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Prince’s Best Songs

Goldie’s personal playlist of the Purple Reign and favourite Prince tracks, reviewed in chronological order. They may not be Prince’s iconic classics or commercial hits, and nor are many of them tracks even released as singles. But if you are new to Prince and looking for an ultimate playlist, beyond the obvious choices, here is a selection to seek out and come to cherish.

Prince's best songs reviewed 43

Moonbeam Levels

4Ever - Warner Bros. Records (2016)

Having always thought the song so unique, since recording it in 1982 Prince did never find a place for it in any album. It took his death to give it the light of day, and as soon as that happened guess what was the song was the very FIRST released from the vault. Moonbeam Levels has mythical status amongst the fan community and one listen to it confirms why. It’s probably the best unreleased song in music history, and thank god it’s locked away no more.

4Ever album review


HITNRUN Phase Two - NPG Records (2015)

At its most effective in a dark room and the volume loud Revelation is thoroughly absorbing. Hypnotic beat laced with a dreamy guitar, the track is as comforting as the best kiss you’ve ever had in your life. Prince’s seductive storytelling is again at its intoxicating best in this perfect paced song for a hectic age.

HITNRUN Phase Two album review


Art Official Age - Warner Bros. Records (2014)

Probably the most majestic Prince song in almost 20 years, Time is the crowning glory of Art Official Age. From the pulsating bass line to Prince’s heartfelt plead he seduces with lyrics and a standard of production that harks right back to his Sign O’ The Times creative peak. Time achieves more in six minutes than most of Prince’s recent output can deliver in 40 and the result is this masterpiece from an album that is fully worthy to contain it. Such claims have been bandied before for recent releases – this one’s the real deal.

Art Official Age album review


Plectrumelectrum - Warner Bros. Records (2014)

Plectrumelectrum is an album that it is almost impossible to pick out a best track. The one that tops it is Wow, Prince’s version of the song he wrote for Liv Warfield’s The Unexpected. It was also the song played over the PA at the start of 3rdEyeGirl’s Hit And Run Part II tour and shall evoke much fond memories hearing it again today. Wow whisks listener upon a sexual odyssey, a theme missed on Prince’s recent albums. It is reminiscent of The Beetles, and dips, rises and roars. Prince teamed up with 3rdEyeGirl to deliver a riotous track that defines their album – a track that opens an album that punches hard above its weight.

Plectrumelectrum album review


20Ten - NPG Records (2010)

Don’t look on the cover’s tracklisting for it, Laydown is a hidden song. Refreshing hard funk and with a backing that is reminiscent of Dr. Dre and a great choice to bounce through your speakers if the CD is left to tick trough to track 77. Laydown is unashamedly nasty and Prince’s best surprise since Wasted Kisses. A raw, rasping, pulsating score with which Prince proclaims he is the one and only Purple Yoda “bringing the dirty new sound.” Promises, promises.

20Ten album review


LotusFlow3r - NPG Records (2009)

Wake up. Wake up. This hard-hitting track pulls no punches – a rallying battle cry for “I had a dream” Dr Martin Luther King and the race disparity that sadly still exists, but it’s upbeat and the music is tight and a straight forward rock anthem. The song channells Witness 4 The Prosecution, this alone makes Dreamer a worthy classic.

LotusFlow3r album review

Colonized Mind

LotusFlow3r - NPG Records (2009)

A rather dark but lyrical masterpiece. Prince returns down that well trodden path, this time criticising the joint venture record deal: it’s another way another man can still sleep, while he’s sticking you with the bill to explore a theme of fractured society. This is a wide reaching song of contrasts, where the darkness of the lyrics are countered by soaring heavenly guitar which punches through words of introspection and wisdom.

