December 14, 1981 12:00 PM


About midway through the wickedly funky title cut—following the lines “Was it good for you, was I what you wanted me to be?”—Prince drops his falsetto and begins somberly reciting the Lord’s Prayer. Substituting “Con-tro-ver-sy!” for an “Amen,” he wails, “People call me rude/I wish we all were nude.” This is the kind of litmus test for listeners that Prince has made his trademark. Whether his lyrics will make you laugh, fume or smash the record depends more on your moral baggage than on Prince’s. (He doesn’t seem to have any.) Such lines as “Incest is everything it’s said to be,” on his Dirty Mind LP last year, turned critic against critic, as did his music, which grafts rock ‘n’ roll riffs and drive onto sexy funk. The credit, or blame, is all Prince’s: a serpentinely sensuous 21-year-old from Minneapolis, he plays all the instruments himself. Though mildly shocking (rock ‘n’ roll has always been about sex, after all) and divinely danceable in spots, Dirty Mind’ was neither as consistent nor as ground-breaking as critics said. The harder-rocking Controversy comes a lot closer to living up to those adjectives.

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