OK, so I skimmed the surface of this last week, but PRINCE IS ON SPOTIFY and that has radically changed my playlist-making approach. So we've got seven, count 'em, seven songs from The Purple One to entertain you this week, plus some other people for whom Ps figure prominently.
  1. Prince & the Revolution, "When Doves Cry"
    The great thing about having Prince's "classic albums," as Spotify has termed it, on the service is: no radio or single edits. These are the pure, unaltered originals in full. So we get the complete jam session that is the last two or so minutes of "When Doves Cry," admittedly one of the first Prince songs I really got into because we used it as a warmup in dance class when I was a kid.
  2. Robert Plant, "In The Mood"
    I don't know, it's not his biggest-selling hit, but "In The Mood" is the song I most identify with Plant's solo career (excepting the Honeydrippers). This also might be something only I hear, but there are a lot of musical parallels with this song in one that came a few years later, Simple Minds' "Alive And Kicking." And, something I bet you didn't know: Phil Collins plays the drums on this track.
  3. Poco, "Call It Love"
    A "comeback" of sorts, "Call It Love" became Poco's biggest hit in 10 years, and second-biggest ever behind the acoustic gem "Crazy Love," upon its 1989 release. Rusty Young, the only consistent member of the band since its 1968 inception, handles lead vocals here, and in an original-lineup reunion, Randy Meisner (who'd been replaced in both Poco and the Eagles by Timothy B. Schmit), returns to play bass.
  4. Steve Perry, "Oh Sherrie"
    On the short list (topped of course by Whitney's "I Will Always Love You") of the greatest a cappella intros in pop music. Perry's wailing "you shoulda been gone!" announced to the world that he was ready to be taken seriously as a solo artist outside of Journey. This was the pinnacle of that endeavor, though one follow-up single, the drum machine ballad "Foolish Heart," became an AC radio standard.
  5. Prince, "I Wanna Be Your Lover"
    Prince's very first hit, off his 1979 self-titled LP (already his second major-label album at age 21). This one also brings the jam -- all instruments played by the man himself, natch -- as the album version, heard on my Spotify list, is about double the length of the single, and what's cut entirely instrumental. As a vocalist myself, this makes me want to hone my falsetto range a little bit more. OK, a lot more.
  6. Patti LaBelle & Michael McDonald, "On My Own"
    You're wondering about this. Why am I alphabetizing by first name here rather than last? I always do it that way for duets, which in many cases are one-off collaborations that actually have little to do with either artist's solo work. That's not necessarily the case with "On My Own," which did appear on a Patti LaBelle studio album, but that's where the P comes in. Written by Burt Bacharach and Carole Bayer Sager, it was cut first by Dionne Warwick but her take went unreleased.
  7. Tom Petty, "I Won't Back Down"
    I am surprised at the mixed reactions I've gotten from friends over the years to Full Moon Fever. Sure, it doesn't sound like prime Heartbreakers, but that was the point. As a commercial statement, the album made more money for Petty than anything that'd come before, and one of its strengths is that its filler is as good as the major singles like this one. You just don't like Jeff Lynne's production. Is that it?
  8. Pure Prairie League, "Let Me Love You Tonight"
    Yeah, the "Amie" guys! Actually, by single sales, this was a much bigger hit (#10 vs. #27) than "Amie." It even rocketed to #1 on the AC charts. I think that had something to do with the saxophone, played by David Sanborn. Or that people couldn't tell these fellas apart from Atlanta Rhythm Section. Or Climax Blues Band. Or insert-band-name-here. BUT! In retrospect they should have. The lead singer on "Let Me Love You Tonight" was then-band member Vince Gill.
  9. Prince & the Revolution, "Kiss"
    I go back and forth with this, but I'm pretty sure "Kiss" is my favorite Prince single. It's one of the first songs I can remember legally downloading, you know, with money. So there's an inherent respect for what Prince is doing here. I don't know what Under the Cherry Moon is and I don't particularly care; I'm aware that it's some kind of Prince movie that's not Purple Rain. Just gimme dat funk guitar.
  10. Pretty Poison, "Catch Me (I'm Falling)"
    Not a whole lot to say here except that, like Sly Fox's "Let's Go All The Way" last week, this is a song I should have been featuring many, many years ago. When it keeps popping up on '80s retrospectives and you don't have it, maybe you should catch up! Also, the song originally appeared in the 1987 film Hiding Out, which is your bizarre reminder that Jon Cryer, Two and a Half Men brave soldier that he is, was once an ancillary member of the Brat Pack. Time's a pain in the neck.
  11. Poison, "Nothin' But A Good Time"
    From Pretty Poison to just plain Poison, and it's this P-named band's representative this week because I couldn't ruin your day with "Every Rose Has Its Thorn" just yet. Actually, let's continue this little segue a step further. This always struck me as an Elton John song on steroids, kind of a "Bitch Is Back" with really muscular guitars, so...
