Ranking Prince‘s dozens of studio albums from worst to best presents quite an interesting series of challenges. After all, the Minneapolis-born genius has not only re-invented his own sound dramatically over the years, he’s helped change the course of pop music itself several times during his illustrious career.
How does one compare the bracingly raw sex tales of his 1980 triumph Dirty Mind to the genre-busting “rock meets punk funk” sound of Purple Rain, or the more lush, sophisticated experimentation of Parade? Well, arguing and voting is how we did it, and in the gallery above you’ll find each of Prince’s 33 studio efforts analyzed, ranked and ready for your feedback.
We left out live albums, a few jazz-themed instrumental efforts and compilations featuring both his massive collection of hits and newer songs released via his now-dormant internet-based NPG Music Club. So, no Chocolate Invasion, no Slaughterhouse and no Madhouse. But we included everything else from 1979’s For You right up to last year’s twin releases, PLECTRUMELECTRUM and Art Official Age, including a couple of Prince records disguised as New Power Generation albums. (Come to think of it, we probably could have included the first two albums by the Time, huh?)
So, check out our rankings of the worst and best Prince albums, and let us know how you would have lined them up in the comments section below. Oh and one thing to keep in mind: “worst” is a relative term here. Even the least of these collections feature moments most artists could only dream of achieving, and every single one of them has at least one brilliant song.