Controversy (Prince album)

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Controversy
Prince Controversy.jpg
Studio album by
ReleasedOctober 14, 1981
RecordedAugust 14–23, 1981[1]
StudioUptown, Sunset Sound, Hollywood Sound
Genre
Length37:15
LabelWarner Bros.
ProducerPrince
Prince chronology
Dirty Mind
(1980)
Controversy
(1981)
1999
(1982)
Singles from Controversy
  1. "Controversy"
    Released: September 2, 1981
  2. "Sexuality"
    Released: October 1981 (non-US single)
  3. "Let's Work"
    Released: January 6, 1982
  4. "Do Me, Baby"
    Released: July 16, 1982

Controversy is the fourth studio album by American recording artist Prince, released on October 14, 1981 by Warner Bros. Records. It was produced by Prince, written (with the exception of one track) by him, and he also performed most of the instruments on its recording.

Music and lyrics[edit]

Controversy opens with the title track, which raises questions that were being asked about Prince at the time, including his race and sexuality. The song "flirts with blasphemy" by including a chant of The Lord's Prayer. "Do Me, Baby" is an "extended bump-n-grind" ballad with explicitly sexual lyrics, and "Ronnie, Talk to Russia" is a politically charged plea to President Ronald Reagan. "Private Joy" is a bouncy bubblegum pop-funk tune, "showing off Prince's lighter side", followed by "Annie Christian", which lists historical events such as the murder of African-American children in Atlanta and the death of John Lennon. The album's final song, "Jack U Off", is a synthesized rockabilly-style track.[4]

This was the first of his albums to associate Prince with the color purple as well as the first to use sensational spelling in his song titles.

Critical reception[edit]

Professional ratings
Review scores
SourceRating
AllMusic3.5/5 stars[2]
Blender4/5 stars[5]
Chicago Sun-Times4/4 stars[6]
Entertainment WeeklyB+[7]
The Guardian4/5 stars[8]
Pitchfork9.0/10[9]
Rolling Stone4/5 stars[4]
The Rolling Stone Album Guide3.5/5 stars[10]
Spin Alternative Record Guide8/10[11]
The Village VoiceA−[12]

In a contemporary review for Rolling Stone magazine, music critic Stephen Holden wrote that "Prince's first three records were so erotically self-absorbed that they suggested the reveries of a licentious young libertine. On Controversy, that libertine proclaims unfettered sexuality as the fundamental condition of a new, more loving society than the bellicose, overtechnologized America of Ronald Reagan." He went on to say, "Despite all the contradictions and hyperbole in Prince's playboy philosophy, I still find his message refreshingly relevant."[4] Robert Christgau was less enthusiastic in a generally favorable review for The Village Voice, in which he wrote that its "socially conscious songs are catchy enough, but they spring from the mind of a rather confused young fellow, and while his politics get better when he sticks to his favorite subject, which is s-e-x, nothing here is as far-out and on-the-money as 'Head' or 'Sister' or the magnificent 'When You Were Mine.'"[12]

According to Blender magazine's Keith Harris, Controversy is "Prince's first attempt to get you to love him for his mind, not just his body", as it "refines the propulsive funk of previous albums and adds treatises on religion, work, nuclear war and Abscam."[5] Stephen Thomas Erlewine of AllMusic remarked that it "continues in the same vein of new wave-tinged funk on Dirty Mind, emphasizing Prince's fascination with synthesizers and synthesizing disparate pop music genres".[2]

Controversy was voted the eighth best album of the year in the 1981 Pazz & Jop, an annual critics poll run by The Village Voice.[13]

Track listing[edit]

All songs written by Prince, except where noted.

Side one
No.TitleWriter(s)Length
1."Controversy" 7:15
2."Sexuality" 4:21
3."Do Me, Baby"André Cymone7:43
Side two
No.TitleLength
4."Private Joy"4:29
5."Ronnie, Talk to Russia"1:58
6."Let's Work"3:54
7."Annie Christian"4:22
8."Jack U Off"3:09

Personnel[edit]

Adapted from the AllMusic credits.[14]

  • Prince – lead vocals, all other instruments, producer, arranger
  • Lisa Coleman – sitar, keyboards, backing vocals (on "Controversy", "Ronnie, Talk to Russia" and "Jack U Off"), keyboards ("Jack U Off")
  • Dr. Fink – keyboards ("Jack U Off")
  • Bobby Z. – drums ("Jack U Off")