  12. The Pointer Sisters, "I'm So Excited"
    There's been much spoken about the similarities of the keyboard work in "I'm So Excited" to another song of empowerment that dropped soon after: Elton's "I'm Still Standing." I don't think it was intentional; that was the era and this was the sound. Also, if you can listen to this song without picturing Jessie Spano freaking out, you and I are clearly not in the same age bracket.
  13. Prince, "1999"
    Kind of in a similar vein to Conan O'Brien's "In the Year 2000" bit that extended well past the year 2000, legendary Yankees center fielder Bernie Williams used "1999" as his walk-up music at Yankee Stadium for several years after 1999 had passed. In 1999, the current Phil Collins hit was "You'll Be In My Heart;" the Prince song with that year as the title directly influenced Phil's prior smash "Sussudio."
  14. Robert Palmer, "Discipline Of Love"
    Palmer was a heck of a singer and performer, and even though I like him better when he keeps his funk workouts on a short leash (give me "I Didn't Mean To Turn You On" all day), I can get down with this six-minute track from time to time. And yet --
  15. John Parr, "Naughty Naughty"
    There's a reason I put these back to back. Listen to the first couple of notes of each! Close cousins! Alright, so "Naughty Naughty" was a much bigger hit and came out first, but the resemblance is uncanny. I'm gonna find an excuse to put "Man In Motion" in a show soon. I thought it was gonna be last week's list. Then this week. Maybe next? Keep coming back.
  16. Philip Oakey & Giorgio Moroder, "Together In Electric Dreams"
    If you can't have a song from St. Elmo's Fire, one from...Electric Dreams?...is just as good? Seriously, you may not remember the movie, but at least this song has had some staying power. Disco pioneer Moroder teamed up with one of the 80s' most outstanding vocalists, the Human League's Phil Oakey, and the result was a minor synthpop miracle.
  17. Prince & the Revolution, "Take Me With U"
    Oh yeah, one of those "other" songs from Purple Rain! "Take Me With U" charted at #25 -- obviously no "When Doves Cry," but central to the concept in its own way. And even though the PR soundtrack was Prince's sixth album, this and the immediately-preceding single "I Would Die 4 U" were his first two major hits to feature his...unconventional spelling.
  18. Pink Floyd, "Comfortably Numb"
    Of course, if you're a big Floyd fan, you know like the back of your hand that The Wall came out in '79. I know that. But we're looking at chart peak here, and so "Comfortably Numb" (not to mention "Another Brick In The Wall") was still escalating when the 1980s dawned. And also of course, the point was to continue and carry the mellow psychedelia the band had perfected into a new decade. At least for a moment here, they succeeded.
  19. Pretenders, "Don't Get Me Wrong"
    This, not anything by Prince, was actually the first song I had in my head for this week's show. I really wanted to hear it! And every time I think "Back On The Chain Gang" is my favorite Pretenders song, then I think of this one. And then "Brass In Pocket." And then I get all confused. And then everything gets...kind of hazy. Where am I again?
  20. Pet Shop Boys feat. Dusty Springfield, "What Have I Done To Deserve This?"
    Dusty brought her one-of-a-kind voice to the synthpop groove of PSB, who'd made a smash a year prior to it with the stone-cold classic "West End Girls." I actually prefer that song, of their peak-period singles, but at least you can understand what Ms. Springfield is singing...unfortunately her lyrics on the full-length version of the Growing Pains theme song ("As Long As We Got Each Other") with B.J. Thomas, also from this era, were unintelligible.
  21. Prince & the Revolution, "Purple Rain"
    Why tinker with perfection by offering commentary?
  22. The Police, "Don't Stand So Close To Me '86"
    The story behind the rerecorded "Don't Stand" is well-known, but here it is again anyway. Stewart Copeland had been injured in a car accident, which temporarily prevented him from drumming when the Police reunited to cut a few new tracks. So he and Sting got into a row about which type of drum machine to use. The effect is something that's a little more sterilized than the original, but it's grown on me over the years.
  23. Mike Post feat. Larry Carlton, "Theme from Hill Street Blues"
    There is no question about it: Mike Post is the king of TV theme songs. And the smooth piano of the Hill Street Blues intro undercut the gritty, emotional core of the program itself. On the single release, which was actually a Top 10 pop hit, studio whiz Larry Carlton provides a memorable guitar solo. He'd later co-write the theme to another iconic piece of 1980s TV -- Who's the Boss?
  24. Gary Portnoy, "Where Everybody Knows Your Name"
    As long as we're doing TV themes, how about the full version of the song that opened episodes of Cheers for 11 years on NBC? This is the one with the expanded lyrics, about Mr. Coffee being dead and all that. Creepy. But Portnoy also was not done with television...a couple of years after Cheers' 1982 premiere, he was back at work penning the Leon Redbone-sung opening to Mr. Belvedere.
  25. Prince & the Revolution, "Let's Go Crazy"
    I very nearly named this week's list "Take Me Away!" as an homage to the frantically-screamed final plea of this second #1 hit from Purple Rain. So we've bookended with both of those. Dearly beloved...we will reconvene in this space next week!