SOTBMusic Retro Review: Prince's Self-Titled Album


Between 1978 and 1979, after the initial commercial "failure" of For You, Prince hopped back into the studio and began work of his second album. The self-titled affair, featuring a shirtless Prince staring off into the distance, featured a lot of the elements we came to know and love from Prince. It took the initial disco-esque coyness of For You, threw it out the window, and gave us more of that "sexy Prince" we came to know in the 1980s and beyond. However, it's still restrained in that regard, and feels a lot more synonymous with "traditional" R&B of the post-disco age.



Where the "sex" comes from on this album is the instrumentation versus just the vocals. Let's take into consideration the first track, "I Wanna Be Your Lover." 



Yes, the song lets us know that Prince wants to be his subject's everything, their "mother and [their] sister too," and wants the only one [they] come for. Yes, the song is about being someone's lover and even borders on Dom/sub territory for a very brief second. For me, though, the real sexiness is in the instrumentation.

It's funky in the beginning, almost feeling like a continuation of For You's vibes. However, it then breaks down to smooth R&B then back to an intergalactic funk. This funk implores you to grind up on someone, whisper in their ear "let's get out of here," and proceed to do the nasty. Those vibes are replicated in the (albeit simplistic) video of the track.

Sexiness of the first track aside, the instrumentation on this track takes a co-pilot seat on this album even more than it did on For You. But, as mentioned, there's still something missing here. With all the genre-blending that Prince does here, with all the proto-raw sexual energy, with all the "Sexy Dancer" vibes, there's still something that's lacking. It's probably that, while less restrained than For You, it still feels somewhat pedestrian, by Prince standards.


If we judge it without taking into account that it's a Prince album, it's pure dope in a handbag. The mix between funk, post-disco, and rock play well with each other and produce an album that's a must-hear from this era. The songs are catchy, but still "impactful." And it's spawned some classic songs, such as the aforementioned "Dancer," and "Lover." "When We're Dancing Close and Slow" is a straight-up pantywetter because of its Quiet Storm-meets-Prince energy. Plus, "I Feel For You" is done here in a way that's a bit more stripped down than the Chaka Khan version and feels a lot more earnest.

But, it's hard to remove the fact that it's a Prince album from it. "Pedestrian" or not, that's what makes it as epic as it is, even in its pedestrian state. We get to see the evolution of Prince on this album and it's a great segue into the raunchier stuff we got on, for instance, Dirty Mind. It's sexier than For You, but it leaves you wanting more. Overall, this album is the audio foreplay, in some ways, for Dirty Mind, in all ways.

If you're looking for a somewhat overlooked album from Prince's 1970s-1980s run (if you're not that into Prince's discography, that is), check it out. If you're looking to revisit Prince on his birthday before he went full Purple, check it out. If you want an album that's sweet and gentle at parts, but not full-on saccharin, check it out. Pretty much, any way you slice it, you've got to experience this one (either for the first time or again).

And that's before you get into the straight-up rock song "Bambi," but I can only give so much away without spoiling the whole album.

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