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  1. #1
    Rocket Surgeon Swish's Avatar
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    Week 28: 50 Albums That Changed Music

    This is another obvious choice, and probably a good one, although I'm not much of a fan. There is not doubt in my mind that he influenced many that followed him in the latter part of the 80s. And the choice this week is Prince and the Revolution - Purple Rain (1984)

    Prince had been plugging away with limited success for several years when the man in the tiny pants reinvented himself as a purple-clad movie star. Like Michael Jackson, he felf that the way to gain crossover appeal was to run the musical gamut: in this case, from the minimalist funk of his earlier albums to the volume-at-11 rock of Jimi Hendrix. The title track is a monumental, fist-clenching rock ballad that, perversely, whetted our appetites for far worse examples by Christina Aguilera among others. Without this...no Janet Jackson, no Peaches, and certainly no Beck.

    Like I said, I'm sure there are countless others who were influenced by Prince, although Prince probably owes a lot to James Brown. What say you?

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  2. #2
    Suspended 3-LockBox's Avatar
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    I agree with your James Brown statement (I had mentioned this on the James Brown post).

    But Prince had already established himself with his real breakthrough album, 1999,a couple of years before; so I disagree with this rag's album selection, though the artist does merit mention.

    Yeah, Purple Rain was a big album, but hardly groundbreaking. And once again they vomit up another ridiculous "without this there'd be no ________". Janet Jackson was on a hit TV show and had the coattales of a famous family name to ride and absolutely did not need Prince. And "no Beck".....wtf ?

  3. #3
    Crackhead Extraordinaire Dusty Chalk's Avatar
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    Yeah -- at this point, Prince was pretty well established. Admittedly, it's arguably his best album, but not early enough in his career to be considered as influential. Janet Jackson had also established herself without need for Prince's trailblazing. Rhythm Nation -- one of her biggest albums -- came out before Purple Rain, IIRC.
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  4. #4
    Loving This kexodusc's Avatar
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    This might be the first selection I agree with since the NWA pick sometime last year - except I have to agree with the others, it's the wrong album!!

    Now I'm no authority on the subject by any means, but I've studied music in school, at home, listened to a ton, and like to think I know at least a tiny bit about it - please, someone step me through the 6 degrees of separation from Prince to Beck.

  5. #5
    Forum Regular MindGoneHaywire's Avatar
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    That reference is based on the song Debra & maybe one or two others on the Midnite Vultures album. Maybe a moment or two on Odelay, but for the most part this is absolutely not valid. Beck had three albums out prior to Odelay, none of which have much of anything that could reasonably be seen as a Prince influence. Dumb, dumb remark that's typical of the hipster straining throughout this piece.

    Debra was performed live on the Odelay tour, two years & two albums prior to it seeing the light of day on wax, but if someone can discern a Prince influence on Mellow Gold, Mutations, Sea Change, One Foot In The Grave, Sterepathetic Soulmanure, and probably one or two others, then I guess they're the only ones, and they all write for some British paper that provides them with employment that seems increasingly ludicrous given statements like this one.

    I don't like others.

  6. #6
    Close 'n PlayŽ user Troy's Avatar
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    So if Prince didn't influence these artists like Beck or Jackson, then who DID he influence? Did Prince REALLY "Change Music", or did he just make some slick 90s funk that was more influencee than influencer?

    I'm really flatline on Prince. I don't care either way, but I certainly don't see that he changed music or was lastingly influential in any way.

    Bad choice.

  7. #7
    Forum Regular BradH's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Troy
    I'm really flatline on Prince. I don't care either way, but I certainly don't see that he changed music or was lastingly influential in any way.
    He changed music for a while by sheer effort of writing big hits for everyone from Sheena Easton to the Bangles. But there weren't a lot of funk bands around to take up the banner or hardly anyone else who could be so eclectic like Sly Stone from an earlier era. Some artists took a page from Prince's book but couldn't copy the whole thing without it being too obvious. It's the same problem as the Kate Bush pick.

    Purple Rain was a great album and some artists are influential in subtle and complex ways but the Guardian could never hope to unravel those relationships with their ham-handed, idiotic ways. They suck as a newspaper anyway.

  8. #8
    Crackhead Extraordinaire Dusty Chalk's Avatar
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    Well, Trent Reznor cites him as an influence on his first album, so yes, he was an influence on at least one important artist.
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  9. #9
    Close 'n PlayŽ user Troy's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Dusty Chalk
    Well, Trent Reznor cites him as an influence on his first album, so yes, he was an influence on at least one important artist.
    Can you HEAR prince's influence in Reznor's music? I can't.

