Photo of the Lovesexy album cover by G.
On May 10, 1988, Prince released his final 1980s masterpiece, “Lovesexy.” The 9 track album was his most spiritual record to date, possibly influenced by his last minute decision to scrap the dance/funk “Black Album,” which contained some of Prince’s dirtiest lyrics to date. Prince was the master of mixing spirituality with funk and turning the tables on you as evidenced by songs such as the opener “Eye No,” a rewrite of his still unreleased song “The Ball,” featuring the late Boni Boyer who takes you to musical church with her gospel flavored vocals. The mega hit “Alphabet St.” is up next, starting exactly where “Eye No” ends and in fact, for many years, the “Lovesexy” CD was issued as one track to give the listener an uninterrupted musical/spiritual experience. “Alphabet St.” features a rap from his dancer Catherine Glover (better known as “Cat”), and the line “Cat, we need u 2 rap,” is a favorite refrain even amongst non-Prince fans. “Glam Slam,” which inspired the name of night clubs that Prince would later build, is next and was a minor hit. Side one finishes off with the rock ballad “Anna Stesia,” which appears to be Prince apologizing to his God for even considering releasing the “dirty” “Black Album.” “The Black Album” was later officially released 10 years later when Prince was trying to get out of his contract with his label Warner Bros.
Side 2 kicks off with the current state of the world track “Dance On,” and its lyrics about guns and violence are still relevant 25 years on. The title track “Lovesexy” follows and it’s a perfect example of how Prince used to be the master of intertwining sex and spirituality as Prince’s alter-ego Camille makes an appearance during the climax of the song (that is literally a climax) but rather than have a proper orgasm Prince tells his lover that if he comes back as a woman, he wants a body like yours! The sexy ballad “When 2 R In Love,” recycled from “The Black Album” slows things down and features Prince’s sexy poetry that is so absent from his music today as lines like “The thought of his tongue in the V of her love / This thought / it leads the pack” let the mind wander into X-rated territory even though the lyric is G-rated. Threading sex and spirituality, the next track is the minor hit “Eye Wish U Heaven,” and when the song was released as a single, he turned the 2 minute and 43 second track into a 10 minute opus that has 3 distinct sections to it. The B-side of “Eye Wish U Heaven,” is the track “Scarlet Pussy,” performed by Camille trading licks (literally and figuratively) with then band mate Sheila E. And as only Prince can, the song is not about directly about sex. Instead it is about a feline and her suitors and is one of the funkiest tracks Prince has committed to tape. The album closes with the epic finale “Positivity,” which advises the listener at the end of the song “Hold on 2 your soul / We’ve got a long way 2 go.”
The album cover (as you can see above) was perfect for this record that fuses sexuality and spirituality in that way only Prince can get away with as Prince appears naked on the cover, but the picture is anything but “dirty.” Prince took the album on a world tour and his Lovesexy band consisted of some of the best musicians he’s ever played with. In addition to a lavish stage production that featured a ton of dancing, Prince playing many instruments and NO lip-synching, Prince transformed many of his past songs into funky new medleys and after performing in stadiums, he and his band wound down their night by playing completely different material, for another 2 hour “jam session” at small clubs in the cities they were in. Many recordings of those shows have been bootlegged and they stand out amongst Prince fans as a golden period in his career where he was musically on fire. As his lyrics fused sexuality and spirituality, on stage he was able to fuse every style of music often seamlessly blending jazz with guitar solos that would make Jimi Hendrix stop and take note.
One of the things that makes “Lovesexy” stand the test of time is that Prince challenged his audience to discover new ways of thinking without being a preacher. Unfortunately, 25 years on the same cannot be said as Prince strictly tells his listeners how they should conduct their lives as he has converted to the religious cult of Jehovah’s Witnesses. Comparing the way Prince conducts his life now as opposed to the way he did 25 years prior, the message of “Lovesexy” is stronger than ever – “Religion needs spirituality and not the other way around.”
Happy anniversary, “Lovesexy.”