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Thread started 12/06/14 1:03pm

ChrisLacy1990

Prince's Great Eight (Experimental Songs from the '80s)

Many words can be used to describe Prince and his music but for the sake of today's topic, we're going to focus on the word "experimental". By definition, it means "an attempt at something new or different; an effort to be original". So, here are eight of my favorite Prince songs (in no particular order):

  1. Around the World in a Day (1985): In summer of 1984, Prince called upon Lisa's brother, David, to help him record a new song and the result is a lush reverie of childlike wonder and psychedelic funk. During the sessions, some of the instruments used were an oud (an Arabic mandolin guitar), Darbuka drums and finger cymbals.
  2. Life Can Be So Nice (1986): One of those monster Parade grooves that easily could have been a huge hit in 1986 – except it never became a single, maybe because Warner Bros. didn't want to steal any momentum from the megahit "Kiss". Prince initially recorded this with the help of Wendy, Lisa and Sheila E. in the spring of 1985. According to Prince Vault, there is an unreleased version with Clare Fischer’s orchestra that features over 12 different instruments.
  3. Erotic City (1984): At four minutes long, "Erotic City" is a sleek electro-pop tune with a rapid-fire funky bass line. Drummer Sheila E. was hesitant to record the song due to the explicit lyrics so Prince stepped in and did the dirty work while she sang backup primarily in the chorus. And while "Erotic City" had a few expletives, it didn't stop some radio stations from playing it anyway so thank you George Clinton for inspiring a then 26-year-old Prince to create this classic.
  4. Bob George (1987): In this dark lyrical drama, Prince sings about his woman sneaking off to see a music manager and when she tries to cover her tracks, she is looking down the barrel of a gun that "might be little but it's loud!" A visionary mix of metal bluster, murky funk, and a confrontational phone call to Mr. George himself.
  5. Batdance (1989): This slinky dance-floor track injected a new level of aggression and tension into Prince's music. He manages to build around the "love interest" theme between Batman, Vicki Vale and Joker by using various snippets of film dialogue. One of my favorite moments is at 2:41 where he switches the tempo up on you with a funky guitar section reminiscent of "Kiss".
  6. Crystal Ball (1986): This near 10-minute epic revisits the apocalyptic elements of 1999 and does a masterful job of winding up the tension like a guitar string. You know it's going to snap soon but you're just waiting for it and at the 2:45 mark, Prince hits with you with the splash cymbal and delivers one of his best blends of R&B, rock and funk as he pleads to God to "save us from the madness that threatens us all." In 1998, Prince would officially release it with Clare Fischer's orchestral touches but I personally prefer the original version from '86.
  7. Play in the Sunshine (1987): In lesser hands, this song would have been a hodgepodge of random instruments. However, in Prince's hands, this tune bubbles with summertime fun. At the 3:24 mark, the band urges Prince to "play" and he finally gives in by unleashing a wriggly marimba line that sounds like it would sit comfortably on a Stevie Wonder record.
  8. Lovesexy (1988): One of the most polarizing pieces of music he has ever released but the title track is a six-minute pop odyssey. Between the swirl of Stevie Wonder-style synth beats and hot James Brown-esque horns, Prince says his joy is of a spiritual epiphany that is "just a butterfly kiss away."

So, fellow Org members, tell me what you think of this list and feel free to share some of your favorite experimtental songs from his catalog! smile

[Edited 12/6/14 14:12pm]

[Edited 12/6/14 19:51pm]

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Reply #1 posted 12/06/14 1:34pm

Doozer

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ChrisLacy1990 said:

Erotic City (1984): At four minutes long, "Erotic City" is a sleek electro-pop tune with a rapid-fire funky bass line. Drummer Sheila E. was hesitant to record the song due to the explicit lyrics so Prince stepped in and did the dirty work while she sang backup primarily in the chorus. And while "Erotic City" had a few expletives, it didn't stop some radio stations from playing it anyway so thank you George Clinton for inspiring a then 26-year-old Prince to create this classic.

