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Ocean of Violets: Prince song by song

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

  1. footprintsinthesand

    footprintsinthesand Reasons to be cheerful Part 1

    Dutch mountains
    Thanks for starting this thread. It's going to help me get familiar with early Prince albums that I don't have (only the two Hits cds). Only own Lovesexy on vinyl and a lot of cds after his 80's hits, some never played. It may take me a while to participate, once for me familiar material is posted.
  2. Lance LaSalle

    Lance LaSalle Prince of Swollen Sinus Thread Starter

    "In Love" is the first "real" track in a way, as "For You" is just the introduction to the album/to Prince's career. And naturally, it's a come on, a song of desperate adolescent seduction, a plea for the woman that's the singer's focus to "set him free from the chains" and thus set herself free. An insistent song of restless sexual conquest, I really dig the raunchy synth line and the squishy liquid funk that it serves up.

    The song is overall well produced, actually more or less perfectly produced and the arrangement accentuates the melodic charms of it. Maybe it's too perfectly produced, too slick, but really only in light of Prince's later stuff.

    I'm not real familiar with a lot of seventies R&B (other than disco) but this sounds really 80s to me -- this song, hardly a famous one, kind of sounds like a blueprint to a lot of electro-funk to come in the eighties, especially the fluid sounding synth -- it's so damn catchy.

    In no way does this sound like the multi-instrumental talents of a Paul McCartney (say) --This is several levels above. No one would ever guess this was a one man band from listening, there's a suppleness and a slight looseness to the playing that just makes it sound so natural. Prince's falsetto is pretty nice and he's really quite a good singer.

    In the end, of course, this is a good song, not a great song: but I think that it's a bit underrated. Perhaps the fact that Prince has so many different strands in his music means that the more R&B stuff gets a bit dismissed by his rock fans (and vice versa.)

    Anyway, I'll give it a 3.6/5, I think it achieves greatness, but it's a lesser greatness.
  3. Jmac1979

    Jmac1979 Forum Resident

    Louisville, KY
    In Love always sort of reminded me of Raydio for some reason. Not a bad track but he'd go on to make much better

  4. theholygoof

    theholygoof Forum Resident

    Madison, WI
    Can’t say it’s In the upper echelon of his finest work, but its a mindblower the kid was 19 years old when he did all of this. 2.5/5.

    Thanks for doing this, Lance! I admire your courage. Godspeed!
  5. Freek999

    Freek999 Forum Resident

    In Love 3/5
    Lance LaSalle likes this.
  6. Arthur Pewty

    Arthur Pewty Always crashing in the same car

    Slight, but earnest and technically accomplished. The rhythm is playful somehow and the lyrics contain what I guess would be his first, tentative foray into the risqué (“I really wanna play in your river”).
    My favorite parts of the song both feature his already masterful use of massed vocals: the “I’m falling in love” that immediately follows the last instrumental bridge, and the wavering vocalese on the slow fade out, which is gorgeous.
    Still, in light of what was to come, a 2.5/5
  7. therunner

    therunner Forum Resident

    "In Love" would be a good song by almost anyone else but by Prince's incredibly high standards it's just an ordinary song in his vast catalog of wonderful songs to come. So I'm going to try to be consistent with ratings and compare each song to Prince's whole oeuvre, and therefore "In Love" gets a harsh looking 2/5.
    Jmac1979 and Lance LaSalle like this.
  8. sunspot42

    sunspot42 Forum Resident

    San Francisco
    Yes, this. Those vaguely New Wave synth washes.

    The song is slight, the production is somewhat interesting. After an interesting start this feels like meandering, somewhat generic filler beyond the slightly-superior production. His one man band is impressive, but the underlying material is not. 2/5, and I'm being generous.
    Jmac1979 and Lance LaSalle like this.
  9. SRC

    SRC That sums up Squatter for me

    New York, NY
    "In Love", yeah I think the consensus might be that it's a bit of a letdown after that stellar intro before it. I'm not sure who decided the first full song on the album should be what is ultimately a B-side. In the context of the album, and of course, his career, the song is a cool vibe, but isolated from the album flow and everything that would come after, it feels a bit weak. But it is what it is, I could probably say this about every track on this record: It's a nineteen year old prodigy doing it all, and it's just the beginning, in that light, it's still an amazing album to me even if comparatively the material feels just a bit generic at times.
    Lluvia Morada and Arthur Pewty like this.
  10. Orthogonian Blues

    Orthogonian Blues Forum Resident

    London, UK
    Yes, I think that might be a problem. For most of the album. All the hours in the studio spent fussing over the tracks and the sounds left the end product feeling a little bit airless.

