Exploring Discographies – Prince – For You (1978)

In “Exploring Discographies” we (albeit, slowly) go through the discographies of various artists and analyze the musical evolution of their music and identity throughout the years. The goal is to really understand the story of each artist, and give my opinion on the nature and potential appeal of the music.

1978 Prince – For You

An often overlooked masterpiece in funk, soul, and even early Rock Crossover sound that Prince would really take in full stride by the next 2 albums. Every time I come back to “For You”, I find myself excited to re-hear pretty much every song on the album. The songs are incredibly concise, quirky, emotional, and I usually can’t help but want to dance (and I typically hate dancing) to almost all of them. Prince’s vocals alone gives the music it’s distinct sound (a particularly distinct falsetto dominates, but is not the ONLY style prince uses) – all the while the musical production feels incredibly detailed, being pleasantly soaking in a variety of both soft and warm synths, funk and normal guitar, and bass. Prince, supposedly, performed most – if not all – the instrumentation on this album, and it only makes the experience that much more interesting and satisfying.

This album works incredibly well as a “Day 1” in the musical journey of Prince, as it very telling of the musical influences and overall style that he would explore later. The funk sound is quite overwhelming on this album (as it is, to some degree, in all his music) – and as someone who is really infatuated with that sound, this album manages to be both catchy, and incredibly unique. Prince’s little touches in the production and instrumentation really keep his music distinguishable from other funk acts during, before, and after the time of this album. There is detail, subtlety, and the few instances where guitar solos pop up, like in “My Love Is Forever” and “For You”, keep you yearning for more.

One aspect of Prince’s early music (and most music at that time, anyway, due to the nature of vinyl) is that his projects are short – and every song is very much unique, and memorable. This allows the listener to really get absorbed in the atmosphere that prince creates, and not feel tired or bored quickly; rather, I almost always want to listen through a second or third time – especially to my favorites.

Prince gives you plenty of dancey, almost disco-y tracks like the latter half of “Soft and Wet”, “Just As Long As We Are Together”, and  “My Love Is Forever”. He brings you soft balads, like “Crazy You”, “
So Blue” and “Baby” (all of which are actually amazing, to my surprise) and then at the very end of the album, he then goes Guitar God and drops “I’m Yours”, which is in my own personal top 10 favorite songs. Prince seems to realize that he’s onto something here – combining the guitar ferocity of almost hair-metal rock music, yet still making an overall funk song. Prince will later explore the reversal of this, making rock music that has a funk influence; something we will see in full force as soon as the very next album after this.

This album isn’t for everyone – while it was both ahead of it’s time in a few little ways, it is a Funky-slightly disco, album from 1978, so most kids nowadays (unless they are cool, and liked Gambino’s newest project, and are into the neo-soul movement) are going to potentially find the music rather lacking in a punch… Though I would personally say this album holds up incredibly well, when you give it a serious chance and compare it to other music today. There is plenty of depth yet fullness to he music, that makes this album perfect for plenty of occasions and settings. I can keep coming back and rediscovering something new about the music I didn’t notice before. New listeners may have trouble adjusting to the older style sounds from that period, but give it a few rotations – and you might just start to understand what I’m talking about.