Here’s a look at the legacy left by one of pop music’s most prolific recording artists. The following list of 37 albums is as complete as we can make it, omitting remixes, fan-club releases and all but one best-of.


⋆½ out of 4 stars

“For You”

The youngest producer in Warner Bros. history went for multilayered, lush, likable R&B, suggesting a Stevie Wonder wannabe.

Crowning cut: “Soft and Wet”




Having gone over budget on his debut, Prince showed he could make commercial R&B and funk filled with emotion and falsetto.

Crowning cut: “I Wanna Be Your Lover”



“Dirty Mind”

A bold breakthrough that’s raw in content (incest, oral sex) and sound, from new-wave rock to unrelenting dance jams.

Crowning cuts: “When You Were Mine,” “Party Up”




A somewhat experimental set, it pushes the sexual envelope to a sometimes trite point and doesn’t mind getting silly.

Crowning cuts: “Do Me Baby,” “Controversy”




This double-disc exploration of synthesizer funk is slyly sexy, uncontrollably funky and perfectly playful.

Crowning cuts: “Little Red Corvette,” “1999,” “Delirious”



“Purple Rain”

Playing with a full band for the first time, he rocks harder, becomes dreamier and leaves the funk behind.

Crowning cuts: “When Doves Cry,” “Purple Rain”



“Around the World in a Day”

Prince goes psychedelic in a multicolored collection with a few odd missteps (“The Ladder,” co-written with his dad).

Crowning cut: “Raspberry Beret”




His third album in 20 months is a dizzying pastiche of psychedelic pop, bare-bones funk and Hollywood-flavored soundtrack fare.

Crowning cuts: “Girls and Boys,” “Kiss”



“Sign o’ the Times”

The most perfect balance of everything Prince: grinding funk, catchy pop, anthemic rock, tender balladry.

Crowning cuts: “The Cross,” “U Got the Look,” “Housequake”



“The Black Album”

It was shelved at the last minute and not released until 1994, which led to rumors of greatness. They were half-true.

Crowning cut: “Cindy C.”




Initially dismissed, it has proved pivotal. He starts seeking love instead of sex, and peace to go with his religion, while cutting new sonic paths.

Crowning cut: “Alphabet Street”




This quickie sound­track includes a little funk, a slice of pop, a sappy Sheena Easton duet, an oversexed pant and a catchy collage with dialogue.

Crowning cuts: “Batdance,” “Scandalous”



“Graffiti Bridge”

This mostly funk-rock double disc explores the dichotomy of sensuality and spirituality, with the Time, Mavis Staples and George Clinton.

Crowning cuts: “Melody Cool,” “Shake”



“Diamonds & Pearls”

His most blatantly commercial album since “Prince,” it lacks innovation, excitement and emotion.

Crowning cuts: “Diamonds & Pearls,” “Cream,” “Gett Off”



(Symbol Album)

His most derivative disc, this glyph gaffe comes off as a PG-13, hip-hop sequel to “The Black Album.” But you sure can dance to it.

Crowning cuts: “My Name Is Prince,” “Sexy MF”



“The Hits 1 & 2/The B-Sides”

This 56-song collection is a testament to his range, inventiveness and boldness. But it was assembled by Warner Bros., so the choices are short on funk and rarities.



Released to fulfill his contract with Warner Bros., it’s a batch of forgettable songs whose one-word titles (“Orgasm,” “Loose!”) hint at the disinterest involved.



“The Gold Experience”

A computerized narrator takes us through his most fun and cohesive album since “Sign o’ the Times.”

Crowning cut: “The Most Beautiful Girl in the World”



“Girl 6”

This soundtrack for Spike Lee’s forgettable flick compiles some of Prince’s best between-the-sheets romps with a couple of new songs.

Crowning cut: “Screams of Passion”



“Chaos and Disorder”

His swan song on Warners is a slapped-together throwaway that sounds like mid-80s Prince. He hits his recorded nadir on “Into the Light” and “I Will.”




Both summarizing and advancing his career, this bedazzling three-disc set is his most mature and jazziest effort.

Crowning cuts: “Sex in the Summer,” “Holy River”



“Crystal Ball”

This four-disc compilation of outtakes and leftovers has its moments of funky fun, but it’s mostly for completists.

Crowning cuts: “Days of Wild,” “The Truth”



“New Power Soul”

Although credited to the New Power Generation, this jam-filled funk fest has Prince all over it.

Crowning cut: “The One”



“Rave Un2 the Joy Fantastic”

An all-star cast helped revive Santana’s career but not so much for Prince.

Crowning cuts: “The Greatest Romance Ever Sold,” “Tangerine”



“The Rainbow Children”

Though steeped in jazz and soul to great effect, the weird voice-overs and religious messages make it far too obtuse.

Crowning cut: “The Everlasting Now”



“One Nite Alone … Live”

This hugely rewarding three-CD set captures the brilliance and self-indulgence of a Prince concert.

Crowning cut: “Nothing Compares 2 U”




Four 15-minute instrumental jams with the “One Nite” band, it’s Prince’s version of background music.

Crowning cut: John Blackwell rhythm showcase “East”




A strikingly mature celebration of marriage and monogamy, this is Prince’s most focused and consistent album since “Lovesexy.”

Crowning cut: “A Million Days”




Like Prince’s last album with a four-digit title (“1999”), this is a party record with a throwback vibe.

Crowning cuts: “Black Sweat,” “Satisfied,” “Boat”



“Planet Earth”

Musically, this harks back to his mid-1980s psychedelic pop while signaling a renewed commitment to social commentary.

Crowning cut: “Future Baby Mama”




He reconnects with his party funk past on this one-man-band disc, part of a three-CD set (including an album by protégée Bria Valente).

Crowning cut: “Chocolate Box”




Recorded with a band, this parties with more eclectic sounds, sort of like George Clinton lost in the early 1970s.

Crowning cuts: “$.” “Feel Good, Feel Better, Feel Wonderful”




His slightest disc since “Chaos and Disorder,” it’s more like “Nineteen80,” offering the kind of synthesizer minimalism he purveyed then.

Crowning cut: “Lay Down”




Recorded with 3rdEyeGirl, this disc has palpable sparks, balancing heavy-rock workouts with more crafted pop.

Crowning cuts: “Funk­nroll,” “White­caps”



“Art Official Age”

This half-baked concept album about life, happiness and the afterlife sounds a bit like early Prince.

Crowning cuts: “Way Back Home,” “The Gold Standard”



“HitNRun Phase One”

This EDM-minded collaboration with programmer Joshua Welton is a hodgepodge of one-off tracks and remixes.

Crowning cuts: “1000 X’s & O’s,” “June”



“HitNRun Phase Two”

Backed by members of the NPG and a horn section, Prince combines numbers from recent live sets with a few singles.

Crowning cut: “Baltimore”