Lovesexy 1988

The genius of SOTT continues in 1988’s unrated “Lovesexy”. From the incredible album cover to the “one track” album, you can see by this stage the success Prince had allowed him considerable artistic freedom. None of this freedom was wasted and in Lovesexy, you hear an experimental, almost completely free from boundaries album. A spiritual, concept album about heaven and sex and god. Lovesexy is Prince at the peak of his career as an Artist. Some say that Lovesexy started off as the “Black” album, which was due to be released (with some copies surfacing at the time), then with Prince pulling the plug last minute, thinking the album was too dark and too cynical. He then went out and wrote Lovesexy, a very positive reaction to the Black album. Thinking that he could die any day, and wanting to be remembered for being positive. The only survivor of the Black album was “When two are in love” which is the most sombre song in Lovesexy.
The album starts with a big party “EYE NO” is almost a mess of an ensemble, but somehow Prince makes it work. The funky bassline, the pounding drums and horns, and uplifting words (and made up words – Hundalasiliah). Ending with a preacher sermon being interrupted by people talking gossip in a party (“she got more holes than a gold course..” is clearly audible). Then Prince, in his frustration says “No!”. Cue the next song, “Alphabet Street”.
Alphabet Street is one of Prince’s greatest ever singles (and extended versions). The drum rhythm, the style and message was clearly ripped off by Michael Jackson a year later on his worldwide hit “Black or White”, but Alphabet Street really stands ahead of any song released in 1988. The sense of fun, and freedom in Alphabet Street, the personal references to old music, Tennessee, driving his car, and the fact he “likes to watch” are all about fun fun fun! This is Prince telling the world he has a light side to him, but he’s still a horny little devil. The accompanying video clip is also one of my favourites – all colourful and (almost cheaply made compared to other 80’s clips), yet it feels very honest and personal at the same time. Alphabet includes a Cat “rap”, which is similar to her “rap” in the Black album on Cindy C (which I think is better), but rhythmically, and in terms of funk, this is a triumph for Prince and one of his greats.
The greatness of Alphabet Street, makes the next song “Glam Slam” feel a bit like a let down. It’s clearly the most “commercial” song on the album, but in my opinion the weakest. However glam slam spawned a famous night club of the same name and also spawned two of Prince’s greatest ever remixes and B-side. “Escape – free yo mind from this rat race” is a superb bside, better than the a-side, and the 12 inch version of glam slam is up there with his best, almost a disco version of the song. Either song would have improved Lovesexy, but it was not to be. “Anna Stesia”, captures the sprit of Lovesexy, it is about Love and God, and in no way is this message hidden. As a song, it is a melodramatic piece, almost sad, while still being funky. I know its a fan favourite, and a classic.
The most interesting songs come next on side two. “Dance On”, possibly inspired by the weird drum licks in Tambourine is about being kids being in gangs rather than playing funk, kids making money selling drugs rather than making money playing music, it compares the sound of bass guitars and drums to guns and chaos. It’s what prince sees in the world, but the message conveyed is through the sound of Dance On. It’s not as clear a social message as SOTT, but there is a distinct unease you get from hearing the mangled drum and gun sounds.
Next song is the magnificent title track, if ever a song had a gender change it was this one. This song is about Prince’s spirituality, his love of god AND sex (hence Lovesexy), but musically, its a twisting, mutating song with so much interesting stuff happening in it. This is not your average 3 minute pop song! I love Lovesexy, and this song really represents the spirit of the album, uplifting, fun and darn funky!
Things slow down in “When 2 R in love”, a “Black album” left over, With it’s dramatic piano riff and intimate, almost gothic feel to it, it’s a nice break from all the intricacies of the rest of the album. The beautiful, but simple falsetto and haunting beat lead nicely to the next falsetto masterpiece..
“I wish U heaven”, like Glam Slam has an outstanding remix/12 inch version, unlike Glam Slam – is an outstanding (perhaps too short) a song. One of the singles from Lovesexy, perhaps not as big a hit as Alphabet Street, I wish U heaven is by far one of the catchiest songs ever made by Prince. And unlike the rest of Lovesexy is a very simple, driving song lacking the complexities of the other songs. It’s about love and spirituality but lacks any sexuality (but filled with sensuality at the same time) – I wish U heaven is just a masterpiece.
The last song, as if he wanted to drive home the message that this was “NOT” the black album is “Positivity”. Despite the name, its a sombre almost depressing sounding song. It has a clear message about the perils of the world, and about making the right choices. There doesn’t seem to be anything positive about this song, but perhaps the message is subliminal and a warning – be positive and stay focused in life, or else you will have a bad life (or at worst die young). Sombre ending indeed for the Lovesexy album, perhaps that’s why there are sounds of waterfalls and (beams of light) at the end of the album, which feels like the “light” of positivity.
I don’t know what Prince was thinking when he made Lovesexy, unlike the very articulate and brilliant SOTT, Lovesexy’s main messages are in the music, and it feels very unprepared, very ad hoc – but also feels like it comes from deep within his soul. And for that reason, like SOTT, Lovesexy is also an honest record. It is a depiction of his state of mind at the time, and frankly a major piece of work peak of his artistic powers.
This is most definitely a 5 out of 5

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