Ocean of Violets: Prince song by song

Discussion in 'Music Corner' started by Lance LaSalle, Jul 21, 2020.

  1. Lance LaSalle

    Lance LaSalle Prince of Swollen Sinus Thread Starter

    My intention with this thread, starting next Monday July 27th, is to discuss the music of Prince, in all it's myriad guises, down all its side-streets and alleyways, on a song-by-song basis.

    I will be going through all of Prince's songs, one by one: not only songs released under his own names but songs released under other names as well, and also songs that Prince wrote for other artists, whether he produced or was involved in their recording or not. I will also cover songs that Prince covered.

    I do not plan to hold up songs that Prince may have been involved in otherwise: i.e., if he remixed a song for another artist or produced a song but did not write it for the other artist, I will probably skip it.

    Now, this gets complicated, because credits are very strange in Prince-world, and sometimes he wrote songs that he did not get credit for (but usually owned). I will be using the information from princevault.com to aid me to this end, as well as the previous Prince album-by-album thread that was live some years ago.

    But also I believe there are some knowledgeable folks here who will be able to help me with this mammoth undertaking.

    I will be covering these on a semi-chronological order: by which I mean, I will not be ordering them according the date recorded, but rather I will group songs by album; and then I will add other songs/albums recorded in that general era after the discussion of the main album.

    For example, when the time comes, I will go through all the songs on the 1999 album; then I will follow it up with attendant B-sides and outtakes that have been released since, on the Deluxe albums or elsewheires, and then follow those up songs which were written by Prince but released by other artists released in 1982 by other artists. In the case where Prince wrote or co-wrote entire albums for other artists, I will cover those other albums separately, as their own "chapters" so to speak. Thus 1982 will have three "chapters":

    • 1999+B-sides and released outtakes,
    • Vanity 6, and
    • What Time Is It?,
    • plus an additional chapter for any random songs by other artists that Prince wrote in 1999.

    For songs written by Prince that were covered by other artists, but which had otherwise little involvement from Prince in released form, we can discuss both versions together --(I.e., I won't hold up "You're My Love" by Kenny Rogers up separately from Prince's, because Prince's version has been released on Prince's Originals album and my understanding it is that Prince wrote the song but otherwise was no involved with Kenny Rogers' version; however, other songs that have only been released by other artists but which do not have a released Prince version of the song will be discussed, at the time of their release.

    Some exceptions to this might apply: I probably will cover Prince's and Sheila E's "The Glamorous Life"" separately, for example. Of course, both versions can be discussed and referenced, let's not be ridiculous sticklers, but in general of course, we want to stick to the timeline of the songs being discussed and not venture too far ahead so that the thread doesn't become a mess.

    This is a highly complex and vast discography, and of course, I will not to pretend to be the most knowledgeable expert of all of Prince's incredibly wide catalogue -- not even on this forum! But I do think I can reliably post one song per day and the experts will chime in and help me.

    I will also be rating songs on a 1-5 scale, 5 being the best. I like doing this simply because, a) for some reason it helps me to focus my mind critically when I'm listening and b) although individual users ratings mean nothing, collectively, when averaged, they are an interesting statistic. And I like to make playlists from the more highly-rated songs!

    Having said that one does not have to rate songs to participate in the thread. The main thing is to discuss the music for Prince, song-by-song and learn more about the music of this incredibly talented man.

    One more thing: I do not play on holding up unreleased songs for rating; that does not mean that they cannot be discussed or referenced in their appropriate era by those who know about them; it only means that I won't make a separate entry for them.

    For released songs that were released more than twice (say, ""I Can Never Take the Place of Your Man"", or ""We Can Funk"") I will hold those up separately.

    I'm on holiday now and mostly camping; although I'm in a city for the next couple of days I will return to the wilderness on Thursday and while I'm sure I will have access to Internet I won't have much time to do much this week. That's why I'm not going to start until next Monday morning (Central European Time), with the For You album.

    Before I start, though, I'd like to take this opportunity to ask if anybody knows of any recordings that Prince made prior to the release of For You that were later released officially released by Prince or his estate -- either in physical or digital media.

    If so then I'll start with one of those songs on Monday...but otherwise, I will start with "For You" on Monday morning. ON Sunday night, I'll post an introductory essay to the album and start on the first song the next day.
    Last edited by a moderator: Jul 22, 2020
  2. smokeverbs

    smokeverbs Senior Member

    Detroit, MI, USA
    Other than 94 East, and similar sessions that have been released, remixed, re-released over and over, No.

