22 Apr 2016

Prince: 10 of the pop genius' best

1:57 pm on 22 April 2016

In an age of auto-tuned pop automatons it's hard to imagine there was a time when pop music could be surprising, sexy, funky and smart. Prince had it all.

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On stage Prince had few peers in the music industry. Photo: AFP/FILE

A guitarist of Hendrix-like dexterity, a songwriter to rank with pop's finest and a singer of subtlety and range - Prince could dance a bit too.

Tributes have quickly flooded in for the pop superstar who has died suddenly at his home, at the age of 57.

His 40-year career peaked commercially in the 1980s and early 1990s but he was producing music until the end and remained one of the biggest live draws in the world.

For all his genius in the studio, on stage Prince was peerless. His performing DNA went back to soul music giants Jackie Wilson, James Brown and Sly Stone.

In Prince - and this year's other big loss to music David Bowie - pop has lost two mercurial artists that managed that rarest of feats - combining genius with commercial success.

Here's a sample of Prince's best:

1 I Wanna Be Your Lover (1979)

His first big hit charting high in the US and the UK - he's arrived, his name is Prince and he is funky.

2 When Doves Cry (1984)

A huge hit from his Purple Rain album this is Prince at the pinnacle of his pop career.

3 Kiss (1986)

The choppy riffy guitar intro, the funky strut and suggestive falsetto vocal trade mark saucy-Prince, much covered, never bettered.

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Prince: Much covered, seldom bettered. Photo: AFP/FILE

4 Purple Rain (1984)

Still a radio staple thirty years after its release. There's much to love about this song, not least that guitar solo.

5 Sometimes it Snows in April (1986)

A tribute to a close friend's death, accoustic Prince in reflective mood, simple, beautiful and sad.

6 Controversy (1982)

From the early 80s, and very much of its time, Prince trademarks are all here, irresitable hook, tight, rolling funky backing. Here he is perfoming in 1982.

7 I would die 4 U (1984)

Another from the hit-laden Purple Rain, I Would Die 4 U shows Prince brimming with ideas - melodically inventive and one of his best vocals.

8 1999 (Party like it's 1999) (1982)

A turn of the millenium cliche but a Prince classic nevertheless from his 1982 album of the same name.

9 Cream (1991)

Prince at his libidinous best and very much pre-Jehovah's Witness mode.

10 Most Beautiful Girl In the World (1994)

Late period Prince and mid-90s smash, one his most-loved ballads.

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Prince in action in 1993 in Copehagen. Photo: AFP/FILE

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