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A chance recording that changed my life forever!
on 30 October 2003
1999 was the first Prince album I ever listened to. Back when I was around 11 years old I made a tape to listen to in the car whilst on holiday. On one side was Madonna's True Blue, the other was Prince's 1999. As I had only 45 minutes to play with some hasty editing had to be done: Automatic was shortened to about 3 and a half minutes; Lady Cab Driver was fortuitously edited to just before the moment when Prince repays his willing chauffeur (I'm not sure my parents would have approved!); I think Free may have been culled and Warner Bros UK helpfully decided not to even include DMSR on the original British CD release!
One week and around 10 hearings later, I, my parents and my brothers had become Prince fans. Over the course of the next five years I went out and bought just about everything there was to own for a Prince devotee.
So what was on the album that would influence just about every album I have brought ever since?
The title track is a classic even if familiarity has seen its shine wane a little. Thankfully the full-length album version is played seldomly enough for the final three minutes to be fresh.
Little Red Corvette was a catchy rock song about cars (I liked cars a lot, that appealed to me) until I became a few years older and realised what a Pocket full of horses / Trojan and some of them used, meant and then Little Red Corvette became a dirty catchy rock song (I liked dirty a lot, it appealed to me even more...)
Delirious featured the cutest catchiest high pitch synth melody and pacey beat which hooked me from the first listen. Again it seemed to be about cars, which I liked even more!
Let's Pretend We're Married seemed to be an innocent, but catchy, song about playing Mummies and Daddies. Thankfully the road noise whilst being driven on holiday drowned out Prince's wish list near the end of the song.
Then to be honest not much of the album appealed to me back then, with the exception of my personally edited Lady Cab Driver, which was yet another song about cars - fantastic!
Many years and countless playings later the album still ranks as one of my favourites.
The first five tracks, with the welcome addition of the fantastic DMSR rank amongst the best opening sequences to an album ever. Automatic, at 9 minutes is still too long for me but, is an interesting synth workout where Prince shows that he, at the time, was on the cutting edge of what was possible with the equipment of 1982. And with advancing age, one has learnt to appreciate the wonderful Something in the Water (Does Not Compute), the anthemic Free and the gloriously camp, tongue in cheek album finale International Lover. Even All the Critics Love U In New York appears to have improved with age.
This isn't my favourite Prince album - it is somewhere in the top five - but it will always have a special place in my heart as I can safely say that my life would not have been the same had I not heard it all those years ago.