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July 28, 2007 2:43 PM   Subscribe

What are Prince's best post-Purple Rain albums?

I like 1999 and Purple Rain, but I lost track of Prince as he got increasingly weird in the late '80s and need to catch up. What are his best albums since then?
posted by kirkaracha to Media & Arts (11 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
I like Diamonds and Pearls. It's got that dirty Prince vibe (with songs like Gett Off, which more recent albums have lost.
posted by kimdog at 2:51 PM on July 28, 2007

I can't suggest any particular resource for sizing up Prince's later works, but the always fantastic Sound Opinions recently discussed his most recent release with quite a bit of talk about his previous efforts.
posted by wfrgms at 2:52 PM on July 28, 2007 [1 favorite]

Sign O' The Times, no question. If you can find the concert video check it out.

Though this is probably chatfilter.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 3:16 PM on July 28, 2007

I'm a fan of his, although he's really infurating sometimes. You might try the Hits 1/2/B-sides first to get a flavor of some of what you've missed. I could probably make a 2-3 CD set of my favorite tunes after this era and clear out a whole section of unlistenable CDs from my collection. Here's my take on his post-Purple Rain output. Be aware that I'm not a fanatic for him, and stick closely to the hits. I like his guitar playing most of all. A buddy of mine (huge fan) just went through his collection from 1990 to 1994 and found little worthwhile. YMMV.

"Around the World In A Day" (1985). Necessary for my favorite Prince tune, Raspberry Beret.

"Parade" (1986). "Kiss" is the only thing I remember from this one.

"Sign O' The Times (1987). His best post-PR collection. "Times", "Dorothy Parker", "Starfish + Coffee", "U Got The Look", "I Could Never Take The Place Of Your Man", and "The Cross" are great.

"Lovesexy" (1988). "Alphabet St." is my favorite, again the big hit. This one is annoying because on CD it's all one track with no song breaks. You might find a copy that is broken up properly.

"Batman soundtrack" (1989). I really like this one. Lots of guitar, some weird tunes. Only "Scandalous" has me reaching for the skip button.

"Graffiti Bridge" (1990). Not much on this one outside of "Thieves in the Temple".

"Diamonds and Pearls" (1991). This is where Prince really brings in some rap/hip-hop, not to good results. The main rapper, Tony M, is frustratingly lame. Over egotistical and just not good. Check out "jughead" for evidence. Still lots of goodness here: Tracks 1 thru 7 + 10, maybe including 8 would have been a much better album. His Arsenio show appearance at this time was smoking.

"O-+>" (1992). Just as inconsistent as D&P, but the bad stuff is _really_ bad. The segues with Kirstie Alley as a reporter asking Prince's name, talk of an egyptian princesss, and the horrible 3 Chains O' Gold ruin this one for me. It's almost a concept album, and he made a film/video suite out of most of the tunes that doesn't quite hold together. Get rid of the segues and "Arrogance" and stop right after "7" (a genius pop song, I love this one) and it would be a great album. 3 Chains is so bad. Check out this lyric snippet:

This morning I wanted a cup of coffee
But I didn't have any cream
Last night I wanted some inspiration
But I didn't have any dreams
Coupled with the fact that u belong 2 another
Whose name is self-righteousness

Oh, that's bad. The delivery doesn't help any. The song even starts out kinda cool before totally going off the rails.

"come" (1994). First track has some nice horns, but otherwise I never ever listen to it. Surprised to read it went gold.

"The Gold Experience" (1995). Another concept album, broken up with spoken word segments from the "npg operator" guiding you through the album. He released a CD-ROM at this time that was Myst-like (except not as good). I joke that I'd love to hear him perform all the "npg operator" parts in sequence as the "npg operator suite". Some good stuff here: "p control" (he did this at some VH-1 fashion show, another great show), "Endorphinmachine", "Most Beautiful Girl" (his last top 10 single), Dolphin, and maybe "eye hate you". "Gold" is good and has some fun solos, but it's such a re-write of "Purple Rain" that I don't enjoy it by the end.

The rest of his stuff gets bought, listened to once, and then put away to gather dust. He'll do something amazing, like the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame "While My Guitar Gently Weeps" performance, or the ridiculously amazing Super Bowl halftime show and I'll go through it all again, but I still don't find anything after 1995 to listen to more than once. Maybe someone else will give a good shout-out to something post-95 that I'll need to listen to again.

