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May 10 2018

Lovesexy: Prince’s crowning achievement

Prince - Lovesexy gold record (dailyherald.com)

Rain is wet and sugar is sweet
Clap your hands and stomp your feet
Everybody, everybody knows
When love calls u gotta go

© Prince, 1988

Introduction

Whenever I am asked which Prince album I listen to and play the most, the answer usually is 1986’s Parade or 1988’s Lovesexy, which was released 30 years ago today. The similarity between both albums is that the music contained on them is completely unique. Not just within Prince’s body of work, but also more generally speaking. I don’t know any other album that sounds like those two albums. Besides, both albums are connected to the best two tours Prince ever did. A tribute to the last album of the genius run, which started 1980 with Dirty Mind.

Content

Because, besides the release of the album, the Lovesexy Tour was organized in 1988/1989 and the (concert)video Lovesexy Live was released, this article is divided into 3 parts:

  1. Lovesexy, the album
  2. Lovesexy, the tour
  3. Lovesexy, the video

Lovesexy, the album

Prince - Lovesexy logo (typenetwork.com)

Prince – Lovesexy logo

Introduction

After Prince had astonished friend and foe with the extremely good Sign O’ The Times, which was followed by a tour and the live concertmovie Sign O’ The Times, all in the year 1987, the year was to be closed with a funk album. However, the album would not appear. The Black Album was withdrawn. Read about the how and why in The Black Album: Prince gets funky.

Prince - Lovesexy aankondiging OOR 8, 23-04-1988 (apoplife.nl)

Prince – Lovesexy announcement OOR 8, 04/23/1988

So when in April of 1988 it was announced that a completely new album would be released within one month, amazement and excitement of music lovers all over the world, and particularly in Europe, was tangible and noticeable. The new album was to be called Lovesexy and contained 9 songs. Leading up to its release, the single Alphabet St. was released on April 19th, 1988. A fabulous rockabilly/funky song. That promised something great.

The Black Album

Prince - The Black Album (apoplife.nl)

Prince – The Black Album

In the article The Black Album: Prince gets funky can be read that Prince experienced some kind of epiphany on December 1st, 1987. That date is known as Blue Tuesday. The immediate result was the withdrawal of The Black Album, with all of its logistic problems as an immediate consequence. Some 500,000 copies had already been pressed and were ready to be shipped.

The Black Album turned into one of the best sold bootlegs of all time and started a wave of illegal Prince material to be released to the market.

Paisley Park Studios (source unknown)

Paisley Park Studios, Chanhassen, Minnesota

Fresh start

Prince 1988 (lovesexyistheone.tumblr.com)

Prince 1988

Prince’s epiphany inspired Prince greatly. At his recently opened Paisley Park Studios Prince could record whatever, whenever. He did so, with a vengeance. Over the course of two months the new album was written, recorded and complied. The song When 2 R In Love was lifted from The Black Album (making it the only song that is part of two official Prince releases).

Ten days after the decision to pull The Black Album, work commenced on the new album. The previously recorded, but never released, The Ball was renamed to No. The song was recorded with the entire band, that performed on the Sign O’ The Times Tour earlier that year, live at Paisley Park. Soon after, Prince recorded Positivity by himself, quickly followed by another band recording: Luv Sexy. During the same month Alphabet St., Glam Slam, Dance On and The Line followed. End December 1987/early January 1988 Anna Stesia was recorded.

A first configuration of the album was compiled around January 20th, 1988. Prince wasn’t completely satisfied. On January 29th he recorded Lovesexy. It replaced Luv Sexy, which did not resemble the new song in any way. Just two days later Prince recorded I Wish U Heaven. It replaced The Line. Halfway through February of 1988 the final configuration of the album was decided upon. Two and a half months after the withdrawal of The Black Album, Prince had written, recorded, produced and compiled its successor.

On March 8th, 1988, Prince presented his new album to record company Warner Bros. in Los Angeles. He initially intended to release singles without accompanying videoclips, but he (luckily) reconsidered. In March the video for the first single, Alphabet St., was shot. The first single was released on April 19th, 1988, 3 weeks prior to the album’s release.

Other songs

Prince in Paisley Park Studios 1988 (prince.org)

Prince in Paisley Park Studios 1988

As usual, work was done on other projects as well. Songs which were not part of the ongoing project. One of the projects that was worked on was the planned fourth solo album by Sheila E., scheduled for a 1989 release on Paisley Park Records. The album was never released. End December 1987/early January 1988, The Ghetto, a cover of the Donny Hathaway song, was recorded. Also, in January, Scarlet Pussy was recorded. The latter appeared as a B-side to the single I Wish U Heaven.

In February of 1988 The Max was recorded. This version of the song is not related to the song, using the same name, that was released in 1992 on the -album. Interesting was also recorded. It was released on Mavis Staples’ first Paisley Park Records album: 1989’s Time Waits For No One.

In March Prince recorded the basic tracks for Love Song. The recordings were handed over to Madonna. The song is a duet and was released on Madonna’s 1989 album Like A Prayer.

Paisley Park Records logo (apoplife.nl)

Paisley Park Records

In April Love 89 and Fuchsia Light, among others, were recorded. Love 89 was part of Patti Labelle’s 1989 album Be Yourself. Fuchsia Light was initially intended for use on Tony Le Mans’ debutalbum on Paisley Park Records, which was released in 1989. According to the on-line Prince encyclopedia princevault.com, the song was supposedly withdrawn when Prince found out about an affair between Le Mans and Ingrid Chavez (who had played an integral part on Blue Tuesday and the subsequent withdrawal of The Black Album).

By the time Prince was ready with the new album, Prince had already started work on yet more new projects, among which Rave Un2 The Joy Fantastic and Graffiti Bridge, which was also a movie project.

December 31st, 1987

Prince & Miles Davis 12/31/1987 (bibliolore.org)

Prince & Miles Davis 12/31/1987

While work was done on the new album a benefit was organized on the last day of the year 1987 at Paisley Park. Tickets were sold for $ 200,- and some 400 people attended, among which Minneapolis reviewer Jon Bream and ex-Revolution members Wendy & Lisa. Money was collected for the “Minnesota Coalition for the Homeless”. The setlist largely followed the standard setlist that was played during the Sign O’ The Times Tour. At 12:00 AM the band played Auld Lang Syne leading up to Purple Rain, giving the audience the time to wish each other a happy 1988. During the (very lengthy) encore the legendary Miles Davis appeared on stage and improvised with the band on It’s Gonna Be A Beautiful Night. This was the last show dancers Wally Safford and Greg Brooks performed with Prince.

Lovesexy ad (source unknown)

Lovesexy ad 1988

Lovesexy

Concerto (concerto.amsterdam)

Concerto

Lovesexy is Prince’s 10th studio album. It was released on May 10th, 1988. I bought the album at record store Concerto, Amsterdam, my place of work at the time. The only song I knew was Alphabet St., which had been released as a single on April 19th, 1988. Its B-side Alphabet St. (This Is Not Music, This Is A Trip), which was a remix of the regular song, was not on the album. The album was released by Paisley Park Records in cooperation with Warner Bros. Records. It’s the official follow-up to Sign O’ The Times, which was released just over a year before. Unofficially it’s the follow-up to The Black Album which was withdrawn, just 6 days before the planned release.

Prince - Lovesexy promo material (lansuresmusicparapernalia.blogspot)

Prince – Lovesexy promo material

Status

Because the amount of time between the release of Lovesexy and the withdrawal of The Black Album was so short, the albums were regularly compared to each other. In some end-of-year-1988 lists both albums were part of the content. At the time there were some reviewers (and fans), who considered Lovesexy to be the lesser album. Lovesexy is an album that marks the pivot point of Prince’s status as undisputed and impervious genius, who led the way and was always one step ahead of everybody. The year 1988 signaled the breakthrough of two genres: hip-hop and dance/house. Lovesexy doesn’t connect with either one of them.

The album spawned three singles. In 1989 concert footage of the Lovesexy Tour was released. The album ended up high on many end-of-year-1988 lists. Nowadays the album is, internationally in particular, regarded at its merit. More so than at the time of its release.

