Thursday, October 8, 2015

Prince - Dirty Mind

Today (October 8th) marks the thirty-fifth anniversary of Dirty Mind, the third studio album from Prince. This certified Gold selling record spent fifty-two weeks on the US Billboard Album chart, peaking at number 45; it also went to number 7 on the US Billboard R&B Album chart. This critically acclaimed album was ranked number 87 on Pitchfork Media's Top 100 Albums of the 1980s and number 206 on Rolling Stone's 500 Greatest Albums of All-Time list.

Side one opens with the thumping beat of the title track. "Dirty Mind", co-written by Prince and keyboardist Dr. Fink, was released as the second single, and it hit number 65 on the US Billboard R&B chart and number 5 on the US Billboard Dance chart. This was one of two tracks on the album that Fink also played synthesizer on, and it is his keyboard riffs that are the dominate element on this dance tune. With falsetto vocals, Prince reveals his thoughts for a young woman are centered squarely focused in a carnal way.

"When You Were Mine" is up next. The up-tempo song tells of a man who pines for his lover who has left him for another. I like the stripped down, guitar-driven rhythm of this one; it almost comes across as a demo – a polished demo though. Cyndi Lauper covered this one on her 1983 debut album She’s So Unusual, keeping the original’s genders intact. It was in fact her version that I first knew of. The song has also been covered by a number of other artists around the world, including Ani DiFranco and Maceo Parker, Tegan and Sara, and Mitch Ryder.

Prince’s synth playing and funky guitar work take center stage on "Do It All Night", which released as a UK only single. The lyrics express the desire of dedicating a long evening to nothing more than sex.

"Gotta Broken Heart Again", the side closer, has a swinging, swaying gait to it. Here, Prince sings about a heartbreak and loneliness.

Side two begins with "Uptown". As the first single, it peaked at number 101 on the US Billboard Pop chart, and number 5 on both the US Billboard R&B and Dance charts. The title refers to a neighborhood of Minneapolis that was a popular hang-out for the city’s performing artists. The lyrics touch upon the themes of prejudice and racism with Uptown being a sanctuary where a person is free to express himself in whatever way he likes. At over five and a half minutes long, it is the longest track on the record. That space allows for an extended instrumental bridge.

Another limited release single was "Head", which peaked at number 5 on the US Billboard Dance chart. Lisa Coleman provided vocals on the track, and Dr. Fink played synthesizer on it. Continuing with the album’s on-going carnal theme, this bouncy jam’s lyrics celebrate the act of oral sex.

"Sister", which focuses on an incestuous relationship, is next. The song is only a minute and a half long, the shortest on the record, but it has a rapid-fire delivery that packs a lot of goodness in such a short time.

The closing track, "Partyup", was co-written by Prince and Morris Day of the Time. It ends the record with an affirmative message of celebration, a time to dance away our cares. It speaks of revolutionary rock and roll, which could be the origin of his naming the band the Revolution a few albums later. It ends with a chant-along chorus.

My first exposure to many of the tracks from this album was during my junior and senior years of high school (1981 to 1983) when I was listening to the local college radio station (Prince was a favorite artist of a guy who did a show every Saturday afternoon). The first copy of Dirty Mind that I owned was on cassette, picked up during the summer of 1985 when I was living in New Jersey. When I got my first CD player in 1990, I upgraded again to a digital copy.

One thing I have always found interesting is that the titles of all the tracks on side two had a single word in them. I suspect that was not coincidence.

Of Prince's first three albums, this one definitely is my favorite. It continues the evolution of the original albums to a sound that was more than just standard R&B fare. However, since I came into this trio a number of years after I had already been a fan (thanks to Controversy, 1999 and Purple Rain), they don't rank within my Top Ten of Prince albums overall.

For more from Prince, you can click here.

1 comment:

Mark said...

"Dirty Mind" is one of my all-time favorite Prince songs and a great album opener (listening to it as I type these words). "Head," of course, was a favorite of mine as a teenager because of the subject matter.

I brought this album home on vinyl, my dad saw the cover (tame by today's standards), and proceeded to tell me how that wasn't "real" music. How he formed that opinion based solely on the cover picture, I'll never know. That was a tipping point; I never discussed pop music with him ever again.