One of my favorite things he did is the Purple Medley, where he re-recorded a bunch of his hits into an 11 minute tune. Some great transitions and a genius combination of the lyrics to "Irresistable Bitch" over the music to "Sexy MF".
posted by dr. fresh at 3:34 PM on July 28, 2007 [2 favorites]

I agree with a lot of what dr. fresh said, but 2004's 'Musicology' is worth checking out. "Call My Name" is a great song.
posted by cosmic osmo at 4:29 PM on July 28, 2007

Sign O' The Times, Parade ("Mountains" is a *great* song), and Musicology. 3121 has some really great stuff and some really uneven stuff (like a lot of Prince albums). I just picked up the new one, and I really like "Guitars" (the intro is almost Foo-Fighters-rockin') and "The One U Wanna C" (with Wendy and Lisa!! eeeep!).
posted by ersatzkat at 6:53 PM on July 28, 2007

dr. fresh is on the money. "Sign o' the Times" is by far the best post-Purple Rain album. I've recently revisited "Parade," and I've found it to be a much stronger album than I'd remembered. And "Around the World in a Day" has long been a favorite of mine. Everything after that era has some killer tracks, but a lot of filler. The Hits/B-Side compilation will get you most of what you need from those albums. "Musicology," "3121" and the latest album have been much stronger on the whole, IMHO.
posted by Banky_Edwards at 7:04 PM on July 28, 2007

Everything up through Lovesexy is solid. Sign o' the Times, as everyone is saying, is easily the best of them — in fact, I'd say it's his best album (followed by Dirty Mind and 1999). The weakest of the post-Purple Rain, pre-Batman albums is Around the World in a Day. Parade is very underrated; like ersatzkat says, "Mountains" is fantastic, and there are plenty of other strong tracks besides "Kiss."

One record so far unmentioned is The Black Album, which Prince withdrew at the last minute, rushing out Lovesexy in its place (carrying over the track "When 2 R in Love"). I'm very fond of this record.
posted by macrone at 7:22 PM on July 28, 2007

Based on the albums I'm familiar with (not all of the '90s/'00s albums, but many of them), Dr. Fresh's list is a correct answer to the question if you delete everything after Lovesexy. In other words, his best albums after Purple Rain are all the subsequent albums through Lovesexy. It's nice to try to appreciate the gems in his later works, but I don't think there's any way around the fact that his '80s material was his best work.

Misc. comments on those albums:

Around the World in a Day - Excellent on the whole, but I always skip the last two songs. Paisley Park is my favorite non-famous Prince song.

Parade - This might seem like just a minor album with one isolated hit, but there's more to it than meets the ear.

Sign O' the Times - I wouldn't assume that this is far and away Prince's best post-Purple Rain album, as some people have said above. I'd say it's just about equal with several other albums of his. I'm sure a lot of Prince fans will disagree with me on this, but I find Hot Thing and U Got the Look kind of embarrassing.

Lovesexy - This wasn't especially innovative for Prince, but it's a nice finale to his '80s work.

A couple comments about his later albums:

I disagree with Dr. Fresh about Graffiti Bridge. Yes there's a lot of bad material on there, but Can't Stop... and Joy in Repetition are great songs.

Dr. Fresh said: "Maybe someone else will give a good shout-out to something post-95 that I'll need to listen to again." I'll name one: The Vault: Old Friends 4 Sale. This was a 1999 compilation of previously unreleased songs. It's not one of his best albums, but it's nice if you're interested in hearing Prince in a more conventional vein than you usually get from him.
posted by Jaltcoh at 7:28 PM on July 28, 2007

My favorite Prince tracks from the 90's...

1995 - The Gold Experience - "P Control" and "319"

1996 - Emancipation - "Joint to Joint"

1997 - Crystal Ball - "Poom Poom" and "P Control"

1998 - The Truth - "Man in a Uniform"

Joint to Joint is pretty amazing... favorite section:

Oh great, now u think ure my soulmate
U dont even know what kind of cereal I like
Wrong! capn crunch with soy milk
Cuz cows are 4 calves
Ud probably take me 4 half
U dont love me, ure a faker
U just want me 4 my acres

posted by kdern at 8:43 PM on July 28, 2007

I think summaries thus far are excellent.

I'd say don't forget his earlier records -- while "Sign O the Times" is probably my favorite Prince album, I think "Dirty Mind" might be my second favorite.
posted by YoungAmerican at 9:30 PM on July 28, 2007

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