Sometimes I think of Lovesexy, the 10th album by Prince as the last in a string of great Prince albums. Released in the place of the Black Album, it was probably the better of the two and certainly the more accessible and less dark.
Lovesexy sits at an juncture in Prince’s musical career. It’s after The Revolution and before NPG. Prince himself played most of the instruments and was accompanied by his usual circus of side players including new recruits like Cat as well as established associates like Dr. Fink, Eric Leeds and Shelia E.
Lovesexy was the last album where Prince’s knack for experimentation and pop accessibility went hand in hand in such a way that only he could mix them. One of the album’s standout tracks “Alphabet St” featured the short choppy rhythms that were once associated with James Brown. The delightful video with its retro style became an overnight MTV and BET favorite. Good luck finding any of Prince’s videos as he has long sense forced YouTube to remove them from its site.
Like many other Prince albums, Lovesexy was all about the struggle between good and evil. One of the tracks to represent that struggle, “Anna Stesia” starts with a foreboding keyboard intro that carried into a spooky vocal delivery by Prince, almost robotic, but funky in a new wave kind of way. It also has the distinction of being the only song by Prince where he used my name GREGORY.
If you were like me the album was an easy listen with it’s all too short 9 songs and running time of just 45 minutes. It was also a big irritation that Prince insisted that the albums tracks be merged into one on CD, making it difficult to cue or skip tracks, effectively turning the new fangled CD player into a sequential playback machine ala cassette deck.
One of those tracks I was always trying to get to was the beautiful “I Wish U Heaven” and “When 2 R In Love”, a song that was also on the aborted Black Album. Later issues of Lovesexy would be properly indexed, but not before I bought mine.
If fact pieces and parts of Lovesexy were either written for then un-released albums like Crystal Ball or were reworkings from other projects and demos. However to many, the most noticeable thing about the album beyond its music was a nude Prince on the album cover. Such things failed to shock me or any Prince fan by that point in his career, but timid store clerks and a reactionary Warner Bro. saw to it that the album was covered in black like one would an adult magazine – or like the Black Album was slated to be.
Unfortunately, Lovesexy started a down hill trend where album sales were concerned for Prince. It was his least successful recording since 1982. Still it was successful by the standards of most R&B artists. With only “Alphabet St” charting in any big way, the album would soon be forgotten by all but the Prince faithful – of whom I was still a member. In looking back Lovesexy was truly the last of the good days for my interest in Prince’s music.
Video link to Alphabet Street by Prince