    This is my kind of thread, and an area of expertise. Looking forward to the 27th.
  3. Lance LaSalle

    Lance LaSalle Prince of Swollen Sinus Thread Starter

    For You

    Prince Rogers Nelson, who had been recording demos both alone and with various musicians since 1976, was the son of a Minneapolis jazz pianist/band leader. His parents were divorced and he was thrown out of his mother's home at the age of 12 when his strait-laced stepfather found him in bed with a girl; basically homeless, he was taken in by the family of his friend Andre Cymone (nee Andersen), who, like Prince, was a talented multi-instrumentalist and with whom he started a teeth cutting band with sister Linda Andersen and schoolmate Morris Day on drums. The band, originally called Grand Central, changed their name to Champagne later, in 1975. At taht time both Andre Cymone and Prince also joined the funk Band 94 East, led by Prince's cousin's husband Pepe Willie.

    His high school years were spent making music in the Cymones' basement and playing basketball. It is rumored also that he ghost-wrote many advertising jingles for local radio and TV commercials for cash, though he was not credited for them. He began recording demos as early as 1976.

    A demo cassette of Prince's songs, solicited by his manager Owen Husney, eventually won him a recording contract with Warner Brother's record label; who, oddly, seemed to have "auditioned" him by watching him build a song from scratch in the recording studio.

    For You, was recorded in October to December 1977 at The Record Plant in Sausalito, California and overdubs were recorded at Sound Labs in LA. As has been written in numerous biographies, Prince's ability to record a song completely on his own had so impressed the suits at Warner Brothers that they not only allowed him to record the album as a one man band but they also, grudgingly, allowed him to produce himself, a point on which he insisted, absolutely refusing to sign a contract otherwise. This was a highly unusual arrangement for an artist who was unknown outside of the R&B scene of late seventies Minneapolis. They assigned producer Tony Vicari to the album to oversee the production, (he is listed as "Executive Producer") but apparently Prince pointedly ignored anything he said and, in typical Prince fashion did not really talk to him or acknowlege him at all.)

    Prince did have some uncredited assistance in the form of advice from recording engineer David Rivkin (whose brother would later play drums in the Revolution) and Patrice Rushen played synth on one song, also uncredited.

    All of the other instruments on the album were played by Prince and all of the vocals sung by him as would be typical of most of his early work and, indeed, throughout his career.

    Many of the songs on the album had been recorded in demo form earlier, some dating back to 1976

    The album was expensive; though he had been given a budget of $180 000 that was to cover his first three albums, the cost of For You pretty much blew that, as it cost $170 000! Apparently Prince recorded many other songs and various versions of the song that appeared; various tracklists were considered before the final nine song tracklist was chosen.

    The album was released in April 1998. It initially reached #163 on the American charts and by 1979 had sold somewhere between 150 000 and 200 000 copies. Since that time it has gone on to sell over two million copies worldwide and, after Princes' death in 2016, it re-entered the American album chart and charted at #138. At this time it also charted in the UK and France at #156 and #200 respectively.

    The tracklist was:
    1. For You (Prince)
    2. In Love (Prince)
    3. Soft And Wet (Prince, Chris Moon)
    4. Crazy You
    5. Just as Long as We're Together (Prince
    6. Baby (Prince)
    7. My Love Is Forever (Prince, Chris Moon[uncredited])
    8. So Blue (Prince)
    9. I'm Yours (Prince)

    In addition to those above songs I plan to hold the following up for discussion:
    • Just Another Sucker (Prince, Pepe Willie) 94 East, recorded 1978 released 1986
    I'd like to take this opportunity to ask anybody here if they know of any other songs that were recorded by Prince in 1978 (other than the other 94 East songs, which he did not write) that were released either in 1978 or in later years? If so I will add them.
    Last edited: Jul 27, 2020
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  4. Lance LaSalle

    Lance LaSalle Prince of Swollen Sinus Thread Starter

    Today's song is "For You", written and produced by Prince.

    Spotify: https://open.spotify.com/track/7en6a6ajlibz5CsLkoYAdK?si=fPV0ZTCdS8aSewxIWBAmqA

    A home demo of this song was recorded in 1976; the album track was recorded in late 1977 with overdubs in January 1978. The song was later sampled on the song "Million $ Show" from the Hitnrun Phase One album.

