Think of him as the Picasso of pop. Recall that film of Picasso at work: just one curved river of a stroke on canvas and the artist's presence is unmistakable; a second's splash of Prince's keyboard whoopee cushioned against a syn-bass and a falsetto squeal provokes exactly the same instant recognition-- the master's line. Picasso had as acute a memory for images as Prince does for sound, both evoking predecessors and peers in grinning caricatures, more repo jobs than tributes. Both worked obsessively-- art as sex-- passing through periods that baffled followers: genius-craftsmen able to reassemble their convoluted insides externally, but without a shred of self-recognition.
The difference is that Prince is the Picasso of pop. That means the shapes he seizes on are partially public; he cannot just stay closeted in the studio. Matery here extends beyond comanding all the instuments, all the genres. It requires playing the publicity and audience games required for hit records, demonstrating musical and visual prowess in stadiums and night clubs, moving from music to music videos and musical films. Assuming the aura of reclusive celebrity and frustrated genius. Making a comeback. Ratifying it all with a box set. Working under a pseudonym, like Bowie.  Prince has done all of this, hurling himself into each public role of the pop celebrity, yet always as the arrogant, self-absorbed Picasso playing with form, not as a social actor. Sure, as Madonna's partner in the '80s deconstruction of the rock god, as a player in the fields of sex, race, sexuality, belief, and the meaning of the blues, Prince's pop had consequences. But ultimately, unlike most music in this blog, it will endure as something detached from context-- the master's line.
Dirty Minds is Prince's most stripped down tough and yet, simultaneously, most new wave album."Dirty Mind" is a pure drum-machine thud-thud-thud, with Cars synthesizers dancing around. "When You Were Mine" is perfection, so coiled in ideal rhythm chords you almost never notice what a lowslung guitar workout it is. His falsetto now a snake's tongue, outrageous porn fantasies like "Head" and "Sister" are pure cockmanship. "Partyup" sums this thirty minute vibrator ride up as " revolutionary rock and roll"; hah! Dirty Mind isn't that communal.


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