In concert, Uptown would be delivered as a final, audience-binding encore. The shows are remembered as a complete, carnal pot-pourri of mutated pop sexuality with a real edge of hunger. These kids from the middle of nowhere were making people sit up and show provincial weirdness some respect. Dirty Mind was a mission, a perverts crusade.
History eventually showed it to be an opportune time for such an irreverent cocktail of influences, though the new model Prince did not enjoy immediate widespread acceptance. It was a significant period in the evolution of pop culture, especially in Britain, where it had always been inordinately productive and intense. The nihilistic posturing of punk had burned out to reveal, quite logically, a knowing, ironic, wilfully lightweight, pop-art sensibility. Intense cults of androgynous vanity and pure fancy dress had emerged, ironically rehabilitating a long-standing affection in British youth cultures heart for dance-orientated music from black America. Soul was about to be hip.
But even with David Bowie and the Roffing Stones featuring heavily in its back catalogue, Britain offered only a luke-warm welcome to this bizarre night-creature in mirror shades, naughty knickers and woolly leg-warmers. His first album had not even been released in the UK, and his second had earned the serious attention of black-music papers only. For Dirty Mind, though, WEA (Warner/Elektra/Atlantic) made strenuous efforts to attract the serious weekly rock papers, at that time still a vital force in breaking new acts. According to one commentator close to the scene at the time, they even gave away free Prince-style flasher macs to journalists, the studs arranged on a panel that could be easily removed later on. One way or another, when Prince and his band visited Europe in June 1981, all three of the leading papers New Musical Express, Melody Maker and Sounds ran faintly bemused pieces in the then dominant style of gleeful irreverence. Was this man a prat? Posin Til Closin, said the headline in Sounds, taking the line from a vintage clubland soul hit by the English band Heatwave. Some Day Your Prince Will Come, countered Melody Maker the same week.
Prince planted some more disinformation . . . or was it? He said he had a jailbird brother; that hed seen a shrink as a child because he was obsessed with sex; that he was thinking of giving up making records altogether. He played his show at the Lyceum theatre to a rather thin audience many of them the recipients of complimentary tickets from the record company and went back home. Everyone noticed how strange and shy he was. He had started an on-off love affair with his British public that would continue for years to come. None the less, he had at least announced his presence to the international rock market. It all helped in the construction of a power base.
I had put myself in the hole with the first record, Prince said in a later interview with Robert Hilburn of the Los Angeles Times. I wanted