Much as we love “Purple Rain,” we’d hate to see it become the one Prince song everybody starts covering—not when there are so many dozens of buried treasures in the purple vault. Keeping that in mind, this month we suggest a batch of Prince songs and some local artists we’d love to hear doing them. (We even managed to find a few of the original versions on YouTube, despite the artist’s efforts to keep all of his music offline.)
“Money Doesn’t Matter 2 Night”: This slinky, funky groove is one of the more New Orleans–sounding things Prince did—and thanks to the lyrical sentiments, we understand (secondhand, of course) that it got lots of play in Bourbon Street strip clubs. Would be perfect for double bass guitars—Dumpstaphunk, are you listening?
“Funknroll”: This is late-period Prince, from his last above-ground album, Art Official Age. True to its title, it’s hard and heavy funk, and though Prince sings it with a sped-up voice, this mighty groove really calls for a hard-charging band with a commanding lead singer. We’d suggest giving it to Glen David Andrews.
“Girls & Boys”: One of the great Prince dance numbers, this sports lots of percussion, male/female duet vocals, and parts are even sung in French. To these ears it’s got Sweet Crude written all over it.
“I Rock Therefore I Am”: Prince quietly released his rock ’n’ roll album, Chaos and Disorder, while at war with his label. It’s a kick, especially this track with a swampy groove, heavy riff and great shout-along lyrics. We’d love to hear Dash Rip Rock do it during one of their late-night sets.
“Forever in My Life”: The Prince catalogue is full of homages to classic soul; this track, which closed the double epic Sign O’ the Times, is one of the sweetest. To cover it you’d need a singer who could key into its invitation to a long-term relationship, and could work vocal magic with the word “forever.” Of course it goes to Aaron Neville.
“Jack U Off”: One of the first ways Prince got peoples’ attention was to mess with gender/sexual identity—something he downplayed over time, but this track proves he clearly had a hell of a time doing it. We’re betting that Big Freedia could do the perfect bounce update.
“Raspberry Beret”: Prince fell in love with ’60s sunshine pop on his 1985 album Around the World in a Day; this hit single was his homage to the love-filled sounds of that era. Who better to cover it in vinyl than Susan Cowsill?
“Condition of the Heart”: Also from Around the World in a Day—which, truth be told, is this writer’s favorite Prince album—comes his most beautiful song ever, a torch ballad to die for. Get the New Orleans Nightingales back together and let them all break our hearts with it.
“Two”: One of his more exotic projects was Madhouse, an alleged jazz quartet that was actually protégé Eric Leeds on sax and Prince on everything else. This upbeat groover of a tune (which like all Madhouse songs is numbered and not named) cries out for a real jazz quartet to take it on—sounds like a job for Astral Project.
“Darling Nikki”: The naughtiest of all Prince songs (and significantly, one in which both partners have a funky good time), this is the one the Moral Majority had the most problems with; Prince himself swore off performing it in later years. We thereby propose an annual holiday during which everyone who plays in town—male, female and otherwise—is obliged to close their sets with it.