LotusFlow3r album review

Chelsea Rodgers

Planet Earth - Columbia Records (2007)

Good old fashioned funk in its purest form. Chelsea Rodgers is Prince turning the disco floor upside-down. Thick with hornz and a beat to get even the largest booty’s bouncing Chelsea Rodgers is arguably Prince’s best track since leaving Warner. “A model, used to be a role model.” Prince still leads the way. Named after a real person – a fashion designer, of course.

Planet Earth album review


3121 - Universal Music (2006)

Because of the wonderful bass of Sonny T 3121 is a thumping and rousing opener and gets even the most po-faced fans into a lather at concert. When first listening to Dirty Mind you could think to yourself that if Prince is still writing music 25 years later you would hope it would evolve into a song like this. 3121 is living proof that Prince can still create a world-beating kick-ass tune and this one is about a party you won’t want to leave (it’s nothing sinister like Hotel California) and with every listen makes me so thrilled to be a Prince fan.

3121 album review

Call My Name

Musicology - Columbia Records (2004)

Occasionally amid the chaff that seem to be clogging radio comes a superior track. Superior, because it is one of Prince’s most well-crafted songs of recent years and one stated by him to be in his personal all time favorites. Once critical about fans calling out his name then telling them not to, he is back this sassy track pleading with all to call it out once more. Musicology surprised many a fan and critic alike as it was both commercially and an artistically acclaimed and which Call My Name is living proof that artistry and good fun can coexist. All of Musicology is great – it is in fact Prince’s most successful album of the noughties. So there are two reasons to challenge anyone to put their case against this pure sonic perfection.

Musicology album review

Empty Room

C-Note - NPG Records (2004)

To be at a concert and hear Prince play this, you had truly hit the jackpot. Prince released Empty Room in 2004 to NPG Music Club Members, its rarity heightens its legend and deservedly so. The song dates from 1985, intended for the Revolution’s aborted album Roadhouse Garden. This version – the only one officially released – is from a soundcheck before his One Nite Alone tour in Copenhagen, 25 October 2002.

C-Note album review

Last December

The Rainbow Children - Redline Entertainment Inc. (2001)

The most comforting song ever put to music. Should you be on the look-out for a song to put things right in your world, put this on. Released just after 11 September attacks in 2001, it offered a beacon of light at a dark time. And what’s even better, it comes with bite. Beautiful lyrics and sublime music are perfectly married in this utterly sublime track. Truly superb.

The Rainbow Children album review

Rainbow Children

The Rainbow Children - Redline Entertainment Inc. (2001)

Here, but purely on musical merit. Rainbow Children starts off the album that takes its name. Beginning rather twee it kicks in to the catchiest jazz I have ever heard. The track goes to a new level as Prince implores us to “rise” – your cue you crank up the volume to 11 and let the music melt you. And that’s not it. The absolute power of this track is the two-and-a-half minute link into the second track. Prince treats us to guitar heaven and which you can really believe the angels are calling to you. Heaven help you – if not the album’s message should.

The Rainbow Children album review

When The Lights Go Down

The Vault… Old Friends 4 Sale - Warner Bros. Records (1999)

Believed to be recorded during the studio sessions of The Love Symbol Album, approx. 1991, When The Lights Go Down is a bag of all sorts – its gentle and long intro slowly builds to a magical crescendo, this is Prince at his 2am lounge act style best. Clocking in at some seven minutes, this song is utterly sublime, dreamy and another one that you never want to fade to draw it an end.

The Vault… Old Friends 4 Sale album review

Old Friends 4 Sale

The Vault… Old Friends 4 Sale - Warner Bros. Records (1999)

Titles like this make you realise Prince turned off his computer’s spell checker long, long ago. This is possibly Prince’s most personal and honest song, indeed the version on The Vault… is watered down from the original because it was, quite simply too painfully honest. Old Friends 4 Sale has a powerful story and you feel every inch his burning pain. But are the fans the ‘friends for sale’?