Prince - Lovesexy (allmusic.com)

Prince – Lovesexy

Review

Well? Is this album worthy of all its praise? Yes, and more! It is a breathtakingly good album, containing many classic songs, which could be named classic from the start.

A review of Prince’s crowning achievement during his golden period, song by song.

Prince - Eye No (apoplife.nl)

Prince – Eye No

No

Pronunciation: I Know.

Welcome 2 the New Power Generation
The reason my voice is so clear
Is there’s no smack in my brain
Hundalasiliah

© Prince, 1988

The first time the term New Power Generation is audible on a Prince recording. The opening song to Lovesexy. It is a remake of The Ball, which was recorded in 1986 and was part of the configuration for the 3-double album Crystal Ball, which was slimmed down to a double album: Sign O’ The Times. The Ball was no part of that.

The song was recorded live at Paisley Park with the band that performed on the Sign O’ The Times Tour. It signaled the starting point for Lovesexy.

The song has a festive gospel vibe. The sound is ‘open’ and rich. The song consists of many melodies, which are intertwined. And everything fits perfectly. Besides that: the passion splashes from it. It is obvious Prince feels very connected to the song (and the rest of the album). The album’s central theme is laid bare in the first song. Be open to the good (Say Yes), ban out the bad (Say No). The character “Spooky Electric” is introduced. It symbolizes evil/temptation.

no there’s a heaven and a hell

© Prince, 1988

P.S.: Handalasiliah stands for “the funky version of hallelujah” (source: Urban Dictionary).

Prince - Alphabet St. ad (princevault.com/apoplife.nl)

Prince – Alphabet St. ad

Alphabet St.

No! The characteristic intro to Alphabet St.

Prince - Alphabet St. single (princevault.com)

Prince – Alphabet St. single

The first single, which was released leading up to the release of the album. The song sounds more simple than it truly is. As is the case with much of Prince’s productions, a lot takes place in the background. Particularly his funky guitar and slap-bass playing are impressive. The song has a playful feel to it, due to the stop/start trick of the song. As it progresses the song gains in complexity.

Lyrically as well, the song comes off as rather innocent. Its main topic, however, is oral sex, cunnilingus. The phrase Tennessee seems to refer to a comedy sketch by Sam Kinison. In that sketch he describes the way he uses his tongue to imitate letters and sometimes words, including… Tennessee.

The single divides splits up the album version. The second part is largely instrumental and contains the rap, done by Cat (Cat, we need U 2 rap):

Talk 2 me lover
Come and tell me what U taste
Didn’t your mama tell U
Life is 2 good 2 waste?
Didn’t she tell U
Lovesexy was the glam of them all?
If U can hang, U can trip on it
U surely won’t fall
No side effects and the felling lasts 4-ever
Straight up – it tastes good
It makes U feel clever
U kiss your enemies like U Know U should
Then U jerk your body
Like a horny pony would
U jerk your body
Like a horny pony would
Now run and tell your mama
About that!

© Prince, 1988

The rap was first used on the unreleased song Bloody Mouth, which was recorded one month prior to Alphabet St.. The lyrics are part of the backcover to Lovesexy. Special mention to the happy, energetic keyboard riff that starts at 04:39. Great! Once again, the message is positive: Put the right letters together and make a better day.

Prince - Alphabet St. video (hq-music-videos.com)

Prince – Alphabet St. video

Prince made a video to the single. As mentioned in the story on The Black Album, the clip contains an apology: Don’t buy the Black Album, I’m sorry. The video itself is enjoyable but not very special. The Thunderbird, which is used in the clip would be part of the Lovesexy Tour.

The 12″ contained a mix of Alphabet St., entitled Alphabet St. (This Is Not Music, This Is A Trip). A nice extension of the song.

The song was released in an official live version on two occasions. The first time in 2002 on One Nite Alone… The Aftershow: It Ain’t Over and the second time in 2008 on Indigo Nights.

The song ends with Ingrid Chavez reciting: A… B… C… D… E… F… H… Eye Love You. Why the letter G gets discarded? The song is written in key G. The letter is already there. Years later, Prince himself gave this explanation during an on-line Q&A session: “She was being kissed at the time, and got flustered, eye suppose.”

Glam Slam

Prince - Glam Slam single (princevault.com)

Prince – Glam Slam single

The album’s second single. A somewhat odd choice for a single. Just a few days prior to its release, Prince sensed that too. He tried to stop the release, but this time the machines were in motion all the way. It was not a hit. Not surprising, because the song is a typical album song.

It sounds, when listened to superficially, rather bland. It does contain some ingenious background choirs/vocals. The second part of the song is instrumental and has a classical feel to it. Top song.

Prince - Glam Slam video (hq-music-videos.com)

Prince – Glam Slam video

A video was made for the song. It is a so-called ‘performance’ clip, which was recorded at Paisley Park in the beginning of May, 1988. Prince and band perform on the stage that was to be used during the subsequent Lovesexy Tour. The audience present at the clip were locals, who were treated to a live set that lasted approximately 1½ hours.

The 12″ contains a remix: Glam Slam (Remix). Uniquely: after 1987’s Hot Thing this was the second song which was remixed by someone outside of Prince’s environment: Shep Pettibone. Halfway through the song house-influences enter the mix. Very nice remix, that actually adds to the song.

Prince - Anna Stesia (Lovesexy Tour - Dortmund 09/09/1988) (prince.org)

Prince – Anna Stesia (Lovesexy Tour – Dortmund 09/09/1988)

Anna Stesia

Key-song to the album and the coming tour. An impressive ballad, in which Prince genuinely opens up. It seems he directly gives an unfiltered view of his private thoughts:

Have U ever been so lonely
That U felt like U were the
Only one in this world?

Have U ever wanted 2 play
With someone so much U’d take
Any one boy or girl?

© Prince, 1988

He, in his own cryptic way, continues by relating to the withdrawal of The Black Album:

Between white and black, night and day
Black night seemed like the only way…
So I danced

Music late, nothing great
No way 2 differentiate
I took a chance

Gregory looks just like a ghost
And then a beautiful girl the most
Wets her lips 2 say

“We could live 4 a little while
If U could just learn 2 smile
U and I could fly away, fly away”

© Prince, 1988

The song describes his path from the darkness to the revelation he experienced:

Save me Jesus, I’ve been a fool
How could I forget that U are the rule
U are my God, I am Your child
From now on, 4 U I shall be wild
I shall be quick I shall be strong
I’ll tell Your story, no matter how long

© Prince, 1988

The song is about the transformation Prince went through. After the dark negative The Black Album he wanted to dedicate an album to God. The message Lovesexy: the feeling U get when U fall in love, not with a boy or a girl, but with the heavens above is delivered convincingly throughout the song.

Christmas card 1988 (rrauctions.com)

Anna Stesia come 2 me
Talk 2 me, ravish me
Liberate my mind

Love is God, God is love
Girls and boys love God above

© Prince, 1988

Never before was Prince so open about his beliefs. Even the famous 1984 B-side God pales next to this. It is one of the most moving songs Prince ever recorded. The emotion is real and sincere. It is sublime musically as well. The song contains some (guitar) notes that induce tears (listen to the one at 02:07 minutes). the choir that closes the song, Love is God, God is love / Girls and boys love God above, doesn’t annoy in any way (not everyone agrees on this in The Netherlands, by the way) and was sung out loud, even by the most convinced atheists, during the accompanying tour.

Sheila E. - 1988 (prince.org)

Sheila E. – 1988

Dance On

This is not a dance song. Sheila E. does all of the drumming. She shows what she’s capable of rhythmically and that is impressive. At first I thought that the drumming had many production tricks and overdubs, but I witnessed Sheila E. playing it live at the Lovesexy Tour multiple times.

A machinegun like bass sets the tone, that musically displaces the listener. Alienating synthesizer and guitar eruptions contribute to that feeling. The music portrays the lyrics. This is not a pretty subject. Nuclear threat, gang related violence, weapons, deprivation. It all passes by. To Dance On seems to be the solution. In spite of all problems and adversity: make the best of it.

