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In baseball, the five-tool player is kind of a bullshit concept, but it connotes a particular beauty. The five-tool player hits for power, hits for average, throws well, fields well, and roams the basepaths like a guerilla warrior; when the term “five-tool” is deployed, it implicitly presents these skills as equally weighted. As the greatest solo pop artist in American history, Prince boasts an unprecedented skill set. He writes, arranges, sings, plays, dances, and performs, all like a motherfucker. He busts taboos, flashes unstoppable ambition, blends genres together like paint. Ballads and rave-ups, autobiography and fantasy, sexual abandon and divine devotion. He’s Willie Mays and Ken Griffey, Jr. and Rickey Henderson and Bo Jackson. He’s Paul McCartney with the funk, Stevie Wonder with the freakiness, Joni Mitchell with the proper respect.

Respect, as you know, is also kind of a bullshit concept. Your favorite songs may not grace anyone else’s mixes; your favorite artists may not have ever left town. A century of recorded music has given us a galaxy of worthy tunes. But the gravitational pull of Prince is strong; it has few equals. If you dig people standing tall in the major-label machinery, he’s your standard-bearer. Practically anyone trying to marry pop songcraft to idiosyncrasy is in his debt: OutKast. The-Dream. Beyoncé. Juan Atkins. Of Montreal. Autre Ne Veut. Sky Ferreira. With astounding ease, he gave us dozens of evergreens and deep cuts, concept albums and slamming soundtracks, Anna Stesia and Bambi and Darling Nikki. At his peak, he was essentially a one-man record industry. He handed Sinead O’Connor and Chaka Khan the biggest hits of their careers. After seven years gone, Kid Creole And The Coconuts — a sterling act in their own right — rode “The Sex of It” back into the UK Top 30. Stevie Nicks, Sheila E., Sheena Easton, and the Bangles went Top 10 Stateside with Prince tunes. He’s been sampled by Nine Inch Nails, covered by Sufjan Stevens, pastiched by Weird Al.

Even with all this, his grandest legacy could be how he put so much of himself on wax while holding so much in reserve. His boldest thematic throughline would surely be sexuality: the pleasure of pursuit, the promise and demonstration of ecstasy. Yet Prince’s carnality exists in this weird middle ground between entertaining nonsense and raw reportage. It’s an obsession, but when it’s depicted, it’s rarely done obsessively. The same thing applies to his spiritual journey, which has traversed all the stations from guilt to exaltation. He’s pledged to Jehovah’s Witnesses — and has gone on record with his unease about everything from substance abuse to cussing to (tragically) non-heterosexuality — but it’s been no obstacle to his ardor. He’s still a flirt, and he’s still wickedly funny in his low-key manner. (On Dutch TV, he once explained his conviction about birthdays thusly: “I don’t celebrate birthdays, so that stops me from counting days, which stops me from counting time, which allows me” — and here he drops into a fey Southern accent and rises into some doofy shoulder-rocking, to a massive cheer — “to still look the same as I did, ten years ago, just like that lady said.”)

Fortunately, Prince’s reputation has rebounded from a dark period, when he was locked in battle with his record label, declaring himself a slave to the endless glee of late-night TV hosts. Once free from his contract, he initiated a years-long re-evaluation of the standard distribution model, experimenting with subscriptions, MP3 stores, albums packaged with newspapers and bundled with concert tickets. The records themselves were often uneven — to his unrealized chagrin, the major-label paradigm nurtures quality as much as it quashes it — but they always offered Princemusic, a heady blend of styles and passions that added to our conception of the man, even if they didn’t shore up the legacy. But when you’re the forever king, your legacy is already written. Not to say that he’s always reigned securely. Like Michael Jackson (a ruler of another galaxy, even if critics dreamed of a real rivalry), Prince worked to rule the charts without forsaking his black audience, which put him in a prolonged repulsion/attraction cycle with hip-hop before he matured into his current role as a funky elder statesman. Too smart to self-destruct, too restless to fully settle into a stylistic cul-de-sac, he’s now a living treasure, the greatest, weirdest gift ever sold.

