On this 1980 tour de force, Prince produced the template for most of his '80s albums: a mixture of lust and longing, synth pop combined with gut bucket rock and roll. Although this was his third CD, Dirty Mind was the one that truly established "When You Were Mine," which still ranks as one of his best songs, ever. The gender- and race-bending Dirty Mind was nasty and freaky--and you could dance to it. Still can. --Amy Linden
Review by Stephen Thomas Erlewine
Neither For You nor Prince was adequate preparation for the full-blown masterpiece of Prince's third album, Dirty Mind. Recorded in his home studio, with Prince playing nearly every instrument, Dirty Mind is a stunning, audacious amalgam of funk, new wave, R&B, and pop, fueled by grinningly salacious sex and the desire to shock. Where other pop musicians suggested sex in lewd double-entendres, Prince left nothing to hide -- before its release, no other rock or funk record was ever quite as explicit as Dirty Mind, with its gleeful tales of oral sex, threesomes, and even incest. Certainly, it opened the doors for countless sexually explicit albums, but to reduce its impact to mere profanity is too reductive -- the music of Dirty Mind is as shocking as its graphic language, bending styles and breaking rules with little regard for fixed genres. Basing the album on a harder, rock-oriented beat more than before, Prince tries everything -- there's pure new wave pop ("When You Were Mine"), soulful crooning ("Gotta Broken Heart Again"), robotic funk ("Dirty Mind"), rock & roll ("Sister"), sultry funk ("Head," "Do It All Night"), and relentless dance jams ("Uptown," "Partyup"), all in the space of half an hour. It's a breathtaking, visionary album, and its fusion of synthesizers, rock rhythms, and funk set the style for much of the urban soul and funk of the early '80s.