Singles and Hot 100 chart placings[edit]

  1. "Controversy"
  2. "When You Were Mine"
  1. "Let's Work"
  2. "Ronnie, Talk to Russia"
  3. "Gotta Stop (Messin' About)" (US 12")
  1. "Do Me, Baby"
  2. "Private Joy"
  1. "Sexuality"
  2. "Controversy" (DEU, JAP)
  3. "I Wanna Be Your Lover" (AUS)

Charts[edit]

Weekly charts[edit]

Chart (1981) Peak
position
Australian Albums Chart[15] 55
Dutch Albums Chart[16] 50
US Billboard 200[17] 21
US Billboard Top R&B/Hip-Hop Albums[17] 3
Chart (2016) Peak
position
U.S. Billboard 200 55

Year-end charts[edit]

Chart (1982) Position
US Billboard Pop Albums 59

Certifications[edit]

Region Certification Certified units/Sales
United Kingdom (BPI)[18] Gold 100,000^
United States (RIAA)[19] Platinum 1,000,000^

*sales figures based on certification alone
^shipments figures based on certification alone

See also[edit]

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ "Prince - Discography for USA". www.discog.info. Retrieved October 30, 2017.
  2. ^ a b c Erlewine, Stephen Thomas. "Controversy – Prince". AllMusic. Retrieved September 15, 2011.
  3. ^ Eddy, Chuck (September 2010). "Essentials". Spin. 26 (8): 84.
  4. ^ a b c Holden, Stephen (January 21, 1982). "Prince: Controversy". Rolling Stone. New York (361). ISSN 0035-791X. Retrieved June 6, 2016.
  5. ^ a b Harris, Keith (June–July 2001). "Prince — Every Original CD Reviewed: Controversy". Blender. New York (1). Archived from the original on August 20, 2004. Retrieved April 8, 2017.
  6. ^ Keller, Martin (April 4, 1993). "A Prince Discography". Chicago Sun-Times. Retrieved April 8, 2017. (Subscription required (help)).
  7. ^ Browne, David (September 21, 1990). "Purple Products". Entertainment Weekly. New York (32). Retrieved August 6, 2011.
  8. ^ Price, Simon (April 22, 2016). "Prince: every album rated – and ranked". The Guardian. London. Retrieved April 25, 2016.
  9. ^ Brooks, Daphne (April 29, 2016). "Prince: Controversy". Pitchfork. Retrieved May 1, 2016.
  10. ^ Matos, Michaelangelo (2004). "Prince". In Brackett, Nathan; Hoard, Christian. The New Rolling Stone Album Guide. New York: Simon & Schuster. pp. 654–57. ISBN 0-7432-0169-8.
  11. ^ Weisbard, Eric; Marks, Craig, eds. (1995). "Prince". Spin Alternative Record Guide. New York: Vintage Books. ISBN 0-679-75574-8.
  12. ^ a b Christgau, Robert (November 30, 1981). "Consumer Guide". The Village Voice. New York. Retrieved November 1, 2014.
  13. ^ "The 1981 Pazz & Jop Critics Poll". The Village Voice. New York. February 1, 1982. Retrieved November 1, 2014.
  14. ^ "Controversy - Prince | Credits | AllMusic". AllMusic. Retrieved 22 November 2016.
  15. ^ Kent, David (1993). Australian Chart Book 1970–1992. St Ives, NSW: Australian Chart Book. ISBN 0-646-11917-6.
  16. ^ "Prince - Controversy".
  17. ^ a b "Allmusic: Controversy : Charts & Awards: Billboard Albums". allmusic.com. Retrieved April 2, 2014.
  18. ^ "British album certifications – Prince – Controversy". British Phonographic Industry. Retrieved April 2, 2014. Select albums in the Format field. Select Gold in the Certification field. Type Controversy in the "Search BPI Awards" field and then press Enter.
  19. ^ "American album certifications – Prince – Controversy". Recording Industry Association of America. Retrieved May 2, 2013. If necessary, click Advanced, then click Format, then select Album, then click SEARCH. 

References[edit]

  • Nathan Brackett, Christian Hoard (2004). The New Rolling Stone Album Guide: Completely Revised and Updated 4th Edition. Simon and Schuster. ISBN 0-7432-0169-8.

External links[edit]