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Welcome to Buried Treasure, a column devoted to exposing classic albums, books and films, that might otherwise go undeservedly forgotten.
Paisley Park/Warner Bros.
Released in the spring of 1988, just four months after the last minute cancellation of The Black Album, Lovesexy represents a complete about face for the man known as Prince. Up until the release of this album, Prince had been known for his salacious, lewd lyrics and hard stripped-down funk. Lovesexy changed that.
For the first time, he recorded the entire album with his band. A decision that resulted in a much larger, fuller sounding album. Furthermore, the music is complex, with intricate arrangements and multilayered orchestration. There are several moments in which the music is so dense and colourful, with a multitude of voices, swirling guitars and keyboards. The effect is nearly symphonic.
As for the record's concept, Prince offers his experiences with a feeling of spiritual rebirth. Never before, or since, has Prince released an album as consistently ecclesiastical as Lovesexy. Each song addresses Prince's personal religious philosophy of the need for people to love each other as well as God.
The opening track, "Eye No," is a steaming funk workout that boasts a rich jazzy horn section, with lyrics about the war between good and evil. "Alphabet Street" is a quirky, hip-hop rockabilly hybrid that sounds at first like Prince's take on George Michael's "Faith," before turning into a P-Funk inspired jam featuring a wild, snapping bass line and a slippery rap section.
As for the quieter moments, "I Wish U Heaven" is a slice of pop perfection that features softly churning guitar accompanied by Prince's gorgeous falsetto. The album's closing track, "Positivity," is a slow hypnotic piece with a prominent drum track and a sound that prefigures the trip hop sound by several years.
"Anna Stesia" is Lovesexy's centrepoint. Building from a quiet opening, the track moves to a frenzied climax, with Prince and his band members shouting and chanting while the instrumentation goes haywire. It may be the greatest piece of music ever captured on record.
From start to finish, Lovesexy is a brilliant album that represents the peak of Prince's creativity. Although he has written some wonderful music in the years since, he hasn't been able to reach these same heights and it is doubtful he ever will.