    Prince used most of the $180,000 advance for his first three albums on making this album alone. A good reason why the next two sound a lot more raw, and a bit looser, is because he had very little recording budget left to play with. That of course turned out to be to those records' advantage.

    On this song - a good demonstration of the one man band approach, but not really memorable. By Prince's high standards, it's only a 2/5 for me.
    sunspot42 and Lance LaSalle like this.
  11. Lance LaSalle

    Lance LaSalle Prince of Swollen Sinus Thread Starter

    Yes, if there is one thing Prince learned from doing this album is sheer sonic perfection wasnt worth it. He remained a perfectionist but soon enough he would no longer have the time for this kind Of slickness.
  12. appearcomposed

    appearcomposed Forum Resident

    I might have to go a little easier on In Love than the rest of you! For whatever reason, it's always been one of the more memorable songs on the record for me. It's got that nice thumping rhythm, though my favorite part is hands down that zig-zaggy synth or whatever that occasionally pops up. Only part I don't really think works is the "play in your river" bits, kind of a jarring stop to the groove, but I guess he was trying to break it up a bit.
    Lluvia Morada and Jayseph like this.
  13. Freek999

    Freek999 Forum Resident

    Prince really was not a perfectionist, that's a often heard misunderstanding. He was a controlfreak, no doubt, but there's a difference.
    ziggytvs, Piiijiii and sunspot42 like this.
  14. Lance LaSalle

    Lance LaSalle Prince of Swollen Sinus Thread Starter

    He was not a perfectionist in terms of sound and engineering, not at all,but the dozens of overdub and mixing sessions to correct minor flubs documented in the Tudahl book speak to perfectionism, IMHO.

    Also his obsessive reviewing of live shows: he worked hard to be that good.

    Incredible book if you havent read it, btw.
    Lluvia Morada likes this.
  15. sunspot42

    sunspot42 Forum Resident

    San Francisco
    While he might have been a prodigy, and he certainly had ideas for how to produce a record, I think the reality was that Prince was in way over his 19-year-old head and would have been much better off bringing in an experienced producer to at least co-produce his first record or two. I mean, Warners teamed him up with an executive producer, who Prince apparently spent most of the sessions berating. I wonder if there's someone Prince would have been willing to work with instead of against?
    Lance LaSalle likes this.
  16. footprintsinthesand

    footprintsinthesand Reasons to be cheerful Part 1

    Dutch mountains
    A jazz horn section arranger
  17. Lance LaSalle

    Lance LaSalle Prince of Swollen Sinus Thread Starter

    I wonder; the narrative of the biographies makes it sound like he was absolutely unbudgeable on the point; against all sense and advice of his manager and everybody else.
    Lluvia Morada and sunspot42 like this.
  18. Piiijiii

    Piiijiii Hundalasiliah

    Ruhr Area, Germany
    The following album proved him right though.

    In Love 2.5/5
    A generic electro funk song that didn't age well. Far from being bad music but we all know what he was capable of only some months later.
    sunspot42 and Lance LaSalle like this.
  19. Joker to the thief

    Joker to the thief Forum Resident

    London, UK
    In Love is a decent enough tune, but it sounds like what it is - competent, generic disco funk. I think this is the song that sounds most dated on the album, from the opening seconds it screams to me 'it's the 70s' It's a short tune, but a little too repetitive. I do think in general 'For You' is the album where you can most clearly hear Prince's influences, it's Prince trying to sound like other people rather than being himself. Hugely impressive given his age at the time, it fills just under 4 minutes pleasantly enough, but I'm not sure I'd be upset if I never heard it again. I agree with the 2.5/5s
    Lance LaSalle and Piiijiii like this.
  20. Rockford & Roll

    Rockford & Roll Forum Resident

    Midway, KY
    This is going to be a bodacious thread! I haven't heard or thought of this album in years. So far we have just a glimpse of the genius to come.
  21. John Shaft

    John Shaft One Bad Motha....

    Cleveland, Ohio
    "In Love" is an interesting choice for the first "song" on the album. It's a good, but not great tune, where I think he played it safe by leading listeners in with a more traditional, 70's R&B tune as opposed to something more "radical" sounding.

