I know we’re all still celebrating the life of Prince following his heartbreaking passing. And, of course, we’re returning to his classic catalog of albums for comfort.
Purple Rain, Sign o’ the Times, Lovesexy, Controversy — they’re all undoubtedly great albums. But here are eight albums that rarely get the love they deserve. Add ’em to your playlists ASAP.
For You (1978)
When discussing the genesis Prince’s career, fans tend to jump over his debut album to profess their adoration of his self-titled sophomore effort. But For You is no pushover, a cocktail of various genres that are infectiously fun. Even with these humble beginnings, Prince was light-years ahead of the competition.
Around the World in a Day (1985)
Around the World in a Day seems to get lost in the towering shadows cast by its predecessor, Purple Rain, and the groundbreaking Sign o’ the Times. “Raspberry Beret” leads the charge here but the additional tracks more than hold up their end of the bargain. Expert instrumentation reigns supreme, with the keys of “Temptation” and sax of “The Ladder” providing a backdrop for Prince’s psychedelic stroll. It definitely wasn’t as radio-friendly as earlier efforts, but it’s still a keeper.
My wife is absolutely obsessed with Prince’s godawful “Under the Cherry Moon” film. Thankfully, this soundtrack is much better than that movie. MUCH better. “Kiss” gets all the attention, and rightfully so, but from the pop excellence of “Girls & Boys” to the emotional “Sometimes It Snows in April,” there’s a lot to embrace.
I dare you to find another soundtrack that so perfectly syncs with its movie. The Batman soundtrack certainly doesn’t sound like most Prince albums, but it’s not supposed to. It expertly captures the darkness, sexuality and chaos of Gotham city. “Partyman” makes me want to go to the nearest museum and just start destroying things.
Diamonds and Pearls (1991)
This album is crammed with memorable singles — “Cream,” “Gett Off,” “Thunder,” “Insatiable,” and that soaring title track among them. But the album itself is often unfairly overlooked. That’s a shame; it’s an extremely diverse collection of funk, punk, pop and R&B. It’s packaged wall-to-wall hits, and those hits are the tapestry of an eclectic yet engaging release.
Come was the last album before Prince’s simmering record label disputes went supernova. And you know what they say, it’s always darkest before the dawn — and this is one of Prince’s darker efforts. There’s none of the usual sly sexual metaphors on this one, dude goes full frontal. Come is brazen but brilliant, with lots of slow, heavy cuts that move away from Prince’s usual blueprint.
The Gold Experience (1995)
Prince’s “Love Symbol” era yielded some uneven material, which isn’t a surprise considering the legal drama he was enduring. But The Gold Experience was the height of that tumultuous phase, producing an album filled with fierce rock ballads dripping with funk. Yeah, the drama was memorable (remember “slave” written on Prince’s beard?) but the material was everlasting.
2004’s Musicology is fondly remembered as Prince’s “comeback” album, the one that saw him effortlessly stroll into the new millennium and pick up right where he left off. While it was a solid effort, 3121 was much tighter. The Latin-infused melodies were a welcome addition, as was Prince’s continued experimentation. The fantastic “Incense and Candles,” the last Prince song I truly loved, embraced auto-tune well before Kanye West n’ friends started beating us over the head with it in the coming years.
Which Prince albums do you consider to underrated? Let us know in the comments below.