Pros: Some moderately enjoyable dance tracks.
Cons: Cheap production; some really awful tracks.
AUTHOR'S EDIT: I guess my review for Controversy proved to be just that. My reviewing integrity, again, has been called in question. Wonderful. My personal feelings about Prince the man do not reflect my feelings towards Prince the musician. My reason for reviewing any artist that I don't like (as in, Mariah Carey) is to give an artist a fair shot. Usually, when I say I dislike an artist, it's because their current singles annoy the hell out of me; by reviewing a discography and discovered album gems, I can change my mind about their music. This was the case with Michael Jackson, who always irked me from the moment I first heard him (ugh, I still hate that Thriller song). That said, listening to 1979's Off the Wall resulted in a new-found respect for the man musically. I'm not an advocate for him or his parenting skills, but at least I can say that there is an MJ record I can reccommend. Just because Prince has not proven himself (to ME, the REVIEWER) musically doesn't mean that I'm only reviewing his records to "get back at him." As if Prince is going to read this review anyway. And if he is, he needs to get offline and try making a good album for a change. Prince has many, many records in his discography, the next of which is 1999, an album I remember enjoying as a kid. Who knows, maybe I'll be able to reccommend it. As it stands, though, his first four records are, in my ears, not good. His contributions to the musical world may have been great, and it's awesome that many people can respect and enjoy his music. Do not crucify me for disliking his music. And if you really feel I'm biased, check out my review of Mariah Carey's Butterfly (by an artist I still don't like) and my rather bitch review of Blondie's The Hunter (by a band I obsess over.) Funny how nobody mentions anything when I slaughter a release by an act I like...
We now return to your scheduled programming.
My experience with the purple one has been a trip through a valley of rejected music sludge, spiked with the most annoying falsetto I've ever heard. After Prince's generically awful For You debut, the carbon copy Prince, and the vastly overrated Dirty Mind, the man has yet to even slightly make an impression on me. My desire to finish Prince's discography was mainly out of spite and personal vendetta (I'm not big on overrated heterosexists), but at this point, I have a new reason. After three albums in a row that haven't scored higher than one star (skull-- see my new Epinions buttons), what's my incentive? I've already made the point that Prince is just as bad if not worse than most pop acts today; well, to be honest, I'm a little intrigued. There has to be something special about this man for him to have sold millions of records and be considered one of the biggest musical acts of the 1980s, a decade I tend to live my life in. With his fourth foray into the musical world, I was pleasantly surprised to find myself enjoying some of the tracks, though none of it is exactly what I'd call great or deserving of the extreme praise this album continuously gets.
Controversy is another "funk" album with weird electronic beeps and flourishes that don't necessarily match one another. However, there is a slight shift in musical direction, with there being a higher concentration on a typical 80s-pop sound than his previous dated disco-funk thing. The title-track and album opener shocked me-- it still had its ridiculously flat and generic Prince production, but it also came with a very nice hook and the attitude I always thought him to have. The song clocks it at over seven minutes, which is a little long for my tastes, but I have to admit that the basic premise of the song is cool and enjoyable. His mall-pop-esque track Private Joy is another fun song I can enjoy, even though it will also be associated with the disaster than is Latoya Jackson after she covered it shortly after it was released. I also liked the grungy-ness on the punk/rockabilly(???) Ronnie, Talk to Russia, which is the first of his many attempts to be Queen that actually works. The urgent vocals (which aren't sung in falsetto, by the way) are snappy and give good atmosphere, which are matched with an explosive and dismantled backing track.
There is a fair amount of crap on this record, though. Sexuality is a really, really, really bad attempt at being erotic and shocking. His vocals are at full falsetto, cooing and moaning like a bad Michael Jackson imitation. The speeding background is annoying, and there's nothing all that compelling about the production. Do Me Baby starts off with a pleasant melody, but quickly turns into a really bad, generic slow jam. And he sounds like Urkle; does anybody hear it besides me? I will admit the background melody isn't bad, though its production sounds like it was mastered on a warped, wet, dying cassette. Then we have the completely pretentious disaster that is the spoken Annie Christian, which tells a story ...about a girl...and symbolism. I really don't care. He sounds like he recorded it on a cheap microphone into a cheap hand-clap machine; he reminds me of a really bad introduction my ex-boyfriend's ex-boyfriend wrote. Except his intro sounded better than this; at least that only lasted about forty seconds. Jack U Off is reeeeally bad. Like, horrible. The production is beyond lame, and the crude verses are another bad stab at being "shocking." I first heard this song being slaughtered by Robyn and Jenny Lewis (of Rilo Kiley) on Robyn's The Rakamonie EP. I hated it then. Then I found out Prince did it. I will admit Prince's version is way more solid, but it's still a really crappy "diddy" that I could stand to never hear again.
With only a handful of tracks, Prince's Controversy wasn't as bad as I dreaded it would be. Not that anything on this album remotely beings to make up for the absolute torture on his trilogy of first albums. I'm never going to buy this album, nor do I really recommend it. This album has some pleasant dance tracks that I could tolerate again. But that still doesn't mean I'd ever choose to hear them on my own volition. A vast improvement wasn't that difficult to do considering how low Dirty Mind set the bar.
01. Controversy [3.5 Stars]
02. Sexuality [1 Star]
03. Do Me Baby [1 Star]
04. Private Joy [3 Stars]
05. Ronnie, Talk to Russia [3 Stars]
06. Let's Work [3 Stars]
07. Annie Christian [0 Stars]
08. Jack U Off [0 Stars]
OVERALL SCORE: 2 STARS (1.8+)
OTHER PRINCE REVIEWS
OTHER PRINCE REVIEWS
1978 - For You
1979 - Prince
1980 - Dirty Mind
1981 - Controversy