    Really, this is pointed at Brad too.

    If the influence is so subtle, how is that one of the top 50 albums that "Changed Music?" Surely there are 50 other albums that changed music more clearly and with a more lasting influence than Purple Rain.

    Has Sly Stone even been featured on the list yet?

  10. #10
    Forum Regular BarryL's Avatar
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    Prince

    I'm not a big Prince fan and have none of his records. I've heard his hits.

    But in an age of musical crap, along came this little guy who was absolutely committed to his music. He was a writer, multi-instrumentalist, producer, and just freaky enough to be interesting. He was the antithesis of Michael Jackson at the time. Yeah, MJ could dance and sing, but Quincy Jones did most of the work in the way that Todd Rundgren and Jim Steinman baked Meat Loaf.

    So, Prince was very influential only in that he established an artistic standard of excellence in an age of musical pomposity. He was someone that other artists could look up to and aspire to. But I'm not sure I ever saw much of a musical influence. Certainly not as much as Michael Jackson. Maybe there is some Prince in Terence Trent D'Arby.

  11. #11
    Suspended 3-LockBox's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Troy
    Surely there are 50 other albums that changed music more clearly and with a more lasting influence than Purple Rain.
    Prince's inclusion on this list isn't as dubious as a few others that have been included, but I agree that this album's lasting influence (or any other Prince album) is debatable. Prince was a mastermind at melding musical styles and cultures, but influencial?...if you count DeBarg, Ready For The World, Sheila E, or Prince's short lived Vanity 6/Appalonia 6 sexploitation projects, then you'd be correct in a way, but you'd be talking a very, very short span of time. Maybe as recent as Outkast to a small degree.

    As much as I liked Prince, I have to say that his core audience left him for rap sometime around the Batman soundtrack. Past the '80s, Prince just wasn't a relevant artist anymore, especially when you consider the unpronouncable name/symbol and/or the moniker Artist formerly known as...no one I can think of, in the so-called "African American music" scene is reminicent of Prince.

  12. #12
    Forum Regular BradH's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Troy
    If the influence is so subtle, how is that one of the top 50 albums that "Changed Music?"
    It's not. I didn't say it was. I said Purple Rain was a great album and if it was hugely influential then the Guardian failed to explain how and why. Again, much like the Kate Bush pick. Also, you can be influenced by someone and not actually sound like them. Sure, Trent Reznor may not sound like Prince but did Keith Levine of PiL actually sound like Steve Howe whom he considered his main influence? Frank Zappa, Tom Waits, Miles Davis and Eric Clapton all publicly stated they were huge Prince fans so, call me crazy, but it seems like his influence would also be strong among younger musicians and artists. I don't know who exactly (I'll bet Rae could've told us) but I'm bringing this up simply because "influence" works in more than just one way. If you were influenced by Prince it wouldn't be a good idea to copy that style exactly because it would be too obvious. Here's another example: you'd think Dave Gregory of XTC played an electric 12-string because of all that classic 60's pop-rock they were influenced by but, in fact, he bought his first 12-string after hearing "Awaken" by Yes. It was AFTER that when he went back and learned George Harrison's chords in those early Beatles songs. If I were a Guardian writer with a rotating head spewing mindless, feverish maxims at 20 rounds per second I would say, "No Yes means no English Settlement". But, in this case, it would actually be true. The point of all this is: Who'da thunk it? You never know. Well, sometimes you know but the Guardian never knows.

    Quote Originally Posted by Troy
    Has Sly Stone even been featured on the list yet?
    No, and don't think I haven't noticed that. But just you watch. If he's on the list they'll do something stupid like pick There's A Riot Goin' On even though it was after the impact of his first couple of years. Why? Because it often makes the "best of" list and it's "socially aware blah blah blah". Y'know, like he was just a more aggressive version of Marvin Gaye or something.

  13. #13
    Forum Regular MindGoneHaywire's Avatar
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    I wonder if this list would make more sense if they had been just a bit less clumsy & chose to point to noteworthy albums by artists that changed music, instead of ending up with a mighty forced piece.

    Maybe if someone else put it together.

    I don't like others.

  14. #14
    Crackhead Extraordinaire Dusty Chalk's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Troy
    Can you HEAR prince's influence in Reznor's music? I can't.
    Oh, c'mon -- it's most obvious on "Closer" (that song).

