54: Bambi

Prince (1979)
If Prince’s Bambi was on the Disney+ channel it would be flagged with their warning: “may contain outdated cultural depictions”. Modern ears may find the song problematic and it’s not like the graphic last line was ever in taste, but it should all be taken in the context of the character Prince plays. Yet again he’s playing the role of a sexually-frustrated egomaniac thwarted by unattainable love. And if it’s good enough for Ellen, who asked him to perform it on her show in 2004, it’s good enough for me. Plus it helps that, to quote Dez Dickerson, Bambi is a “pure Hendrixian guitar-fest”. A fire hound of rock, without the glossy coat of I’m Yours but fulfilling the same basic function: a snarling tearing-to-pieces of the album’s pigeonhole-ification. Later, along with the ballad, he would bend and remodel the genre into something new. But here at the tail-end of the 70s he’s summoning up every teen moment spent listening to Jimi – every moment in front of a mirror, miming chopping down a mountain with the side of his hand – and ejecting it with the force of every Jimmy Page solo played at once. In live shows it became less a song, and more just an excuse to unleash the axe. His Rock and Roll Hall of Fame passport. The mid-90s live version on the Undertaker album is just a single withered verse/chorus amid a raging ocean of heavy metal shredding and we don’t get that often enough from Prince. We know he can sing and write so well, but sometimes you just want to hear him play the guitar like he’s ringing a bell. A bell to breach Jericho’s walls.