.

I think you're cheating yourself by reviewing the edited version of this classic.

Check out The Mountains and the Sea, a Prince podcast by yours truly and my wife. More info at https://www.facebook.com/TMATSPodcast/
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Reply #2 posted 12/06/14 1:52pm

warewolf95

Yay! My first post! yayyyy....

Ok, on to the point. smile

I've always loved Life Can Be So Nice and Play In The Sunshine.

I think both are among the best of Prince's "forgotten" album tracks and both could've been hits, imo, especially, LCBSN. That track just rocks and has a killer musical hook to it.

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Reply #3 posted 12/06/14 1:55pm

feeluupp

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I think Lust U Always, Adonis and Bathsheba, Extra Loveable should be in the list.

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Reply #4 posted 12/06/14 2:16pm

Aerogram

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No such list is complete without All My Dreams. but I love your list.

A lot of these are "everything and the kitchen sink" songs but they still form an immensely rewarding m musical journey.

I can't believe people who don't like Batdance, that was a blistering return to form and most people experienced it that way. I remember waiting in line at MacDonald's when the people in front of us started discussing the Batdance video. In any case, most people I know found Batdance very enjoyable including my rather staid boyfriend at the time.

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Reply #5 posted 12/06/14 2:17pm

ChrisLacy1990

Doozer said:

ChrisLacy1990 said:

Erotic City (1984): At four minutes long, "Erotic City" is a sleek electro-pop tune with a rapid-fire funky bass line. Drummer Sheila E. was hesitant to record the song due to the explicit lyrics so Prince stepped in and did the dirty work while she sang backup primarily in the chorus. And while "Erotic City" had a few expletives, it didn't stop some radio stations from playing it anyway so thank you George Clinton for inspiring a then 26-year-old Prince to create this classic.

.

I think you're cheating yourself by reviewing the edited version of this classic.

Not to worry, I do have the 7:30 "extended dance mix" in my collection. I just used the edit from The Hits / B-Sides as an example for my list. I absolutely love the breakdown from 4:34 to 5:28 where the extra Camille bits are.

[Edited 12/6/14 14:21pm]

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Reply #6 posted 12/06/14 2:21pm

ChrisLacy1990

warewolf95 said:

Yay! My first post! yayyyy....

Ok, on to the point. smile

I've always loved Life Can Be So Nice and Play In The Sunshine.

I think both are among the best of Prince's "forgotten" album tracks and both could've been hits, imo, especially, LCBSN. That track just rocks and has a killer musical hook to it.

First post, huh? Well, let me be the first to welcome to the Org! I appreciate your feedback, especially about LCBSN. Maybe one day, Prince will blow the dust off of this tune and perform it at a show in the near future.

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Reply #7 posted 12/06/14 2:26pm

ChrisLacy1990

feeluupp said:

I think Lust U Always, Adonis and Bathsheba, Extra Loveable should be in the list.

All three of those are incredible choices, especially "Adonis and Bathesheba". I've only heard the one-minute long demo and would love to hear the complete version one day. Prince's vocal delivery and Eric Leeds' saxophone skills are immaculate!

.

Moderators edit: Eric Leeds(sax) Alan Leeds(manager) Welcome 2 the Org Welcome 2 the Dawn

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Reply #8 posted 12/06/14 2:33pm

ChrisLacy1990

Aerogram said:

No such list is complete without All My Dreams. but I love your list.

A lot of these are "everything and the kitchen sink" songs but they still form an immensely rewarding m musical journey.

I can't believe people who don't like Batdance, that was a blistering return to form and most people experienced it that way. I remember waiting in line at MacDonald's when the people in front of us started discussing the Batdance video. In any case, most people I know found Batdance very enjoyable including my rather staid boyfriend at the time.

