Classic Album Review: Prince – 1999 [1982, Warner Bros.]

If you were to ask me who I thought was the most talented songwriter in the world, you might think I’d be hard pressed to come up with a definitive answer.

You’d be wrong.

In the hybrid category of overall singer / composer / musician of 26-odd instruments, there can only be one winner. Prince Rogers Nelson takes this title without any hesitation on my part, and despite his going off the eccentric Jehovah’s Witness deep-end well over a decade ago, I still think he is the most talented musical icon of all time. He trumps Madonna in chart-accessible rebirth. He kicks the Beatles’ catalog. He oozes pop from his every orifice. He is the most overtly sexual songwriter of all time. And more so than anyone else I can name, Prince has consistently proved that he is an endless factory of eclecticism, genuine sexuality, and ass-shakingness, which brings us to 1999.

1999 arguably takes the cake in terms of best party album of all time. Everything on this damn thing makes you want to either scream-sing at the top of your lungs or embrace the loose morality of getting “down” with your bad self (Dance Music Sex Romance). This album embodies the most positive and life-affirming heathen ethics. There are some gems on here that never fully hit the public’s radar with the full breadth I would’ve expected it to, and it’s puzzling to me why some of them weren’t chart toppers while others were.

Out of all of the albums I’m reviewing for this series, I would have to say that this is the most primal and lighthearted, least cerebral, and surprisingly, least emotional. All 1999 incites in me is a desire to get out like a dancing, singing fool (and I emphasize the fool part).

The album’s title track was something I couldn’t listen to throughout the 00’s, abandoning it due to Y2K overplay. It feels kind of like fictional farce 11 years later, but the nail-biting in 1999 was real. My computer science professor had managed to convince us all that the bulk of the world was running on COBOL, which was incapable of handling the rollover to 2000. Everything will revert back to 1900!, he said, and we either apathetically or stupidly semi-believed him (what can I say, he was dumb, and we were dumber). Listening to 1999 again, I think it’s a shame that it carried the taint of Y2K mania. It’s still an ultimate party song with all of the trimmings.

Let’s go through the rest:

Little Red Corvette – Prince seems to have a shitload of songs that play as explicit sexual innuendo. He is one of the few people who is able to balance “suggestive” with “crude”, while still staying under the radar of pop culture. It’s hard to believe that LRC is still Prince’s biggest hit to date, but then I used to listen to it like the dickens, not really picking up on anything it really meant (essentially sleeping with a slut). The drum beat is still ultra tight.

Delirious – Much of this feels borrowed from “Horny Toad”, but no matter. Another example of sex flying below the censors. Probably the weakest track off the album–weird to think this charted.

Let’s Pretend We’re Married – Another favorite that didn’t receive as much attention…I always notice this as a conspicuous oversight in all “best of” Prince collections, and I’m not sure why it never captured public imagination as much as some others.  “If you’re free for the next couple of hours / If you’re free for the next seven years!”

D.M.S.R. – May very well be my favorite track off the entire album. Over 8 minutes of ass shaking, love making, I guess this is the whole theme of the entire album. We’re all going to hell, but we might as well enjoy a lot of sex in the meantime, irregardless. I just felt like using the word “irregardless” there.

Automatic – Another gem. More than anyone else, Prince has a way with keyboards, and the head boppingness makes you completely forget about the completely inane lyrics.

Something in the Water (does not compute) and Free were kind of write-offs, with Free being the sort of life after death ballad that athiests ignore. Looking at the album’s two main themes, every song either revolves around sex, love or fear of God.

Lady Cab Driver – Sure, the sounds oddly like Irresistible Bitch, but if anyone were to ask me what good, accessible funk music was, I’d point them to Lady Cab Driver. It’s easy to see why Prince was such a ladies man in spite of the fact that he essentially looked like a short, wizened monkey in high heels.

All the Critics Love U in New York – Kind of an eerie number, but catchy nonetheless.

International Lover – Totally reminiscent of a jazzier Nothing Compares 2 U.

Although so many of these songs remind me of so many others in Prince’s catalog, I have to say that no one recycles like this man (and anyone who writes over 15,000 songs can be excused for some creative borrowing from himself). He has the ability to make new out of something familiar; to make something filthy sound innocuous; and to make a 9 minute musical tirade feel palatable.

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Posted on by Allison in Albums, Classic Albums, Everything, Music

About Allison

Crankypants.

2 Responses to Classic Album Review: Prince – 1999 [1982, Warner Bros.]

  1. josh

    Nice! this definately fits into the Britpop category.

  2. Allison

    Someone has got to educate beyond the standard PM radar.

    Next week’s installment will probably be Orange Juice or something else along those lines. Maybe Prefab Sprout (Steve McQueen).

  3. Pingback: Prince - 1999 « RVJ PREMIUM

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