An attempts at a Black & White album review

I’m still on a purple adrenaline rush. I’ve said he’s indescribable… in a word, a performance from Prince is a HUGE adrenaline rush. He is adrenaline, so long as its a brand new performance or a song that I haven’t heard a zillion times. (In a dream, I said “for the love of God, stop playing Let’s go Crazy”… and he actually stayed true to his word, but on Leno, he always keeps things current).

To build up to the last performance, I had planned to listen to The Black Album and LoveSexy back to back. It would have been more of a success if I didn’t find out that “Batman Forever” was on TV at the time and I hadn’t seen that movie in years. But this is what I came up with.

Over the past couple of years in his music, Prince had been fighting with the deadly sin, Lust. We noticed it starting to come to the surface, the “obsession” with the temptation of sex and lust, in the Dirty Mind album. But songs like “Head” and “Sister” were playful at best despite the mature content.
Hearing the full version of “Computer Blue,” its clear than its more than a playful affair. Either I’m overthinking or he’s over thinking the fact that the track deals with the obsession with sex and coming terms with it, having to even face punishment for it if something isn’t change. “Temptation” continues that theme and punishment measures are taken during the last couple of minutes. “IT” basically embodies the phenomenon. You’d think by now that Prince had made peace with the supposed obsession. Although he might not be dealing with it personally, a part of him certainly is. His musical alter-ego, perhaps.

I might have written a similar lay-out of The Black Album a couple of entries ago, but this will be the end of it. This goes into one of the many theories leading to its withdrawal. This being the fact that he decided it was going too far on a lot of accounts and he didn’t want it to be the last image of him that his listeners would have before his supposed “death.” (Clearly, that didn’t come to pass and I heavily doubt that it would have if he didn’t shelve this album… but it remains to be seen whether or not LoveSexy would have happened at all if this album wasn’t taken off the shelves).

I’m not sure if there were any other artists that had this problem, but Prince seemed to have a thing in the 80’s about wanting to invent new dance crazes. Through his own music and with The Time, he’s tried to inspire us to do The Walk, The Bird (which has actually panned out) and telling us to Work… now he wants to introduce a nouveau dance called “Le Grind.” Which roughly translates to a sexy dance where girls and boys get close, really close.

The next is about a model that Prince wants to get with at this party (the whole album is supposedly a great big party with the exception of three songs). He does a spoken section halfway through where he says how he doesn’t care if she’s a whiz at math because he’s more interested in doing the deed.
So much for Christopher Tracy’s newfound philosophy about going beyond flesh and it being happier than sex.

“Dead on it” takes us away from the sex and lust. It’s funny how someone said that Prince couldn’t rap on a song and it would automatically turning into hip-hop. This is at least better than any of the hip-hop crap that’s on the radio today. We basically have Prince rapping on a song and playing real instruments (or possibly, its all produced with a Fairlight keyboard and/or Linn-drum). Here, he makes fun of rappers in every possible ways. Saying how they’re tone-deaf, their rapping let people down, having gold on their teeth, wearing gold rings on all fingers (now known as “bling-bling”… would he ever use that word in a song?)… or just putting in some strange lyrics that only rappers would use about licking knees or being a vampire named Hellzpoppin’.

For the sake of time, I skipped the next song, and also to keep the vision clear. Keeping yin and yang separate.

I’m sure I’m repeating something from earlier on with this… but  I’ll say it anyway.
In one light, “Bob George” can be seen as extremely hilarious… closer to Prince’s original intention. When he’s angry with a person and writes a song about them, he wants to make it funny for himself. Then in another light, this song offers some pretty scary imagery. Through his distorted, slowed down voice, Prince takes on the personality of a violent, gun-wielding gangster who’s out to get this Bob George character for stealing his girl (who ends up dead at the beginning of this rampage).

In the end, his character becomes more fearsome than Bob George. It’s true with all of us that when we’re really angry with a particular person, we feel like we want to become another person that is able to set things in their favor. There’ve been a few times where I felt I could transform into someone who doesn’t care so much about what other people think and would totally give the person a piece of my mind. We all have that killer instinct, but wouldn’t necessarily KILL people over it. There are a few butts I’d love to kick, though (something that’s been occuring to me a lot lately… I wish I remembered some of that karate that I knew 10 years ago at this time).

Part of the song still gives me the creeps, I’m not going to lie. He’s so convincing as a villain.

“Superfunkycalifragisexy” is probably the most ridiculous out of all the songs, starting with the title. It talks about using squirrel meat as an aphrodesiac and its the raunchiest of all of the songs on the album. It pushes the envelope so far… it could be part of the reason why the album was pulled.

By this time, Prince has created a really bad image for himself through his music. He’s promoting lust over love. Characters he’s playing are murdering women and using them for sex. And possibly afraid that the rappers would want to carry out a hit on him for him making fun of their emerging culture (I just made that last part up, actually because it sprung to mind).

Since I’m going all out here, I might as well go into all of my theories or rather THE theories about why there wasn’t a Prince album released in December 1987.

