I love when I get really obsessively into a particular artist where I listen to nothing but that artist for days on end. It makes me feel justified in having a large CD collection. Even if I haven't listened to an REM album in a couple years, when their new one (rumored to be a return to form) comes out, I'll be glad I have their full catalogue to immerse myself in.
Anyway, right now I'm into Prince. Specifically late early period Prince. Or maybe early middle period Prince. Basically, Sign 'O' the Times, which was his first album after the Revolution broke up, but before he formed the New Power Generation and became kind of not as good.
Sign is awesome. Double albums tend to be the critical favorite (London Calling, Exile on Main St., etc), I guess just because on some level the more of that artist, the better (though for some, a triple album like Sandinista! probably goes too far). But I tend to love double albums because, like Texplush, who mentioned this in some top ten rundown in a past year, I love albums that jump all over all styles. That's why I love The White Album so much; it was almost a catalogue of all the musical styles the Beatles had worked with-- and then some!
So too with Sign 'O' the Times. It's got everything that made Prince great-- hard, spare funk workouts, falsetto-laden ballads, shiny dance-pop, crazy guitar solos and lots of gender bending lyrics. Several of the songs actually feature him using an androgynous pitch-shifted higher voice that he called "Camille" (as in, Camille is credited with the vocals on "If I was Your Girlfriend" and other songs). The 80's production is kind of thin and it's in need of a cremastering, but it's also kind of timeless, with some of the harder funk songs especially sounding almost like Timbaland productions with their harder beats and stabbing horn and keyboard hooks ("It," "Housequake").
The crazy thing is that the double album was actually a cut down version of a TRIPLE album (Crystal Ball-- not to be confused with multi-disc compilation of the same name). And that triple album was the combination of two previous aborted albums: one was a whole album (only a single though) of songs using the Camille voice, and the other was a double album with the Revolution made just before they broke up (Dream Factory). It was going to be the most collaborative Revolution album yet, with extensive contributions from Wendy and Lisa.
That's actually what got me in this phase-- I found links on a blog to both the Camille album and the Dream Factory album and they're both awesome. Dream Factory is all over the place, both in sound and style, but there are some really great tracks on it. Camille is in some ways even better, just because it's such a tight, focused album. The song are all that James Brown-style funk with great horn lines, as in "Housequake."
It's crazy what a creatively fertile period that was for him.
If you like Prince-- or rather, if you like music-- you should definitely check them both out: