Black Music Month: Prince, FOR YOU
It’s Black Music Month, as just as we’ve done in past years here at Rhino, we’re celebrating the occasion by sprinkling in a number of posts where we spotlight a black artist or an album by a black artist. Today we’re shining the spotlight on the early albums of an iconic artist who found such astronomical success in the ‘80s that it’s often forgotten by many that he actually started his career in the ‘70s.
Yes, everyone remembers when Prince broke through in a big way with his 1999 album, which took him into the top 10 of the Billboard 200 for the first time and, in turn, led to the #1 success that was the PURPLE RAIN album. And if you were really paying attention, then you might also remember some of albums before that, including – in reverse order – CONTROVERSY (1981), DIRTY MIND (1980), and PRINCE (1979). But if you thought that his self-titled album was his debut album... Well, it’s a reasonable presumption, but it’s also an inaccurate one.
That said, you wouldn’t be the only person to think this: as it happens, FOR YOU, the 1978 album that actually was Prince’s debut, peaked at #138, and it didn’t even go gold, a situation that Prince wouldn’t repeat again until 1994, when Warner Brothers belatedly – and only briefly – released THE BLACK ALBUM.
Robert Christgau wrote of the LP in his record guide:
“Like most in-studio one-man bands, the nineteen-year-old kid who pieced this disco-rock-pop-funk concoction together has a weakness for the programmatic—lots of chops, not much challenge. But I like 'Baby,' about making one, and 'Soft and Wet,' ditto only he doesn't know it yet. And his falsetto beats Emitt Rhodes."
If you’ve never heard FOR YOU, you’re in for a treat, because it’s instantly recognizable as Prince, but it’s a much looser version of Prince than you hear on any of his other albums. Probably the best known song on the LP is the single, “Soft and Wet,” and other top-notch songs include “So Blue” and “As Long As We’re Together.” Oh, and there’s also a great tune called “My Love is Forever” that’s as close as Prince ever got to yacht rock...and this is not an insult, this is 100% praise, so be sure to check it out!
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