Prince “Controversy”


Today’s Cool Album of the Day (#629 in the Series) is Prince, Controversy

I have wanted to do a piece on one of these early Prince albums for a while now. In fact I started doing Dirty Mind a while ago and decided to do an about-face and present a piece on Controversy instead. We’ll get to Dirty Mind someday as I consider that also one of his best, but today it’s Controversy.

Controversy was released in 1981 just a year after the previously mentioned Dirty Mind. Did have some controversial pieces in it? You could say somewhat, but there is nothing totally outrageous here in my opinion. He takes a look at social protest in three tracks, the title cut plus “Annie Christian” and “Ronnie, Talk to Russia.” This might be about as controversial as it got, which wasn’t all that bad.

U can go 2 the zoo but they can’t feed guerillas / Can’t feed guerillas left-wing guerillas / Go 2 the zoo but don’t feed guerillas / Who wanna blow up the world


Ronnie if U’re dead before I get 2 meet ya / Before I get 2 meet ya before I get 2 meet ya / Ronnie if U’re dead before I get 2 meet ya / Don’t say I didn’t warn ya

Taking a subject like social protest may be controversial to some, but in rock ‘n roll? I think it’s not only not controversial but often expected.

Maybe some people would look at the songs that have his usual sexual overtone as being controversial but not in rock ‘n roll? I think it’s not only not controversial but often expected once again. Give a listen to some of the songs here such as “Do Me, Baby,” “Sexuality” and of course “Jack U Off.” “Do Me, Baby” was an incredibly soulful ballad that included some of Prince’s best vocal work.

This album saw Prince begin to show more of his rock ‘n roll side. He combines it quite often with good funk in a way that often pleased both sides.

Controversy peaked at #21 on the Billboard Top 200 Album chart. It was his highest charting album to that point, Dirty Mind made it only as high as # 45. The big hitters would soon come as the next release was of course 1999. That album and its follow-up Purple Rain turned Prince into a mega-superstar.

— Larry Carta 

Track Listing

All tracks composed and arranged by Prince

Side one

  1. “Controversy” – 7:15
  2. “Sexuality” – 4:21
  3. “Do Me, Baby” – 7:43

Side two

  1. “Private Joy” – 4:29
  2. “Ronnie, Talk to Russia” – 1:58
  3. “Let’s Work” – 3:54
  4. “Annie Christian” – 4:22
  5. “Jack U Off” – 3:09


  • Prince – vocals, guitar, bass, keyboards, drums
  • Bobby Z. – drums on “Jack U Off”
  • Brown Mark – bass guitar on “Let’s Work”
  • Lisa Coleman – backing vocals, keyboards on “Jack U Off”
  • Dr. Fink – keyboards on “Jack U Off”
  • Dez Dickerson – lead guitar


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Posted by Larry Carta

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