Friday, May 10, 2019

Prince 10: Lovesexy

Along with the “racy” cover art, Lovesexy was notable at the time mostly for what it wasn’t. A set of edgy funk and rap called The Black Album had been scheduled and hurriedly pulled from release the previous December, whereupon Prince just as hurriedly recorded this album in its place. As the legend of the shelved album grew, and what did come out didn’t exactly wow those whose interest had been waning since 1985, Lovesexy was considered something of a flop, and has been somewhat forgotten since, except for the cover, of course. That’s too bad, because listeners will find the music within many of the elements of the better albums in his catalog, as well as a few new buzzwords that would emerge again.
“Eye No” (the first word is actually the symbol of an eye, which we’re not going to bother with) begins with an intriguing new agey mood and the voice of a waif informing us that rain is wet (really) before a horn-filled groove takes over for a party featuring his full band. From there, the only other musicians he uses are Sheila E. on the drums (slammin’), a couple of female vocals, and a couple of horns. “Alphabet St.” was the first single, and another of his simple yet excellent one-man-band opuses. As a single, it stops at the right time, but here on the album, he insists that Cat Glover rap a few verses. The rhythm guitar makes the whole track work. Speaking of guitar, “Glam Slam” combines the occasional Arabian orchestral touches from the last three albums into another toe-tapper underneath his distorted fretwork. A lengthy faux-classical interlude on strings takes up too much time before his ode to “Anna Stesia”, another muse he hopes will bring him closer to God and Jesus.
The chorus and title “Dance On” may suggest a party, but the lyrics are pure social commentary hidden in allegories and puns, while Sheila E. skitters around her kit. The title track would almost seem to recall “1999”, both in tempo and instrumentation, while reminding us once again that rain is wet and alluding to a new power generation. A section with sped-up and slowed-down voices almost seems to poke fun at his image. “When 2 R In Love” is a slow jam rescued from The Black Album, and would have been the least exciting track there too. “I Wish U Heaven” is a much catchier improvement, too short, and has us really missing Wendy and Lisa. As the third single from the flagging album it didn’t catch fire, which is too bad, since it deserves better. Finally, “Positivity” stretches more “we gotta got together” platitudes in a low register over a snaky stroll, stretching out under even more guitar soloing. We go out with the sound of what are probably supposed to be ocean waves but sound more like someone sloshing around a bathtub.
Prince daringly and defiantly programmed the CD version of Lovesexy as a single track, without indexing, so the listener would either have to hear it all at once. In retrospect, this wasn’t a big deal considering those who could had the cassette were also subject to two lengthy halves, but in today’s culture of instant gratification, even version available for streaming is just the one 45-minute track. Just as he wanted it. Check it out.

Prince Lovesexy (1988)—3

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