Different points of view do exist:

It’s time 4 new education
The former rules don’t apply
We need a power structure that breeds production
Instead of jacks who vandalize
Detroit – what’s happenin’?

What color is your money today?
Get your money straight
Everybody dance on

© Prince, 1988

It put my name upon my thigh, Prince - Lovesexy (Lovesexy Tour - Dortmund 09/09/1988) (prince.org)

It put my name upon my thigh: Prince – Lovesexy (Lovesexy Tour – Dortmund 09/09/1988)

Lovesexy

Gloriously exuberant funk song. A personal favorite, number 22 in my top 50 Prince songs. The song makes me happy. The lyrics support the festive nature of the song:

This feeling’s so good in every single way
I want it morning, noon and night of every day
And if by chance I can not have it – I can’t say
But with it I know heaven’s just a kiss away
Kiss away

Lovesexy

© Prince, 1988

The song (once again) features some blistering guitar by Prince, who lets his guitar roar in the background. Only Prince is able to fuse eroticism and religion so naturally. The song ends up in a dialog between a woman (Cat?) and Prince, telling each other what they want from each other and why:

Cat:
OK so like first I’ll start by telling U how
Intelligent a curve your behind has
And then I can tell U that I can just smell U
And race cars burn rubber in my pants

Prince:
Oh, pretty little whip, U got me drippin’
Drippin’ all over the floor, the floor

U want me to swivel in your love seat
Don’t U baby?

© Prince, 1988

The song ends with the statement: We make love with only words.

When 2 R In Love

The only song to be lifted from The Black Album. It fits much better within the context of this album.

Prince - I Wish U Heaven video (hq-music-videos.com)

Prince – I Wish U Heaven video

I Wish U Heaven

Prince - I Wish U Heaven single (discogs.com)

Prince – I Wish U Heaven single

Third single of the album. I Wish U Heaven is the last song to be recorded for Lovesexy. A lovely (love)song that states that, even though Prince’s lover sees the world differently, he still wishes her nothing but good: If I see 11 / U can say it’s 7 / Still I wish U heaven.

An extended version of the song was recorded, titled I Wish U Heaven (Part 1, 2 & 3). The song gets extended with 7½ minutes with ‘call and response’ lyrics and extra instrumental pieces, in which Prince introduces his blue cloud guitar announcing Say hello 2 my little friend, the Blue Angel, after which Prince gives a great guitar solo. Parts of the (unreleased) song Take This Beat, are added:

Take this beat, I don’t mind
I got plenty others and they so fine

© Prince, 1988

On the album the song is called I Wish U Heaven. In the song title on the single and in the video the I is replaced by .

Prince - Positivity (apoplife.nl)

Prince – Positivity

Positivity

Prized song on the album, number 20 in my top 50 Prince songs. The closing song of Lovesexy. The central themes of the song are:

Prince - Lovesexy - Yes (princevault.com)

Positivity YES
Have U had your plus sign 2 day?
Positivity YES
Do we mark U present, or do we mark U late?

© Prince, 1988

Thematically it matches No, Lovesexy‘s opening song. It is about banning negativity and dicusses social themes:

Can a boy who drops out at school
At 13 years of age
Answer the 2 of life and death
When it slaps him in the face?
Who’s 2 blame when he’s got no place 2 go
And all he’s got is the sense 2 know
That a life of crime’ll help him beat U in the race?

© Prince, 1988

The vocals are partially spoken/rapped (like Prince did before in All The Critics Love U In New York from 1982). This songs holds a very short musical theme, which is incredibly funky; after 05:45 minutes into the song, it lasts for just 5 glorious seconds. The entire song is filled with beautiful riffs, short musical intermezzo’s, soaring guitars in the background and impressive background vocals.

Hold on 2 your soul, we got a long way 2 go

Prince - Lovesexy - T-shirt design (apoplife.nl)

Prince – Lovesexy – T-shirt design

Contributions by others

Contrary to what the liner-notes state, everything on the album is performed by Prince, except:

Prince - Lovesexy - Musicians (discogs.com)

  • Sheila E.: drums on No and Alphabet St., drums and background vocals on Dance On and Positivity
  • Eric Leeds: saxophone on No, Alphabet St. and Positivity
  • Atlanta Bliss: trumpet on No, Alphabet St. and Positivity
  • Boni Boyer: keyboards on No, vocals on Anna Stesia and Positivity
  • Rap/vocals on Alphabet St. and Positivity
  • Miko Weaver, Levi Seacer, Jr., Dr. Fink, Ingrid Chavez: guitar, bass, keyboards and spoken intro on No

Prince - Lovesexy - New Power Soul (apoplife.nl)

Extra songs

The singles Glam Slam and I Wish U Heaven contained B-sides, that weren’t available on any other format then the singles.

Escape

B-side to Glam Slam: uptempo song whose introduction was used as the opening for the concerts of the accompanying Lovesexy Tour:

Snare drum pounds on the 2 and 4
All the party people, get on the floor
Bass

© Prince, 1988

The complete title is Escape (Free Yo Mind From This Rat Race). The song contains samples of Glam Slam and was recorded after all recordings for Lovesexy were complete. Great dance song.

Scarlet Pussy

B-side to I Wish U Heaven. The song is accredited to Camille and was recorded during the last days of recording Lovesexy. It was originally intended for inclusion on a Sheila E. album, scheduled for 1989, which was never released. Sheila E. adds vocals and Eric Leeds saxophone. It is an extremely funky song with glorious rhythm-guitar by Prince.

The song seems to be a tribute to George Clinton’s Atomic Dog.

Compact disc

Prince - Lovesexy - CD (apoplife.nl)

The album was made available in three formats: cassette, LP and Compact Disc. The main advantage of the Compact Disc was, apart from the music that, quality-wise, could not deteriorate, that it could be programmed.

Prince - Lovesexy - CD display (apoplife.nl)

Prince wanted the listener to enjoy the album as a whole. It was a piece of work that had to be undergone in its entirety. Therefore, the initial pressings of the CD contained only one track. The sum is more that its individual parts. And it was, even though the album can not be called a concept album. The parts (i.e. songs) differ too greatly.

Later (re)pressings of the CD contained 9 tracks. I have read somewhere that the LP was also pressed in a way that the individual tracks were not identifiable. I can’t confirm this to be the case, since I have never seen such a copy.

Nowadays Lovesexy is once again presented as 1 track on various streaming services, such as Spotify, like it was originally intended.

Albumcover

Prince - Lovesexy Cover discussion (prince.org)

Prince – Lovesexy Cover discussion

For the cover French photographer Jean-Baptiste Mondino was hired. Prince had seen Mondino’s work with his music for the first time when he saw the clip to Jill Jones‘ Mia Bocca. He liked it. The images fit the music perfectly.

On the other hand, Mondino was, in his own words, “completely under his [Prince’s] spell”. Mondino made a sketch for the cover, photographed Prince in a photo studio in Los Angeles and took the results to Paris. There he manipulated the images and made a number of collages.

When Prince came to Paris to see the results he threw out everything and said “I think what you did with the flowers was the best”. The cover contains a naked Prince next to a phallic looking erect stamen.

In Europe the cover was no subject for debate, but in puritan America is most certainly was. I ran into a discussion in Billboard magazine, which tries to scientifically prove the American hypocrisy. The image shown here was used to prove that the stamen is not male, but female. Of course without results.

Prince was requested to develop a less offensive cover for the American markets. Prince said No.

Prince - Lovesexy - Cassette Saudi Arabia (facebook.com/princemuseum)

In Saudi-Arabia Prince wore pants…

According to on-line Prince encyclopedia princevault.com Wal-Mart, a major retailer with over 1100 shops in the united States, refused to sell the album or bury it so deep in the store that the public could never be confronted with it. The reason was Prince’s “provocative pose” on the cover that was “too hot to handle”. In an interview the refusal was said to be because of the cover alone.

Also, closer to home the cover created problems. The Musicland Group, whose headquarters were based in Minneapolis, advised the managers of all 616 shops to sell the LP behind the counter. CD’s and cassettes could be racked in the shops.

