On the surface, Prince’s “Let’s Work” is a fun, funky, upbeat dance song from his stylistically all-over-the-place 1981 album, Controversy. He leaves the politics, religion, and nuclear fears behind for this particular party track that happens to be buried in the middle of Controversy’s Side B, sandwiched between two political tracks. Instead of all that negativity, Prince wants us to focus on the pleasures of the flesh. The pleasures of dancing to music. The pleasures of this longer 12″ “remix”! He makes pleasure sound so easy and effortless. The pied piper of funk wants us to join him, so we do.
Significant for being Prince’s first commercially available 12″ (previous 12″ releases were Promotional only copies) as well as containing his very first non-album track, the stellar B-side “Gotta Stop (Messin’ About)”. “Let’s Work’s” long version starts very similar to the album version we’re all familiar with. Prince, and what sounds like the rest of his band, yell out “Let’s Work!” while that instantly recognizable synth line and hand claps punctuate the title call. From there, we still get that same ass shaking, window rattling bass line before Prince begins singing the lyrics to the song that we all know and love.
“Nothing can stop us now, I’m gonna show you how. Show you how to work.”
“C’mon let’s have some fun, we’ll work til’ morning comes.”
So what makes this version of “Let’s Work” a “long version/dance remix”? For starters, some of the instrumental breaks extend longer than they do on the album version. This is an easy way to extend the length of a song, but that can only get you so far. A true remix must add something different or unique in order to be memorable. A new beat, a new set of lyrics, a new song structure. What the “Let’s Work” 12″ version adds is samples! And screaming!
Around the 5 minute mark of the 8 minute track, the song changes. Normally at this point, the song bleeds right into “Annie Christian” on the Controversy track listing. Instead of that transition, we get a continuation of the hand clap beat while Prince chants “work it”, “work it”, with frenzied intensity. This is followed by a new guitar riff, which was previously unheard in the song, another remix bonus. Prince continues to scream “work it” more intensely & desperately, over the sampled guitar feedback previously used at the end of “Private Joy” (sample #1), screaming after one final reading of the line.
This same new guitar riff continues on from here with new keyboard additions as Prince repeats “work it” before samples #2 and #3 of “Annie Christian” (“until you’re crucified”) and “Controversy” are abruptly added. At this point, Prince continues to slip in the occasional “work it” demand before a crowd can be heard cheering for good measure. This whirlwind of sounds, samples and chants all seems like a precursor to the sample heavy work that hip-hop would graduate to in the late ’80s, specifically that of The Bomb Squad (Public Enemy) and The Dust Brothers (Beastie Boys). This section of the dance remix is definitely what makes the song unique by adding new elements that haven’t been heard before.
The new synth and guitar lines introduced in the final section of the song continue on with the hand clap beat while Prince seemingly ad-libs additional lyrics about how and where he wants to “work” with his partner for the night until the song ends with a big atomic explosion sound effect, not unlike the sound at the end of “Ronnie, Talk to Russia”.
Credit for this remix goes to both Prince and Morris Day and according to Princevault.com, the two men exchanged drumming duties on the track. Top notch work and while this isn’t the best dance-extended remix of a Prince song out there, it certainly has its moments that elevate the song to new heights.
Overall Score: 4/5