For You

Prince

Warner Brothers, 1978

REVIEW BY: Michael R. Smith

ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED: 04/20/2014

Prince low-key? His slinky R&B bad self, strutted through the door of the public consciousness back in 1978 with this relatively nondescript debut, For You. This was tame stuff compared to what Warner allowed him to do later in his career (The Black Album, anyone?). No, for now, Prince’s free speech, envelope pushing material would have to wait until he was firmly established as a musical force to be reckoned with. He could play virtually any instrument, produce his own albums and write his own songs. Honestly, he really didn’t need a backup band like the Revolution or the New Power Generation, though they did add a lot to his live performances later on. The masterpiece Purple Rain is a testament to that.

Prince was always destined to be the focal point. He had the voice and could dance his little tush off, even giving a nod to Mr. James Brown with his splits and sweaty adrenaline-fueled onstage workouts. Granted, Prince and Michael Jackson were clearly rivals from the get-go, with Jackson garnering most of the attention and adulation, especially when it came to awards. Is it any wonder Michael Jackson would go down in history as the King Of Pop, while Prince would have to settle for the lowly title of…Prince? You gotta wonder if this factored into his decision to change his name to an unpronounceable symbol in the ‘90s. The critics were fuming over that disastrous move, though it would take Prince a good long while to reconsider and change it back. The “Artist Formerly Known As” moniker was never going to stick. Prince was and is always going to be known as Prince.my_heart_sings_the_harmony_web_ad_alt_250

Releasing an album almost every year? It’s a practice virtually unheard of, especially these days (although Rihanna has tried it). Warner Bros. knew how to cater to its artists; many of whom had so much talent and charisma they only needed one name, like Madonna. With Prince’s career, he was granted total creative freedom. That’s how much they were banking on him. They didn’t have to figure out a way to package Prince, because he was already a full package deal.

On For You, Prince sports the traditional ‘70s afro and discofied falsetto. His vocal ability is front and center on the brief multi-tracked intro, leading into two funk numbers “In Love” and the hit standout single “Soft And Wet.” Some liquid keyboards give the ballad “Crazy You” an almost hypnotic feel, while “Just As Long As We’re Together” and the rocker “I’m Yours” are the extended dance jams that Prince clearly loves. If any numbers are glowing neon signs of things still to come from Prince, it’s those two. For “Baby” and “So Blue,” Prince coos his way into the hearts of any woman who would dare cross his path. Remember all those female protégés that he would go on to recruit as duet partners or whose careers he would help to launch: Sheila E., Apollonia, Sheena Easton, Mayte, Tamar, to name but a few? Yeah, he’s always been something a gigolo, but a creative genius like him tends to live in their own world and make up their own rules.

See that gleam in Prince’s eye in the cover photo? That, dear friends, is no accident. He was born for greatness and deserves to be in a league of his own. Almost enough to ask: Michael who?

Rating: B

User Rating: Not Yet Rated


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