The Vault… Old Friends 4 Sale album review

Man O' War

Rave Un2 The Joy Fantastic - Arista Records (1999)

What’s impressive is that this song contains no less than 14 separate layers of Prince’s silky voice. “Break the gold chain that I gave you, throw it down on the floor”, this is Prince’s song about breaking up and feeling wanted again and is the sincerest on the album from which it is its best. Even Prince can beg for forgiveness – sometimes. Just hear the man out because you know he’s not a Man O’ War. Give him the break he deserves.

Rave Un2 The Joy Fantastic album review

Come On

Newpower Soul - BMG (1998)

The bass line returns! Rhonda Smith truly demonstrates her remarkable skill in one of the most prominent and best bass in any a Prince track of recent years and is indeed the highlight of Newpower Soul. The extended remix contains my personal favorite Prince rap. He tells his muse like it is: “I got the butter for yo muffin, just need the keys to your room”. Great!

Newpower Soul album review

Days Of Wild

Crystal Ball - NPG Records (1998)

Once heard never forgotten. Prince has never played the same version of this twice in concert. Days Of Wild is bad-ass and truly fantastic. An outtake from The Gold Experience it only found light of day with this vault taster. The rap is from the crude little Prince which went M.I.A after this release, when Larry Graham cleaned up Prince’s vocabulary. If you don’t find yourself grinding to this, seek a mortician. It’s one of the best songs to hear live. Full stop.

Crystal Ball album review

Friend, Lover, Sister, Mother/Wife

Emancipation - EMI Records (1996)

All the liner notes says about this song is that it was written ‘while she slept’, this is one of the nicest things I think I have ever read. The titular ‘she’ is of course Prince’s first wife, Mayte. Her influence on Prince’s writing and particularly this song inspires the best declaration of true love he’s been able to transfer to record. Prince is soft at first then rises to immense raw passion. Other than 1987s Adore I wonder how many times this song has been played at Prince fans’ weddings – I’d love it played at mine.

Emancipation album review

The Love We Make

Emancipation - EMI Records (1996)

The Love We Make is believed to be written about Prince’s former keyboardist’s (Susannah Melvoin) brother Jonathan Melvoin (of Smashing Pumpkins) who died of a heroin overdose on 12 July 1996. The song spills out Prince’s profound sadness “Put down the needle, put down the spoon” and implores the listener to cherish their gift of life. The song itself gained new lease of life during the Hit And Run tours of 2014/5 and because it is a truly emotive and personal track its painful narrative will strike a chord with every listen. Desperate is the day that is tomorrow.

Emancipation album review

Billy Jack Bitch

The Gold Experience - Warner Bros. Records (1995)

Personally, my favourite Prince track of all time – yet not one many other fans will necessarily put at the forefront of their list. This is Prince at his underrated best. Written about Star Tribune reporter Cheryl Johnson (“CJ, Billy Jack Bitch”) the two hated each other. Billy Jack Bitch captures that venom: “Open letters aren’t the only things that open wounds.” The song has it all; razor sharp lyrics, dirty keyboards, an insane horn section and a grinding beat that gives us Prince’s tightest work and deservedly one of his best.

The Gold Experience album review


The Black Album - Warner Bros. Records (1994)

Don’t be fooled, this is as far removed as able from Mark Poppins, this is Prince’s second track to draw inspiration from Disney, yet as you would expect, done in true Prince style. In simple terms, this is Prince’s funk opera and the first song he recorded for the legendary The Black Album. Crashing through at relentless pace, Superfunkycalifragisexy covers so much ground the real challenge is just to keep up, yet easy to love it. This is a ride that defies description, and Prince at his funkiest.

The Black Album album review


Come - Warner Bros. Records (1994)

The version on the single, the Funky Stuff Remix, is superior to the album version and frankly one of the best remixes around. I do like remixes and this one reminds me why. What’s good about it is the completely reworked lyrical content, improving and not spoiling the original, and hints at how Prince was uncertain how the song should be structured but not unduly tinkered. This, and Universal Love Remix are the better versions of Space that ended up on Come.