Today, Prince’s biggest-selling album (having moved more than 20 million units worldwide), Purple Rain, turns 30. To celebrate, we’re taking a deep dive into the man’s prolific, magical career. What follows is a ranking of most of Prince’s studio LPs and soundtracks — though we limited what Wikipedia calls his “internet albums” to 1998′s The Truth and 2003′s Xpectation, which means you won’t find a few of his more esoteric releases (2004′s The Chocolate Invasion, for instance, or, um, 2004′s The Slaughterhouse) included here. That still leaves us with more than enough music for several lifetimes — and considering Prince’s continued vitality and infamous vaults, he’s probably got another few lifetimes’ worth of music ahead of him, too. Let’s go crazy.

Start the Countdown here.

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Comments (58)
  1. Quite the undertaking…especially having to listen to all those late period albums.

    1999 is too low, obviously. Perhaps Dirty Mind too – even at 6.

    “7″ is one of the greatest songs ever written and I’m always kind of amazed people never flipped their lids over it. It’s Prince’s greatest masterpiece.

  2. YESSSSSSSSS

  3. Wow, Dirty mind and 1999 are way way too low. I’d even consider putting Dirty mind as number one. Shit is tight.

    Top ten for me:

    1. Purple Rain
    2. Dirty Mind
    3. 1999
    4. Sign O The Times
    5. Controversy
    6. Batman
    7. Prince
    8. Around the World
    9. Parade
    10. Lovesexxy

    ….even I don’t really know any albums after those ten….

    • Good list. But as good as Dirty Mind is, the long standing consensus is that purple rain is duly regarded as Price’s major masterpiece. I’ve seen a lot of people on stereogum say that ”dirty mind” is prince’s best and my feeling, which I may be wrong about, is that since its an underdog release, the cool thing is to say its his best, because purple rain could be construed as too obvious or popular a choice. But lock, stock and barrel, the songs on purple rain are just top to bottom supeior and will live long after people spin dirty mind. Dirty mind is great and dark for sure though. Now Brad made a really good list but I really believe that not including 1999 in the top 5 was way off. Especially including his debut over 1999 (WHAT!?!). Here is my list:
      1. Purple Rain
      2. Sign O’The Times
      3. 1999
      4. Dirty Mind
      5. Controversy
      6. The rest.

      • The Black Album was way too low too Brad. But it was a really well written piece. And thank you for putting Purple Rain as number 1. It deserves it.

    • My first instinct would be to put “Dirty Mind” up there too, but then I realize that would be more on its prescience than my actual love for it.

      I think of the original list, “Purple Rain” and “Sign O’” are absolutely dead-on – they have a head-and-shoulders-ness about their songwriting and melodic sense. They’re Prince’s Sgt. Pepper and White Album.

      I’d probably put “Dirty Mind” at number 3, toss everything else from “For You” to “Love Symbol” up in the air and take whatever order they come down in, slot in “The Gold Experience” and then toss everything else from the ’90s in the air, then pull out “3121″ and repeat with everything else post-2000.

      My main question is why “Rainbow Children” is included but not “New Power Soul.” Not that I care in any way for “New Power Soul.”

      • …probably because TRC was a Prince album and New Power Soul (technically) was not (credited to New Power Generation). Don’t know that you’re right not to care for it in ANY way – it does have one minor masterpiece in Wasted Kisses.

  4. The fact that you were even willing to do this as an undertaking means I won’t be too hard on you especially since you did a pretty good jobs, but a few things:

    1. Personally, Sign O’ the Times is my #1. I thought to myself as I was reading that I’d be fine with either that or Purple Rain on top, so I’m not upset, and those are probably his two undisputed masterworks.
    2. WTF? 1999 not even in the top 10?
    3. There’s no way Controversy (AKA Dirty Mind rehash) and his self-titled are better than Dirty Mind. NO. WAY.

    The more I stare at that top five, the weirder it gets…. whatever…

  5. can’t even fathom graffiti bridge over parade. switch top 2, because sign o the times was ‘it’ (lol) for me in 9th grade. don’t even really known the bottom 15, mostly. but his 80s stuff…unparalleled.