Ugh, I had a feeling I would have to explain myself on that one! Hahaha! When I was compiling this Great Eight list, I was stuck choosing between "All My Dreams" or "Crystal Ball". You don't know how guilty I felt leaving it off. sad

To be honest, I slept on "Batdance" for a while until I was putting this list together. Don't get me wrong; I always thought it was a classic but I have a newfound appreciation for it and hopefully it shows in my explanation up above.

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Reply #9 posted 12/06/14 2:45pm

CharismaDove

Nice list! I love each and every one of those tracks.

.

I disagree in two places, personally.

1. Crystal Ball with Clare's work is miles ahead of the 86 draft.

2. Life Can Be So Nice would never be a hit. Ever. In any country. lol

I guess you know me well, I dont like winter, but I seem to get a kick outta doing you cold
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Reply #10 posted 12/06/14 4:31pm

ChrisLacy1990

CharismaDove said:

Nice list! I love each and every one of those tracks.

.

I disagree in two places, personally.

1. Crystal Ball with Clare's work is miles ahead of the 86 draft.

2. Life Can Be So Nice would never be a hit. Ever. In any country. lol

I'll tell you what: Since it's been a while since I heard Crystal Ball '98, I'll give it the old college try and see if my opinion changes. As far as LCBSN goes, I'm surprised that you feel it wouldn't be a hit "in any country". I think it's criminally underrated. Thanks again for sharing your thoughts! smile

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Reply #11 posted 12/06/14 5:18pm

warewolf95

ChrisLacy1990 said:

warewolf95 said:

Yay! My first post! yayyyy....

Ok, on to the point. smile

I've always loved Life Can Be So Nice and Play In The Sunshine.

I think both are among the best of Prince's "forgotten" album tracks and both could've been hits, imo, especially, LCBSN. That track just rocks and has a killer musical hook to it.

First post, huh? Well, let me be the first to welcome to the Org! I appreciate your feedback, especially about LCBSN. Maybe one day, Prince will blow the dust off of this tune and perform it at a show in the near future.

Thank you for the kind welcome! I've been a longtime lurker, but since I only discovered prince about 4 years ago, its taken a while to really become a full-fledged "hardcore" fan that can understand and contribute to things around here, lol. (I'm 19)

Hopefully he will dust it off. You never know with Prince. I mean, he had Strays Of The World as an intro at one of the (2013?) Montreux gigs.

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Reply #12 posted 12/06/14 7:16pm

wouldntulove2l
oveme

This is a great list. I especially love Life Can Be So Nice & Play In The Sunshine. I've always wondered why Prince never included Play In The Sunshine in his live preformances after the Sign O' The Times Tour. One song I would add to your list is Condition Of The Heart. I think it's so underrated and lyricaly very strong.

If a man is considered guilty
For what goes on in his mind
Then give me the electric chair
For all my future crimes"
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Reply #13 posted 12/06/14 7:35pm

ChrisLacy1990

warewolf95 said:

ChrisLacy1990 said:

First post, huh? Well, let me be the first to welcome to the Org! I appreciate your feedback, especially about LCBSN. Maybe one day, Prince will blow the dust off of this tune and perform it at a show in the near future.

Thank you for the kind welcome! I've been a longtime lurker, but since I only discovered prince about 4 years ago, its taken a while to really become a full-fledged "hardcore" fan that can understand and contribute to things around here, lol. (I'm 19)

Hopefully he will dust it off. You never know with Prince. I mean, he had Strays Of The World as an intro at one of the (2013?) Montreux gigs.

Your introduction to Prince sounds a lot like mine. I'm 24 and didn't really dig deep until I was 20 years old. Saw him perform for the first time during his Welcome 2 America Tour and have been hooked ever since.

You're absolutely right. You never know what mood Prince will be in when he gets onstage. I'm not too familiar with his Montreux Festival setlists but I'll have to keep an eye out for it.

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Reply #14 posted 12/06/14 7:47pm

ChrisLacy1990

wouldntulove2loveme said:

This is a great list. I especially love Life Can Be So Nice & Play In The Sunshine. I've always wondered why Prince never included Play In The Sunshine in his live preformances after the Sign O' The Times Tour. One song I would add to your list is Condition Of The Heart. I think it's so underrated and lyricaly very strong.