    Sometimes I wonder what the initial impact of hearing him for the first time would have been if "Soft & Wet" would have been the second track?

    Either way, I give it a solid 3 out of 5.
  22. Gavaxeman

    Gavaxeman Take me back to dear old Blighty...

    West Midlands U.K.
    In love ...like a lot of this album , solid enough, but not that memorable...it’s an album I enjoy when listening too , but struggle to remember the individual songs ..a pleasant enough 3/5
  23. thekid87

    thekid87 Forum Resident

    The Netherlands
    In Love is a good song, catchy synth line and beautifully sung. It also is, like others have already said, a bit too perfectly produced and generic for a memorable Prince song. I think that Prince really tried to make his first album as good as possible and spend way too much time trying. It shows in this song. He just didn’t have the songs to make a hit record... yet.

    He indeed learned from it and turned into a more ‘one song a day’ approach kind of musician for future albums. Although he would sometimes still spend weeks on a single song.

    Too me, this is a typical early Prince disco song. Good for the era, but he would improve his song writing capacities immensely in the near future. In a way that a scale from 1 to 5 doesn’t give that much separation. So, if I like the song it’s a 3, a very good song is a 4 and a great song is a 5 (and essential songs should be rated higher to separate them from the ‘regular great songs’...).

    Overall I give this a 3 out of 5.
  24. mark winstanley

    mark winstanley Certified dinosaur, who likes physical product

    I think for folks like me, less familiar with the early stuff, In Love comes across as a little light weight.
    It is a pretty decent pop song, but Prince hadn't stepped out of his shell yet. I assume he was pretty young, and certainly didn't have the world at his feet like he did in the eighties.
    To some degree looking back, knowing what we know now, this may seem like a bad choice for the second track, particularly after the captivating opening, but he was testing the water.
    Making a first album is like a faun standing up for the first time, you're not sure what will happen, you're still figuring out your zone, your identity and all that... there is a want to impress, but step lightly in some ways.
    A decent second track on a new artists pop album.
  25. TheSeldomSeenKid

    TheSeldomSeenKid Forum Resident

    This discussion of Prince starting out as doing everything himself in the Studio reminds me of Steven Wilson early in his career, who although used the Porcupine Tree name for his early Music, SW was a Solo Musician, who initially did everything himself in the Studio and recorded for an Album, and SW did not add Band Members for Porcupine Tree until a few Albums into his career, but in reality like Prince, and Trent Reznor(NIN), Kevin Parker(Tame Impala), Billy Corgan(Smashing Pumpkins), and Kevin Barnes(Of Montreal) to name a few other Music Artists, SW created all of his Music himself in the Studio, and no different than his Albums under his Name the last 10 Years, as when he operated prior under the Porcupine Tree name(Without and With am added Band), as all of these Musicians needed Bands for the purposes of Touring(although Prince did some Solo Touring without a Band himself). Steven Wilson even made mistakes in mastering Some of of his ‘90s Albums being part of the Loudness Wars, that I’m recent years he reissued those Albums with better Mastering.

    I concur with other people here, who mentioned that Prince could have benefited by having an Experienced Producer work with him initially, but who was going to tell a 19 Year Old(especially one as talented as Prince) what to do? Look how it benefitted Talking Heads to bring in Brian Eno to have another ’Set of Ears’ and Experience to guide them on their 2nd-4th Studio Albums, which are considered by most Talking Heads Fans, their Best 3 Albums(although I would include ‘Speaking In Tongues’ among their Top 3 Albums, along with ‘Remain in Light’ and ‘Fear of Music’).

    Anyways, ‘In Love’ is an ok Song by Prince, and like a lot of other replies here, I would concur as rating it as 2 of 5(not a Song I need to hear often, but worth playing it once in awhile. Of Course, if this was a Paul McCartney Thread, his Fans(with a few outliers of course, as even myself as a Radiohead Fan will call out any of their Songs that I think are below average or even are terrible) would rate this Song at least a 4 of 5. In fact that is how I subjectively assess Songs, as I remove the Name(or in the Case of Prince for part of his career, a Symbol :sigh:) of the Music Artists to take away any implicit bias. Just try this with U2, The Rolling Stones, Jay Z, MUSE, Kanye West, or any other Big Name in Music.
    Lance LaSalle likes this.

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