    And does it have to be a clone to be important? Maybe if you were a little more familiar with Prince's earliest work, it'd be a little bit more audible to you, just like all the Beatles influences on practically all of pop/rock music is audible to a big Beatles fan (not naming names).
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  15. #15
    Close 'n PlayŽ user Troy's Avatar
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    No, it doesn't have to be a clone, but it should sound similar in some way if it's to be considered directly influential.

    Take Brad's Deve Gregory / 12 string / Steve Howe / Awaken thing. The influence was that song made DG buy the 12 string. But did he end up playing like Howe? No. He ended up playing like the jangly 60s poprock he discovered after buying it. Which is the bigger, more important influence? It HAS TO be the one that he ended up sounding like.

    Believe me, I understand about artists being influenced by a million different things from a million different directions. But in a list of the top 50 albums EVER that changed music, subtlety should go out the window because there are surely 50 albums that changed music MUCH more obviously than Prince's influence on Trent Reznor. Gee maybe Yes's "Going for the One" will be next weeks album for it's influence on Dave Gregory!

    Regardless of how enjoyable or popular his music was, Prince's "Purple Rain" didn't "change music."

  16. #16
    Crackhead Extraordinaire Dusty Chalk's Avatar
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    Well, alright, Trent was a bad example. But Prince was still influential. I think we agree that it was a bad choice on the album, but disagree that it was a bad choice for the artist.
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  17. #17
    Loving This kexodusc's Avatar
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    Maybe Prince was the guy who got aspiring young rockers to wear eye-liner, foundation, and to cut the ass-cheeks out of their pants????

  18. #18
    Can a crooner get a gig? dean_martin's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by MindGoneHaywire
    That reference is based on the song Debra
    Yeah, that's the song that immediately came to mind when I read...BECK? But one song? Even so, I still think Beck was going for a 70s soul singer sound.

    Prince was probably the first artist I was aware of that was completely uninhibited with regard to sexual references in his lyrics. That was big for a 15 year-old in 1983. Plus, his radio hits made top 40 radio listenable. But he was doing this a year before Purple Rain came out.

  19. #19
    Forum Regular MindGoneHaywire's Avatar
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    Troy:

    >in a list of the top 50 albums EVER that changed music

    It would seem that that's the slant they put on it, but I think the actual title of the piece was 50 Albums That Changed Music, no more specific than that. I'm not disagreeing with how you're stating this, but I think they may have purposely left themselves some weasel room.


    Dean:

    >I still think Beck was going for a 70s soul singer sound.

    Between the falsetto & the lyrical content, that's Prince all the way. As a matter of fact, for a guy like Beck who wears his influences on his sleeve as blatantly as he does, I think Debra might be the single most derivative tune he's ever come up with. But Pinrce could've easily penned those lyrics, but that wouldn't have been as likely, I don't believe, of most 70s soul singers.

    I don't like others.

  20. #20
    Forum Regular nobody's Avatar
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    I'm a pretty big Prince fan, but to be honest I have mixed feelings about Purple Rain as an album. It just doesn't hold up over time the way much of his other work does. Maybe it just defined an era too well, but it sounds so strongly dated compred to some of his leaner early productions. And, I can see what people are saying that he really got big with 1999, which was where he really got going with blending rock into the funk and getting mainstream attention.

    But, I do think Prince was influential. He bore the torch for funk in the 80s and brought along bands like the Time. His lasting influence may not be as readily noticable, but I think that for the way he easily crossed and blended genres he was an inspirational figure for many.

    And, ya know, maybe I'm alone, but I can see his influence in the first Nine Inch Nails album. Pretty Hate Machine wasn't the harsh metallic noise fest many came to associate with induistrial in general and Nine Inch Nails specifically. Industrial music shared turntable space with house music and was strongly dance-oriented. That first Nine Inch Nails album is far more poppy and danceable than anythign he did following it. Songs like Ringfinger were synthetic and pretty poppy and dance beats underlined the whole album that also crossed genres and blended them together, something Prince specialized in throughout his career.

    Pretty Hate Machine was also much more melodic than anythign in Industrial music up until that point that I can recall and it was a big album for turning Industrial into music that could crossover into rock, something Prince did with funk. (although I may have to give Ministry's Land of Rape and Honey even more credit there as I knew tons of rock fans who loved that album - and were really confused when they tried to get something from the Ministry back catalog and heard the synth stuff that led up to the big change)

  21. #21
    Forum Regular BradH's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Troy
    Gee maybe Yes's "Going for the One" will be next weeks album for it's influence on Dave Gregory!
    Only if they could find a really stupid way to describe it.

