Deep Album Cuts Vol. 44: Prince

I recently started trying out Tidal, but there's not a lot of music on there isn't also on Spotify, which I'm more used to using. And one of the major exceptions is Prince, who took all his music off of Spotify and put (some of) his catalog on Tidal recently, with a new album, HITNRUN, scheduled to debut on Tidal next week. So I end up listening to Prince on Tidal a lot, and decided to put together one of these deep cuts playlists. This series is largely reserved for acts who are not revered as 'album artists,' people who are not necessarily taken too seriously beyond their singles. But now and again it's fun to dig into a really absurdly rich catalog like Prince's and try to cram as many great deep cuts as possible into 80 minutes.

Prince Deep Album Cuts (Tidal playlist): 
* as of 2017, now on Spotify as well

1. The Ballad Of Dorothy Parker
2. Darling Nikki
3. Tamborine
4. Can't Stop This Feeling I Got
5. I Wonder U
6. Trust
7. Something In The Water (Does Not Compute)
8. Partyup
9. I'm Yours
10. Jack U Off
11. Strange Relationship
12. Love 2 The 9's
13. Dark
14. Sometimes It Snows In April
15. It's Gonna Be Lonely
16. D.M.S.R.
17. The Beautiful Ones

Track 9 from For You (1978)
Track 15 from Prince (1979)
Track 8 from Dirty Mind (1980)
Track 10 from Controversy (1981)
Tracks 7 and 16 from 1999 (1982)
Tracks 2 and 17 from Purple Rain (1984)
Track 3 from Around The World In A Day (1985)
Tracks 5 and 14 from Parade (1986)
Tracks 1 and 11 from Sign O' The Times (1987)
Track 6 from Batman (1989)
Track 4 from Graffiti Bridge (1990)
Track 12 from Prince logo.svg (1992)
Track 13 from Come (1994)

Prince has a long history of idiosyncratic, questionable decisions about how and where to make his music available on the internet. And one of the most frustrating things about his move to Tidal is that it includes very little of the many albums he's released in the last 20 years. For the purposes of this playlist, though, it has what I need: nearly all of the albums from the essential first 16 or so years of his career (with the odd omission of the blockbuster Diamonds And Pearls). I couldn't include anything from Lovesexy, because all digital releases of the album stubbornly maintain the annoying quirk of the original CD release, with every song run together on one track, but that's okay, I don't like that one all that much.

He has widely beloved B-sides and bootlegged rarities, so Prince songs that actually appeared on his albums barely even feel like "deep cuts," but still, he's a guy with a lot of hits, and a lot of great songs that were not singles. It'd be easy to stick with his peak period, or stuff it with songs from the really ripe albums like Sign O' The Times and 1999, but it was fun to dip into the early stuff and the post-peak stuff (his self-titled 1979 album remains one of my absolute favorites). "Darling Nikki" may be one of the most infamous deep cuts of all time, not because it was performed in a huge movie or covered by the Foo Fighters but because of the song's placement on the Parents Music Resource Center's 'Filthy Fifteen' -- I read about Tipper Gore objecting to the song's lyrics about "masturbating to a magazine" before I ever heard Prince sing those words. "The Beautiful Ones" is part of the canon of Prince songs that will live forever in late night "quiet storm" blocks on R&B stations, along with "International Lover," "Do Me, Baby," and "Adore" (which I adore most of all, but it was on Greatest Hits so it feels wrong to include on a deep cuts playlist).

Obviously, the diminishing returns hit after Sign O' The Times, but even when I only cover part of an artist's career in these mixes, I tend to cover the whole time in which they made hits, and he kept having hits for a while after that. And it was fun to dig into the highlights of that post-peak period. "Trust" was, along with "Partyman," such an enjoyable part of Batman and those are maybe the first Prince songs I ever enjoyed as a kid, even if I had no idea who they were by at the time. It wasn't until the early 2000's that my friend Mat, a card-carrying Prince fanatic, made me really appreciate the man's catalog. And I have a vivid memory of hanging out with Mat in Rockville when he had Prince logo.svg on in his car and being blown away that such an unhip, dated-sounding album still had really delightful songs like "Love 2 The 9's" and "Morning Papers." By far my favorite post-'80s Prince album, however, is Come, one of his final Warner Bros. albums that he kind of deliberately downplayed upon its release. It's really the only time he sounded kind of in step with '90s R&B, and just has so many awesome midtempo sex jams, I really recommend it, "Dark" is just one of many great songs on it.

One thing I inadvertently found myself doing a lot was including a lot of Prince's closing tracks -- 5 of the 13 albums represented, including all of his first 4 albums. That's somewhat inevitable -- Prince, like most artists, rarely closes an album with a single. But "Jack U Off," "I'm Yours," Sometimes It Snows In April," that's a pretty wide range of closers. One of the things I love most about Prince is that nearly all his albums run the gamut from screaming rockers to fragile ballads to sleazy sex jams to electro experiments to funk workouts. So I really tried to maintain that variety of styles more than necessarily just picking the absolute best songs, although I really love pretty much everything here.

Previous playlists in the Deep Album Cuts series:
Vol. 1: Brandy
Vol. 2: Whitney Houston
Vol. 3: Madonna
Vol. 4: My Chemical Romance
Vol. 5: Brad Paisley
Vol. 6: George Jones
Vol. 7: The Doors
Vol. 8: Jay-Z
Vol. 9: Robin Thicke
Vol. 10: R. Kelly
Vol. 11: Fall Out Boy
Vol. 12: TLC
Vol. 13: Pink
Vol. 14: Queen
Vol. 15: Steely Dan
Vol. 16: Trick Daddy
Vol. 17: Paramore
Vol. 18: Elton John
Vol. 19: Missy Elliott
Vol. 20: Mariah Carey
Vol. 21: The Pretenders
Vol. 22: "Weird Al" Yankovic
Vol. 23: Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers
Vol. 24: Foo Fighters
Vol. 25: Counting Crows
Vol. 26: T.I.
Vol. 27: Jackson Browne
Vol. 28: Usher
Vol. 29: Mary J. Blige
Vol. 30: The Black Crowes
Vol. 31: Ne-Yo
Vol. 32: Blink-182
Vol. 33: One Direction
Vol. 34: Kelly Clarkson
Vol. 35: The B-52's
Vol. 36: Ludacris
Vol. 37: They Might Be Giants
Vol. 38: T-Pain
Vol. 39: Snoop Dogg
Vol. 40: Ciara
Vol. 41: Creedence Clearwater Revival
Vol. 42: Dwight Yoakam
Vol. 43: Demi Lovato
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