I usually don’t do this kind of “top 20” things, but it’s Saturday and I need to chill out from the stress of the week, so I’m gonna listen to Prince’s discography for the billionth time and choose his very best guitar licks, riffs and solos (in my opinion). Mind you, this list is not meant to say “this riff/song is better than that one” but it’s just a collection of great music he did.
20. I always loved the intro of “When Doves Cry“, a distorted, exotic sounding guitar plays that short, misterious, flourished melody (it’s based on a scale called harmonic minor) to introduce one of his most beautiful songs, where the crescendo of emotions brings to the passionate, blues rock solo towards the end of the song.
19. Anna Stesia : this song features short, distorted licks all thru the song, starting funk-rock and getting more and more energic, as to balance the melancholy, and create a feeling of urban “afternoon disco club”: it’s a magical crescendo of guitar licks in a style very passionate, rock-ish, even shredding…
18. Why You Wanna Treat Me So Bad: all the song has got amazing, precise parts of guitar, played with that unique touch, doubled with a harmony of thirds. Their sound is rock-oriented and creates a beautiful texture with the keyboards and the rhythmic section. The atmosphere is optimistic, uplifting, positive all thru’ the song. The final solo is pure magic: think of Hendrix meets Van Halen, but with a personal style.
17. Little Red Corvette: although the song is created around the keyboard pads and a groovey LinnDrum, it’s got bluesy rock licks-very simple but played with a great feeling that create a cool texture with the electronic sounds.
16. Computer Blue: A great, innovative sound in the first part of the song(with some effects probably a chorus/flanger or something similar)- a fast, nervous rock solo (in thee video played by Wendy, that is meant to create a separation with the second part of the song, where he plays that neo classical, romantic and dreamy melody that ends in another key. Ah there’s a wha wha riff after that, as well , plus some messy noises at the end,,,wow I noticed them only now, aftter 30 yrs…
15. Kiss : that James Brown-like funky riff is one of his trademarks, plus there’s the solo with wha wha effect (in the video we see Wendy but I’m not sure who played it) other funky licks here and there…a classic
14-Alphabet Street: A funky guitar, played in a loose way, not too nervous, more like the RnB guitarists of the 60s, with that chords sequence in major key that ends in the same chord but minor (7) typical of funky music of the 70s- plus a lot of rock licks and solos that add an extra spice to the track.
13. Glam Slam: the intro is very psichedelic with an exotic mood and mysterious, eastern-influenced melodies. Later in the song, he plays several licks (or “fills”) in a loose, relaxed feel, focusing on high notes.
12. Money Don’t Matter Tonight: I totally love the chord sequence of this classic song, jazzy and loungey, with a melancholy feel. For music/guitar students, it can be interesting to analyze the chords, they are built on a modal scale (Phrygian) in C# key, but what is cool is that the third chord (Em7) functions as a passage to return to the second (D7+) and here is where the cycle seems to end, but then again, the cycle starts on the first chord (C#minor)- I don’t know if I explained it well- I should write a blog about music theory…and its magic wonders !
11. Purple Rain : This classic masterpiece starts with that sequence of chords that is now part of modern culture: A, F#m11 , E and D…played wih a clean (with a chorus, possibly) sound and mostly stummed (with a basic rythmic ballad groove)- The song has got a crescendo of passion, and it reaches its climax with the guitar solo, which is one of Prince’s best moments and a little masterpiece of feeling and melody.