Looking back over Prince’s career, I have to wonder what exactly the guy’s problem was. Remember in the mid-90’s when he proclaimed himself a 'slave' to his record company? Well, looking back to his earlier releases, it’s pretty clear the record company didn’t give a shit what he put out, as long as it was funky. And it’s hard to imagine more artistic freedom than Prince enjoyed on Dirty Mind
He uses that freedom to great effect musically. Prince tapped into some sort of Platonic ideal of a funk/rock fusion, and the musicianship and melodies are downright irresistible. I can just imagine some record company executive saying 'No, you can’t stick a Greg Kihn guitar line over slap bass' on “When You Were Mine”, or 'That Moog synthesizer will simply not be a funky solo' on “Head”. He’d be wrong, of course.
I doubt anyone could resist “Partyup”, featuring an insanely catchy chant for the chorus, or the slinky “Got a Broken Heart Again”. The rest, while not so memorable, are worthy tracks, and the whole album is propelled to delightful heights by musical invention and energy.
On the other hand, a record executive might've provided some useful restraint on the lyrics. Prince’s unalloyed lyrical vision is often misguided, occasionally disturbing, and - in one place - repulsive.
Prince doesn’t just like sex, he likes trying to shock his audience by singing about sex. The odd thing is, a lot of his lyrics sound like he hasn’t had much sex (very odd, considering he was a rock star) ... they’re more like horny schoolboy odes about meeting women on the street who can’t resist him. Then along the way he puts down homosexuals, undermines another man’s marriage, and even proclaims incest is everything it’s said to be
(what, a criminally degrading and permanently scarring abuse of the most sacred bond between two people?). It’s more embarrassing than shocking in its sophomorism.
by Reviewer: Steve Knowlton
(blogging at Steve's Record Reviews