  6. Nice job, but Sign ‘O’ the Times just barely edges out Purple Rain for me. The “PLLLEEE-hee-hee-HEEEASE” from “If I Was Your Girlfriend” rivals Basement Jaxx’s “Red Alert” for the greatest scream in music history.

    • Isn’t that “Red Alert” scream one of the best moments in pop history? That scream went to Prince School and graduated with all the honors.

  7. Sign ‘O’ The Times is the mans masterpiece.

  8. This is huge catalogue to tackle – so many ridiculously high highs, and lots of low-hanging dreck to slog through as well. Overall this is a solid list – well done. But it wouldn’t be a Stereogum worst-to-best without some odd choices – Diamonds & Pearls and Emancipation are too high (Gett Off aside, they’re over-produced and sappy to my ears), 1999 and Parade too low (both are a few songs away from masterpiece status). Strangest of all is the placement of Batman and The Black Album. Electric Chair’s great, but otherwise Batman is one of his weakest, and it marked a rather abrupt end to his classic run of 80′s LP’s. And it boggles my mind that Batdance, an annoying medley of mostly mediocre songs, made it to #1 (Feel U Up, the Partyman b-side is better than anything on the album itself, IMO). The Black Album’s hit-and-miss, but Cindy C and Superfunkycalifragisexy are two of Prince’s nastiest funk jams. No way is it his worst LP – anything else in the bottom 10 would make more sense. Anyway I’m a hard-core fan, and though I’ve heard all of these I’d never claim to be objective – here’s my list:

    01. Sign ‘O The Times
    02. Purple Rain
    03. 1999
    04. Parade
    05. Dirty Mind
    06. Lovesexy
    07. Controversy
    08. Prince
    09. Around The World In A Day
    10. The Black Album
    11. Love Symbol
    12. The Truth
    13. Graffiti Bridge
    14. Diamonds & Pearls
    15. For You
    16. Crystal Ball
    17. Come
    18. The Gold Experience
    19. 3121
    20. Musicology
    21. Rave Un2 The Joy Fantastic
    22. 20ten
    23. The Rainbow Children
    24. Batman
    25. Emancipation
    26. Planet Earth
    27. Chaos & Disorder
    28. Lotus Flow3r
    29. MPLSound
    30. The Chocolate Invasion
    31. New Power Soul
    32. The Slaughterhouse
    33. Old Friends 4 Sale
    34. Xpectation
    35. N.E.W.S.

  9. Lovesexy is in a really odd place. I liked it alot (Alphabet St. is fantastic) but I always felt this was where he started to sorta lose his mind a little. His style definitely changed at this point.

    I always thought his Batman soundtrack was him just reaching into his library and pulling out songs that seemed appropriate then plugging them into Batman. I did love it though…he seemed to love this period of time, it showed with his personality and videos.

    Sign O’ The Times was his ‘Physical Graffiti.’ It was the last time he plugged in a amp and play rock….and Starfish and Coffee along with the extended I Could Never Take The Place of Your Man are two of his best ever recorded.

    Purple Rain belongs at #1, I spose. There is really nothing wrong with this album. A true pop masterpiece.

    1999 way too low. Those who didn’t grow up around this time have no idea how raunchy he was here…I mean yeah, For you, Controversy and Dirty Mind were him at his most sexual, but it was here where he took his sex to top 40 and completely set him as the Anti-Michael.

    Black Album too low…but only if you treat it as the secret that it really was….this was a bootleg at the beginning and I still remember when I got my hands on the cassette. Felt like I was 16 sneaking into an R rated movie when I pushed play.

  10. sorry guys, 1999 has to be top 5

  11. 1999 is my favorite album of all time and I find it unforgivable that it’s not even top 5 (and behind freaking Batman, for fuck’s sake). The Black Album is also way too low, and in favor of some of Prince’s weakest material. Other than that, I appreciate you finally doing this, thanks.