Thanks for checking out my list! "Play in the Sunshine" has always been a personal favorite of mine and I hope that he'll put it (and "Life Can Be So Nice" for that matter) back in rotation for future shows. It's a shame he hasn't played either of those since the Parade and SOTT tours... Man, from '86 to '88, he was untouchable from a creative standpoint.

I like "Condition of the Heart" but it doesn't feel like it would fit the criteria I set for this list. Perhaps I'll do another "Great Eight" post down the road and focus on his most introspective songs (e.g. Condition of the Heart, Anna Stesia, Forever In My Life, How Come You Don't Call Me Anymore, etc.) smile

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Reply #15 posted 12/07/14 1:42am

databank

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2 letters: "It" nod

A COMPREHENSIVE PRINCE DISCOGRAPHY (work in progress ^^): https://sites.google.com/...iscog/home
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Reply #16 posted 12/07/14 7:56am

CynicKill

What?

No Tambourine???

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Reply #17 posted 12/07/14 9:11am

NouveauDance

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As much as I love it, not sure if 'Life Can Be So Nice' could've been a single - the singles released were probably the most commercial tracks on the LP, just released in the wrong order.

Now Lovesexy I think should've been as originally planned just to put the theme of the LP out there in song form, it's also a pretty wild track, agreed it's out there - in a good way.

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Reply #18 posted 12/07/14 9:14am

ChrisLacy1990

databank said:

2 letters: "It" nod

"It" is a really good song (from my all-time favorite album Sign o' the Times) but I have two questions for you:

A) Why you think "It" should be on this list?

B) Which song would "It" replace up above?

smile

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Reply #19 posted 12/07/14 9:17am

ChrisLacy1990

CynicKill said:

What?

No Tambourine???

Ugh, "Tamborine" is another song that almost made the list... It was a three-way tie between "Around the World in a Day", "Pop Life" or "Tamborine".

I ultimately chose 'Around' because of its Arabic themes which is something Prince hadn't done in any previous records.

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Reply #20 posted 12/07/14 9:33am

ChrisLacy1990

NouveauDance said:

As much as I love it, not sure if 'Life Can Be So Nice' could've been a single - the singles released were probably the most commercial tracks on the LP, just released in the wrong order.

Now Lovesexy I think should've been as originally planned just to put the theme of the LP out there in song form, it's also a pretty wild track, agreed it's out there - in a good way.

Hey, thanks for checking out my list! I would've promoted "Life Can Be So Nice" instead of "Mountains" personally but I do agree that the singles could have been released in a better fashion.

Releasing "Lovesexy" as a single would have helped him a lot. Due to the negative backlash, Prince defended the album by saying "it's a mind trip, like a psychedelic movie. Either you went with it and had a mind-blowing experience or you didn't."

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Reply #21 posted 12/07/14 9:39am

databank

avatar

ChrisLacy1990 said:

databank said:

2 letters: "It" nod

"It" is a really good song (from my all-time favorite album Sign o' the Times) but I have two questions for you:

A) Why you think "It" should be on this list?

B) Which song would "It" replace up above?

smile

It's quite experimental, not a typical pop song, it's obsessive and weird. I'd replace PITS, while I love it I find it much more of a typical pop song, it has that odd Prince touch as did most everything at the time but it's still a more typical pop song.