    An a capella track, several unreleased versions exist in the Vault, including one with an acoustic guitar accompaniment and another with acoustic guitar and piano.
    Last edited: Jul 27, 2020
  5. croquetlawns

    croquetlawns Forum Resident

    I thought it was an amazing way to open a debut album - the kid had courage! It's actually one of the best things on the album IMO.
  6. InPurpleRainbows

    InPurpleRainbows Well-Known Member

    Norfolk UK
    OP - Great that you're including Just Another Sucker for discussion, a track i like as much as anything from the first two albums. The vocals are so Prince-like that i assumed it was him before i discovered otherwise.

    I tip my hat to you for this undertaking Lance LaSalle, thanks for doing this, i think it'll be great to discuss individual tracks in greater detail than an album thread would. Think I'll give ratings too for exactly the same reason you gave, as and when i get to look in on the thread.

  7. Orthogonian Blues

    Orthogonian Blues A man with a fork in a world full of soup.

    London, UK
    Supposedly inspired by the multi-tracked, super stacked vocal tracks that Roy Thomas Baker helped Queen to create.
  8. Lance LaSalle

    Lance LaSalle Prince of Swollen Sinus Thread Starter

    Exactly: it's an amazing feat of multi-tracked harmonies that does way more than it needs to do and it is and quite a daring and unusual way to open a debut album!

    I also like how the track manages to be, in its "B section"...what's the word.... frilly... in that inimitable Prince manner.

    4.1/5 for me; oh, it's slight, and short, and I do like this album more than most, but it's such an interesting opening for a such a wide and varied and ridiculously prolific career. To think it all started here, with four dozen or so falsetto voices....
  9. Lance LaSalle

    Lance LaSalle Prince of Swollen Sinus Thread Starter

    I can hear that.
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  10. Piiijiii

    Piiijiii Hundalasiliah

    Ruhr Area, Germany
    For You 4/5

    Not only a great, unusual way to open the album - it also opens an incredible career:

    "All of this and more is for you
    With love, sincerity and deepest care
    My life with you I share"


    The multilayered choir is already a Prince trademark sound and there's not too many of that on the debut album. Reminds me a bit of the ending choir of the Purple Rain album. This and Soft & Wet are the only hints of what was going to happen on the following records.
  11. Andrecrabtree

    Andrecrabtree Forum Resident

    Great start to a strong debut. I think For You the album is a little underrated.

    I think it's his only acapella song.
    Lluvia Morada and Lance LaSalle like this.
  12. croquetlawns

    croquetlawns Forum Resident

    Interesting - I like (Freddie-era) Queen even more than Prince, but I've never connected them before.
    For You - 4/5.
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  13. Joker to the thief

    Joker to the thief Forum Resident

    London, UK
    This for me is one of the few tracks on For You that I could imagine being included on one of his later albums - first album, first track and his genius for harmony and arrangement already on full display (although I don’t think that holds true for much of the rest of the album - don’t hate the album, just think Prince is still finding himself on it)
  14. Mal

    Mal Phorum Physicist

    I wonder if this provided any inspiration for his opening gambit:

    Invocation - Carpenters

    They had already released an obscure single in 1966 under Karen’s name but this was their debut billed as Carpenters.

    Originally titled Offering, which ties in with the lyrics of the opening and closing tracks, their debut album was retitled Ticket To Ride.

    The album closes with a companion piece to the opening track (this time with some instrumentation on the end):

    Benediction - Carpenters

    Prince, on the other hand, gives us "I'm Yours" :D
    Last edited: Jul 27, 2020
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  15. InPurpleRainbows

    InPurpleRainbows Well-Known Member

    Norfolk UK
    • For You from For You
    The opening track from his debut is a brave statement. It is slight, but it instantly presents an artist who wants to show he can do things a bit differently and who has talent and isn't afraid to flaunt it. It manages to be economical but elegant, purposeful but pretty and seemingly throwaway. I think i first heard it on a Prince documentary and just a few seconds of it were enough to make me search it out. Whilst other artists would want to open their debut with a big hit, Prince uses another tack, inviting the listener to ask questions immediately about what exactly they are hearing and to pique curiosities for what might follow.

    I often pick For You to start a Prince playlist, not just because it was the first thing he released but because it says "I'm going to play for you, and it's not going to be like anything else". A really clever start and i think the harmonies are beautiful, and it doesn't hang around long which makes it something you want to hear again immediately.

