Essential 90s Prince

Classic Pop presents its essential guide to Prince in the 90s…

The dawn of the 90s found Prince in a state of uncertainty. Batman had been a big success, yet it was unclear if that had been on the basis of it being a great album or because it was tied to a hugely successful comic-book franchise. He had just seen one of his old songs, Nothing Compares 2 U, become a global smash for Sinead O’Connor, but seemed unsure of his own next musical direction… However, 1991’s Diamonds And Pearls, credited to Prince & the New Power Generation, proved to be the sound of a re-energised Prince – a direct result of his new group and the new flavours they brought to his music. A highlight in his glittering crown.

Here we take a snapshot look at the decade which saw Prince celebrate some of his biggest worldwide hits:


 GETT OFF (UK Peak No.4, 1991)

Just as he had done for much of the material on the Graffiti Bridge album, Prince once again went into Paisley Park’s infamous vault to revisit an unfinished track and breathe new life into it. Gett Off started as a remix to Lovesexy’s Glam Slam, before it transformed into the track we know it as today. With his new band in place, Prince added a vocal by Rosie Gaines and a rap from Tony, whose “23 positions in a one night stand” became the song’s hook. Prince’s scream from the beginning of the song went on to be sampled on House Of Pain’s Jump Around.

CREAM (UK Peak No.15, 1991)

Cream was written with the NPG during 1990’s Nude Tour – Prince claimed that he had penned it while standing in front of mirror.  With its dirty bassline and playfully sexual lyrics – “You’ve got the horn so why don’t you blow it?” and “You’re filthy cute and baby you know it” – Cream was classic Prince. The song was released as an EP, with different variations of the song as opposed to straightforward remixes. It peaked at No. 15 in the UK but topped the US chart, giving him his final No. 1 single there.

SEXY MF (UK Peak No.4, 1992)

Sexy MF was a surprise hit given its provocative lyrics. It was released in the UK in June 1992 to coincide with the UK leg of his tour. The deep funk number only received airplay in a heavily-edited form that placed Prince’s trademark scream over the offending line. With an equally racy video that showed Prince in full playboy mode, Sexy MF affirmed Prince’s newfound braggadocio. Influenced heavily by what was happening in hip-hop, he did his own take on the guns, girls and bling culture. This included singing into a gun-shaped microphone, having Dynasty actress Troy Beyer play his love interest and draping himself entirely in gold, right down to his symbol pendant and a blinged-up cane.


Prince’s first single to be released following his name-change was an Al Green-inspired ballad that he had written as a gift for his girlfriend and future wife Mayte Garcia. Released independently on his own label as Prince was “enslaved” to Warners at that point, The Most Beautiful Girl In The World became Prince’s only UK No. 1 single. As it was released under his Symbol moniker and on his own label, it doesn’t appear on any of Prince’s hits compilations. During a row with a Warners executive, Prince was told that he didn’t have another hit in him. He wrote this the next day.

GOLD (UK Peak No.10, 1995)

One of the great lost tracks by Prince, Gold was a big hit on its release, reaching the Top 10 in the UK in 1995. Due to the circumstances surrounding its release – different name, label problems – it has been largely forgotten about. An anthemic soft-rock song with a chorus recorded live, it is little wonder that Prince referred to the song as “the new Purple Rain”. The song’s B-side was a riposte to Lenny Kravitz’s Rock And Roll Is Dead called Rock ’N’ Roll Is Alive (And It Lives In Minneapolis).



Having been dismissive of rap in the past, Prince embraced it with his first proper album of the 90s. Rapper Tony M as a permanent member of the New Power Generation, and he brought a new dimension to Prince’s music, as did powerhouse vocalist Rosie Gaines who delivers an incredible vocal on the gorgeously pompous title track. Other highlights were the gospel funk of Thunder the funky Daddy Pop. Diamonds And Pearls was close as Prince got to Prince & The Family Stone, and was his biggest selling album since Purple Rain.

LOVE SYMBOL (UK Peak No.1, 1992)

Although not nearly as big as its predecessor and lacking the big hits, as a body of work 1992’s Love Symbol is the stronger album, taking the ideas present on Diamonds AndPearls and delivering them in a more polished way. The appalling single choices rendered the album dead on arrival – Prince’s own fault for releasing the gimmicky My Name Is Prince over the record company’s preferred 7. There’s plenty to love here, however, especially the ballads. Well worth revisiting.


Released at the height of Prince’s name-change debacle, The Gold Experience undoubtedly bore the brunt of the madness and cost Prince what should have been one of his crowning glories. Standouts are the reincarnation-pondering Dolphin, the gorgeous Shhh, funk-filled P  Control, anthemic Gold plus Endorphinmachine, We March and the middle-finger-to-the-critics Billy Jack Bitch. Even the crisper, slightly remixed The Most Beautiful Girl In The World is improved in the context of the album. Long out of print,The Gold Experience is the hidden gem of Prince’s discography and well worth tracking down if you can find a copy.

EMANCIPATION (UK Peak No.18, 1996)

The latter half of the 90s was a confusing and an exhausting time to be a Prince fan. As well as the confusion over the name, the release schedule was all over the place. Although there is no doubt that there is a decent album within Emancipation, the task of sifting through three CDs’ worth of material to find it proved just too overwhelming for most. Far from the celebration Prince planned it to be, Emancipation was simply the best of a bad bunch of records released at that time.



After the disappointment of Graffiti Bridge, Prince was back to his raunchy best with Gett Off, a funk-filled fantasy set in a Caligula-inspired orgy. The video revealed Prince’s two new dancers, Diamond and Pearl as they were introduced to Prince and his perverse inner sanctum. Prince also filmed videos for the five remixes of Gett Off featured on the maxi-single and sold it as a video single due to a ban on MTV. That didn’t stop him recreating an even more outrageous version of the video live at the MTV Awards in 1991, for which he wore his infamous cheek-less trousers.

Watch it here


Photographer Randee St Nicholas played a huge role in Prince’s iconography in the 90s, particularly during the Diamonds And Pearls era, when her videos and images perfectly captured his “gangster glam”. Cream begins with a tongue-in-cheek skit in Grand Central Station in which scores of women are desperate to follow Prince to Minneapolis. Prince, with Diamond and Pearl in tow, escapes the hordes and delivers a blistering performance with the New Power Generation and a bevy of lingerie-clad dancers.

Watch it here


Essentially a video album of the Love Symbol LP, 3 Chains O’ Gold has a narrative of Princess Mayte’s father being murdered by assassins trying to obtain the precious 3 Chains O’ Gold. Believing only Prince can protect them, she goes to find him, only to fall in love with him. It’s every bit as bonkers as it sounds, but it’s beautifully shot, the music is great and Prince looks incredible in it. It was only ever released on VHS because of the financial disaster that Graffiti Bridge proved to be, but Prince wrote the album as a rock opera, and this is the
visual representation of that.


This song was released on his 1-800 NEW FUNK compilation, and featured vocals from his then-girlfriend Nona Gaye. The video for the song saw Nona, dressed in a red leather catsuit as a hitwoman deployed to get rid of Prince. When she gets to Prince, naturally she finds him irresistible and ends up succumbing to his charms. Instilling an anti-gun message, the video ends with Nona handing in her gun to the police as part of a ‘Guns For Tickets’ initiative.

Watch it here

In the mood for more Prince? Find out the story behind the making of Purple Rain