A COMPREHENSIVE PRINCE DISCOGRAPHY (work in progress ^^): https://sites.google.com/...iscog/home
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Reply #22 posted 12/07/14 10:16am

fabriziovenera
ndi

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I love the experimental prince

positivity

superfunkycalifragisexy

annie christian

all the critics love u in NY

something in the water

temptation (for the ending part)

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Reply #23 posted 12/07/14 10:25am

datdude

pretty good list/thread I must say. but SOTT as a track, was very experimental for P. The lead single from another double album, him wearing glasses looking contemplative for the first time and the seemingly "off" arrangement of the track coupled with its stark message about current events was like DAMN! He DOES more than just have sex (in case they missed such leanings elsewhere prior)

Annie Christian - An appreciation thread from about a year ago on here got some well-deserved traction, someone even called it "anti-music" based on its sparse arrangement, but like only P can, he creates a masterpiece with stunning guitar work burried deep within. the first few seconds creates the techno genre IMO!

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Reply #24 posted 12/07/14 12:06pm

ChrisLacy1990

databank said:

ChrisLacy1990 said:

"It" is a really good song (from my all-time favorite album Sign o' the Times) but I have two questions for you:

A) Why you think "It" should be on this list?

B) Which song would "It" replace up above?

smile

It's quite experimental, not a typical pop song, it's obsessive and weird. I'd replace PITS, while I love it I find it much more of a typical pop song, it has that odd Prince touch as did most everything at the time but it's still a more typical pop song.

Hmm, you present a really good argument. "It" is most definitely not a typical pop song; I love his brutal honesty in the lyrics and the industrial-like drum pattern. However, I'm stunned that you would want to replace "Play in the Sunshine" because "Play" is a near-perfect record in my opinion. smile

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Reply #25 posted 12/07/14 12:10pm

ChrisLacy1990

fabriziovenerandi said:

I love the experimental prince

positivity

superfunkycalifragisexy

annie christian

all the critics love u in NY

something in the water

temptation (for the ending part)

This is a VERY nice list, especially "Positivity" and "Something in the Water". You cover a lot of ground here but could you tell why you have "All the Critics" on your list? I never considered it to be an "experimental track" so I'd love to know your thoughts on it.

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Reply #26 posted 12/07/14 12:16pm

ChrisLacy1990

datdude said:

pretty good list/thread I must say. but SOTT as a track, was very experimental for P. The lead single from another double album, him wearing glasses looking contemplative for the first time and the seemingly "off" arrangement of the track coupled with its stark message about current events was like DAMN! He DOES more than just have sex (in case they missed such leanings elsewhere prior)

Annie Christian - An appreciation thread from about a year ago on here got some well-deserved traction, someone even called it "anti-music" based on its sparse arrangement, but like only P can, he creates a masterpiece with stunning guitar work burried deep within. the first few seconds creates the techno genre IMO!

Wow, I love your explanation for "Sign o' the Times" and it gets honorable mention based on how experimental it is. I'm considering doing another "Great Eight" post in the future on his Most Introspective Songs so don't be surprised if you see "Sign" on that list.

Do you have a link to the "Annie Christian" thread? I'd like to check that out!

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Reply #27 posted 12/08/14 1:46am

fabriziovenera
ndi

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ChrisLacy1990 said:

This is a VERY nice list, especially "Positivity" and "Something in the Water". You cover a lot of ground here but could you tell why you have "All the Critics" on your list? I never considered it to be an "experimental track" so I'd love to know your thoughts on it.

"All the critics" is Prince more or less speaking, using often distorted voice, putting strange sound here and there and sometimes a pentatonic scale emerges with the chorus line. The keyboard is used in "percussion mode" with random path. It reminds me some old Talking Heads songs, and it is a unique in his albums (something similar, not in '80 and not so focused could be "strange but true").

Another two songs, I can add to the list, are Alexia De Paris and God instrumental.

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Reply #28 posted 12/08/14 1:04pm

V10LETBLUES

Good list, I have always loved Life Can Be So Nice, though it would have gone nowhere as a single. It's an awesome track, just not top 20 material on the pop charts.

I would add If I Was Your Girlfriend and Shockalelica to the list

[Edited 12/8/14 13:04pm]

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Reply #29 posted 12/08/14 2:47pm

emesem

I like this list.

I'd add:


Ballad of Dorothy Parker

Something in the Water

Annie Christian

Dirty Mind

Tamborine

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