Prince was hurt by those reactions to his sincere message and music. The fact that his revelation was deemed pornographic, was something he could not and would not understand.

The font and logo’s (like the Yes sign) are designed by Margo Chase. She has done several designs for Prince, among which the original Paisley Park logo and the designs for many of the Graffiti Bridge output. Margo Chase passed away on July 25th, 2017, in a plane crash.

Reception

In Europe the album met with glowing reviews. The umpteenth proof of his abilities, growth yet again. New and different again. Where would this end?

Prince - Lovesexy - Reviews Dutch publications (apoplife.nl)

Prince – Lovesexy – Reviews Dutch publications

(The Dutch article displays the reviews in full.)

The most important remarks from the reviews are listed below:

The album, with its playful cover (once again without title or artistname), is the most whimsical and daring piece of work by Prince. … It is a three quarter lasting carousel of brilliance that sets its own norms and seeks new boundaries. (NRC, 05/04/1988)

New Prince album is a phenomenal piece of work. (Limburgs Dagblad, 06-05-1988)

Once again Prince shows himself to be a masterful arranger. Every song is loaded with a dizzyingly array of sounds, effects, voices and choirs, which are incorporated into the music in such a refined way that it never sounds tangled or contrived. (Volkskrant, 05/09/1988)

On ‘Lovesexy’ there is so much going on that you (initially) miss out, just like last summer in Nieuw Galgenwaard and Ahoy’. In other words, the ‘new Prince’ asks a lot of the listener, even the trained ones. (Het Vrije Volk, 05/11/1988)

With this album Prince proves he still has a vast amount of involvement and inspiration. (Trouw, 05/11/1988)

In the meantime, Prince has singlehandedly created a genre that is completely separate from all white and black music codes from present and past. The songs derive their greatest strength from the fact that the boundless creativity hasn’t stifled the sexy nature of them. (OOR, 05/21/1988)

Prince - Lovesexy ad OOR 10, 21-05-1988 (apoplife.nl)

Prince – Lovesexy ad OOR 10, 21-05-1988

Sales

Prince - Lovesexy Gold Sales Award (rrauctions.com)

Prince – Lovesexy Gold Sales Award

In many European countries Lovesexy turned into his best selling album (even better than Purple Rain). Prince had built himself a very loyal fanbase in Europe with his unique albums and spectacular live-shows. In many countries Lovesexy reached number one on the album sale charts.

In the United States, however, Lovesexy was his worst selling album since 1981’s Controversy. Maybe the controversy surrounding the albumcover played some part, but the Americans weren’t really interested in Prince’s view on the world. The American public didn’t connect. Prince was hugely disappointed in the lack of support and success in his home country. It was to have far-reaching consequences.

Like stated earlier, Prince was at his absolute peak in popularity in Europe when Lovesexy was released. There seems to be a fundamental difference between the American and European view on what the real golden years of Prince’s creativity were. Where Americans seem to focus more on the era Dirty MindPurple Rain, Europeans tend to focus on the era Purple RainLovesexy. It’s an interesting difference in point of view. Perhaps a subject for a future article.

Conclusion

All’s well and good, but what did I think of it at the time? I was working at Concerto (famous record shop in Amsterdam) and I remember the initial order was not nearly enough to meet the demand. Within two hours the complete stock had been sold!

Prince mania in Holland was at its peak. Lovesexy was the zillionth proof of the inevitable conclusion: we were witness of a genius who time and time again left the music world behind totally bedazzled. How is it possible that all of this came from that one little man from Minneapolis?

Prince Lovesexy Tour (source unknown)

From the moment I heard When Doves Cry I was smitten. In 1987 numerous albums were released, all extremely good: Madhouse, Jill Jones, and the Prince album Sign O’ The Times (follow the links for the stories on those albums).

The year was becoming ever greater: at the end of the same year The Black Album was going to be released, a funk album. It is widely known: the album never came. Lovesexy was, as a reaction to The Black Album, released in its place.

As I wrote in the story on The Black Album, just then it was becoming clear just how enormous Prince’s output really was, how much music he had recorded and how much of that had never seen the light of day. After The Black Album he started work on a new album, which was in the shops within 6 months to which, according to rumors, a new world tour (his third in three years) was connected!

On January 9th, 1988, I visited my first record fair. After the cassettes of the two Prince shows I had visited (08/18/1986: Prince & The Revolution en 06/21/1987: Prince) Prince bootlegs appeared in my collection. At first just concert recordings. Starting on June 18th, 1988, upon acquiring The Black Album bootleg, the first bootleg with outtakes and unreleased music came into my house. In short: my addiction started in 1988.

Review

Nine new songs, of which I already knew Alphabet St.. What stood out to me instantly was the way it all sounded. It was so fresh and ‘open’. The sound was (and still is) like it had never sounded before. So, good news: different yet again. The music sparkled, the songs were rich and lush, filled with ingenious themes and riffs. Such wealth. This was better than everything that had come before! I absolutely loved the album, the new look, the message, it worked. The music was different and difficult. It’s not an ‘easy’ ride this album, which, to me, added to the Prince experience. It was a bold move to release this album at this time in his career.

Prince - Lovesexy Tour 1988 (apoplife.nl)

Prince – Lovesexy Tour 1988

The religious theme didn’t bother me at all, like it would bother me on The Rainbow Children. It were not the usual dogma’s that come with organized religion, but it was lovesexy, Prince’s completely unique own mix of good and evil, love and sex, spirituality and physicality. Just like on the song Paisley Park from the 1985 album Around The World In A Day, in which Prince created his own (fairytale)world, he did so on Lovesexy as well. It worked, it convinced. The eagerness Prince displayed was contagious. You almost believed him when he stated that God is alive. He lives inside all of us. He just wants to come out and play. Where The Rainbow Children was excluding, Lovesexy was including, everyone was welcome.

After the passing of Prince in April of 2016 I compiled my top 50 Prince songs. Two songs in the top 50 are from this album. Another 3 (4 when counting B-side Scarlet Pussy) are part of the exception list. In short, 60% of the 1988 Lovesexy output. A main supplier of favorite songs. I did buy this album again on CD. Not (yet) because of wear, but for the availability of the 9 track version.

I always come back to Parade, Sign O’ The Times and Lovesexy as my all-time favorite Prince album. Given the figures (as derived from my top 50) it should be Sign O’ The Times, but based on my feeling I prefer Parade or Lovesexy. If I have to make choice at this very moment, it will be Lovesexy.

If I were to grade this album it would be a 9.8 (When 2 R In Love doesn’t receive a 100% score…). However, taking the whole picture (album, look, tour and video) into account this period receives a solid 10. Prince was at the zenith of his abilities. The album is not just unique within his own body of work, but unique within the world of music. There is no album that sounds like this album. 30 years later no one has come close to match, let alone surpass, this. In short: this album was everything that made Prince so special during his genius run of albums during the (19)80’s. To be more precise: it is his crowning achievement.

A pop Life Logo (apoplife.nl)

 

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Lovesexy Tour (princevault.com)

Lovesexy Tour

Lovesexy, the tour

Prince & Band 1988/1989 (prince.org)

Prince & Band 1988/1989, photographed outside of Paisley Park

The band that performed on the Sign O’ The Times Tour, was to Prince’s liking. Understandable, as it was the most versatile band he had ever had. The band did part ways with dancers Wally Safford and Greg Brooks.

Preparations for the new tour (his third in as many years) commenced in April of 1988, before Lovesexy was released. The band was (once again) ruthlessly drilled. Hundreds of songs were learned. With a hand signal or word Prince could start and stop any song he wanted.

Many bootlegs have appeared from the rehearsals for the Lovesexy Tour. The process can be closely monitored. There was some room for (musical) relaxation. It’s a true pleasure to hear these recordings and listen to the band that effortlessly solo’s, experiments and grooves and to Prince who (seemingly) thoughtless throws out one fantastic guitarsolo after another.

