my absolute last Prince album to check-off the list at the time.

It's just surprising to see a mainstream list, the same mainstream that made it such a pariah, share in the same general reappraisal.


Agreed. I always loved both albums, as the first P albums I got into. Them and The Black Album. TGE has marginally the better tunes but is overproduced. It's exhausting sometimes just to hear it in one listen.

I quote Eric Leeds, "I don't think he trusts his instincts any longer. I thought it was going to be a great album, but when I heard the final mixes I was very disappointed. I thought he had just completely over-produced the music." Um, he was actually talking about Lovesexy (and I don't agree with him on that but then I didn't hear the original versions). But still, profound stuff. Far out even.

Probably his first overproduced album for me was D&P. But there were also more like 3121 and Musicology. Basically, if your speakers sound too boomy when they don't usually, then the songs have gone west. Kanye west... the apotheosis of overproduction.

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Reply #20 posted 06/08/20 1:34pm

dodger

.
[Edited 6/8/20 13:36pm]
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Reply #21 posted 06/08/20 3:24pm

slyjackson

TheFreakerFantastic said:

What the hell is 3121 doing on here? It was mostly crap and forgettable imo, mostly him following R and B trends!

Come is good but NOT THAT GOOD.

Where is Controversy? That definitely should be on there, also Diamonds and Pearls!

Nice to see the Prince ('79) album on there though, I always felt that has been massively underrated by fans. Also that Emancipation getting recognition that it deserves, that still sounds fresh today.

[Edited 6/8/20 1:15am]

Right? Controversy in an essential album, very good album. Glad to see Come and Emancipation.

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Reply #22 posted 06/08/20 5:15pm

slyjackson

I don't get the praise for Lovesexy, only has got 3 good songs Alphabet, Wish U and Anna, other than that just nothing good.

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Reply #23 posted 06/09/20 3:11am

jaawwnn

avatar

slyjackson said:

I don't get the praise for Lovesexy, only has got 3 good songs Alphabet, Wish U and Anna, other than that just nothing good.

Interesting opinion hmmm . I'll bear it in mind when reading your posts from now on.

"I think people ought to know that we're anti-fascist, we're anti-violence, we're anti-racist and we're pro-creative. We're against ignorance."
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Reply #24 posted 06/09/20 6:23am

leecaldon

rusty1 said:

This is an awful top ten list. "Come" & "3121" should never be on any top ten list. These two could possibly be on his worst albums list. Prince's top 4, in my opinion, are "PR" "Sign o'the Times" "1999" "Dirty Mind" his next 4: "ATWIAD" "Controversy" "Parade" "Prince" Numbers 9& 10 : "Lovesexy" "D&P"

Of course, any top 10 lists exist to start debate. It's all opinion.

I don't think ATWIAD, Lovesexy, D&P and Prince are all that. Still possibly wouldn't put 1999 in my top 10 (it took me a long time to warm the production on that album), and not sure Controversy would either.

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Reply #25 posted 06/09/20 11:27am

namepeace

3121, Emancipation and Come are rarely mentioned on other top 10 lists.

ATWIAD is the album that cemented my Prince fandom but don't consider it a top-10 album.


Good night, sweet Prince | 7 June 1958 - 21 April 2016

Props will be withheld until the showing and proving has commenced. -- Aaron McGruder
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Reply #26 posted 06/09/20 11:28am

namepeace

rusty1 said:

Prince's top 4, in my opinion, are "PR" "Sign o'the Times" "1999" "Dirty Mind"


While I may not have them all in my top 4, all 4 are in my top 10.

Good night, sweet Prince | 7 June 1958 - 21 April 2016

Props will be withheld until the showing and proving has commenced. -- Aaron McGruder
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Reply #27 posted 06/09/20 12:29pm

slyjackson

rusty1 said:

This is an awful top ten list. "Come" & "3121" should never be on any top ten list. These two could possibly be on his worst albums list. Prince's top 4, in my opinion, are "PR" "Sign o'the Times" "1999" "Dirty Mind" his next 4: "ATWIAD" "Controversy" "Parade" "Prince" Numbers 9& 10 : "Lovesexy" "D&P"

I gree wholeheartedly

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Reply #28 posted 06/10/20 4:22pm

rusty1

leecaldon said:



rusty1 said:


This is an awful top ten list. "Come" & "3121" should never be on any top ten list. These two could possibly be on his worst albums list. Prince's top 4, in my opinion, are "PR" "Sign o'the Times" "1999" "Dirty Mind" his next 4: "ATWIAD" "Controversy" "Parade" "Prince" Numbers 9& 10 : "Lovesexy" "D&P"


Of course, any top 10 lists exist to start debate. It's all opinion.



I don't think ATWIAD, Lovesexy, D&P and Prince are all that. Still possibly wouldn't put 1999 in my top 10 (it took me a long time to warm the production on that album), and not sure Controversy would either.



You're kidding me, right?
"1999" will always be a classic album & lead to "PR"
This was the work where he created " The Minneapolis Sound"
a kick ass groundbreaking double album.
Not in your top 10?
" Little Red corvette"
" Something in the Water"
"Automatic"
Not in your Top 10🙄
It will always be on every Top 10 list of Prince
die hard fans
[Edited 6/10/20 16:24pm]
BOB4theFUNK
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Reply #29 posted 06/10/20 4:40pm

WhisperingDand
elions

avatar

rusty1 said:

leecaldon said:

Of course, any top 10 lists exist to start debate. It's all opinion.

I don't think ATWIAD, Lovesexy, D&P and Prince are all that. Still possibly wouldn't put 1999 in my top 10 (it took me a long time to warm the production on that album), and not sure Controversy would either.

You're kidding me, right? "1999" will always be a classic album & lead to "PR" This was the work where he created " The Minneapolis Sound" a kick ass groundbreaking double album. Not in your top 10? " Little Red corvette" " Something in the Water" "Automatic" Not in your Top 10🙄 It will always be on every Top 10 list of Prince die hard fans [Edited 6/10/20 16:24pm]

It's not on my Top 10 either. While the songs you listed specifically are fantastic and while the sound itself of the record is quite innovative, a lot of the songs like "Delirious", "Free", "Let's Pretend We're Married", and "All the Critics Love U in New York" are kind of meandering and slightly annoying after the durations he decided to stretch every track to on that record. The cold robofunk I dig, but it's really just a portion of the record... if it all had "Something in the Water" type vibes we'd be talking Top 1 material.

[Edited 6/10/20 16:41pm]

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