Come album review


Come - Warner Bros. Records (1994)

The song in which one could, quite literally make love to. From the playful offer, to seeing into the future, to doing the dirty itself, of which is climaxed by unbridled pleasure and its glamorous aftermath. You’ll find yourself exhale with exhaustion when Prince is finished but thankful that he and you stayed the course. At ten full minutes in length Come is sex in real-time (this is if you can last that long) – but who’s watching the clock.

Come album review

Pink Cashmere

The Hits / The B-Sides - Warner Bros. Records (1993)

This multi-lyric-layered treat is just total, utter, absolute and sheer perfection. Pink Cashmere is one of the few songs it is possible to lose yourself to its majesty at every listen. “Come on back to your l’ill man” – I do, Prince. Every time. Shocking to think that this song is an outtake and from the Lovesexy era, it was reworked in 1993 for the The Hits/The B-Sides compilation and thank god it was allowed to see the light of day beyond the vault.

The Hits / The B-Sides album review


Love Symbol Album - Warner Bros. Records (1992)

This track possibly contains the greatest chorus written by Prince. And one which, frankly, no one knows exactly what the song is about (a possible explanation is the plot line for the video 3 Chains O’ Gold), but equally no one cares. 7 is one of the last great anthems of Prince’s Warner Brothers era and will sweep you away. The hardest challenge is not to be drawn into singing your heart out to it. If you can though, grabbing a copy of the extended version is highly recommended.

Love Symbol Album album review

The Sacrifice Of Victor

Love Symbol Album - Warner Bros. Records (1992)

Turning to The Book of Victor, this is Prince’s biographical song, an honest account of his early life. Who else could reveal through song that they were born on a table covered in blood, strangled by their own umbilical chord and epileptic till the age of seven. Supported with an incredible thumping beat The Sacrifice Of Victor produces Prince’s three-act opus to Bohemian Rhapsody, an awesome song and fascinating listening through to its flawless conclusion to a much underrated, if unpronounceable album.

Love Symbol Album album review

Gett Off

Diamonds And Pearls - Warner Bros. Records (1991)

Prince’s sexual appetite is fully explored with this groove. Who else can promise 23 positions in a one night stand? Gett Off (don’t mistake it for the song with the single ‘t’) is a song to literally beg to hear in concert, no fan with a pulse is left sitting still when this is played, it’s Prince most thumping song and an ultimate club track to the 90s make no mistake. There was a Battle of the Singles between Cream and Gett Off back in 1991 but Gett Off packs the real punch and is damn right dirty to boot. Move over Cream you got licked.

Diamonds And Pearls album review

Joy In Repetition

Graffiti Bridge - Warner Bros. Records (1990)

“He liked to frequent this club, down up on 36th. Pimps and thangs like to hang outside and cuss for kicks”. Joy In Repetition seizes attention from the off and rightly so. It is a story of love in which the guitar is the highlight – mind blowing and in perfect harmony it continues the storytelling after the intoxicating lyrics are finished. A gaping omission on later ‘hits’ compilation albums – considering this was originally an outtake of Sign O’ The Times – which because of its later inclusion in Graffiti Bridge misses out on the limelight and hearing it played in the repetition this really deserves. There’s joy in repetition … There’s joy in repetition. It will stand all time.

Graffiti Bridge album review

I Wish U Heaven (Parts 1, 2 and 3)

Lovesexy - Warner Bros. Records (1988)

Music industry reviewers at the time complained Lovesexy lacked beat. Respectfully I beg to differ. There are three parts to I Wish U Heaven of which only the first actually made it onto the album. Which is funny, because it gets far better in parts 2 and 3. There is a great driving rhythm throughout which builds and tells a story, and lays ground for the similar effect in The Scandalous Sex Suite. There are timeless lyrics too, if a little copied later in What’s My Name: “Take this beat, I don’t mind, got plenty of ’em, and they so fine.” Tell ’em, Prince.

