There’s a difference between an artist’s best album and your favorite album of theirs. Sort of. Maybe. Kinda. In many cases, my favorite album by a band or artist is the one that’s the canon favorite (Trail of Dead, Interpol, The Rapture…most ’00s indie bands I suppose). But in a lot of situations, my personal favorite is something different. A more underrated album perhaps.
With Prince, it’s hard to call anything underrated. He was a massive star, a genius that earned everything ever said about him, and one of the greatest musicians/artists/icons to ever grace this earth (and we didn’t have him long enough). Everybody loves Purple Rain. Everybody should love Purple Rain. If you don’t love Purple Rain, then something is seriously wrong. If you find yourself in this situation, listen to it again. And again. Until it clicks. It will.
Purple Rain is one of the few cases of massive acclaim and monoculture that I’m 100 percent behind. Usually when everybody loves something, I’m skeptical. But not Purple Rain. Still, I might say my personal favorite (not saying it’s a better album, but shit it’s close) is Dirty Mind. It’s a relatively brief album, at just a hair over a half-hour. And it’s a new wavey kind of funk album that seems humbler and more raw in the face of Prince’s bigger productions later on. It makes it sound a little more punk, honestly. I kinda love that.
This isn’t where Prince started to get raunchy, but he went wild with it. “Head” is one of his funkiest tracks ever, about what you think it is. “Sister” is one of the most provocative things he’s ever written. And “Uptown” celebrated sexuality and rule-breaking defiance of gender norms that seems pretty radical now. And every single song is an absolute banger. Of course.
I had a copy of this album on CD well before I picked up the vinyl version at the Record Swap, but once I saw it I didn’t even think about it. Obviously you need Dirty Mind on vinyl. I definitely needed it. I might even listen to this one more than Purple Rain, come to think of it. Whatever the case, it’s proof of how great Prince was very early in his career, and an album that I’ll always have a special place for. Maybe it’s not Prince’s best album (though like I said, there’s an argument for it) but it’s my own personal favorite.
Sound Quality: Great
(Side note: I’m conflicted about Prince being ubiquitous on the Internet now. It’s great that you can find his music everywhere, but that’s not what he wanted and I feel weird about it…)