I can say, without equivocation or pimply hyperbole or puffed-up superlative, that “Diamonds and Pearls” is one of the greatest pop songs of all time. No question. It’s got it all: funky tight rhythms, catchy melodies, affecting and natural choruses, light but definitive hooks and the surest pop touch (the kind of pop mastery that Prince would barely shrug his shoulders at). Chintzy synth lines, call and response harmonies, soul-pop vibes and trademark Prince guitar licks. Add the supremely tight & varied changes ― indeed, about four times the amount of changes you’d expect in a regular hit, including a major key change and turnaround. And it never seems to waver for a second, every part interlocks and leads to the next, every drum fill & lick sits tight in the groove ― it’s perfectly crafted and flowing. It’s an ecstasy of tight song arrangement… with slick and layered production values and ferocious bottom and snare attack. I remember an interview with Michael B saying they nailed it in a single take in Japan or someplace; which, considering how long it’s taken me to get the bass part down, is testament to superior musicianship. Listen to the subtle bass-behind-the beats play from Sonny T at 1:20 (‘Which one of us is right…’) to about 1:40 ― supremely funky and deep in the pocket. The pompous key change to D# at 2:06 leads to tight funk at 2:24, repeating the opening bass riff. Sonny’s work is amazingly nuanced at every point; it’s not until you play along that his pacing and emphasis come out clearest. Compared to the rather straight-ahead “Cream”, “Diamonds and Pearls” has all the intricacy of a Swiss timepiece. Pure pop with deep grooves and soul stacked on top. Catchy as all hell. Saccharine and sincere. Bright and sassy with a silken trim: pure Prince.
I miss P so much… we all have to be a little extra funky now – to pick up the slack.