Blue-in-Green:RADIO

Wednesday, 17 February 2016

Prince: The Top 100!


I fear I may have taken my fandom to irretrievable heights.  There may literally be no way back.

So I've taken on the ominous task of listening to every single thing Prince has ever released - being a fairly devoted fan anyway, there really wasn't a whole lot I hadn't already heard - and then ranked the top 100.  In order.  Songs from the list below span 35 albums over 5 decades.  Yes, if you're wondering, this did take a really, really long time.

I did impose some rules though:

  1. Firstly, no bootlegs.  Seems fair that they not be included as I imagine there's a substantial amount I've yet to hear and there's really no way to catch up on everything that's floating around out there.  
  2. Secondly, no remixes.  Again, it multiplies the options significantly plus the original/released versions are mostly what's official.
  3. Finally, no live stuff.  I'd still be listening to songs if we included all the live versions of released songs, which mostly fall into bootleg territory again, so best to draw the line there.

As I say, I may have in fact gone too far with this one, and there may be no way back... I just hope anyone reading this will be brave enough to come with me...

100. 'Art Official Cage'
Art Official Age, 2014; Warner Bros/NPG Records
"U've come a long way"

99. 'Northside'
The Slaughterhouse, 2004; NPG Records
"Never U mind what U find in the state of Ur mind"

98. 'New Position'
Parade, 1986; Warner Bros Records
"Let's go fishin' in the river, the river of life"

97. 'Space'
Come, 1994; Warner Bros Records
"I painted Ur face upon my ceiling, I stare at it all the time"

96. 'I Will'
Chaos and Disorder, 1996; Warner Bros Records
"Face up 2 the truth and just grow"

95. 'I Wonder U'
Parade, 1986; Warner Bros Records
"Ur on the mind"

94. 'Johnny' (performed by The New Power Generation)
Goldn###a, 1993; NPG Records
"I'm only fantasizing 'cause Ur love is tantalizing"

93. 'Do Me, Baby'
Controversy, 1981; Warner Bros Records
"Bring out what's been in me for far too long"

92. 'Mr Goodnight'
Planet Earth, 2007; NPG Records/Columbia Records
"Tell me which dress U chose so I can put on my matching suit"

91. 'Joint 2 Joint'
Emancipation, 1996; NPG Records/EMI Records
"Oh great, now U think U're my soulmate"

90. '4ever'
Lotusflow3r, 2009; NPG Records
"Eternity is just one kiss away"

89. 'Sleep Around'
Emancipation, 1996; NPG Records/EMI Records
"Baby let me read her journal, or should I say, she turned around and it was gone"

88. 'When You Were Mine'
Dirty Mind, 1980; Warner Bros Records
"U were kinda sorta my best friend"

87. 'The Good Life' (performed by The New Power Generation)
Exodus, 1995; NPG Records
"He had all the honeys, the kind from the magazines; Small waist, big-right, biggest ones U've ever seen"

86. 'Call My Name'
Musicology, 2004; Columbia Records/NPG Records
"The land of the free, somebody lied"

85. 'I Love U, but I Don't Trust U Anymore'
Rave Un2 the Joy Fantastic, 1999; NPG Records/Arista Records
"I could tell from the moment U walked in the room; That it wasn't Ur dress U had on, that wasn't Ur perfume"

84. 'Extralovable Reloaded'
Standalone single, 2013; NPG Records
"U got a dozen little sexy tricks; That a dozen scenes in this US won’t even allow"

83. 'Another Lonely Christmas'
The Hits/The B-Sides, 1993 (originally recorded, 1984); Warner Bros Records
"Ur father said it was pneumonia, Ur mother said it was stress; But the doctor said U were dead, And I say it's senseless"

82. 'Come'
Come, 1994; Warner Bros Records
"If U had a chance 2 see the future would U try?"

81. 'Get On The Boat'
3121, 2006; NPG Records/Universal Records
"Everything in darkness must come out into the light"

80. '2morrow'
Crystal Ball, 1998; NPG Records
"With undergarments thrown, the seed can be sown"

79. 'In Love'
For You, 1978; Warner Bros Records
"It's so hard to get U baby when U never come around"

78. 'Letitgo'
Come, 1994; Warner Bros Records
"Never was a good seat at any of this man's shows"

77. 'Gett Off'
Diamonds and Pearls, 1991; Warner Bros Records
"There's a rumor goin' all round that u ain't been gettin' served"

76. 'Chocolate Box' (featuring Q-Tip)
MPLSound, 2009; NPG Records
"She want the b-o-x-a-chocolate everyday"

75. 'Into The Light'
Chaos and Disorder, 1996; Warner Bros Records
"In a light too bright to behold, Is a truth more shiny than gold"

74. 'When We're Dancing Close and Slow'
Prince, 1979; Warner Bros Records
"I feel Ur warm embrace, the softness of Ur face"

73. 'Guitar'
Planet Earth, 2007; NPG Records/Columbia Records
"I love U baby, But not like I love this guitar"

72. 'Insatiable'
Diamonds and Pearls, 1991; Warner Bros Records
"U're nastier than I thought, it's just 2:45"

71. 'Anotherloverholenyohead'
Parade, 1986; Warner Bros Records
"U need another lover like U need a hole in yo head"

70. 'Good Love'
Crystal Ball, 1998; NPG Records
"I'll have another glass of U, this time on the rocks"

69. 'Style'
Emancipation, 1996; NPG Records/EMI Records
"Style is hailing a cab, Then U know, giving them the finger when they pass Ur ass"

68. 'Crucial'
Crystal Ball, 1998; NPG Records
"Every little thing from A to Z"

67. 'I Feel For You'
Prince, 1979; Warner Bros Records
"Baby, baby, when I look at U"

66. '2 Nigs United 4 West Compton'
The Black Album, 1994; Warner Bros Records
"I want U 2 meet some friends of mine... No, no, U'll like them, they're musicians"

65. 'Colonized Mind'
Lotusflow3r, 2009; NPG Records
"But without God, it's just the blind leading the blind"

64. 'Dreaming About U'
Emancipation, 1996; NPG Records/EMI Records
"When I'm alone in my room, I can't stop dreaming about U"

63. 'Chelsea Rogers' (featuring Shelby J)
Planet Earth, 2007; NPG Records/Columbia Records
"A model... Used to be a role model"

62. 'Crimson and Clover'
Lotusflow3r, 2009; NPG Records
"I don't hardly know her, but I think I could love her"

61. 'The Dance'
3121, 2006; NPG Records/Universal Records
"It's just not fair"

60. 'One Nite Alone...'
One Nite Alone..., 2002; NPG Records
"I know it's better if we make it up as we go"

59. '(There'll Never B) Another Like Me'
MPLSound, 2009; NPG Records
"Change the names to protect the guilty"

58. 'Bob George'
The Black Album, 1994; Warner Bros Records
"Prince... That skinny muthaf####r with the high voice?"

57. 'Return Of The Bump Squad' (performed by The New Power Generation)
Exodus, 1995; NPG Records
"Nothing can save U unless his name is God"

56. 'Emale' 
Emancipation, 1996; NPG Records/EMI Records
"The king takes the pawn"

55. 'The Dream Factory'
Crystal Ball, 1998; NPG Records
"I can't live up to the picture that they paint"

54. 'She Loves Me For Me'
The Rainbow Children, 2001; NPG Records/Redline Entertainment
"I could write another 300 melodies, to her it's just 3, cause this one she loves me 4 me"

53. 'Future Soul Song'
20ten, 2010; NPG Records
"This is the future soul song"

52. 'Beautiful, Loved and Blessed' (featuring Tamar)
3121, 2006; NPG Records/Universal Records
"I'm better than the day before"

51. 'The Word'
3121, 2006; NPG Records/Universal Records
"Get up, come on, let's do something"

50. 'The Most Beautiful Girl in the World'
The Gold Experience, 1995; Warner Bros Records
"It's plain 2 see U're the reason that God made a girl"

49. 'D.M.S.R.'
1999, 1982; Warner Bros Records
"Jamie Starr's a thief"

48. 'Beautiful Strange'
Rave In2 the Joy Fantastic, 2001; NPG Records
"Strangely Beautiful"

47. '1+1+1 is 3'
The Rainbow Children, 2001; NPG Records/Redline Entertainment
"How many y'all just came to dance?"

