Monday, November 5, 2012

1999 - 30 Years of Dance, Music, Sex, & Romance By Micah A.K.A CMS

 30 years marks a milestone not only in the Prince community but music history. Since this is my 1st blog entry, what better way to start off by paying tribute to one of the most remarkable and influential albums of all time, Prince's 1982 classic double LP 1999. Before this musical evolution begin Prince was already established as a multi-talented musician and controversial figure with 4 albums to his credit where he received some critical acclaim. After coming off the well received Controversy tour Prince's plans for his next project was to reach new heights and becoming a pop star. In the spring and summer of 1982 this recording process started at Prince's home studio then continued at Sunset Sound in Los Angeles. During this period it was intense creativity by Prince coming with new ideas,  experimenting with different sounds that was appealing to the mainstream. Also he was becoming more prolific. When you think about it, even with the releases of Vanity 6's self-titled debut, The Time's second album What's Time Is It? and 1999 has to be some of the strongest dance material Prince has ever produced. Especially during that time. These 3 albums combined along with Dirty Mind, Controversy, and The Time's self-titled debut can easily be looked at as what defined the "Minneapolis Sound."

 1999 was released on October 27, 1982 becoming Prince's 1st big commercial success. Showing growth as a songwriter and breaking new ground musically that would change the sound of the 1980s. The use of the Linn drum machine along with synthesizers combing elements of electro pop, rock, funk, and r&b helped produced Prince's most exciting & best album at this point of his career. This record opens with Prince speaking in a God-like voice saying, "Don't worry, I won't hurt u. I only want u 2 have some fun." My 1st impression when hearing this is something big is about to happen, and with the way the song starts to build up suspense. Who can say anything bad about the 1st track "1999?" Its the ultimate party song!  Everything from the chorus, the harmonies, and the instrumentation is simply brilliant. This has to be my favorite song on the whole album. Also I love the way the song begins and ends. "1999" segue into "Little Red Corvette", which is one of the greatest and sexiest pop songs ever! Anybody with taste would agree this is an instant smash hit. The chorus is catchy, great vocals, and the lyrics just fits perfectly with this song. My 2nd favorite on the album. Track #3 is "Delirious", a fun dance track with a rockabilly-style. It reminds me of 1950s song upgraded to a 80s of sound. Overall just a great song to listen to. Next is "Let's Pretend We're Married", the most explict song on the album. Lyrics like, "I sincerely wanna fuck the taste outta ur mouth" is proof that before rap music was catching heat for its sexual explict content Prince was alright ahead of the game being racy with his lyrics saying what was on his mind. I love the fast pace bouncy drum beat with some powerful synths giving it that raw energy, similar to "Dirty Mind" but with better production. "D.M.S.R." is one of the standout tracks on the album. 8 minutes of one of the funkiest jams ever!!! This song can easily fill up any dance floor at a party or club with the incredible synths. The rhythm guitar and funky bass line will make you put on that funky face to where you can't help but to sing the chorus (Dance, Music, Sex, Romance). The theme of this song pretty similar to "Uptown" the celebration of freedom bringing all colors and sexes together just having a good time with whoever, wearing whatever, and doing whatever.

The 2nd half of the album kicks off with a "Automatic", another hot dance track that has some futuristic synth sounds that gives this dark mood at certain moments throughout the track. In this song Prince tells how he's addicted to a girl he's in love with. Some people may feel this song is a little overproduced at 9 minutes long but I can listen to it in its entirety. Next is the "Something In The Water (Does Not Compute)" which may be the most underrated song on the album. I love everything about this song. Its unique experimental sound with the Linn drum repeating throughout the track, the synths cords that fade in and out really captures the drama of the song with Prince's vocals bringing out different emotions of pain of why his women wanna treat him so bad. The pace slows down with the gentle rock ballad "Free." This probably has to be the 1st song by Prince where you see his humble side. Saying we need be thankful and appreciative for the freedom we have. Bringing out some soulful vocals along with a nice guitar solo and some piano chords that fits the song nicely. Another one of my favorite tracks on the album is "Lady Cab Driver", which along with "D.M.S.R." probably has the best groove out any of the songs. Simply bringing out the funk again with some great rhythm guitar playing and a slick bass line that will keep your head bobbing non stop for the whole 8 minutes. My favorite part on this song is a brief jam session with some great solos on guitar and synthesizers that has me wanting to hit the repeat button. After this great song ends with the different traffic noises it segues into "All The Critics Love U In New York." I like this song but this has to be my last favorite cut on the album. Like "Something In The Water (Does Not Compute)" its one of the most interesting songs to listen to. Prince speaking or almost rapping the lyrics over a bouncy mid-tempo drum beat with a nice smooth bass line. It has some raw guitar solos in a heavy metal type of style, and the hook is catchy with a synth line playing along. The closing track "International Lover" is another one of my personal favorites on the album. This seductive ballad continues in the tradition of "Do Me, Baby" with some great falsetto vocals accompanied by some nice piano chords. This song is definitely one of his top 5 best slow jams. A great way to close out this album bringing to its ultimate climax.

  To conclude my thoughts on this review, after going back revisiting this album for the past couple weeks, 1999 sounds just as refreshing now as it did the first time I heard it. Take a song like "Something In The Water (Does Not Compute)", which can easily be played on the radio today. In my opinion this by far is the funkiest album Prince has ever produced. Everything from the production, the songwriting, and vocals are great! Being that this is one of his most influential albums, Prince's influence can be heard in other artists work. From a producer's standpoint take Timbaland for example, he sampled the baby's voice from "Delirious" in Aaliyah's "Are You That Somebody?" His production on Nas's "You Owe Me" sounds like something from Vanity 6. Prince's influence as a songwriter has gave other artists to be cutting edge and have a wild imagination at times as well. Using cars as sexual metaphors in songs like "Little Red Corvette" & "Delirious" or an airplane flight in "International Lover" shows such imaginative and provocative lyrics that could have inspired some of R. Kelly hit songs like "You Remind Me Of Something" and "Ignition." My rating for this album out of 5 stars is 5, an instant classic! For those who think Purple Rain was Prince's breakthrough album is sadly mistaken. 1999 was his first musical achievement in which he gained crossover success. Not to mention the videos for "1999" and "Little Red Corvette" being played in heavy rotation on MTV played a major part as well in reaching a wider audience. Not quite becoming a superstar just yet but Prince did achieve pop star status to where it set the stage perfect for Purple Rain. 30 years this great album has stood the test of time musically and continues to be a major influence on other artists. Let's hope in the next 30 years people will still want to party like its 1999.

Micah Simpson