Prince - Lovesexy Tour rehearsal - The Ladder (sroogle.ru)

The Ladder

In the beautiful (short) 1989 documentary Prince : Musical Portrait, band members talk about the preparations. Prince’s perfectionism really comes across. The so-called ‘dress rehearsals’ are particularly demanding. Where everyone has to go at what time, is a puzzle. It provides insight into the kind of band leader Prince was (very demanding).

But there was time for truly amazing music as well. The version of The Ladder, shown in the aforementioned documentary, is heartbreakingly beautiful.

Show

Prince - Lovesexy Tour stage (pinterest.com)

Prince – Lovesexy Tour stage

The show Prince had in mind was highly ambitious. A round stage placed at the center of the venue. This meant every member in the audience had a good view of the stage, but for Prince and the band it was challenging, because they were clearly visible at all times. There was nowhere to hide and it had to be visually attractive from all sides of the stage. It also meant that the band used wireless instruments, which was unique at the time, because the technology was new and not very reliable yet.

The stage was made up of multiple layers, with parts moving hydraulically. The piano, for instance, could go way up in the air. During Anna Stesia it enhanced the message Prince was trying to convey. But the stage also had a swing and a basketball hoop. Prince entered the stage every night in a (replica of) a Thunderbird. At some time there even was a plan for a fountain, that would pump gallons of water. For security reasons the idea was scrapped.

The costs involving the design and building of the stage were approximately $ 2,000,000.-. But now the set had to be transported. It was a very costly venture, costing Prince more than he earned. The tour seemed to end up in the red. By adding a Japanese leg to the tour Prince was able to break even.

It is indicative for Prince’s dedication to the project. Nothing was spared to let the music talk. Despite the hydraulics, special effects and impressive light show: the music was what it was all about.

Prince - Lovesexy Tour personnel (rrauction.com)

Prince – Lovesexy Tour personnel

Message

But, Prince also had a message to tell. His epiphany was so important to him, that he wanted to translate the message into his show. The first part of the show was dedicated to the expectations of the audience (the His Royal Badness side to Prince) and, after a rebirth, the second part was to be about lovesexy, the feeling u get when u fall in love, not with a boy or a girl, but the heavens above. This was explained in the beautifully packaged tourbook, which was sold at the shows.

Prince - Lovesexy Tourbook (icollector.com)

Prince – Lovesexy Tourbook

Time upon a once
there was a boy named Camille.
Now this boy named Camille
didn’t know how 2 feel.
Sometimes he was lonely,
sometimes he was sad
but most times
he just took 4 granted
all the nice things that he had.

Some people said they loved him,
but Camille said,
“Contempt!
Winter, Spring,
Summer or Fall,
love is no good
unless it’s felt by all.”

So, naive & terrifically in need,
Camille started looking 4 answers.
His paintbrush the questioner,
his canvas the arena,
Camille set out 2
silence his critics.
“No longer daring” – his enemies laughed.
“No longer glam, his funk is half-assed…
one leg is much shorter
than the other one is weak.
His strokes are tepid,
his colors are meek.”

So Camille found a new color.
The color Black:
strongest hue of them all.
He painted a picture
called Le Grind –
hittin’ so tall.
And then Cindy C –
T H & vogue fantasy.
Horns & vocals 2 die 4.
Lollipops – in yours!

Stroke after stroke callin’ all others a joke. Superfunkycalifragisexi.

Camille rocked hard in a funky place. Stuck his long funk in competition’s face. Tuesday came. Blue Tuesday.
His canvas full, and lying on the table, Camille mustered all the hate that he was able. Hate 4 the ones who ever doubted his game. Hate 4 the ones who ever doubted his name.
“Tis nobody funkier – let the Black Album fly.” Spooky Electric was talking, Camille started 2 cry. Tricked.
A fool he had been. In the lowest utmostest. He had allowed the dark side of him 2 create something evil. 2 Nigs United 4 West Compton. Camille & his ego. Bob George. Why?
Spooky Electric must die. Die in the hearts of all who want love. Die in the hearts of men who want change.
Die in the bodies of women who want babies that will grow up with a New Power Soul. Love Life, Lovesexy – the feeling u get when u fall in love, not with a girl or boy but with the heavens above. Lovesexy – endorphin. Camille figured out what 2 feel. Glam Slam Escape – the Sexuality Real.
Tonight we make love with only words. Girls first. This feeling’s so good in every single way.
God is alive! Let Him touch u and He will quench every thirst. Let him touch u and an aura of peace will adorn u.
God is alive!
Let Him touch u and your own Lovesexy will be born.
Let Him touch u, let Him touch u, and Heaven is yours.
Welcome 2 the New Power Generation.

© Prince, 1988

For the enthusiasts, the, Prince handwritten, directions for the text shown above.

Setlist

A typical night during the Lovesexy Tour had the following setlist:

Prince - Lovesexy Tour - Setlist Paris (justcollecting.com)

Prince – Lovesexy Tour – Setlist Paris

  • Erotic City
  • Housequake
  • Slow Love
  • Adore
  • Delirious
  • Jack U Off
  • Sister
  • I Wanna Be Your Lover
  • Head
  • A Love Bizarre
  • When You Were Mine
  • Blues In C (If I Had A Harem)
  • Little Red Corvette
  • Controversy
  • Dirty Mind
  • Superfunkycalifragisexy
  • Bob George
  • Anna Stesia
  • Intermission
  • No
  • Lovesexy
  • Glam Slam
  • The Cross
  • I Wish U Heaven
  • Kiss
  • Dance On
  • Let’s Go Crazy
  • When Doves Cry
  • Purple Rain
  • 1999

Encore:

  • Alphabet St.

On some nights Prince played a solo piano medley. This was placed in the set after Dance On and oftentimes consisted of:

  • When 2 R In Love
  • Venus De Milo
  • Starfish And Coffee
  • Raspberry Beret
  • Condition Of The Heart
  • Strange Relationship
  • When 2 R In Love, overlopend in Madhouse‘s Three

At the first five shows of the tour Alphabet St. was played at the position of Lovesexy and the encore consisted of PositivityLovesexy and the brilliant 80’s Medley. Halfway through the tour U Got The Look which was usually played before I Wanna Be Your Lover, was taken off the set.

Prince & Band - Rotterdam 08/18/1988 (atomicdog.exblog.jp)

Prince & Band – Rotterdam 08/18/1988

Extra songs

During the tour two songs, which were never released, were played. Both were released on the video release of the Lovesexy Tour:

Intermission

Intermission was recorded with the purpose of being used as intermission music between the two halves of the show. Recording took place between June 12th and 15th, 1988 at Paisley Park Studios. The piece is made up of classical sounding music, complemented with parts from other (pre-existing) songs:

  • A recitation of William Shakespeare’s play Romeo and Juliet (Act 2, Scene 2), probably by Jill Jones, from the never released Modernaire
  • Clare Fischer orchestration from the song Crystal Ball
  • The poem Cross The Line by Ingrid Chavez
  • Marie France’s dialog from Girls & Boys
  • Samples from Positivity, Lovesexy and Condition Of The Heart

Blues In C (If I Had A Harem)

Blues In C (If I Had A Harem) is a blues/jazz songs, which was recorded in May/June 1988 (entitled If Had A Harem. The studio version was part of the configuration for the planned new album Rave Unto The Joy Fantastic.

Others
The songs Superfunkycalifragisexy and Bob George are from The Black Album, which wasn’t released at the time the tour was underway. 

Planning

Prince - Lovesexy Tour - Kuip rehearsal (pinterest.com)

Prince – Lovesexy Tour – Kuip rehearsal

Prince’s two latest tours were planned rather chaotically. The Parade Tour was a ‘hit and run’ tour, which meant that, sometimes a few weeks in advance, venues were booked with ticket sales starting immediately. The American leg of the Sign O’ The Times Tour was annulled at the very last minute.

With Lovesexy it was all different. Venues and dates were planned and ticket sales would commence soon. Until Prince saw the first American album sales figures. To put it mildly, the figures were bad. For someone of his grandeur the figures were disastrous.

