As I grow older, I continue to notice that most things, if not all, are cyclical, and that history tends to repeat itself. Also, South Park is 100% correct in pointing out, with maturity comes cynicism, and Jameson. The stock market crashes in the 1920’s, 1980′s and of course 2008. Countless empires refusing to learn from their predecessors and growing too large for their own good. Musically, artists and genres have always borrowed gimmicks laid out by previous generations. Imitation is not only the highest form of flattery, it’s also a key element in the creative process. Lady Gaga immediately comes to mind in this aspect, who is constantly praised for her ‘originality’ but I can’t help but wonder, “haven’t we seen this from the likes of David Bowie, Elton John, and Madonna before?” The resurgence of EDM, most particularly House music, smells a lot Disco from the 70′s. How long until ravers proclaim Rock & Roll as dead, again?
Like I said, cynicism.
One name that continues to stand the tests of time and is known, sometimes literally, as a symbol of creativity, is Prince. (He is going by Prince again, right?) 1999 is the quintessential party album and should undergo a thorough defrost before any festivity. The title and opening track, declares, “I don’t wanna die / I’d rather dance my life away!” And dance you will, my friends, setting the tone for the remainder of the record. In fact, with a first-disc lineup of “1999” “Little Red Corvette” “Let’s Pretend We’re Married” “Delirious” and “D.S.M.R.” side one of 1999 can hold it’s own against any disc one (sides 1&2) you might suggest. With exception to a certain group from Liverpool, but that goes without saying. If this album doesn’t get everyone at your house to start shaking their ass, you need new friends. Elements of funk, rock & roll, pop, and sex are blended perfectly throughout this masterpiece. With a recipe like that, it’s pretty hard to miss.
Disc-two (sides 3&4) of 1999 gets far less love than it’s counter-part, and perhaps rightfully so. It’s a little known fact that these two discs were actually sold separately in some countries, like Brazil, as 1999 I and 1999 II. This album is unquestionably front-loaded, but the back half still has a lot to offer. In a recent Rolling Stone Play-list piece, ?uestlove from The Roots assembled a Prince playlist where he offered this advice, “Prince’s hits are like a red carpet that he lays out to lead you to the good stuff.” The synth-heavy, funktastic “Lady Cab Driver” may serve as the best example. Never forget about sides three and four.
Purple Rain might be The Artist Formerly Known As’ most memorable record, but 1999 definitely put him on the map. His presence may never be repeated, but this record undoubtedly will. There is only one Purple Yoda, and I’m still partying like it’s 1999.