Lovesexy album review

Anna Stesia

Lovesexy - Warner Bros. Records (1988)

Like Sign O’ The Times it’s possible to write a book on the lyrics of this song. Anna Stesia reaches heavenward like no other. Etherial and absolutely superb it is haunting and, well, immensely divine. Prince is a man gifted by God and you feel that He thanks Prince in return for this majestic track. Anna Stesia comes second only in might to Purple Rain. Put it on, play it loud and discover Prince (the lyricist) at his best. You are held to every note and left absolutely breathless by its soaring beauty.

Lovesexy album review

If I Was Your Girlfriend

Sign O’ The Times - Warner Bros. Records (1987)

One reporter once said that to play this late at night you will see how marvellous this tune this is. That, I can vouch, is very true. The beat will consume you and although The Most Beautiful Girl In The World was the larger hit, that lacked the real power of this 1987 classic. If I Was Your Girlfriend is only, very closely, followed by Adore. Prince’s heart is tormented, pleading and left only to fantasize about reciprocated love. We’ve all felt that pain.

Sign O’ The Times album review


Parade - Warner Bros. Records (1986)

A great chugging beat and even better live this is Prince’s happiest break-up song. The lyrics are full of attitude are infectious and will find you singing your heart out. Anotherloverholonyohead is the Prince song fans tend to overlook, which is odd, because the chorus, indeed the song, knocks Kiss into the long grass. This puts the cheery onto the Parade album’s cherry moon and is utterly superior to the over feted Kiss. Prince’s 80s material is still fresher than anything available today.

Parade album review


Around The World In A Day - Warner Bros. Records (1985)

Lets be honest, if we ever hear one Prince song live again, let it be this one. Get hold of the 21 minute version and you will see what I mean. Listen to America not for patriotic babble but for one of Prince’s strongest guitar licks put to record. Backed with one of Prince’s most thumping beats it’s too bad that Around The World In A Day is only sought out for Raspberry Beret. We know the guitar is an extension of Prince’s … you-know-what … so when he grinds it here we are in for an uplifting musical experience in every sense of the word.

Around The World In A Day album review

The Beautiful Ones

Purple Rain - Warner Bros. Records (1984)

Be in no doubt that track #3 is really is the best on Purple Rain. Overshadowed by the album’s singles, the nakedness of The Beautiful Ones takes it a dimension so deep it will stop you in your tracks. Any woman (it’s understood to be about his relationship with Denise “Vanity” Matthews (a.k.a. Vanity 6), who Prince split up with just before the movie. Like her, if you are deciding whether to want Prince or “him”; just listen to this song and it’s no contest. Prince didn’t name his autobiography after it for nothing. Baby, Baby, Baby.

Purple Rain album review

When Doves Cry

Purple Rain - Warner Bros. Records (1984)

This track was written to segway scenes in the Purple Rain movie and turned out to be Prince’s most successful song. When Doves Cry is possibly also the best pop song ever written and continues to pack a punch 30 years after its release and yet it contains no bass at all. It is more than a lament about relationship, it is a milestone in music and nothing before or since has caught up with it. This is the one song that humankind is duty bound to preserve and put into a capsule and jettison deep into space so other worlds can hear this classic for all eternity.

Purple Rain album review

Purple Rain

Purple Rain - Warner Bros. Records (1984)

Listening to this song is a spritual experience – one where the world feels has stopped spinning for the near 9 minutes it lasts. Whilst When Doves Cry is regarded as Prince’s best composed song, lets face it, just put on track nine of Purple Rain and the volume up to max, your headphones remind you this is the greatest song ever written (did you know it originally had 3 verses but was cut to two – it was a weaker verse and the decision proved very wise to not detract the quality of the song). Prince’s pain is laid bare and projected from his soul and draped in his guitar. Purple Rain commands every inch your attention and sucks you into every bar, every note, every syllable and all the way to until its haunting and lingering end. Like with Led Zeppelin’s Kashmir Purple Rain is one of those rare gifts you won’t ever want to end. Prince turned the remainder of his career into a quest to top this song but even he could never move beyond its ong shadow. Purple Rain leaves his other work – and your mind – out in the rain, as the song that defined the landscape of 80s music.

