Prince had a couple of other musical ventures outside himself even before he broke out. One of them was masterminding a group of proteges such as Vanity 6 and The Time in the early 80’s. And the other was a burgeoning interest in writing/producing outside his camp. The latter actually occurred even before his commercial breakthrough. Many of these songs showcased more pop oriented flavors then the funk and exploratory jazz/rock excursions he’d later go on. One thing about these songs is that generally,he hadn’t already released these songs on himself yet. There was one major exception.
Prince’s first two albums,released in 1978 and 79,had unique musical flavors of their very own. His self titled sophomore album was by far more pop oriented-with carefully crafted song structures that could easily translate to radio play. Prince knew this very well-even referring to the album as contrived later on. Still there was one song on it that became his first to be more famous as by other artists. The Pointer Sisters first did it more verbatim in 1982. Two years later,Chaka Khan and Melle Mel completely restructured it for her blockbuster solo hit. The name of this song was “I Feel For You”.
A drum roll kicks into the stomping yet simple 4/4 beat that defines most of the song. On top of this,Prince plays a thick polyphonic synth brass melody. A break leads it right into the refrain,which features a function popping bass line with round washes of synthesizer backing up Prince’s vocal lead. Just before the chorus comes in,Prince is accompanied by more synth brass-with it becoming totally call and response on the choruses. There’s a bridge where Prince is playing synthesizer like a muted trumpet. The drum breaks off into a snare heavy hit with hard synth brass accents before returning to the chorus to fade out.
As with a lot of Prince’s early work,this song is deceptively simple. Upon listening to his original version of it so many times, a degree of complex presentation reveals itself in this songs stripped down production. For one thing,this is a wonderful showcase for Prince’s synthesized horn sound that became his signature. He not only plays the horn charts right on the meter,but he also manages to get some of the calls and vibratos of horn solos as well. On each one,the melody is always very singable and the rhythm is righteous. Personally speaking,its one of the three songs on this 1979 album that I love the most.