Crucial is the fifth track on the second disc of Prince's 20th album Crystal Ball (his fourth using the name ). The album is not clearly divided between Prince tracks and tracks, but the liner notes' discussion of this track state "All instruments and vocals by Prince", so it is credited to Prince in this entry.
Basic tracking took place on 13 September 1986 at Prince's Galpin Blvd Home Studio in Chanhassen, Minnesota (four days after the end of the Parade Tour in Japan, the day before recording Coco Boys); this version missed the guitar solo.
Eric Leeds added a saxophone part on 6 November 1986 (the day after sequencing the Camille album), at Sunset Sound in Hollywood, California, at Prince's request, but when Prince heard it, he let Leeds know that the main saxophone solo was in the place where the guitar solo would be, so the saxophone solo was discarded when Prince recorded the guitar solo in early-to-mid November, at Sunset Sound.
The song was written specifically for the planned musical The Dawn, which was ultimately abandoned, and the song was never intended for any of Prince's many late-1986 album projects (although the album notes in Crystal Ball state that it was intended for Sign O' The Times and was replaced by Adore).
It is believed that the version used for release on Crystal Ball was edited in 1997, although this has not been confirmed.