    My list:

    1. 1999 (MASTERPIECE STEREOGUM, THIS IS A MASTERPIECE)
    2. Purple Rain
    3. Dirty Mind
    4. Controversy
    5. Sign O’ The Times
    6. Prince
    7. Lovesexy
    8. Around The World In a Day
    9. The Black Album
    10. Parade

    11. Love Symbol Album
    12. The Gold Experience (even though it’s a tad overproduced)
    13. 3121 (underrated, best late Prince album)
    14. The Rainbow Children
    15. Come
    16. Emancipation
    17. Musicology
    18. Graffiti Bridge
    19. For You
    20. Batman

    21. Diamonds and Pearls
    22. Chaos and Disorder
    23. New Power Soul
    24. Rave Un2 the Joy Fantastic
    25. Lotusflow3r
    26. MPLSOUND
    27. Planet Earth
    28. 20Ten

    • Relation, your list best suits the massive Prince catalog. It should be looked at as 3 phases. The top 10 is the gold standard. Every album in your top ten is a lock (although I’d place SOTT first). NOTHING ELSE deserves to enter. Your 2nd grouping is the middle silver standard. Loads of great songs exist within, but the “album” concept is not as strong as once was. Your list for 11-20 is also stellar IMO. Finally, this 3rd phase can be seen as the drop off. Still plenty of solid songs found in these albums, but it’s become similar to an archeologist chore to dig for the gems found in these. 21-28 seems correct to me as we’ll. Those internet albums mentioned in article should not be considered much more than vault releases.
      I commend the author for taking the time to do this on the 30th anniversary of Purple Rain. Bob Dylan would be equally as fun to read. Cheers.

  12. This piece’s alternate title: Prince Album Covers From Worst To Marginally Less Terrible To “Really, Prince? That’s The Best Cover You Could Come Up With?” Back To Bad.

  13. “Is there anything sadder than the words “a return to form?” They say volumes less about the object than the speaker: someone yearning to be delighted in a familiar way, someone who demands heroism or nothing, someone who’s not up for finding their way into a dispatch from where the artist is now.”

    Have to disagree there, experimentation does not equal value. It does not even equal evolution. For example, Sigur Rós was beginning to feel a little stale for some people until they released Kveikur, and that album sound nothing like previous LPs, except, perhaps, for certain parts of Takk. For comparison, Valtari also had a unique sound, but got nowhere near as much love. Kveikur has shown that the relative indifference with which Valtari was met did not stem from its unique sound, but just because of its effectiveness as a work of art. I agree that fans and journalists should be open-minded and willing to accept experimentation, but that implies no obligation to swallow every pill that comes your way; artists can stumble and fall sometimes.

  14. Jesus, how could you possibly name The Black Album as the worst Prince album? Prince has put out a lot very mediocre albums, and while The Black Album may not be his best, there is no way it’s worse than stuff like Chaos & Disorder, 20Ten, Rave, Planet Earth…etc. Emancipation over 1999 is completely insane as well. Some very questionable stuff here.

  15. Hidden due to low comment rating. Click here to see

  16. Ahaahahaahahaaahaahahaaa! No.

  17. Even though I disagree with many of the choices here, this is a helluva well-written series of mini-reviews.

    This “Counting Down” series is one of my favorites on Stereogum. I’ll be sad when they run out of bands with enormous back catalogs to tackle (still waiting on Bob Dylan…)

  18. “No one has made a record like this, before or since.” (About Purple Rain)

    I agree about the since, but does anyone else feel like Purple Rain is sort of the second coming of Ziggy Stardust? (Emphasis on come)

  19. you guys should do an XTC or Blur one someday

    • They did a Damon Albarn and side-projects one a couple years back but it was rife with bizarre choices and placements thanks to all of Albarn’s weird side projects getting shoehorned in with his main work.

      Thankfully they excluded Blur and I feel like including it would have been in pretty bad taste b/c Graham Coxon. Sort of like they when they did a Husker Du and Bob Mould list without giving any due to Grant Hart…

  20. 1. Dirty Mind
    2. Sign O’ the Times
    3. Controversy
    4. Purple Rain
    5. Prince
    6. 1999
    7. Lovesexy
    8. Parade
    9. For You
    10. Diamonds and Peals
    11. Love Symbol

    Those are the only ones that I actually listen to on a fairly regular basis so I won’t really bother with ranking the rest as a good portion of them blend together in my mind

  21. this list is all kinds of jacked up but i commend the effort. the black album does not deserve a place in the bottom. graffiti bridge is way too high. my favorite album has always been around the world in a day but i’m weird like that. 1999 needs to be higher. lots of quibbling with the rest but those are my main points.