One month before the tour was to start (in the US), Prince made the final decision. He was going to Europe first. The US would follow at a later time. In Europe Lovesexy sold like crazy. The album was number 1 in the charts in many countries. Prince hoped the album would take off at a later time in the US.

His decision had major consequences. The entire year plan changed overnight. Many venues in the US had already been booked. Even the European tour, which was to follow after the American tour, was largely planned. Due to the last minute changes, all prior commitments were void. And, a complete European tour had to be organized at short notice. Promoters had to be found and all that during the coming holiday season in Europe. It’s a small miracle that everything could be arranged.

Tour announcement

Prince - Lovesexy Tour - Rotterdam announcement - NRC 06/17/1988 (prince.org)

Prince – Lovesexy Tour – Rotterdam announcement – NRC 06/17/1988

At the time of the Lovesexy album release, the possibility of a new tour was already mentioned in a number of reviews. I remember not believing what I read. I couldn’t wait also. One concert would not suffice this time. I had to go to all the shows.

When the announcement finally came, de Kuip (Feijenoord Stadium) in Rotterdam, was the location. Two days. The stage was to be placed alongside the length of the pitch, making the shows relatively intimate, for a stadiumshow.

The demand for tickets was so high that a third show was soon added. I had tickets to all three shows. The wait could begin.

Tickets went on sale for 30 shows over Europa: Paris (4), Milan (4), Antwerp (1), London (7), Birmingham (2), Oslo (1), Rotterdam (3), Copenhagen (1), Frankfurt (1), Hamburg (2), Modena (1) and Dortmund (1). From July 8th until September 9th, 1988, circus Lovesexy would travel across Europe.

N.B.: Cursively displayed concert numbers refer to stadiumshows.

For the third time in just two years I was going to see a complete new Prince show. This time I went multiple times. The tension was built up perfectly. Thanks to the European and, particularly, Dutch press. All major European newspapers sent journalists to the opening night of the next Prince miracle. Off to Paris.

Prince - Lovesexy Tour - Paris (gettyimages.com)

Prince – Lovesexy Tour – Paris

Start of the tour

As hoped, Prince took the European audience by surprise, again. The total theater, the extreme high level of musicianship, the light show: better than this didn’t exist. The Dutch press could only speak in superlatives.

Prince - Lovesexy Tour - Paris - Reviews Dutch publications (apoplife.nl)

Prince – Lovesexy Tour – Paris – Reviews Dutch publications

(The Dutch article displays the reviews in full.)

The most important remarks are shown below.

What makes him the greatest popartist of the 80’s is the fact that he managed to stage a completely new show in just a few months of which you can only be in awe. Last year’s Prince shows were the best of 1987, this year that title goes to Lovesexy 88; a concert to which every other mega-show pales in comparison. (Volkskrant, 07/11/1988)

Prince in Paris is overwhelming. (Het Vrije Volk, 07/14/1988)

Prince stunning. (OOR, 05/21/1988)

Rotterdam

This could not go wrong. And it didn’t. Prince played de Kuip in Rotterdam on August, 17th, 18th and 19th, 1988. Exactly two years after my first Prince live encounter (see the story on Prince & The Revolution in Rotterdam on August 18th, 1986), I was going to see him three days in a row!

Prince - Lovesexy Tour - Rotterdam August, 17th, 18th and 19th, 1988 (apoplife.nl)

Prince – Lovesexy Tour – Rotterdam August, 17th, 18th and 19th, 1988

It was (ridiculously) fantastic! From the first kickdrum leading up to Erotic City until the encore Alphabet St. it was impressive, musical, funky and overwhelming. A stuffed show, visually as well as musically. Many songs were, just like at the 1986 Parade Tour shows, blended into one another, creating bridges between songs using ingenious motifs and riffs.

Prince - Lovesexy Tour Soundcheck de Kuip videostill (Facebook, Edgar Kruize)

Prince – Lovesexy Tour Soundcheck de Kuip videostill

At an average show some 31 to 32 songs were played. If you were lucky a solo piano piece was added and the average was even higher than that. On August 18th, 1988, Prince did such a piano set in Rotterdam. I remember it vividly, just like it was yesterday. An unforgettable experience. According to reliable sources Prince rapped The Black Album song Dead On It voordat prior to A Love Bizarre; the only time he did that on the entire Lovesexy Tour.

And, as an added bonus, the standard Dutch summer problems were far far away. No rain, but beautiful warm late summer days in The Netherlands.

The Dutch press was, bar very few, ecstatic about the concerts. The raving about God was not to everyone’s liking, but the consensus was that Prince had proved yet again he truly was the only one that mattered in the music world in the (19)80’s.

Prince - Lovesexy Tour - Rotterdam - Reviews Dutch publications (apoplife.nl)

Prince – Lovesexy Tour – Rotterdam – Reviews Dutch publications

(The Dutch article displays the reviews in full.)

The most important remarks are noted below.

Prince still manages to surprise. For that alone he is the only musician in the eighties who deserves the title genius. (AD, 08/18/1988)

It all, with the help from a fantastic band, leads to immense ecstasy. Extreme dedication and divine playing. No wonder, that audience and media love the high heeled musician from Minneapolis. (Alkmaarsche Courant, 08/18/1988)

Prince offers perfectly played music and an enormous spectacle to watch. (Nieuws van de Dag, 08/18/1988)

One thing is crystal clear: whoever ends his first decade as a performing artist with such supremacy, doesn’t need to worry too much about the coming one. (NRC, 08/18/1988)

Prince didn’t just leave his competitors miles behind, he proved to be a much better showman. Unlike Bruce Springsteen, George Michael, Madonna and Michael Jackson, Prince was able to truly communicate with his audience. He even succeeded in evoking an intimate atmosphere. Parool, 08/18/1988)

In his two part show Prince has proven yet again that he is one of the very best popmusicians and entertainers of this time. Telegraaf, 08/18/1988)

The one closing the stadium-pop-season, not only surpasses his predecessors, Pink Floyd, Springsteen and Jackson, but himself as well. … He showcases his kaleidoscopic talent in a two hour show, radiating with ambition and energy. (Trouw, 08/18/1988)

Prince - Lovesexy Tour Candy Dulfer - OOR 17 08/27/1988 (apoplife.nl)

Prince – Lovesexy Tour Candy Dulfer – OOR 17 08/27/1988

Candy Dulfer

Candy Dulfer and her band Funky Stuff were invited to be the support act. One hour before the first show Prince decided to abandon the plan. No support act then.

Understandably, Candy was pissed. She sent a note stating Prince didn’t know what he was missing out of: “the chance of a liftetime to see a girl play her ass off on the saxophone”. According to Sheila E. she yelled at her and said she was (way) better than Eric Leeds (which Candy denies), upon which Sheila E. told Prince that there was as a ‘crazy girl’ screaming who didn’t accept Prince writing her off like that.

Anyway, Prince was intrigued. Prior to the third show he apologized for the misunderstanding (apparently Prince wasn’t told there would be a support act) and asked Candy whether she would like to be a guest at the show and play along to Blues In C (If I Had A Harem). Her parents raced back and forth to her house to get her saxophone and she appeared on stage to an enthusiastic audience. Prince was impressed: “Wait a minute, who is this? Wait a minute baby, this is my stage!”. I seem to recall he sang a bit from The Black Album song Cindy C, replacing the title with Candy D. This hasn’t been verified.

It was the beginning of a long term working relationship.

Prince - Lovesexy Tour - Paard van Troje - Volkskrant 08/20/1988 (apoplife.nl)

Prince – Lovesexy Tour – Paard van Troje – Volkskrant 08/20/1988

Paard van Troje

Prince - Small Club 2nd show that night - bootleg (yup-yup-mark.blogspot.com)

My first bootleg of the ‘Paard van Troje’ aftershow

And then there was the aftershow phenomenon. More and more frequent, Prince decided to relax after a a soundcheck (which lasted 2 to 4 hours) and the regular show (which lasted about 2 hours). Not by partying, but by selecting a small club and play some more, usually for about 2 hours.