Purple Rain album review


1999 - Warner Bros. Records (1982)

What can one say, Prince’s millennial song. Because of this the Millennium was always going to be a big deal for Prince, and dare I say it, whilst The New Master gives it a reboot it’s the original which still would stand all time. Prophetic for many reasons as 1999 would mark the eventual year of expiration of Prince’s loathed contract with Warner Brothers. 1999 is a song you have heard so much you now play less often. But it’s all about how Prince just wants to have a good time, even despite a looming apocalypse. Orwell was thinking of 1984, but Prince was on to a thing when world would meet its maker in two-thousand zero-zero. Who won’t list this in their personal hall of fame.

1999 album review


1999 - Warner Bros. Records (1982)

Dance Music Sex Romance. In my very humble view D.M.S.R. is and remains the ultimate club classic. A cool 8-minute road trip of funk it gets Prince fans’ heads bopping at the drop of a hat. Here Prince lists his life’s goals in priority: dance, music, sex, which and only once he has conquered his women are they to receive romance. “Screw the masses – we only want to have some fun” and that’s what this track is all about: no politics, no rant, just pure groove and chocked full of D.M.S.R. and unmistakably Prince.

1999 album review


Controversy - Warner Bros. Records (1981)

Dirty Mind was lewd, rebellious and petulant, but come Controversy and with the mainstream now in sight Prince’s music had moved on. The opening track of the album this is one of the songs which defined his Minneapolis Sound and is the very definition of electro-funk and so good it’s a firm crowd pleaser in Prince’s concerts even today. Prince’s first 7-minute plus track Controversy keeps very illustrious company. Robotic, pounding, the grinding is joined by Prince’s staccato vocals, this is not crude or playful, it’s honest and masterful and pulls no punches. “People call me rude, I wish we all were nude” Controversy and Sexuality gave us the Prince we all grew to love and still yearn for now. As fresh as the day it was written.

Controversy album review

Dirty Mind

Dirty Mind - Warner Bros. Records (1980)

Prince once said it took him four years to become an overnight success. Before superstardom, the title track of his third album Dirty Mind is one of, well arguably the funkiest track in music. Co written with Matt “Dr” Fink, from its pulsating opening extending into a positively nasty rhythm, the song is plain and simple about banging. Where the story line refuses to rise further than the waistline, the track packs a groovy punch and forms the keystone to Prince’s legacy, in which he is the undisputed king of funk.

Dirty Mind album review


Prince - Warner Bros. Records (1979)

Not the cute Disney number as the title might allude, Bambi is a rollercoaster of a Prince track that when played live will reduce fully grown male fans into screaming girls, for it contains perhaps his greatest showcase of his ability with the guitar and, at such an early stage in his career, one of the best rock gods of his time. A talent Prince unfortunately exhibits all too rarely except in concert. 3rdEyeGirl gave it a welcome dusting off for their shows during 2013/14 and it sound as fresh as ever. If you don’t have this song in your collection, you don’t have a collection. For those about to rock, we salute you.

Prince album review

Just As Long As We're Together

For You - Warner Bros. Records (1978)

Just As Long As We’re Together is where Prince’s roots are to be found. Throwing in a six-minute track on your debut album requires both immense talent and self confidence. But get this, Prince who was just eighteen when he recorded it, lays down a track on which he sings and plays every single instrument. Then, after the three min opening, he slides into a three-min-long instrumental outro packed with vigor and excitement – why? Because he can. No other track on For You showcase Prince better than this. Fortune favours the bold.

For You album review

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