Story by Doug Stults // Entertainment Editor
Prince puts the semen back in seminal on Lovesexy, recalling the sultry rumblings of Dirty Minds and all the tracks released prior to his ascension from royalty to funk rock deity on 1999.
Making it a point never to repeat himself from a purely sonic standpoint, the purple chieftain unveils new melodies while evoking the out-and-out bombardment of his formative years.
Lovesexy is more consistent than last year’s Sign O’ the Times, which is not necessarily a good thing. These songs are more cohesive than anything he has ever issued, unified to the point that Prince has chosen to present the CD as one 45 minute block of music.
Instead of skipping the lackluster stuff with a single touch, CD owners will have to find the start/stop times and fast-forward accordingly.
Those who lambaste Prince as a wimpy recluse spewing out his fantasies to beat-thirsty dupes will be disappointed to find only a couple of sappy throwaways here, namely “When 2 R In Love,” and “I Wish U Heaven.”
On the whole Prince chugs along relentlessly, offering straightahead rhythmfests like “Alphabet St.” which segues nicely with between -track chatter into the meandering melodicism of “Glam Slam.”
Even when the arrangement is sparse, like the initial thirty seconds on “Anna Stesia,” Prince hints at a forthcoming explosion.
Smoldering with expectation, “Anna” bursts into being with a plaintive piano layered on a bottomed-out bass line. Turn the volume up to full gain, rum off the treble and feel this song rather than listen to it.
Prince issues an all-directions fusillade on “Dance On,” a cut that should top the dance charts by rumor alone. Interspersed with Sheila E.’s meticulous drumwork are synthesized Uzi staccato snippets, mingling horns, roaming guitars and whatall.
Lyrically, Prince fails to provide the biting social commentary to which he aspires, (“Nuclear Ban never stays in tune / They all know the words but the music is doomed / Everybody Dance On…”)but he never stoops to the self-help saccharine of Michael Jackson’s “Man In The Mirror.”
For Prince, the guitar has always been a collapsible instrument, mixed in sporadically then folded away neatly to be resurrected without warning sometime later. On this album he and somebody named Miko provide nice lead guitar swipes but Prince never allows that sound to dominate like it did on his most successful (saleswise) effort Purple Rain.
Amidst all the hullabaloo about the front cover, (banned by such moralizing trendsetters as Wal-Mart) nobody has paid much attention to what amounts to an unaddressed letter to Tipper Gore on the back cover.
Printing a snatch of the lyrics from “Alphabet St.” Prince delivers his own Sermon-on-being-Mounted, defining lovesexy: “It makes U feel clever / U kiss your enemies like you know you should / Then U jerk you body like a horny pony would… Now run and tell your mama about that!”
Aside from the drip-and-lick undercurrent. Prince advances a hazy outline for the budding “power generation,” declaring on “Dance On” that “it’s time 4 new education, the former rules don’t apply.”
What are the new rules? Same as the old ones, apparently. On the churning track “Anna Stesia,” Prince chants “Love is God, God is Love,” pleading with Ms. Stesia to “ravish me, liberate me.”
That consummation entails liberation is the standard doctrine Prince has always adhered to, surrounding his vision with a melange of sound that is always interesting and usually scintillating.
I’m far too white to fully appreciate what Prince has done here, though with brilliant records like this one, listening does not require ability.
To see the full June 8, 1988 print edition, click here.