  22. I’ve never got Prince but I guess this will be my best opportunity to see what’s so special about him.

  23. I still remember the exact moment I became a serious Prince fan. It was my first time listening to Sign o’ the Times and the song was “The Ballad of Dorothy Parker” (I’m surprised it wasn’t even mentioned in the writeup).

    The way he delivers the line “I took another bubble bath with myyyyy pants on” is just so ridiculous and awesome.

  24. This is tough. The guy has no filter, so there’s so much filler permeating all of his albums. Every album is (as the cliche goes) his White Album. Who the fuck knows.

  25. Like others have stated, this was a huge undertaking and you deserve a lot of credit for going through all these releases. That being said, no offense, but I grew up around the time these album were hitting, and I’m a big Bruce fan, but no way did BITUSA eclipse Prince at the time. People forget “Purple Rain” was a number one album for 6 months straight. BITUSA wasn’t close to that domination. I will also say that are some true head scratchers in your personal chart. Almost all the comments mention “!999″, and I will too. It’s an incredible album. Also, “The Black Album” and the “The Gold Experience” are great LP’s that are in line with his best work. “Lovesexy” was an incredible tour(better than PR Tour) but you have it rated a little too high for me. Anyway, here’s my picks based on the albums you have listed:

    01. SOTT
    02. PR
    03.1999
    04. Dirty Mind
    05. Controversy
    06. Prince
    07. Black Album
    08. ATWIAD
    09. Diamonds & Pearls
    10. Gold Experience
    11. Parade
    12. Batman OST
    13. Lovesexy
    14. 3121
    15. Come
    16. Symbol Album
    17. For You
    18. Graffiti Bridge
    19. Musicology
    20. Chaos & Disorder
    21. 20ten
    22. Rave Un2 The Joy Fantastic
    23. Emancipation(probably his most overrated IMO)
    24. Rainbow Children
    25. The Truth
    26. Planet Earth
    27. Lotusflow3r
    28. Xpectation
    29. N.E.W.S.

  26. I’m a casual fan, only probably heard about 6 or 7, but regardless, I’m with everyone in thinking 1999 got low-balled. It’s like The Hedonist Manifesto!

  27. I’m about to find out how many Prince albums I’ve never heard of.

  28. the remix album rave in2 the joy fantastic probably should have been included in the list. beautiful strange is a great song and the album as a whole is my favorite latter day prince album and would probably make my top 15.

  29. This list is a good starting point for someone new to Prince, but I’ve gotta say that many of his best songs aren’t on the LP’s. I was just a casual fan until someone gave me a mixed tape with a bunch of his b-sides. To this day, they’re still some of my favorite songs – She’s Always In My Hair, 17 Days, How Come U Don’t Call Me Anymore, Shockadelica, Scarlet Pussy, Irresistible Bitch, and best of all, Erotic City. The last 4 are funkier and filthier than just about anything else he’s done. It’s insane that music this amazing never made it onto his LP’s.

    There are also dozens of killer bootlegs out there, and who knows what’s still in his legendary vault (fingers-crossed that some of it sees the light of day with the upcoming release of his remasters). Some of them came out on 1998′s Crystal Ball compilation (packaged with a hidden 4th disc, The Truth, that to me is his most enjoyable LP front-to-back since the 80′s).

    Crystal Ball’s really uneven, but there are some stone-cold classics on it, songs recorded in the 80′s that would have fit easily onto one of his golden-era LP’s – the title track, Dream Factory, Last Heart, Good Love, Calhoun Square, Sexual Suicide (Brad Shoup, you might want to listen to this before claiming horns are one of Prince’s weak spots) and the hilarious Movie Star (D’Angelo’s favorite Prince bootleg, according to the liner notes).

