Artist: Prince Title: The very best of Prince Year: 2000 Tracklist: I Wanna Be Your Lover (1979) 5:47 1999 (1982) 6:22 Little Red Corvette (1982) 4:58 When Doves Cry (1984) 5:52 Let's Go Crazy (1984) 4:39 Purple Rain (1984) 8:45 I Would Die 4 U (1984) 2:21 Raspberry Beret (1985) 3:31 Kiss (1986) 3:38 Sign O' The Times (1987) 5:02 U Got The Look (1987) 3:58 Alphabet St. (1988) 5:40 Thieves In The Temple (1990) 3:20 Gett Off (1991) 4:32 Cream (1991) 4:13 Diamonds And Pearls (1991) 4:46 Money Don't Matter 2 Night (1991) 4:47

Taken literally, this album's title is sure to cause endless arguments. Nothing from Dirty Mind, not a trace of the early anthem "Controversy," no "Erotic city"--no non-LP cuts at all, save some edited single versions--and a cold shoulder to the criminally out-of-print Gold Experience. Damn. As a compendium of 17 key A-sides from 1979 to 1992, however, The Very Best of Prince is (ahem) a quick-'n'-dirty review of the days when the Artist was, in the estimation of R.E.M. guitarist Peter Buck, one of the weirdest musicians in the Top 10. Blessed with both creative cunning and the wish to reach every listener possible, Prince revitalized rock and soul modes from the sex-crazed ("Little Red Corvette") to the cryptically spiritual ("Purple Rain"). Often he blurred lines between attitudes as surely as he did musical ones; the New Testament image of "Thieves in the Temple" became in his hands a complaint about a stolen girlfriend. Though a fine party artifact, this disc is still likely to prove too scanty even for many casual Prince fans. --Rickey Wright