46. 'My Computer'
Emancipation, 1996; NPG Records/EMI Records
"Welcome, U've got mail"

45. 'Uptown'
Dirty Mind, 1980; Warner Bros Records
"Uptown, that's where I wanna be"

44. 'It's Gonna Be Lonely'
Prince, 1979; Warner Bros Records
"It'd take forever to get U off my mind"

43. 'Starfish and Coffee'
Sign O' The Times, 1987; Warner Bros Records
"Starfish and coffee, maple syrup and jam, butterscotch clouds, a tangerine and a side order of ham"

42. 'Acknowledge Me'
Crystal Ball, 1998; NPG Records
"U need a friend much more than a lover"

41. 'Musicology'
Musicology, 2004; Columbia Records/NPG Records
"Old school joint for the true funk soldiers"

40. 'Way Back Home'
Art Official Age, 2014; Warner Bros/NPG Records
"I never wanted a typical life"

39. '3121'
3121, 2006; NPG Records/Universal Records
"Hey mommy, it's loco right?"

38. 'Cloreen Baconskin'
Crystal Ball, 1998; NPG Records
"That's a nice coat, Alfred; How much U pay 4 that? That much, huh? Yeah, I like it; U're glad I like it, huh?"

37. 'All The Critics Love U in New York'
1999, 1982; Warner Bros Records
"It's time 4 jazz 2 die"

36. 'Right Back Here in My Arms'
Emancipation, 1996; NPG Records/EMI Records
"I don't wanna do U no harm, I just want U right back here in my arms"

35. 'Love'
3121, 2006; NPG Records/Universal Records
"Love is whatever U want it to be"

34. 'The Holy River'
Emancipation, 1996; NPG Records/EMI Records
"And the voice inside said 2night the truth will be told"

33. 'Just As Long As We're Together'
For You, 1978; Warner Bros Records
"I'll get the music, baby, U bring the wine"

32. 'Shhh'
The Gold Experience, 1995; Warner Bros Records
"Sex is not all I think about, It's just all I think about U"

31. 'My Love is Forever'
For You, 1978; Warner Bros Records
"U're the wind and the rain, U've got a river that takes away my pain"

30. 'Underneath The Cream'
The Chocolate Invasion, 2004; NPG Records
"Pretend I am U and teach me without shame"

29. 'Lady Cab Driver'
1999, 1982; Warner Bros Records
"This - Yeah, that's 4 me, that's who that 1's 4"

28. 'Sign O' The Times'
Sign O' The Times, 1987; Warner Bros Records
"In September my cousin tried reefer 4 the very first time, Now he's doing horse... it's June"

27. 'Another Love' (performed with Third Eye Girl)
Plectrumelectrum, 2014; Warner Bros/NPG Records
"If U don't like it round here, find another another love"

26. 'Come On' (performed as New Power Generation)
Newpower Soul, 1998; NPG Records
"Or could it be Ur girlfriend who never ever been straight; When I ask U "Are U hungry?", U say U already ate"

25. 'Last Heart'
Crystal Ball, 1998; NPG Records
"Baby, this heart wasn't made too break"

24. 'The One' (performed as New Power Generation)
Newpower Soul, 1998; NPG Records
"If U're lookin' for the man that will walk away from responsibility, I ain't the one" 

23. 'The Work, pt.1'
The Rainbow Children, 2001; NPG Records/Redline Entertainment
"I see a false picture of myself, another one of U"

22. 'Slow Love'
Sign O' The Times, 1987; Warner Bros Records
"Love's in Ur eyes, Eyes never lie"

21. 'We Can Funk' (featuring George Clinton)
Graffiti Bridge, 1990; Warner Bros Records
"I'm testing positive 4 the funk, I'll gladly pee in anybody's cup"

20. 'A Million Days'
Musicology, 2004; Columbia Records/NPG Records
"Ur the perfect picture of what love should look like, And I want to be Ur frame"

19. 'Somebody's Somebody'
Emancipation, 1996; NPG Records/EMI Records
"I need 2 feel someone beside me, I cannot be alone no more"

18. 'I Wanna Be Your Lover'
Prince, 1979; Warner Bros Records
"I wanna turn U on, turn U out, all night long make U shout"

17. 'Something in the Water (Does Not Compute)'
1999, 1982; Warner Bros Records
"U think U're special, well so do I; Why do special women make me cry?"