    Some tracks that have never seen a proper release are even more staggering:

    -Extra Lovable – an inferior version came out last year but the original, recorded during the 1999 sessions, is the shit
    -Irresistible Bitch – the original version, rawer and even better than the pretty great b-side
    -Purple Music – “don’t need no reefer, don’t need cocaine, purple music does the same to my brain”
    -Electric Intercourse – left off Purple Rain at the last minute
    -Baby U’re A Trip – another version came out on the very good Prince-produced Jill Jones LP
    -If I Love U 2nite – an aching slow-funk ballad in the If I Was Your Girlfriend vein
    -Just My Imagination – a live Temptations cover from 1988 with possibly his greatest guitar solo
    -Maybe Your Baby – a live Stevie Wonder cover, featuring Stevie Wonder!
    -17 Days – a solo piano demo, one of his most compelling, soul-baring performances
    -Wonderful Ass – with the immortal chorus “you’ve got a wonderful aaaaaa-aaaaass”

  30. Purple Rain isnt really all that good compared to 1999
    And Controversy Is WAAAY better than the Dirty Mind Album!
    The Sex Symbol Album Should have been in the top 10!!
    Other than that great list just a few errors! this is coming from a TRUE prince fan!
    i have ALL of his album except the “N.E.W.S” & “Chaos & Disorder”i wasnt really feeling those albums!
    And Also, I consider “Crystal Ball” an LP even though it a compilation album of unreleased Prince material,
    Crystal Ball is one of my favorites and should have been in the top 5

  31. 1) Sign O The Times
    2) 1999
    3) Parade
    4) Dirty Mind
    5) Purple Rain
    6) Around The World In A Day
    7) Lovesexy
    8) Controversy
    9) Come
    10) The Black Album

    The rest I don’t really even care enough about to rank. There are some gems and a lot of duds spread throughout, but NOTHING as consistent as these 10.

    • Actually, now that I think about it, I would put The Black Album at 9 and place Come/Gold Experience as 10 (Because its really hard for me to seperate the 2. Prince fans know why.)

  32. I’m quite sure hate will spill all over me after this post but here goes…

    I can’t help but notice how much truly awful shit Prince has put out. His career parallels Chevy Chase in both time frame and quality. Both started mid to late seventies with some truly interesting stuff. Segue into the eighties and there’s a huge crush of adoration as well as a somewhat watered down but still palatable version of their early work. But once you hit the nineties it’s almost all unwatchable/unlistenable garbage.
    Not EVERYTHING….but damn near.

    • Holy crap when you look at it the parallels are uncanny –

      1980 – both release their first true classics (Dirty Mind/Caddyshack)
      1984 – career-defining masterpieces (Purple Rain/Fletch)
      1989 – final works of their golden eras (Lovesexy/Christmas Vacation)
      2014 – dubious comebacks attempts? (Plectrum Electrum/Hot Tub Time Machine 2)

      Really though, doesn’t almost every artist’s output fall off in quality at some point in their career? (granted Prince’s high are higher and lows lower than most)

      • Thanks for putting some flesh on my half assed career sketch. LOL I agree that most artists do have an arc but the thing that really sets Prince aside for me is the “genius” tag. He has some seriously amazing music but a musical genius wouldn’t allow himself to put sooooo much garbage. What it comes down to for me is Prince is a “right time, right place” artist. And I know that’s a pretty damning comment. But his body of word speaks for itself.

        • I’ve never really bought into the word genius, but if you’re going use it to describe musicians how does Prince not qualify? If there’s someone else in popular music who has more all-around talent, I haven’t heard of them. Paul McCartney and Stevie Wonder come to mind, but Prince is a more gifted singer, instrumentalist and in-studio producer than either of them, IMO (songwriting’s another story – Prince is no slouch, but Wonder’s just as good if not better, and McCartney easily eclipses them both).

          And although all 3 are regularly described as geniuses, they’ve all released bad records. McCartney’s career in particular reminds me of Prince’s – a groundbreaking, nearly flawless early career, then an abrupt change to releasing records that typically had more bad songs than good. In both cases, I think they were spoiled by success, surrounded by yes-men, and suffered from over-confidence. Anyway, I get that you think he’s over-rated, but as you said his body of work speaks for itself.

