MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — Prince left us with countless hits, and allegedly a vault of hundreds of unreleased jams.
In the aftermath of his sudden and shocking departure from Planet Earth, fans and newbies alike will be digging into his back catalog, eager to stumble upon unheralded gems.
As a starting point, here are 10 Prince tunes — ranked from oldest to newest — that could use some more love.
“Crazy You” — From the album “For You” (1977)
Prince was just 19 when he cut his debut album in 1977. Even though “Crazy You” barely hits the two-minute mark, it’s one of the stand-out tracks. It’s a minimal, groovy ballad (with occasional spacey sound effects) that seems like it could’ve been made this year. Right out of the gate, Prince was ahead of his time.
“Sexy Dancer” — From the album “Prince” (1979)
This funktastic-disco jam from Prince’s self-titled second album is one he revisited on tour throughout the years. There’s not much in the lyric department, but the groove is infectious, and leaves plenty of room for soloing.
“Private Joy” — From the album “Controversy” (1982)
This is a cute, upbeat number that sounds so wonderfully ’80s, coming on like adorable little stabs of cotton candy to the eardrum – and it was faithfully covered two years later by none other than La Toya Jackson.
“How Come U Don’t Call Me Anymore?” — Released as the B-side to the song “1999” (1982)
With just a piano, a foot stomp and his voice, this is one of the greatest songs for the dumped. It’s production is spare, but pointed — the way Prince gets that piano to sound unforgivingly metallic is heartbreak personified. Alicia Keys went on to do it justice on her debut album “Songs in A Minor” in 2001.
“4 The Tears In Your Eyes” — From the album “We Are The World” (1985)
The millions who ran out to buy USA for Africa’s “We Are The World” in 1985 are very familiar with this cut. Prince clearly demonstrated his Seventh-day Adventist upbringing before and after this song, but it’s surprising this one hasn’t become a Christian Rock anthem.
“The Question Of U” — From the album “Graffiti Bridge” (1990)
“Graffiti Bridge,” the sequel to “Purple Rain,” was Prince’s third cinematic outing (his second as a director). Alas, it was his second consecutive critical and financial disappointment. The soundtrack, however, received much more love. This is one of the better cuts, even though it was originally recorded during the session for “Parade” — the soundtrack to his even-more-hated film, “Under The Cherry Moon.”
“Count The Days” — From the New Power Generation album “Exodus” (1994)
If you’re not too easily offended, you’ll enjoy the bluesy, Gospel-influenced “Count The Days.” Keep in mind, this was during a period when Prince was deep into his veil-wearing alter ego “Tora Tora” — who was one dude you didn’t want to mess with.
“I Hate U” — From the album “The Gold Experience” (1995)
It may sound sweetly early ’90s, what with all those Yamaha DX7 fills. But this is another monumental song for the dumped, a groovy, woman-did-me-wrong ballad that ends with a monstrous guitar solo that we wish would last another five minutes. “I hate you, ’cause I love you,” Prince howls immediately before his guitar
gently weeps in agreement.
“The Human Body” — From the album “Emancipation” (1996)
Ever wonder what a tech-house track would sound like in the hands of Prince? Well, wonder no further. There is nothing quite like this in Prince’s immense catalog, a monstrous, hefty, 10-ton rave floor killer. See also, the same album’s “Sleep Around” for a more analog-focused house cut.
“Mellow” — From the album “The Rainbow Children” (2001)
This is Prince at his jazzy, sexy best. “Where you want to eat tonight, babe? I know this dope spot called ‘One Another.'” Fluttering flutes, muted horns and Prince slow-grooving it on the Fender Rhodes. This is the very definition of “mellow.”
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