    Look, the Guardian couldn't find its @ss with both hands and a flashlight. Some of these picks are really more about influential careers like James Brown or Kate Bush or Prince rather than just one album. I think Prince's career was probably more influential in a subtle, roundabout way instead of writing hits for freaking Vanity 6 or Tevin Campbell. That doesn't mean Purple Rain belongs in the 50 Albums That Changed Music. But I said that already, didn't I?

    I always liked Around The World In A Day more than Purple Rain anyway. And those earlier albums like Dirty Mind and Controversy are sorely overlooked.

  22. #22
    Can a crooner get a gig? dean_martin's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by MindGoneHaywire
    Dean:

    >I still think Beck was going for a 70s soul singer sound.

    Between the falsetto & the lyrical content, that's Prince all the way. As a matter of fact, for a guy like Beck who wears his influences on his sleeve as blatantly as he does, I think Debra might be the single most derivative tune he's ever come up with. But Pinrce could've easily penned those lyrics, but that wouldn't have been as likely, I don't believe, of most 70s soul singers.
    You're right on the mark. I was thinking along the lines of Marvin Gaye's erotic material, but Prince's influence is more apparent in Debra than Gaye's.

    HOWEVER, the self-deprecating humor of "step into my Hyundia" and "I step to you with a fresh pack of gum" are ALL Beck.

  23. #23
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    I think the whole influence question is misunderstood and overrated. On the one hand, "influential" is often just a tag that geeky white male music fans use to justify that some particular album is "important" despite the fact that no one bought it. Like "Oh yeah, The Crapbuckets were so influential and important in their seminal 1996 self-pressed debut, not like that silly Beyonce album that sold 2 gillion copies". Or, it's taken the way The Guardian takes it, to look for overt stylistic similarities or homages, or to claim that it somehow caused the artists that came after it. Or, it's used to justify the greatness of an album that should be able to stand up because of its inherent quality.

    As I see it, Prince's Purple Rain is worthy and great and important because it's just better than other albums. I mean, when Prince is screaming at the end of The Beautiful Ones "Do u want him?!? Or do you want me?!? 'Cause I got to know! . . . ." The passion in that song is just . . . . Let me put it this way: A person who would state that anything that, say, Coldplay has done could stand up to that, or to When Doves Cry, or to the opening of Let's Go Crazy -- well, in an important sense such a person would just be wrong. I don't mean objectively; you can't say anything like this is objective. But wrong in some important sense nonetheless. In other words, such an opinion would be worth taking a stand against. (Not to pick on Coldplay too much; I think they're a perfectly decent band.)

    The same thing comes to mind with an album like London's Calling. We geeky music fans have to consider how influential it might be. But the answer is it's just plain better than other albums, no matter who did or didn't copy from it. And it deserves to be defended on the merits, for its excellence, its passion and its breathtaking musical comprehensiveness.

    And if you want to come back to influence, then my view isn't too different from what BarryL said above in this thread. I think the album is influential because great, passionate music and artistic vision like Prince at his best had is just inspirational to other artists and spurs them on and causes them to demand more of themselves.

  24. #24
    Crackhead Extraordinaire Dusty Chalk's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by nobody
    And, ya know, maybe I'm alone, but I can see his influence in the first Nine Inch Nails album. Pretty Hate Machine wasn't the harsh metallic noise fest many came to associate with induistrial in general and Nine Inch Nails specifically. Industrial music shared turntable space with house music and was strongly dance-oriented. That first Nine Inch Nails album is far more poppy and danceable than anythign he did following it. Songs like Ringfinger were synthetic and pretty poppy and dance beats underlined the whole album that also crossed genres and blended them together, something Prince specialized in throughout his career.

    Pretty Hate Machine was also much more melodic than anythign in Industrial music up until that point that I can recall and it was a big album for turning Industrial into music that could crossover into rock, something Prince did with funk. (although I may have to give Ministry's Land of Rape and Honey even more credit there as I knew tons of rock fans who loved that album - and were really confused when they tried to get something from the Ministry back catalog and heard the synth stuff that led up to the big change)
    Thank you. And well said (much better said than I did, anyway).
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    Quote Originally Posted by stevef22
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