          • It’s not that I think hes necessarily over-rated. I just think it’s one of those things where due to his early (and to a certain extent, mid) career greatness he’s been giving a giant pass. Elvis Costello is also in this rarefied air. For years Elvis was my favorite artist. YEARS. But I eventually kinda moved on and he kinda moved in directions that I didn’t like. But critics continued to heap accolades on him. Even when the work wasn’t up to his former brilliance.

            I guess what I’m saying is you don’t ever hear anybody say “The new Prince album SUCKS ASS”
            It’s basically a form of social sacrilege to have any opinion of him other than “Prince is a genius” Beyonce is the latest artist that it’s heresy to say anything she does is less than brilliant.

            And I think you are absolutely right about yes-men, etc., btw

            Maybe if some critics (and fans) said “Yo Prince. We aren’t buying this new one. It’s garbage” he’d have to dig a little deeper. But as it is he can just keep churning out mediocre pop and his fanbase will eat it up. Which sucks for them…and ultimately, Prince.

          • I’m not buying the comparison. there are many great tracks sprinkled in those mediocre albums. also, prince is incredible live and he kicked the super bowl’s ass.

  33. OMG! I’m so done with y’all! Most of my favs r at the bottom except 4 SOTT (which is better than PR, imo). My number one is The Rainbow Children.

    1. The Rainbow Children
    2 Sign O’ The Times
    3. Come
    4 Lotusflow3r/MPLsound
    5. 3121
    6. Lovesexy
    7 One Nite Alone:Solo Piano And Voice
    8. Emancipation
    9. Parade
    10. Purple Rain

  34. The analysis is admittedly very good here. But I still think somebody should give this guy a chocolate swirly for putting ‘1999’ at #12. What an ignorant load of balderdash!

  35. Personally, I disagree with the order on a lot of these but glad to see someone flying what I would think is slightly in the face of the critical consensus around Prince! I’d probably tend to fly more with the majority opinion on his body of work. My overall list would probably vary dependant upon mood but I think my top 5 would be pretty consistent in terms of content:

    1 – Dirty Mind
    2 – SOTT
    3 – Purple Rain
    4 – Parade
    5 – 1999

    ….although possibly not in terms of preference! So many hits, as he would himself say!

  36. I realize these things are subjective but holy shit: Lovesexy is better than 1999? Lovesexy is better than Dirty Mind? I mean, I’m someone who would totally defend Lovesexy until I die (and like it as a thing in this world more than some members of my family) but christ that’s just heresy for heresy’s sake, son. Oh, and, following this logic, somehow the Batman fucking soundtrack being better than 1999 is just, well, ridiculous. Finally, the low, low ranking of Parade is troubling (this is an album that does have “Kiss” btw…this fact alone should allow it in the top 10) but certainly within a certain misguided mindset of Prince fans. That said, thank you for ranking the post-Emancipation albums in some kind of order so I could listen to all of them.

  37. I’m late, but I couldn’t pass up the golden opportunity to share the best rock review ever written. And the mothefucking Dean, Robert Christgau, only needed a paragraph to do it. Enjoy:

    Prince: Dirty Mind [Warner Bros., 1980]
    After going gold in 1979 as an utterly uncrossedover falsetto love man, he takes care of the songwriting, transmutes the persona, revs up the guitar, muscles into the vocals, leans down hard on a rock-steady, funk-tinged four-four, and conceptualizes–about sex, mostly. Thus he becomes the first commercially viable artist in a decade to claim the visionary high ground of Lennon and Dylan and Hendrix (and Jim Morrison), whose rebel turf has been ceded to such marginal heroes-by-fiat as Patti Smith and John Rotten-Lydon. Brashly lubricious where the typical love man plays the lead in “He’s So Shy,” he specializes here in full-fledged fuckbook fantasies–the kid sleeps with his sister and digs it, sleeps with his girlfriend’s boyfriend and doesn’t, stops a wedding by gamahuching the bride on her way to church. Mick Jagger should fold up his penis and go home. A

  38. The ordering of #3-12 makes absolutely zero sense. I think this guy literally picked those albums out of a hat.

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