This was the case in the night of August 18th and 19th, 1988. The location: Paard van Troje at The Hague. To a crowd of approximately 400 people Prince played a very relaxed set of funk- and soul classics, Prince classics and new unknown/unreleased music. The song People Without seems to be composed on the spot at this show.

The show was recorded directly from the soundboard and (very soon) released as a bootleg. It is almost impossible to believe that Prince himself didn’t have anything to do with this. The recordings are so crystal clear and sound so professional, that it can’t be a coincidence.

Prince - Paard van Troje - 08/19/1988 (prince.org)

Prince – Paard van Troje – 08/19/1988 (unconfirmed)

After all the bootlegs made of The Black Album, which sold extremely well, this bootleg was and is essential listening, highly popular and widespread. Rightfully so, because what Prince did that night is world class:

  • Instrumental Jam
  • D.M.S.R.
  • Just My Imagination
  • People Without
  • Housequake
  • Down Home Blues
  • Cold Sweat
  • Forever In My Life
  • Still Would Stand All Time
  • I’ll Take You There I
  • I’ll Take You There II
  • Rave Unto The Joy Fantastic

The guitar solo prince plays in Just My Imagination is one of his very best solo’s ever. It’s beautifully built up with Prince intensifying his performance time and again producing some incredible notes form his instrument. Goosebumps!

Exit Rotterdam

Prince - Lovesexy Tour Rotterdam (apoplife.nl)

Prince – Lovesexy Tour Rotterdam

The shows in Rotterdam were nearly canceled at the last minute. On August 14th the first outdoor/stadium show of the tour took place in Oslo. The stampede in front of the stage was so bad that some 700 (!) fans had to be carried off.

Prince witnessed it all with a heavy heart and was distraught. He seriously considered canceling the remainder of the tour. The Dutch organization of the concerts had to satisfy the requirement that the audience in front of the stage were able to enjoy the concert safely and that the scenes in Oslo could not be replicated.

And thus happened. On August 17th, 1988, crush-barriers were placed in front of the stage, ensuring that people in the first rows could stand and dance safely with ‘normal’ space to move. Prince was very pleased with the solution and enforced its use for the remainder of the tour. Nowadays this practice is applied worldwide and is considered a standard with (big) shows.

There was some time for promotional activities. On August 18th Prince summoned a photographer to portray him and the band outside of de Kuip in Rotterdam. These photo’s were widely distributed.

After the Rotterdam shows the Prince caravan left The Netherlands and closed the European tour some weeks later. Prince had come, seen and conquered gloriously. The wait for a next time could start. For now I had had enough memories and unforgettable impressions to last quite some time.

Until the following message was published in the newspaper:

Prince - Lovesexy Tour Dortmund - Trouw 26-08-1988 (apoplife.nl)

Prince – Lovesexy Tour Dortmund – Trouw 26-08-1988

Dortmund

On August 25th or 26th it was announced that Prince would add an extra show in Dortmund to celebrate the end of the European tour. Because he was very impressed by the way he was welcomed in The Netherlands and the Dutch concert experience, he demanded that the audience at this show was made up of Dutch people. He had concocted the idea of filming the show and broadcast it simultaneously throughout Europe.

The problem was, that The Netherlands had no venue that could facilitate the ‘concert in the round’ principle. Particularly the equipment hanging from the ceiling in the middle of the venue proved to be a problem. Prince decided to book the Westfalenhalle in Dortmund for an extra day instead and give the Dutch the opportunity to come over to Germany. Naturally, the Dutch complied.

Prince 09/09/1988 concertkaartje (apoplife.nl)

Prince 09/09/1988 concertkaartje

The concert was to be filmed and (with some delay) broadcast the same day within Europe (United Kingdom, West Germany, Spain, Finland, The Netherlands, France, Austria, Denmark, Sweden and Switzerland).

On August 29th tickets went on sale for the Friday, September 9th, 1988, show in Dortmund. I had tickets and I went. It was a day to cherish. More on that day in a later article (planned for September 9th, 2018).

The Prince year was not done yet. On September 9th I witnessed Prince’s Lovesexy Tour for the fourth time! The TV recordings of that show were broadcast that same night. A year later the recordings would be released on video (see Lovesexy, the video in this article). The concert year 1988 was one for the books!

Prince - Lovesexy Tour (apoplife.nl)

Prince – Lovesexy Tour

The tour continues

There were just 5 days between the end of the European tour and the start of the American tour. On September 14th the American Lovesexy Tour started in Prince’s hometown Minneapolis. It was a sign on the wall for the 38 concert tour (2 of which took place in Canada), but the shows in Minneapolis didn’t sell out. Prince’s idea that the American audience just needed a bit of time getting used to Lovesexy and that everything would turn out just fine, proved to be a fairytale. The album was not successful. Prince was heartbroken, but his commitment to the project remained intact. At the shows Prince would preach about God, the journey to God and his revelation, sometimes up to 390 minutes in a row. Even though he sometimes played to half-filled venues, his energy and commitment was boundless. The recordings from that tour clearly show this. The tour ended on November 29th, 1988.

Prince - Lovesexy Tour - Washington DC (lipstickalley.com)

Prince – Lovesexy Tour – Washington DC

The setlist had some minor changes. U Got The Look was once again added and midway through the tour Do Me, Baby was also added to the set.

Because the show cost a lot of money and ticket sales were slow in the United States, the Lovesexy Tour actually lost money. 8 shows were booked for Japan in 1989. These shows enabled Prince to, at least, break even.

By the time Prince had to leave for Japan (from February 8th to February 13th, 1989) Prince was preoccupied with other projects. In the meantime he had been asked to supply one song to the, scheduled for a summer 1989 release, blockbuster movie Batman. Prince was so enthused by the reels he had already seen that he dropped everything he was doing at the time and committed himself wholeheartedly on this new project. Of course one song evolved into an entire album. So when Prince had to return to Lovesexy he didn’t feel like it and wanted out of the deal. His management was able to persuade him to do the shows anyway.

A lot of bootleg recordings of the Japanese leg of the Lovesexy Tour are in circulation. It is telling for Prince’s perfectionism that even the rehearsal for the very last show of the tour still comprises a run through of the entire show.

End of the tour

After 75 shows the Lovesexy Tour was finally done.

During the 1988 tour Prince had organized an aftershow 9 times: Paris on 07/09, London on 07/26, The Hague on 08/19, Hamburg on 08/31, Paisley Park Minneapolis on 09/15, New York on 10/03, Boston on 10/21, Hollywood on 11/07 and San Fransico on 11/11.

Prince - Lovesexy Tour (apoplife.nl)

Prince – Lovesexy Tour

During the tour

Prince was always recording. Whether he was at home or on the road. During the tour studio’s were booked regularly making sure Prince was able to record new songs. While on tour, he worked on several projects, among which the first Mavis Staples album for Paisley Park Records, but also two new projects for himself: Graffiti Bridge and Rave Unto The Joy Fantastic.

Graffiti Bridge
At the end of September of 1988 a first configuration was compiled for Graffiti Bridge. The album consisted of the songs Big Tall WallStimulationGraffiti BridgeBloody MouthThe Question Of UBeat TownPink CashmereMelody CoolThe Grand Progression and God Is Alive.

Graffiti BridgeThe Question Of U and Melody Cool would eventually appear on Graffiti Bridge, which was released in 1990, together with the movie bearing the same name. Pink Cashmere was released on the 1993 compilation album The Hits / The B-Sides.

Prince - Rave Unto The Joy Fantastic - 1988 configuration (prince.org)

Prince – Rave Unto The Joy Fantastic – 1988 configuration

Rave Unto the Joy Fantastic
Somewhere in October of 1988 a configuration was compiled for Rave Unto The Joy Fantastic. the album consisted of the songs Rave Unto The Joy FantasticIf  Had A HaremGood Judy GirlfriendPink CashmereElectric ChairAm I Without UGod Is AliveStill Would Stand All Time and Moonbeam Levels.

Rave Unto The Joy Fantastic was released using the moniker Rave Un2 The Joy Fantastic on the album using that same name (but with a completely revised tracklist) from 1999. Still Would Stand All Time was placed on the album Graffiti BridgeMoonbeam Levels appeared on the first posthumous Prince release: Prince 4EverElectric Chair would be released on the first album to be released after LovesexyBatman.

