When 2 R in Love:30
I Wish U Heaven:30
The provocative cover. The mysterious circumstances surrounding its release. The one continuous, 45-minute track that demanded listeners play the entire album in sequence. By 1988, Prince was a full decade into his recording career and had firmly established himself as a wildly prolific, endlessly creative force, and his 10th studio album, Lovesexy, showed that there was no predicting what Prince might release next.
I did Lovesexy in seven weeks from start to finish, and most of it was recorded in the order it was on the record. There were a couple of funky things I did at the end, but it’s pretty much how you hear it.”
Prince, Details, 1991
Lovesexy was not the album that the music industry — including his label, Warner Bros. — was expecting Prince to release that year. In what Jon Pareles of The New York Times described as “one of the most enjoyable and peculiar moves of the 1980s,” Prince announced that he would follow up the critically revered Sign o’ the Times with The Black Album, a raw collection of hard-rocking, funky dance music. But then, a mere week before its scheduled release, he scrapped his plans and demanded that Warner Bros. destroy all copies of the album. Only one of the songs from that album, “When 2 R in Love,” would be saved from the cutting room floor, and within seven weeks Prince had recorded an all new collection of songs to join it on the album Lovesexy.
Due to the last-minute shift, and the fact that bootlegged cassette tapes of The Black Album had already started circulating throughout the music industry and fan community, many viewed Lovesexy as a direct contradiction of the dark undertones of the raunchy Black Album. It was a brighter, lighter, and more melodic release, inspired by the more spiritual direction that Prince’s music had started to take in the second half of the decade. “We need love and honesty, peace and harmony, positivity,” he sings in the album’s closing track, echoing the sentiment that courses throughout the album: after confronting society’s deepest troubles in his earlier political work, Lovesexy sought the unite and uplift. In Prince’s words, Lovesexy was his gospel album.
Lovesexy was a mind trip, like a psychedelic movie. Either you went with it and had a mind-blowing experience or you didn't.”
Prince, Rolling Stone, 1990
Perhaps because of the album’s unusual release, Lovesexy struggled to live up to the high commercial bar set with his other mid-1980s releases, but overall it still performed well. In the U.S., “Alphabet St.” enjoyed a brief time in the top 10 of the Billboard Hot 100 and the album was certified Gold, selling over 500,000 copies, but subsequent singles did not sell quite as well. The album reached number 1 in the U.K., the Netherlands, Sweden, and Switzerland, continuing Prince’s late-’80s streak of resonating more deeply with European audiences.
The Lovesexy Tour kicked off in Europe in the summer of 1988 before sweeping the U.S., Canada, and Japan, and was one of Prince’s most elaborately staged productions to date. Performing on a multi-tiered stage, Prince incorporated a basketball hoop, a fountain, and a full-scale replica of his Ford Thunderbird into the show, and the striking stage costumes worn by Prince and his band — which at that time included Miko Wevaer, Levi Seacer, Jr., Dr. Fink, Boni Boyer, Sheia E., Eric Leeds, Atlanta Bliss, and Cat Glover — were inventively designed and perfectly tailored, accessorized with mirrored hearts that emphasized the “Love” theme.
Prince, working with most of the same musicians who joined him on Sign o’ the Times, has not abandoned his dance-floor exuberance. The music jumps — it's some of the happiest and freest of his career, much of it mixing sounds of night life and the street in giddy audioscapes.”
Robert Hilburn, Los Angeles Times, 1988
Lovesexy Album Credits
Prince lead vocals and various instruments Sheila E. drums Boni Boyer keyboards Dr. Fink keyboards Miko Weaver guitar Levi Seacer, Jr. bass Eric Leeds saxophone Atlanta Bliss trumpet Ingrid Chavez vocals Cat Glover vocals