432: You

Unreleased (1979)
Prince’s first side project was The Rebels, a new-wave group consisting of Prince and his touring band who collaborated on and recorded an album’s worth of material in just twelve days. The sessions sound like a doodling pad for the Dirty Mind album (indeed he also worked on Head during this time) and birthed a couple of notable songs. If I Love You Tonight is pleasant and sturdy enough to later resurface as covers by Mayte and Mica Paris, as well as featuring on the 1-800-NEW-FUNK compilation. But the highlight for me is You. It’s one of four songs Prince wrote for the project and was later rerecorded by him in 1987, sounding like a blueprint for C+C Music Factory’s Gonna Make You Sweat. Out of the three iterations (Paula Abdul released a version in 1990 called U) the Rebels’ guitar-heavy version wins hands down. Hard rock riffs over a simple, pulsing synth line with punchy lyrics that unfortunately include a casual use of the word “rape”. Less troubling as later uses, due to it being a perverse compliment from a female protagonist, but still crass and unnecessary from a song that features only 44 unique words. But hey, it was never released (Paula Abdul understandably omitted that line) so it feels like wincing at somebody else’s private diary entry. This was never meant for your ears.