Prince
Prince
1979

I believe I missed Prince’s second album when it was released, as I was occupied with punk and the theory that it would be easier to initiate sexual relations with punk girls compared with disco girls. (No.) Too bad, because this is a fine disco disc. The one lasting number on it is “Sexy Dancer,” but it should last awhile, and the other songs would be popular if played as a unit at a party…if you could go back and host that party in 1979.

The album’s closer, “It’s Gonna Be Lonely,” shows some emotional depth in its story of a break-up. One verse hints at something much deeper:

I betcha thatcha never knew
That in my dreams you are the star
The only bummer is that you always want to leave
Who do you think you are?

Prince was 21 when he released this record, his second, and you can hear him struggling with the disco/smooth-R&B straitjacket – just as you can hear the 24-year-old Bruce Springsteen struggling to break out of folk-music prison on his second album, The Wild, the Innocent & the E Street Shuffle (1974).

On Prince, you can’t tell if Prince wants to be Lionel Ritchie, Harold Melvin & The Blue Notes, or some kind of disco conglomeration. They’ve even photographed him on the album cover to look like Ritchie. But on his third album all hell will break loose, just as it did with Springsteen.

What I was doing at 21: Living in Boston, writing bad science fiction. This is already getting old.

Rolling Stones’ best albums of 1979: The Rolling Stone critics got lazy that year. They gave Neil Young’s Rust Never Sleeps album-of-the-year honors and cited no runners-up.

It’s not as if they had a small pool of candidates: How about Pink Floyd’s The Wall, The B-52s’ The B-52s, The Clash’s The Clash, Graham Parker’s Squeezing Out Sparks, Michael Jackson’s Off the Wall, The Police’s Reggatta de Blanc (the Coldplay of their day), Donna Summer’s Bad Girls, The Buzzcocks’ Singles Going Steady, or even Sister Sledge’s We Are Family? And look at all the crap, led by Foghat, Foreigner, and The Captain & Tenille?

They called Fleetwood Mac’s “Tusk” the single of the year. What where they smoking, and can I have some?

Those critics better shape up for 1980.

Random Pick of the Day (but it was close)
Various artists, Day Tripper: Jazz Greats Meet The Beatles Volume 1 (2009)
Two standouts, both on piano: Ramsey Lewis’ “Day Tripper” and McCoy Tyner’s “She’s Leaving Home.” Guitarist Wes Montgomery gives “A Day in the Life” the atmosphere of listening to records at midnight with the lights off. Unfortunately, at the 4-minute mark of this 6-minute song he gets up to get a drink and trips over The Moody Blues.

The rest of this disk explains why there was no Volume 2.

Random Pan of the Day
Art Blakey’s Jazz Messengers, Les Liaisons Dangereuses (1962)
Recorded in 1959 for the French film, but not released in the USA until 1962. “No Problem” is a terrific tune. Unfortunately, you get four versions of it on this disc, as well as two versions each of two lesser songs, “Prelude in Blue” and “Valmontana.” There are only 10 tracks on Les Liaisons Dangereuses and eight of them are variations of each other. The repetition wore me down.

 

Comments
  1. verlierer says:

    I thought you didn’t write about “actual genuine good” music and stuff, preferring to ridicule instead. In that case, I call Talking Heads “Stop Making Sense” (1984) as best live album.

    • Run-DMSteve says:

      I do so like actual genuine good music and stuff, you squarehead! My picks for best live albums: The Clash’s From Here to Eternity, Stop Making Sense, and The Who’s Life at Leeds (the original, not the bulked up version). I suppose my choice of these ancient discs is a function of my age and not a comment on the lack of good live albums since then.

  2. verlierer says:

    Those Rolling Stones’ critics were more than just lazy, which happens to rhyme with crazy. The 1979 release of “London Calling” by The Clash was also not chosen as their best of that year, but was selected the #1 album for the whole of the following decade.

    For demonstrating that music in not the international language, but rather s-p-e-a-k-i-n-g s-l-o-w-l-y and e-n-u-n-c-i-a-t-i-n-g c-l-e-a-r-l-y between songs is, I nominate “Cheap Trick At Budokan” for 1979’s album of the year.

    • Run-DMSteve says:

      Critics are by nature lazy. I am Exhibit A. However, I just checked the date of the London Calling release and it was 14 December 1979. I’m willing to spot them a couple of weeks to move it into the ’80s.

      London Calling is one of the greatest records ever made. Among double-record sets, it has no peer.

      As for the live Cheap Trick record…I agree about speaking slowly etc. Those odd non-English speakers, all you have to do is speak slowly and clearly and of course they’ll understand you! For an actual genuine good live release, I’ll take The Clash’s From Here to Eternity (1999). The songs were all recorded in their heyday, but here they sound like they all came from the same concert. It’s astonishing, and no one involved cared about good enunciation.

  3. thecorncobb says:

    Fleetwood’s Tusk is a great album & song. Listen to this song through a really good system and you’ll understand (And smoke is decriminalized in Oregon, so procure, partake, & prick up (your ears)!

    • Run-DMSteve says:

      Corncobb: You’re a great guy, so in the spirit of open-mindedness, I got out my LP of Tusk, blew the dust off it, placed it on my turntable and dropped the needle on the next-to-the-last track, “Tusk.” Something didn’t sound right. I figured my stylus is getting old, so I replaced it with a new one and tried again. Something still didn’t sound right. Well, I haven’t played this record in years. It must be dirty. I injected 5 cc’s of disc cleaner into the grooves of the track and wiped the surface dry with a lint-free, static-free, free-range cloth. Then I whipped out the Ionizer, which they use at the Library of Congress to electrically zap century-old grime from field recordings of ancient bluesmen. When I tried playing the music again, though I had a hospital-sterile playing surface, I also had the same problem I’d noticed at the beginning. I theorized that the record had become warped from its long storage on a shelf, so I deployed the Pod, a little-known tripod device that sits on your record with rubberized feet and uses a hydraulic press to force it flat. No dice. I’d done more for this band than their own producer, and “Tusk” still sucked. Kind of a drag.

  4. Laurel says:

    Thank you for introducing 1979 to me – I missed Prince’s second album and everything else you mention due to my regrettable devotion at the time to Telemann, Rameau, and lowering “A” to 415 Hz.

    • Run-DMSteve says:

      There’s nothing to regret about devoting your life to Telemann (1681–1767), whose contributions to telemarketing are widely known, or to lowering “A” to 415 Hz, which I assume has something to do with curbing grade inflation in college. But Rameau (1683-1764) is a whole different kettle of drum. Note how his birth and death dates so closely mirror Telemann’s. Accident? There are no accidents. Plus I just gleaned this wonderful quote about Rameau from Wikipedia: “His heart and soul were in his harpsichord; once he had shut its lid, there was no one home.”

      • Number 9 says:

        We don’t know why Rameau shut that lid, but he probably had a good reason. Possibly it had to do with the fact that there aren’t any good jokes associated with his name. Unlike Jean-Baptiste Lully (1632-1687), whose devotees, when overdo-ing the ornamentation a bit, may be said to be gilding the Lully.

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