  1. it’s too outrageous/crazy/outside of the box
  2. it promotes him in all the wrong ways (didn’t want that angry part of his life documented)
  3. he saw a vision from God that convinced him not to release it after a bad trip
  4. he saw the Devil after a bad trip (this is according to Dr. Fink who heard this from one of his bodyguards at the time)

Because we never got a straight answer about why he pulled the album from the man himself, I can’t confirm one theory or another as truth. I like to play both sides (because of drugs or not). There are hints throughout the LoveSexy album as well as the storyline told through the accompanying tour’s stage show about the truth of the incident and as well as it being a gospel album (“soul food”), the album was left for interpretations. With any of his albums, Prince writes them based on truths in his life and what’s been going on around him as of late.

Given that this is the first album since SoTT, it was quite a shift when the first lyrics sung by Prince were “I know there is a heaven and that there is a hell”… and it talks about believing in Lovesexy and leaving Spookie Electric behind. The whole album and the show was a battle between Lovesexy (God) and Spookie Electric (the Devil). The music of the album sets a tone for LoveSexy’s atmosphere. It’s very airy, free, beautiful and wonderful.

I said this early on and I still believe it. The album starts by giving us a foundation, but I believe that the next two tracks sequential happened before “Eye No.” The lyrical themes of “Alphabet Street” and “Glam Slam” are no different than Prince’s usual pattern. He wants to get with a girl, says all of the things he’s going to do to her with various sexual innuendo, and then he comes by a girl who makes him happy and he somewhat uses her to escape from reality (coincidence that there is a remix of the song called “Glam Slam (Escape)”?). Sex is his way to escape from his problems, etc. It’s been done before, but never to this degree.

I’ve called this album a masterpiece. This song begins a trend of that. You haven’t heard anything quite like this before from Prince. After the main part of the song ends, the dynamics of the song changes. The music changes into something you would find on in a Broadway show where the song continues on, but its all instrumental where a remix of the intial melody is played. I’m tempted to say it feels like a mix between Mamma Mia! (original London cast, not the movie) and Phantom of the Opera, where it kinda begins like the first and the transition to the next song is like the second. For the first, I also want to apologize for it coming to mind, but I’d gotten an earful of Mamma Mia! lately. Enough to last me a while.

“Anna Stesia” is the core of this album as far as why it replaced The Black Album. But the song itself is a masterpiece among others. Incredible lyrics, the atmosphere is haunting, powerful, somewhat spooky, enlightening and just awesome, and the music goes all out. After hearing it the first time, I started leaning more towards the “drugs alibi,” but this is in part to the people on .org who said it before I did. I suppose you could look at the lyrics and STILL not believe it was drugs that forced the decision, but rather a guilty conscience made him change his mind. It gives the impression that the music he’d written as of late hadn’t been quite good enough, it hasn’t been the kind of music he was capable of or at the quality he would like or it just plain favored his “dark” side instead of his heart (the center of his music’s creation).

“Dance On” shows you other types of chaos going on apart from Prince’s personal dramas. It echoes the lyrics of the title track of SoTT, but takes it to a level where it makes more sense among the other LoveSexy tracks.

Now, THE core of this album is the title track where everything comes together. Now that you have something to work with (the previous 5 tracks), you can understand a little more about what Lovesexy means. The overall vibe of TBA was that Prince didn’t quite appreciate the opposite sex or to say the least, his respect for women didn’t shine through AT ALL, mostly because he was messing around with funky rhythms while not paying as much attention to catchy, memorable, brilliant lyrics. If anything, this song completely makes up for that (if not, the next two songs to follow will help atone for the wrongs committed).
Selfless is the word for his attitude here. He talks about how he doesnt want to keep his love (and then some [ahem]) to himself and even gives the girls first go at “making love with only words.”
The highlight for me (as if the whole production of this number wasn’t amazing already with the great vibes) is the Camille cameo. I love that his use of it here. And it fits so well. The storyline behind the Lovesexy tour revolved around a boy named Camille (which Prince, of course, identified with).

“When 2 r in Love” is the simplest of all of the tracks. There’s a simple melody, two verses and a chorus, but the lyrics are complex. Making love with only words is taken to the ultimate degree, which Prince has proven to be a pro at. It sets the template for the next couple of ballads Prince puts into his albums (“Scandalous” on Batman and “Insatiable” on Diamonds & Pearls, though a few other influences went into that song as well).

“Eye Wish U Heaven” feels like the shortest song on the album, though I’m not sure if it really is. It’s short and sweet, and I wish it were longer. But then, I’ve heard parts 2 & 3 and didn’t like what I heard (too much rap, dammit). The build-up of the music and the chord changes towards the end of the song hits just right for me and I can only think beauty.

“Postivity” is Prince’s last attempt to incorporate a message into the album. He’s given us enough, but the last song just didn’t give the punchline he wanted. The message of this song starts with not assuming the worst in people (or “don’t judge a book by its cover”) and it ends with the sing-along section that ultimately says not to kiss the beast (Spooky Electric) and be superior by flying by him and everything he crawls for.

The last measures of the album are the sounds of flowing/bubbling water, which signifies reincarnation and purification.

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