"Controversy" is Prince's fourth album. The album has a transitional sound, between the punk and new wave influence of Dirty Mind and the electronic sound of 1999. It is the first album to feature drum machines.
Prince played most of the instruments on the album, with Lisa Coleman and Dr Fink appearing on the song Jack U Off. Few details have been given on the recording of the album, so most of the equipment is assumed, based on the equipment used live around this time
Prince toured the album from November 1981 to March 1982. Details of the equipment used by Prince and his band come from photographs and videos from this time and from interviews given by Dr Fink.
In the studio
Controversy was recorded in spring and summer 1982 at Sunset Sound and Hollywood Sound studios, and Prince's Kiowa Trail home studio. Prince played a Hohner Madcat and a Fender Stratocaster on the album . There are few guitar effects, but there are some distorted sounds which probably came from an overdriven Mesa/Boogie Mark II amplifier.
Andre Cymone and Brownmark both used Fender Jazz basses live around the recording of this album, so it is assumed that Prince used one in the studio.
The album is notable for featuring Prince's first use of drum machines. The famous Linn LM-1 appears on the song Private Joy, where a Linn snare is mixed with an acoustic kit. Prince would go on to have a long association with the Linn LM-1. Annie Christian features a different drum machine, possibly a Roland CR-78. Elsewhere Prince continued to play acoustic drums with minimal additional percussion.