75: Soft and Wet

For You (1978)
Prince’s debut album followed a template he used throughout his career, with clearly defined ballads, a rock track, and a sex song. While he needed little encouragement for the first two genres, the raunchy stuff had to be coaxed out by early producer, Chris Moon. This pre-For You collaborator had struck a deal with Prince, gifting him free studio-time in exchange for setting some of Moon’s lyrics to music. Moon worked in advertising and thought in terms of product (Prince) and audience (teenage girls). Packaging the product up with enough sexual suggestion to keep it on the right side of the radio censors became his marketing strategy, pinned on what he called his anchor song, Soft and Wet. Here he introduced the youngster to the double entendre, although somewhere along the way Moon’s lyrics referencing Angora fur and the Aegean Sea became “hey, lover, I got a sugarcane that I want to lose in you”. The Padawan was yet to master the art of innuendo. The music is less (soft and) wet behind its ears though and easily the album highlight. It became Prince’s first single, released on his 20th birthday – or his 18th birthday if you swallowed the record label propaganda – and is a funky, panting puppy eager to have its belly scratched. On the next album, he’ll push the envelope further, with the bolder, stripped-back Sexy Dancer out-heavy-breathing Soft and Wet in a similar way to how Bambi out-rocks I’m Yours. His technique may get better with age but there’ll always be something special about the first time.