16. 'F.U.N.K.'
Download-only single, 2007; NPG Digital
"Gossip again? Ho hum; Listen to my drum"

15. 'It's Gonna Be A Beautiful Night'
Sign O' The Times, 1987; Warner Bros Records
"Tonight there's no tomorrow"

14. 'Wasted Kisses' (performed as New Power Generation)
Newpower Soul, 1998; NPG Records
"Overdue, that's how I described the hour"

13. 'Groovy Potential'
Standalone single, 2013 (subsequently released on HITNRUN Phase Two); NPG Records
"U better get up, So we can get down"

12. 'And God Created Woman'
Love Symbol Album, 1992; Warner Bros Records
"Temptation sweet and so much"

11. 'It'
Sign O' The Times, 1987; Warner Bros Records
"In a bed, on the stairs, anywhere, all right"

10. 'Black Sweat'
3121, 2006; NPG Records/Universal Records
"U can act hard if U want, This groove will make U sweet"
One of my dream musical collaborations (as previously discussed here), is Prince creating music with Pharrell and Chad of The Neptunes.  The Neptunes have openly declared themselves to be disciples of the Purple Majesty with influences apparent throughout many of their productions, and aside from their remix to Prince's 'The Greatest Romance Ever Sold', there's never been an official collaboration.  If there was one though... I'm pretty sure it could've sounded something like this.

9. 'I Would Die 4 U'
Purple Rain, 1984; Warner Bros Records
"I'm not a woman, I'm not a man; I am something that U'll never understand"
If the rules of this list permitted, the 10min 22secs remix would comfortably have found a place here as well as the album mix.  One of the standouts from Purple Rain, 'I Would Die 4 U' is an explosive disco-funk driven number for a relatively short length of 2min 49secs.  What more can be said? Sometimes a hot record is just a hot record.

8. '17 Days'
The Hits/The B-Sides, 1993 (originally recorded, 1983); Warner Bros Records
"U've been gone 17 days, 17 long nights"
It's very much the simplicity of this song that I've always resonated with. Almost everyone can relate to having their heart broken and this song articulates those emotions incredibly well: "So here I sit in my lonely room, Lookin' for my sunshine; But all I've got is two cigarettes, And this broken heart of mine"
The imagery is perfect.  It's said a picture paints a thousand words but this verse paints a thousand pictures.

7. 'Joy in Repetition'
Graffiti Bridge, 1990; Warner Bros Records
"He like to frequent this club down up on 36th, Pimps and thangs like 2 hang outside and cuss for kicks" 
I love the above opening line.  Listen to disc 3 of 'One Nite Alone...Live!' ('It Ain't Over') and hear the whole audience sing the words in unison.  So cool.  While this list celebrates some excellent Prince songwriting, this song is a fine example of his composing - the guitar on this record is mesmerizing.  I read that this was one of the left-off tracks from 'Sign O The Times' and it's such a shame.  This would have made a great album, like... really great!

6. 'Pretty Man' [Extended Version]
Rave In2 the Joy Fantastic, 2001; NPG Records
"Don't hate me cos I'm beautiful"
I cheated.  Potentially anyway.  I know I kicked this list off by saying "no remixes" but I'm thinking an "extended mix" with an additional 73 seconds of Maceo Parker playing sax means no one could hold that against me?  Prince doing JB-style funk doesn't seem to make anyone as happy as me - like he does with 'The Work, pt.1' (#23 on this list) - he does it so frickin well.  With 'Pretty Man' though, it's more than the funk of the track I click with, it's the undeniable swagger of lyrics like "Don't hate me cos I'm beautiful", "In the early morning when I'm feeling nice, I walk by the mirror and kiss it twice" and "I write a cheque and the bank bounce".

5. 'The Ballad of Dorothy Parker'
Sign O' The Times, 1987; Warner Bros Records
"Dorothy was a waitress on the promenade, She worked the night shift"
When considering the idea of compiling this list, I once joked that nearly half of the top 20 would be made up of tracks from 'Sign O' The Times'.  As it goes, 7 songs from this album are included here and that's only because I was being super strict.  This part is subjective (as is this entire list obviously) but, to me, Sign O' The Times is the definitive Prince album... and it's down to songs like this.

