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Prince album reviews: Warner Brothers era
Goldie’s reviews of Prince’s albums from his years contracted to Warner Brothers (1978 to 1996). His commercially and artistically most successful period, the relationship with the record label produced no less than 18 albums and earned the highest recording contract to that moment, turned sour in 1993 and reached a public and acrimonious end in 1996. The arrangement left the ownership of those recordings and the control of the output in the hands of the label, and his joint venute with Warner Bros., Paisley Park Records, closed down. The ensuing feud would consume Prince well into his later career and he would distrust the industry so much vowed never again sign a multi-album deal with a record company.
Warner Bros. Records (1996)
The title says it all. Prince’s animosity towards his relationship with Warner Brothers is laid bare in this electric album. Sadly, it is almost impossible to ever find even die-hard Prince /Prince love symbol fans to publicly champion it, those who don’t clearly don’t appreciate Prince at his rawest. There is nothing disorderly about it.
Charts: US 26 UK 14
Warner Bros. Records (1996)
Allowing the ice thaw, albeit temporarily, with Warner Bros. to allow them to release the Girl 6 soundtrack for his friend, Spike Lee for his new film Girl 6 who other than Prince could provide a more suitable soundtrack for a movie about phone sex!
Charts: US 75
Warner Bros. Records (1995)
Sex, Fetishes, Loneliness, Vindication, Love and Hate are the range of experiences Prince shares here. The Gold Experience is my favourite Prince album and putting it on almost 20 years later, it still surprises how fresh it sounds today.
Charts: US 6 UK 4
Warner Bros. Records (1994)
This is not music, this is a trip – and it was and quite literally! Prince wrote The Black Album after experimenting with ecstasy and then hating it when he came back down, locking the album away until Warner Brothers finally set it free in 1994. This is the famous once-deleted album of Prince lore.
Charts: US 47 UK 36
Warner Bros. Records (1994)
Always judge the quality of an album by the amount of times it is played, and this you’ll play a lot. Come is the ‘Prince is dead. Long live Prince love symbol‘ album and that of the one-word titles, well, he did cheat a bit with Letitgo. Prince let’s slip a personal secret: that sex with him lasts ten minutes and with the title track you can live every second of it, which also makes for magnificent listening and a magnificent album.
Charts: US 15 UK 1
Warner Bros. Records (1993)
Here was the situation. The most expensive and successful artist signed less than a year ago decides to ‘kill’ his name and change it to an unpronounceable symbol (Prince love symbol), coupled with the fact his music is becoming less commercial, what does his label do? Break the emergency glass and unlock the vault to re-package a stellar greatest hits collection.
Charts: US 4 UK 4
Warner Bros. Records (1992)
The unpronounceable Love Symbol Album was Prince’s first under that auspicious new contract with Warner Brothers that would turn so publicly sour. Prince’s obsession both with the female body and with himself gives explanation enough why this could only be named Love Symbol, or to be correct Prince love symbol.
Charts: US 5 UK 1
Warner Bros. Records (1991)
It came to be Prince’s last commercially successful album for over a decade. Diamonds And Pearls was the album that got Prince his record breaking $100m (albeit swiftly regretted) contract renewal with Warner Brothers. Unlucky for Warner that they did not get six more albums like this.
Charts: US 3 UK 2
Warner Bros. Records (1990)
The 80s are over and the micro chip has inherited the Earth. Graffiti Bridge is the quintessential Prince mastering computerised music that came to dominate the 90’s album – even if the songs themselves originated from the 80s.
Charts: US 6 UK 1
Warner Bros. Records (1989)
Overlook this album at your peril. It still unbelievable that Batman (the soundtrack) hails from the 1980s. This is the album Prince literally recorded entirely on his own, and thank god that he did. The quality of Batman is its diversity and it became at the time the fastest selling album in history.
Charts: US 1 UK 1
Warner Bros. Records (1988)
Yes! Prince had obviously adapted well when working under pressure since Lovesexy was a rush job to replace The Black Album pulled after Prince, and probably the record executives, got a bad case of cold feet over its negative slant. The saintly Lovesexy was written to atone his dark outlook, with a more heavenly gaze.
Charts: US 11 UK 1
Warner Bros. Records (1987)
Sign O’ The Times marks Prince at the pinnacle of his career. This double album contains his most diverse work of which is really his masterpiece. Will Prince ever emulate it? Could he? The lyrics to the title track are a work of art, serving as a time capsule to modern day woes. Prince has never been this inspired.
Charts: US 6 UK 4
Warner Bros. Records (1986)
Parade marks Prince’s first foray into artful music. With fame and confidence heightened by the success of Purple Rain, Prince spreads his wings. Even Prince admitted he had not enough material to fill Parade, feeling it rushed, under prepared and lacking clout. I beg to differ.
Charts: US 3 UK 4
Warner Bros. Records (1985)
What better way to upset the world (and record execs) off by following up one of the biggest selling albums in history with one sounding completely the opposite. Anyone who follows Prince knows this became a typical Prince trait and something fans had to grow to come to terms with. Prince changed formula and went all psychedelic for Around The World In A Day.
Charts: US 1 UK 5
Warner Bros. Records (1984)
Purple Rain sounds like his greatest hits album, because that’s exactly what it is. Needing no introduction, it is, to put it bluntly, the template for musical perfection. 13 times platinum and, like it or not, Purple Rain contains the greatest and best known work of the 80’s and the album which Prince will always be remembered for. To this day industry insiders hail later albums ‘his best since Purple Rain’ but we all know to draw comparisons is utter nonsense.
Charts: US 1 UK 4
Warner Bros. Records (1982)
1999 is considered the favourite album of hard core Prince fans. It was the one that launched Prince into the music mainstream: Little Richard and Rick James stepped aside in the wake of 1999. Featuring hits like Little Red Corvette and of course the title track, the album foreshadows the greatness Prince was destined to achieve and dominate a decade of music.
Charts: US 7 UK 28
Warner Bros. Records (1981)
Whilst it is to some impossible to imagine that Prince existed before the 1999 album. not only life but what a good one it was too. Controversy is a massively and foolishly overlooked album on which Prince underlines the roots that in later albums superbly fuse black and white music in a way that he would create an entire musical genre of his own.
Charts: US 21
Warner Bros. Records (1980)
After two albums Prince finally tells all what fascinates him most. Women. Frankly, if you really want to find out where Prince’s musical roots stem from, they don’t shine through clearer than on Dirty Mind. Funk is what Prince really does best and he churns it out in abundance and names the album after the thoughts on his mind.
Charts: US 45 UK 61
Warner Bros. Records (1979)
Prince’s eponymous album and the one that would also provide his first ever and eternal hit: I Wanna Be Your Lover, starting off a surprisingly solid album for then the youngest record producer in history. Naming the album after his own name confuses many to believe that his was his debut, which in a kind of way it is as many of the songs on it are out takes from his real debut, For You.
Charts: US 22
Warner Bros. Records (1978)
Pop royalty is born. For You an album that provides our young Prince a palace built on firm foundations. It also sets the familiar production credit: produced, arranged, performed, composed by Prince – a mere 19 years of age at the time of this release. All his later fascinations with sex is kept under wraps for his first solo outing.
Charts: US 163
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