“All of this and more is for you. With love, sincerity and deepest care. My life with you I share.”
Prince is my favorite musician. Period. Prince and his music has been such an integral part of my life from the moment I first heard “Little Red Corvette” playing off my sister’s 45 in 1983 until his passing in 2016. So much so that he was the inspiration for my only tattoo (thus far). My plan is to discuss each one of Prince’s albums at some point and no better place to start than his debut.
I will admit that it took me awhile to warm up to “For You” in a manner that I didn’t have to with most of Prince’s peak 80s and early 90s material. I’ve had “For You” in my collection for many years but always dismissed it as lightweight and dated sounding. I spent the better part of a month really listening to this album over and over. Poring over the lyrics and getting the melodies stuck in my head. After careful reconsideration, “For You” is anything but lightweight.
At the time of its release, critics seemed to be more impressed by the wunderkind nature of the LP’s existence than of the music itself. As we all know, Prince was only 18-19 years old when he wrote and recorded “For You” and as it’s been highlighted numerous times over his illustrious career, the familiar words “Produced, arranged, composed and performed by Prince” made their debut on his debut, naturally. Prince was a self starter and a (young) man that knew what he wanted and what he needed to do to show everyone he could do it all.
“For You” begins with the short but beautiful self-titled opener. “For You” is a multi-tracked falsetto vocal credo that explained what Prince was about from the start. “All of this and more is for you.”
Track 2 is the upbeat, funky disco track, “In Love”. “In Love” is complete with Moog synthesizer and tells the standard “boy wants hard to obtain girl” story with a hint of desperation. “I really want to play in your river.”
Track 3 is the first single and most well known song of the album, “Soft & Wet”. “Soft & Wet” is a bouncy ode to sex, naturally. This is a topic Prince would revisit many times over his career. This is a clear standout from the album despite the relatively shallow lyrical content. “Your love is soft & wet.”
Track 4, “Crazy You”, is a very pretty acoustic guitar ballad with some odd synth noises that is much too short and slight to be as effective as it deserves to be. Gorgeous song nonetheless. “I’m just a crazy fool, lost in the world of love.”
Track 5, “Just As Long As We’re Together”, is a fun, technically adventurous disco romp that allowed Prince to make a radio friendly song while at the same time indulging his desire to jam out for the final 3 minutes of the track. “Oh baby, your place or mine? I’ll get the music, baby, you bring the wine.”
Track 6, “Baby”, is Prince’s ode to the consequences of young love that appears to be a simple slow jam on the surface but the lyrics indicate a deeper mixture of fear with commitment. Despite the lyrical content that went beyond simple puppy love, “Baby” is probably the weakest song on the album for me. “I don’t want to regret what I’ve done to you.”
Track 7, “My Love is Forever”, is a buoyant, joyful song that incorporates so much of what makes Prince songs so great. “My Love is Forever” has amazing guitar work, catchy synths and heartfelt lyrics. Yes, Prince was young but this song is beyond mature. “You don’t have to worry, you see, my love is forever.”
Track 8, “So Blue”, is a mostly acoustic guitar ballad similar to “Crazy You”. “So Blue” allowed Prince to show off his singer/songwriter chops as well as express his affinity for Joni Mitchell. “I guess I’ll just spend my life so, so blue.”
Track 9, “I’m Yours”, is the album finale is a jam in every sense of the word. Prince’s falsetto juxtaposed with funky hard rock guitar may have left some listeners scratching their heads back in 1978. The concept of R&B vocals with cock rock guitar licks wasn’t (and still isn’t) prevalent. What “I’m Yours” in essence did is serve notice that Prince wasn’t going to be pigeonholed as simply an R&B act. Duly noted! “Never have I ever made love before. Never have I wanted to till now.”
In summary, “For You” wins high marks with me in musicianship and technical aspect. It’s a heavily produced, R&B/Rock/Funk/Disco record that despite the genre jumping, really works as a cohesive album. The lyrics are probably the weakest part of the record as it was clear Prince still was finding his voice. Speaking of voice….holy cow. Prince’s vocals, primarily sung in falsetto for the entire album, are astonishing.
Top 5 reasons why “For You” is a must own album.
5. “My Love is Forever”
4. The jam at the end of “Just as Long as We’re Together” is epic
3. The guitar virtuosity throughout and especially at the end of “I’m Yours”
2. “Soft & Wet”
1. That fucking falsetto
My personal order of preference of “For You” tracks from favorite to least favorite.
- Soft & Wet 5/5
- My Love is Forever 4/5
- Just As Long As We’re Together 4/5
- I’m Yours 4/5
- Crazy You 3.5/5
- So Blue 3.5/5
- In Love 3/5
- Baby 3/5
- For You 3/5
Overall Score: 3.5/5