Daily Dischord’s Monday Mixtape – 16/01/2012

It feels like it’s been a while since I did a Monday Mixtape and the buck has landed with me not a moment too soon because it finds me in the middle of a Prince binge.

So that’s this week’s theme. Prince. But not the popular Prince songs, oh no, I’m going for slightly lesser known album tracks in order to really demonstrate the musical diversity of The Purple One. Having released an album a year from 1978 to 2010, you’d be hard pressed to find any artist who has released thirty-three records in their entire career let alone an album a year (at least) in the same space of time. Quite a feat in itself, but when you realise that the vast majority of the music recorded by him was also written, composed, produced and played by him, you can see why many think he’s a modern day Mozart.

Let’s get cracking.

Prince – Alphabet St.

By now it’s a well-known fact that Prince’s 80s output is basically untouchable in terms of creativity and productivity. This one comes from the rather lacklustre 1988 Lovesexy album and shows off his immense flair for combining psychedelia, pop and funk in a way that is quintessentially Prince. It was actually a pretty successful single both here in the UK and overseas in the US but it’s often overlooked due to the sheer number of amazing tunes he released as singles in 80s. The rap section by Cat Power is a little weird I admit, nevertheless it’s still a great track.

Prince – Dreamer

Now this track is a particularly rare example of something which has, by and large, eluded the artist for the past decade – a genuinely good song. Although the 2009 double album LOtUSFLOW3R/MPLSºUND is one half blues rock, one half 80s funk reinvention, it’s the former of the pair, where Prince goes straight up rock, which is the more impressive of the two. Not that it’s anything to write home about you understand – as things go it’s a pretty dull album – yet from that miasma of mediocrity we find Prince channelling the spirit of Hendrix in this hard rockin’ blues jam. The late 90s and 00s have very little worth mentioning musically for Prince and that’s probably what makes this track so good.

Prince and the New Power Generation – Endorphinmachine

I’ve played this on the radio show and as it stands it’s easily one of my favourite songs by the man and it’s not hard to see why. After disbanding his backing band The Revolution at the end of theParade tour in 1986, Prince would later go on to form a new backing band called the New Power Generation in 1990. In my opinion, whilst being perhaps the most talented outfit he has ever assembled (and that’s saying something because the band which he had on the Sign o the Times tour in 1987 were exceptional) they just never really had the same creative spark with Prince that The Revolution had. When Prince decided to stop using his real name in favour of using the unpronounceable Love Symbol in 1993, in order to get out of a contract with Warner Bros., he handed the record label two albums – Come and The Gold Experience. The Gold Experience was designed to be Prince’s big statement of the 90s, hisPurple Rain of the 90s if you will, and it demonstrated that he could write immense pop records whenever he wanted. Prince subsequently became jaded with the record, even though it yielded two massive hits in the form of ‘Gold’ and ‘The Most Beautiful Girl in the World’, and refused to promote it. Which is a shame really because it’s choc full of great tunes and this is just an example of that.

Essentially a big loud rock song with the funk turned up to eleven and a huge stomping riff, this could have taken Prince to a whole new audience in the 90s. But it didn’t, and even though Warner Bros. released it two years after Prince handed it to them (to critical acclaim in 1995), it was overshadowed by some truly amazing records by other artists which were released in the same year (with Radiohead, Blur, Oasis, Smashing Pumpkins and PJ Harvey being just a few of those who released stunning records in 95). It could have been huge, this song proves that, and if you only listen to one song on this mixtape make sure it’s this one.

Prince and The Revolution – Darling Nikki

And speaking of The Revolution and Purple Rain it would be downright wrong not to include something from his most successful Oscar and Grammy winning record. All the singles from it were ace and all the songs on it are ace. A prime example of Prince at his downright filthiest, this slow rock infused RnB jam was single handedly responsible for Tipper Gore’s PMRC and the crusade of censorship which hit the US music industry in a pretty hard way in the 80s. But really, if she didn’t know Prince was filthy and decided to buy her daughter a record which contains a song like this then really, she should have done her homework. So good.

NB: I couldn’t get the original version of the track on Grooveshark so the playlist contains a weird bootleg. You can find the original here.

Prince – I Could Never Take the Place of Your Man

Ah yes, now the reason I say that Purple Rain isn’t Prince’s best record is because Sign o the Times is definitely his magnum opus. After losing the backing band and deciding to go completely solo, The Purple One changed tack entirely for the dark, multi-layered, multi-faceted and even more genre bending double album Sign o the Times, with the result being a collection of songs which are mind blowingly good. Wendy and Lisa, The Revolution’s guitarist and keyboardist respectively, later said that when they heard this album they realised that they were not only “gone” from Prince’s legacy but they were “so gone” sand the results speak for themselves. Having dealt with him for a number of years they were acutely aware at just how hard he worked: playing shows, after show parties and recording on the road, but no one was ready for this. ‘I Could Never Take the Place of Your Man’ is Prince in pop mode, giving us a massive chorus, hooks aplenty and his best guitar solo. It’s a song which displays all of Prince’s many talents, doing so to such a staggering degree that it’s hard to see beyond his genius. Really, if this song doesn’t make you a fan then there’s no hope for you.

  • James Riddell

    I remember well the first time I heard Darling Nikki. I don’t think anyone at that time could have been in any doubt about the capability of Prince to have come up with a gem like this. It  was, after all at a time when he was hardly out of the tabloids. More to do with his seemingly voracious appetite, than his ensuing  babbling religious semi-hermit days. Another image we can thank the tabloids and Spitting Image for. In years to come, his influence and back catalogue will, I’m sure be much lauded, quoted and discussed.

  • http://www.facebook.com/THMRK Mark Fraser

    I think you’re right, although I also think it’s now too late for his music to be deem truly influential especially given that he’s not released anything of merit for a good 15 years.