12 September 2008

The fifty best Prince songs of all time. Part II: #15-#11.

It seems this project is taking much longer than I anticipated, and for that I apologize. So here's a few more to keep appetites whetted and panties wettened.

15) IF I WAS YOUR GIRLFRIEND – Camille (1986)

It's a suitably fitting achievement when Bitch Magazine calls this song "one of the most genderfuck songs ever recorded." I remember hearing it in 1987 and thinking I would need a few years before I could figure it out for myself. But it remains one of Prince's most original and unique pieces, from its origins on the Camille record and bizarre patient endurance as a single (!), past the weird cover by TLC and being used as Demi Moore shook her groceries in front of Burt Reynolds in Striptease. Truly something special.

14) THE QUESTION OF U (1990)

The kind of ballad that Prince does better than anyone else (see also "Joy in Repetition," "The Grand Progression," "When 2 R in Love"). One of the more amazing efforts from the scattershot Graffiti Bridge, and one of the more achingly endearing of His Purpleness' seductive jams.

I'm going to try to avoid getting into the whole 20/20 hindsight "Here's where Prince went wrong" theorizing, because at this point it just serves no purpose. But for some reason, Prince took an amazing extended cold funk apocalypse with The Revolution turning the place upside down, stripped his own voice from it, and gave it to Andre Cymone for his album AC. That is the gesture of either a truly gracious individual or someone not thinking clearly, because "The Dance Electric," as performed by The Revolution, would have been a great single-only release between Purple Rain and Around The World in a Day. It would have anchored down a slightly revised Around the World in a Day on its own, for that matter. This is one of the few 12+ minute Revolution jams that never gets boring or overly frenetic, and that its only extant version is as an 'extended' five and a half minute version with Andre's vocals just doesn't cut it.

12) LETITGO (Sherm Stick Edit) (1994)

One of the two instances in recorded history where someone else's remix of a Prince song is actually better than Prince's own take on it (the other being Shep Pettibone's remix of "Glam Slam"), this is J. Sw!ft's masterful rethinking of one of Prince's more seemingly autobiographical tales. It's the messed-with "Ballad of Dorothy Parker" loop that anchors everything together, and it sounds wonderful and timeless.

Another exceptional ballad, this one originall meant for Graffiti Bridge, but in the end replaced by "The Question of U." Dammit, though, there could have been room for all of them. Of note as one of the few Prince songs that expresses the Divine in a conditional sense, which is pretty radical for him. Maybe that's why it got left off the final configuration...

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