4. 'When Doves Cry'
Purple Rain', 1984; Warner Bros Records
"How can U just leave me standing? Alone in a world that's so cold"
I wish I could say that Prince's music played a huge part of my early years and that his albums were the soundtrack of my youth, but unfortunately they weren't.  My first Prince album was New Power Soul, which I bought discounted on tape probably in the very early 00s, and it's the years that followed that saw me delve deeper into his music.  I was obviously fully aware of Prince growing up as everybody was with tracks like '1999', 'Raspberry Beret', 'Little Red Corvette' and 'When Doves Cry'.  Now this song growing up I knew and it may very well rank among the first songs I fell truly in love with.  I knew the words, the instrumental portions of the song and I had seen the video so many times: the split mirrored screen, the bath tub shots, that ruffled shirt I still promise myself I'll buy one day!
I have glorious memories of Prince playing the opening few seconds of this during his second encore at the O2 (13th September 2007).  The crowd went nuts which prompted him to stop the song, stand away from the keyboards and yell "Y'all don't know that song!".
Famously, this also ranks as one of Prince's songs featuring no bass at all - not his only one though (another popular example being 'Sign O the Times').  Could people tell that?  Has anyone ever listened to this song and instantly realised there was no bass without having been told beforehand?  I could have listened to this song a hundred times and never noticed.  Not sure if that makes me a musical moron for not detecting it, or Prince a musical genius for masking it.
Pretty sure it's both!

3. 'If I Was Your Girlfriend'
Sign O' The Times, 1987; Warner Bros Records
"Would U run to me if somebody hurt U even if that somebody was me?"
These are the type of songs that really made Prince 'Prince'.  There are a very small handful of artists who could get away with subject matter like this, and any that could nowadays, would undoubtedly cite Prince as being a huge influence.  It's bold, it's brave and it features Prince striving for a level of intimacy that's deliciously creepy.  "Deliciously creepy" is my all-encompassing term to address people that find the song hugely romantic and those that find it straddling the line into controlling or stalker-like bahaviour.

2. 'I Hate You'
The Gold Experience, 1995; Warner Bros Records
"Did U do to Ur other man the same things that U did to me?"
This song is usually the first one I throw at people who mindlessly claim Prince's best music was relegated to the 1980s.  This epic track transitions through three movements: from the first 'hate'-filled verse, to the courtroom exchange to the admission he still loves her after all.  The pantheon of soul music has delivered some incredible songs about cheating: D'Angelo's 'S--t, D--n, Mother F----r' naturally comes to mind, as does Shirley Murdock's 'As We Lay' and 'Just Be Good to Me' by The SOS Band, but few of them really explore that genuine hatred; hatred that becomes spiteful and malicious, again dabbling in that "deliciously creepy" territory that so easily brings that emotion back to love by the song's conclusion.

1. 'Purple Rain'
Purple Rain', 1984; Warner Bros Records
"I never meant to cause U any sorrow, I never meant to cause U any pain"
What do you think?  In honesty, a part of me is a bit disappointed that 'Purple Rain' made it to #1.  I just feel like it's a predictable pick but, thinking about it, there's a reason it usually tops Prince lists.  It's the definitive Prince song: Rolling Stone ranked it #143 on their 500 Greatest Songs of All Time list (hmm, bit low if you ask me), Q Magazine placed it #40 on their 100 Greatest Guitar Tracks list (really, only 40?), and Pitchfork named it best song of the 1980s (only of the 80s :)).
Clocking in at nearly 9 minutes long, there isn't a wasted second - if you don't know what song you're listening to in the first three seconds, then something is very wrong.  From the unmistakable guitar opening to the dreamy string-enriched outro, every second in between is glorious.  Billboard called the song an "epic psych-gospel ballad"... I like that, let's go with that.

You've read the list now check the mix...!

2 comments:

  1. First, I commend you for tackling this list. I am a Prince fan and enjoyed reading the list. Just for fun though I am going to disagree with a few songs. "Space" and "The Most Beautiful Girl in the World" need to higher in the list. :) I can't totally disagree with "Purple Rain" as number one. But I bet you noticed how each album reflected his growth a ideas for that time in his life. Hard to judge work / artist that covers decades. Well done.

    ReplyDelete