Vanity 6

Vanity 6

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No one ever accused the members of Vanity 6 of being great singers; if you wanted to hear female vocalists with great chops in the early '80s, you listened to Teena Marie, Alicia Myers, or Evelyn "Champagne" King. Nor did the female trio have the depth of its mentor Prince. But then, Vanity 6 wasn't supposed to be about depth or vocal prowess. Its mission was to entertain, and if you accept this self-titled debut album for what it is -- wild, decadent, trashy entertainment -- Vanity and her colleagues are insanely fun. Prince's stamp is all over this 1982 release, which finds Vanity, Brenda, and Susan backed by the Time. The raunchy lyrics reflect Prince's obsession with all things sexual, and like Prince, Vanity 6 manages to bridge the gap between funk/R&B and rock/pop/new wave. Even if the sexually exploitive lyrics become predictable after awhile, this LP is quite diverse and unpredictable musically. The hit "Nasty Girl" and the hilarious rap tune 'If a Girl Answers (Don't Hang Up)" are irresistibly funky, and new wave audiences were drawn to more rock-minded tracks like "Bite the Beat," "Make-Up," and the Go-Go's-influenced "He's So Dull." As it turned out, Vanity 6's first album was also its last. In 1984, Vanity went solo, and Brenda and Susan formed the very similar Apollonia 6 with singer Apollonia. That group only recorded one album, which is probably just as well -- Vanity 6 and Apollonia 6 certainly weren't without their limitations. But despite those obvious limitations, Vanity 6 is a highly entertaining footnote in the history of Prince's Minneapolis funk-rock scene.

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