Amazing, and not dated at all
finulanu | Here, there, and everywhere | 07/30/2008
(5 out of 5 stars)
"So here we have it. One of those dread mid-'80s mega-smashes. But what if I told you that this particular mid-'80s mega-smash was one of the best albums ever? Would you believe me? Because it's true. It's such a great record that even the typical '80s pop tune with Messianic lyrics ("I Would Die 4 U") works spectacularly well, and is one of the album's very best songs.
On a whole, though, this isn't your average pop album, and it's pleasantly refreshing that this album became as big of a hit as it did. Prince does all kinds of weird stuff here, and two of the weirder cuts (bup-ba-da-daaa!) topped the charts. One of them is "When Doves Cry," probably Prince's signature song, for a good reason. Ever tried to think of a dance track without the bass? And with prominent heavy guitar? Prince not only makes it work, it's a fantastic experience. And the synthesizer line the song is based on, which would've been dumb in anyone else's hands, is just about my favorite part of the song! Oh, and you can dance to it. You don't ever want to see ME dance to it, but it's possible. And "Let's Go Crazy's" fusion of heavy metal, rockabilly, and funk would probably be considered audacious even today. It's a very odd fusion of genres, but it succeeds as well.
And those are just the two #1's. This one's a REAL wild ride. "Darling Nikki" (Tipper Gore's favorite song of all time), with its strip-club-on-acid rhythm and crazed, carnivalesque synths, is at least as freaky as its infamous lyrics would suggest. "Take Me With U" is a fun, psychedelic pop song with a slight edge in its intro. "Computer Blue" is a real head-trip, starting with a dirty bit of dialog before launching into a bizarre but captivating jam with memorable guitar and synthesizer solos. There's a brief vocal bit, but most of it's focused on the jamming. Not like I'm about to complain. And "Baby I'm a Star" sounds like a crazy person's version of a dance song. Prince pulls out all the stops there, throwing as many weird production details in as possible - guitars, synthesizers, and backing vocals fly in and out, creating an insane but enjoyable whirlwind of a song.
And then there are those two power ballads. Power ballads get a bad name these days, and if you ask me, they're generally wretched. But Prince... he's made a career out of breaking rules. The nine-minute title track is Prince's best song ever. It's a brilliant build-up from a vocal-and-drums intro to a roaring guitar solo that breaks into an intense coda. Then there's the soothing, string-laden ending, closing off the album on a fine note. "The Beautiful Ones" isn't quite as famous, but it's equally stellar. Prince turns in the vocal of a lifetime here, ranging from a romantic croon to a bedroom monologue, then breaking into the most intense fervor possible. It's impossible to describe. Let's just say he lets loose the "BABY BABY BABY!" to end all "BABY BABY BABY's!"
This is a brilliant record. It breaks genre barriers, flies in the face of sexual taboos, moons conventions, and is a collection of flawlessly performed, creative, wonderfully melodic songs on top of that. I've heard almost all of Prince's albums, but this is just about my favorite."
Timothy Arthur O'Brien | Austin, Texas | 12/16/2008
(5 out of 5 stars)
"This is a real challenge. I don't really feel qualified to write a review of this record. But I didn't want to wuss out on the request because I have a particularly strong memory of this music. My first memory of wanting to listen to the radio when I was a teenager in New Jersey was when I heard "When Doves Cry" on my Panasonic boombox. Until then I think I was just listening to the radio because I thought other kids would think it was cool. There is something about the sound of the album, a specific moment in music history, when Prince was doing something at a slight return to what other people were doing in pop music. This was when the Police were moving into smoother sounds, and New Age was just starting to be really popular, but Prince was returning to a primal sound with his voice and guitar. The result to my ear was and is no less sophisticated for its raw honesty, and represents a particular pillar amongst the important records of that time."