One year has passed since the tragic death of the iconic funk and sex god, Prince. Here, writer Ben Greenman breaks down the top five pieces of art to have ever graced the cover a Prince album as the first installment in a series of three insightful lists. Scroll on for the rundown and hold tight for a full day of purple programming. Greenman’s new book ‘Dig If U Will The Picture’ is out now.
1. 1999 (1982)
Maybe his best album, and certainly his best cover, colorful, mysterious (no photo of the artist), rebellious, and with endless Easter eggs. Study it as you listen to the record
2. Around the World in a Day (1985)
It’s the other cover that rewards close study, and that words perfectly at LP size. See if you can count all the symbols of life and faith: the babies, the old women, the swimming pools, the ladders.
3. Sign O The Times (1987)
The album is a pyrotechnic display of everything that made Prince great: slamming funk, concise pop songs, mind-stretching gender bends. The cover is a perfect match: a mix of an urban nightlife district, a garden, an auto body-shop, and a soundstage.
4. Lovesexy (1988)
It’s a controversial pick. Jean-Baptiste Mondino photographed Prince naked on a flower, with visible stamen and pistil (the flower, not Prince). The album it represented was about God and love, sex and nature. The cover was a good fit. But was it a good experience? Opinions may differ.
5. “Breakfast Can Wait” single (2014)
Art Official Age, Prince’s last great record, included this wonderful single, which Prince illustrated with a picture of Dave Chappelle’s Prince character (from Charlie Murphy’s true story of playing basketball with the Purple One). Great inside joke, great song.