Many of the recorded songs were never released. Prince recorded an incredible amount of songs in 1988, oftentimes at hours the band were asleep and he, after showtime, worked all night on his (new) music.

Prince - Lovesexy - Live bootlegs (apoplife.nl/discogs.com)

Prince – Lovesexy – Live bootlegs (ordered by date of purchase)

Recordings

The Lovesexy Tour is very well documented on bootlegs. As it is my favorite tour I have quite a few at home. Often the releases are beautifully packaged with great booklets, containing a lot of information. Many times the sound is clear, straight from the soundboard burned to CD’s. The thing that really stands out is the high quality of the shows and the drive. After show 70 one could assume that it was becoming predictable. Nothing could be further from the truth. Prince sounds impassioned throughout. The aftershows are special, of course. Prince and band relax and improvise a couple of hours in small settings.

Prince - Lovesexy Tour (irishmirror.ie)

Prince – Lovesexy Tour

Conclusion

Among fans and Prince music lovers the Lovesexy Tour has a special place. Many consider it to be the ultimate Prince show. I often use it as an introduction to Prince, as this shows holds everything that made Prince so supremely unique. Visually overwhelming, movement and dance is all over the place and musically it is unbelievably diverse. From funk to punk, from soul to rock and from blues to gospel. It is analog and electronic and grand and small at the same time. All of Prince’s contradictions (sex versus God, lust versus love) are expressed in this show, which has never been equaled.

Lovesexy, the video

Prince - Lovesexy Live ad (unknown)

Prince – Lovesexy Live ad

On April 19th, 1989 (exactly one year after the release of the Alphabet St. single) the video’s Lovesexy Live 1 and Lovesexy Live 2 were released. It contained the recordings made at the closing show of the European Lovesexy Tour.

Part 1 contained the second half of the show, and part 2 the first. It is told that the idea behind the switch came from the (Dutch) fanclub at the time Crystal Ball: the number 1 is more positive than the number 2. And because the message gets positive at the second half of the show, the parts were switched. Apparently Prince liked the idea.

The September 9th, 1988, Dortmund show was officially released. The initial broadcast had not been visible everywhere. In the United Stated, South America, Australia and Japan the show was never shown.

The video’s were released on laserdisc in Japan and were (unfortunately) never released on DVD. It would be great if the Prince estate would remaster and re-release the recordings. It is a perfect introduction for anyone wanting to know what it is that made Prince so otherworldly good.

In conclusion

Prince - Lovesexy outfit (startribune.com)

Prince – Lovesexy outfit

Making a final choice for one album released during his heyday is nearly impossible. In the 8 year run he was the one and only master of the music world, every album, every tour was different, more, better. With or without The Revolution didn’t even matter. But if I have to choose, it is obvious to me that the Lovesexy era was his most special. The music was unique, the tour stunning, the clothing and image original. Everything gelled.

Moreover, Prince had an enormous passion. He gave his all at every show. The cut throat pace of the show didn’t stop him from continuously recording new songs, do aftershows and working and creating for others.

Even after 30 years Lovesexy still sounds fresh and sparkling. Prince’s sheer volume of ideas is so breathtaking, the album is dazzling at times. It is to Prince’s praise as an artist that he dared to release such a demanding album, at a time that his career was in need of something else entirely.

Lovesexy was and is the ultimate proof that Prince was not just any top musician and composer: he was the last genius in the history of popular music. Hopefully another one rises soon.

What do you think of Lovesexy? Let me know; it is highly appreciated!

 

Prince - Lovesexy - Yes (princevault.com)

Thank you

I hereby genuinely thank Bram and Edward for their proofreading, corrections and additions.

 

Prince - Lovesexy - The Blue Angel (shechterguitars.com)

The Blue Angel, Prince’s blue ‘cloud’ guitar

24 comments

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  1. Fernanda

    This was a travel in time article. Just reminded me of all excitment I felt as teenager listening to it. Masterpiece!

    1. A Pop Life (Erwin Barendregt)

      Writing it was a time travel as well. Thanks for your reply!

  2. Klaus

    Great article. I was at the Copenhagen show and it was amazing. I had to skip school the next day, totally dehydrated and tired from the night before!

    1. A Pop Life (Erwin Barendregt)

      Good memories! Thanks for your reply.

  3. Viv Canal

    A great read once again. I don’t agree with it all, but a great overview of what was the best year to be a Prince fan.

    1. A Pop Life (Erwin Barendregt)

      Thanks!

  4. Marcel

    Great article! Thanks for sharing your thoughts! One thing though… I’m curious why you would say the genius run of albums started in 1980 with “Dirty mind”. For me the first 2 albums(“For you” and “Prince”) are just as good or maybe even better than “Dirty mind”. What do you think about those 2 abums?

    1. A Pop Life (Erwin Barendregt)

      Thanks for reading and replying! For me it starts with Dirty Mind, because I think it’s his first flawless album. My thoughts on For You can be found here. The Prince album was much better than his debut, but not genius. Just my two cents…

  5. Stefan

    Great, great read and made me put on the album now for the first time in too long time – as you write, it still sounds so fresh.

    1. A Pop Life (Erwin Barendregt)

      Thank you so much for your kind words. Have fun revisiting the album!

  6. J

    88 was so special and my best year ever. Lovesexy is the soundtrack.
    Thanks so much for the article.

    1. A Pop Life (Erwin Barendregt)

      You’re more than welcome. Thank you for the reply!

  7. Iloga0

    Absolutely brilliant article! Lovesexy 1988 was my very first Prince Love concert. I attended at Wembley Arena in London. My favourite Prince era. My favourite Prince Album. Thanks for for bringing back the memories!

    1. A Pop Life (Erwin Barendregt)

      Wow, thanks for your reply. More than happy to bring back fond memories!

  8. Annie Ward

    Hi Erwin. I love all the things you write and this article is particularly great.
    I wanted to help you on one thing.
    It is not Cat who recites the letters on Alphabet St., it is Ingrid Chavez. P himself mentioned this somewhere in an interview (can’t remember which but it is a TV one).
    The reason she misses the letter H is that – he explains – she was being kissed. And if you listen carefully you can hear it.
    All the best,
    Annie Ward

    1. A Pop Life (Erwin Barendregt)

      Hi Annie, thanks for your reply. It’s greatly appreciated! As for the letter recitation by Cat or Ingrid Chavez: you’re right. Will change that. Thanks.

  9. J

    I don’t get the part where it’s explained the part 2 and part 1 of the Lovesexy Dortmund show.
    Part 1 is the positive one. It doesn’t make sense starting with the positive and ending with the negative.

    1. A Pop Life (Erwin Barendregt)

      Hi J, what I was trying to say was that the second part of the show (after the intermission) was released as Lovesexy Live part 1 and vice versa. So, to enjoy the show as it was played you should watch part 2 first and then part 1.
      The reasoning behind this was that 1 is a more postive number than 2. The second part of the Lovesexy Show was more postive than the first. So, to join two positives, it was decid3d that part 1 should contain the second part of the show.
      Hope that clarifies it a bit. English is not my native language, so maybe some meaning got lost in translation. If so, my apologies.

  10. Annie Ward

    >Here’s the quote

    U: On Lovesexy, on Alphabet Street, a woman’s voice can be heard in the background reciting the alphabet. But she skips the letter “G”. What’s up with that?

    The Artist : She was being kissed at the time, and got flustered, eye suppose.

    1. A Pop Life (Erwin Barendregt)

      I will add it as a possible reason!

      1. GK

        I would suggest a simpler reason… try making a “G” with your tongue. That’s a letter you just have to skip over when driving on Alphabet St.

        1. A Pop Life (Erwin Barendregt)

          Ha, ha, that’s plausible!

  11. Mats

    Well written article, brought me back to the excitement of hearing the album for the first time and seeing the show. (I was at the Stockholm gig)

    1. A Pop Life (Erwin Barendregt)

      Thank you so much for your kind words. Have fun reminiscing!

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