Most fans have been going back to Prince’s classic catalogue (Dirty Mind, 1999, Sign o’ the Times, Purple Rain) to comfort themselves since his untimely passing in April 2016. But, there is much more great music from the Purple One to enjoy. So here are some overlooked, underrated and/or forgotten albums that truly deserve a second chance to be rediscovered.
Around the World in a Day (1985)
After his classic releases of 1999 and Purple Rain, Prince was untouchable and could do anything he wanted. Well, no one was prepared for Around the World in a Day. The Purple One tried to invite fans into a psychedelic, mystical, magical world of Paisley Park where “laughter is all you pay” to get in.
Unfortunately, due to the lack of arena/rock friendly tunes, many fans had a hard time wrapping their minds around this release. Of course, if you listen to the album’s opening track and “open your heart, open your mind”, Around the World in a Day is a very rewarding album.
Prince takes the movie soundtrack format and throws it out the window. What makes this soundtrack so refreshing is that although the album was produced, arranged, and performed by Prince, the songs’ lead vocals are attributed to the characters of the film. For instance, the album’s opening track, The Future, is obviously sung by Prince but the lead vocals are attributed to The Batman. Whether Prince is singing on the characters’ behalf or acting as the characters themselves, truly makes The Batman soundtrack a unique listening experience that not only syncs perfectly with the film, but it enhances the darkness, sexuality, and urgency of it.
The Batman soundtrack may not be a classic Prince album, but it is Prince’s unique approach to the soundtrack that merits a second listen.
The Love Symbol Album (1992)
In my opinion, The Love Symbol Album is one the most energetic and engaging albums of his career. Prince and The New Power Generation (NPG) really gelled on their second album together and proved that they were the most versatile band that Prince ever fronted. From the funky dance numbers of My Name is Prince, Sexy M.F., the soulful Morning Papers to the spiritual 7, The Love Symbol Album was a melting pot of ideas and emotions with musical genres.
My only issue with The Love Symbol Album is that Prince overindulges himself by incorporating a “rock soap opera” within the album by adding some segue tracks with actress Kirstie Alley and her depiction of a frustrated reporter named, Vanessa Bartholomew.
Besides the slight overindulgence, The Love Symbol Album provides the listener with one Prince’s most engaged and inventive performances, ever to be set to record.
The Gold Experience (1995)
The Gold Experience marks the first official album, credited to that unpronounceable symbol since his name change in 1993. The Gold Experience is an eclectic album with The Artist Formerly Known as Prince and The New Power Generation running through a gamut of musical styles. From funk, rock, rnb, pop and everything in-between. The only thing that really hinders the album, is the semi concept musical interludes that come off as a satire on the 1-900 telephone sex lines of the era.
If you can get past the musical interludes, The Gold Experience boasts some of The Artist’s strongest material to date. Most notably, the hard rocker: Endorphin Machine, the slow funk rock jam: SHHH, the funky: P Control and who could forget the # 1 hit single: The Most Beautiful Girl in the World.
Although 2004’s Musicology was Prince’s comeback to the spotlight and the charts; everyone knew that the Purple Yoda could do better. Well, 2 years later, he did just that with 3121; a twelve-track album that was more focused and concise without the overarching concepts that plagued many of his releases since the 90’s.
From the return of his alter ego, Camille, on the album opener to the electric-funk tracks Lolita and Black Sweat and the pop/rocker Fury, 3121 showcases an artist who is refining his palette in order to create an album that captures the classic sounds of the past all the while making it sound fresh for the modern music audience.
The only minor flaws with 3121 was that it did sound a little over-produced and was way to ballade heavy. Other than that, Prince was back!!!!!
Prince may no longer be with us, but his music will live on forever.