Frame of ‘Mind’
A look back at Prince’s Dirty Mind 30 years later
Published: October 14, 2010
Nonetheless, the album is stark and unabashedly sexual. “Head,” of course, is a paean to a blow job from a bride. More shockingly, “Sister” is about getting molested by an aggressive sibling … and kinda liking it. Even the songs that eschew blatant raunchiness for old-fashioned good times (“Partyup,” “Uptown”) have a kinetic sense of hormonal urgency to them.
Still, “sexual” doesn’t always equate to “sexy,” and Dirty Mind is simultaneously the most risqué and least arousing albums of Prince’s career. In just a couple of years, on 1999, he’d be belting out lines like “I sincerely wanna fuck the taste out of your mouth,” but by that point, he’d mastered the blend of playfulness and bravado that would mark his music throughout the ’80s. On Dirty Mind, he’s just an angry, horny kid with some pretty fucked-up ideas about women.
That youthful fury managed to get Prince pigeonholed as “punk funk” alongside, well, pretty much the only other member of the genre, Rick James. It wasn’t a categorization he approved of, but on Dirty Mind at least, it was accurate spiritually, if not sonically. In fact, the attitude of this “punk” album was what pushed Prince to continue to innovate and experiment throughout the ’80s, yielding a half-dozen classic albums that people will still be talking about in 50 years. Of them all though, Dirty Mind is the most important.
It may not be the most sophisticated, the most entertaining or the funkiest, but it’s by far the most indicative of the man’s bravery, iconoclasm and extremely high self-regard. Which pretty much means it’s the ultimate Prince album.
> Email Jason Ferguson