Prince’s “Lovesexy” Reviewed
The 1980s were a time of financial purgatory for me and unless I was getting press listed, I wasn’t going to concerts. Fortunately, I got press listed to a whole lot, unfortunately Prince wasn’t one of them… until I switched careers and got into advertising and got invited to Madison Square Garden in time to catch Prince’s 1988 Love Sexy Tour.. He was breathtaking and looking at the 32 song setlist today, it is easy to see why. As an added plus, an album I wasn’t crazy about, I force fed myself in anticipation of the gig and quite a bit clicked nicely, the brooding rock funk “Anna Stesia”, the Stylistics without the harmonies “When 2 R In Love”, and the Housequakey opening track “Eye No” to name but three, all provided the Prince signal achievement.
But that was then, now I wonder why it is a 44 minute song with no individual breaks, now I wonder why nowhere at all does it explode the way his past two albums did?Ttoday it feels like an, if not a bad Prince album, a serious case of treading water while he tries to decide what to do with his career. Lovesexy, Prince’s tenth in chronological release and eleventh in chronological recordied album, is uncharacteristically diffident, it needed two gateway tracks and it doesn’t have them, there is nothing THAT great. The album reflects back on his last couple but it doesn’t move forward, and its best is as good as Sign O’ The Times, deep track filler.
Apolitical even by Prince’s self referential solipsistic worldview, the songs aren’t recycled Prince, “Glam Slam” is both glammy bubblegum and funk, but it isn’t revelatory and it isn’t thrilling, it seems like hard work and it shouldn’t, not to this degree.
Nothing on Lovesexy is bad, it is off a piece to a degree, not to the degree Prince would have you believe, and it is self-confident enough to return Prince to his one man band jones (New Power Generation are on precisely one song), but it never digs down deep, it never reveals itself beyond its hedonism is the answer narcissism.
According to Robert Christgau at the time, “Added religious content is what it’s supposed to have over its not terribly shocking alternative. Leading one to the obvious conclusion that the real reason the little guy made the switch was that he was scared to reveal how, shall we say, unpop he could be.” which now seems to be the standard bearer opinion. Unfortunately Robert is probably right. If Prince can be called lightweight, this was good, but lightweight. Fortunately, it was excellent live on stage.