    4.0 / 5
  16. spsimmons

    spsimmons Forum Resident

    Peoria Illinois
    This is going to be an excellent thread. Thank you
  17. Campaigner

    Campaigner Too late to cause a stir

    There's what, 46 tracks of vocals on 'For You'? Even if the song was crud, that effort would be worth 2-2.5 stars. I mean, imagine trotting that out as the first track on your debut album. Just the sheer amount of testicular fortitude needed to pull it off is immense.

    Lucky for us the song's more than just a gimmick. A vocal tour de force to begin the album, very reminiscent of what Brian Wilson was trying to get with 'Our Prayer' from Smile. There are differences in quality though, obviously, as Wilson was at the utter peak of his powers and Prince hadn't even tapped into his... which probably makes the track all the more impressive.

    Having said that, it isn't a track that'll go on any playlist, and isn't one I revisit outside of listens to the whole album (which are nowhere near as frequent as others).

    Still, for what it is, it's a 3.5/5 for me.
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  18. Mal

    Mal Phorum Physicist

  19. Lance LaSalle

    Lance LaSalle Prince of Swollen Sinus Thread Starter

    His lyrics are often pithy and so naked. And that's why I feel that in a way he doesn't get the length of shrift he deserves as a lyricist. While you wouldn't say these words were a good poem, as lyrics, they really say a lot, and given the almost shocking statement of the song-as-opening to career, it's almost chilling (in a good way.) .

    Because, really, he did share his life with us. I mean, what didn't he share with us? What was Prince but a conduit for music that he gave to us? I know that he did more than just record music and play live, but really, not much more: there just aren't enough hours in a day for him to ahve done much more than make music. for a day. His entire life was devoted to communicating through music every facet of his weird-ass self; to me that kind of dedication and drive stuns me.. Imagine rehearsing ten hours a day and recording six to eight hours a night for years.
  20. SJP

    SJP Forum Resident

    I'm far far FAR from a Prince expert, having only listened to pretty much the most commercial of his music over the years. I'll try to participate in this thread with the understanding that much of what is being talked about I'm hearing for the first time ever. For albums I do not own, I won't offer a rating. It seems disingenuous to rate on a first impression when others have lived with an artistic work for years.

    Also, I tend to burn out of these threads but mostly because I get involved on those for artists who I am super familiar with. It'll be an interesting endeavor (for me) to try and keep up with one which won't require the mental investment. Just dip in daily (?), learn, and dip back out.

    The song For You is definitely an admirable and bold statement right out of the gate. Like it a lot but it'd never make a mix tape. Does it foreshadow what is to follow? From what I hear some saying about his debut album as a whole, I kind of doubt it.
  21. Piiijiii

    Piiijiii Hundalasiliah

    Ruhr Area, Germany
    It's a song-by-song thread so no need to be an expert.
    I often use these threads to discover albums I didn't have ... the early Prince albums aren't expensive and on the streaming services so why not get 'em now?
    For You is not a great album but all following in the 80s are.
  22. mark winstanley

    mark winstanley Certified dinosaur, who likes physical product

    For You
    I haven't heard that track before, very cool.
    I certainly hear the RTB/Queen influence, but it manages to be 100% Prince at the same time.
  23. SJP

    SJP Forum Resident

    I'm still digesting the Purple Rain deluxe reissue and the 1999 box. I'll likely use this thread to learn about many albums I've never heard before and bookmark those that I'd be interested in during the reissue campaign...and which version if later given a choice.
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  24. Lance LaSalle

    Lance LaSalle Prince of Swollen Sinus Thread Starter

    ONe thing I do in these threads is make CD-length playlists of the highest rated songs. I do it, well, for my own enjoyment mainly; but also for those who are new to the artist being discussed, or new to a particular period of an artist with a particularly long discography (and there are few whose are longer than Prince's). I will be doing that here, too.

    As it is a song by song thread, there's no need to chime in on every song: I will make posts daily; and there's also will be no need for newcomers to read the entire thread to join in the discussion: really, the page or two preceding the page will generally suffice to join in. I do expect participation to wax and wane according to the album being discussed: with the mid-80s period being the most busy and steadily dwindling down after that.
  25. Orthogonian Blues

    Orthogonian Blues A man with a fork in a world full of soup.

    London, UK
    This is gonna be a loooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooong thread.

    But thanks @Lance LaSalle for rising to the challenge so far. I'll contribute as much as I can. It will be a good excuse to listen again to those Prince albums that I have played fewer times than others.

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