|Lovesexy is the tenth full-length studio album by Prince. It was released worldwide in May 1988, 13 months after his previous album Sign O’ The Times.
As an artistic statement, the initial CD release of the album was not split into tracks, but was instead tracked as one single 45:07 track, designed to be listened to as a whole (track titles were included, however). Later releases of the CD split the album into the nine named tracks, however.
Sessions and compiling
The album was written and recorded hastily in response to Prince’s decision in early December 1987, to cancel “The Black Album”, which Prince deemed too dark. One of the tracks from that album, When 2 R In Love, recorded in October 1987, was kept for inclusion on Lovesexy, and the remaining eight tracks were recorded in the following two months. No, Dance On and Positivity were recorded in mid-December 1987.
Also recorded in mid December was Luv Sexy, an early version of Lovesexy with the same hook-line but faster in pace, in a different key and with mostly different lyrics. It was not used for the album but Prince borrowed parts from it for Lovesexy that was done in late January 1988.
Alphabet St. was recorded at the end of December 1987, while Glam Slam and Anna Stesia were both recorded at some point in December 1987, but specific dates for these tracks are unknown. I Wish U Heaven was recorded in late January 1988, as the final track recorded for the album.
While Sheila E. appears on drums for many of the album’s tracks, the album was largely recorded solely by Prince. His full live band appeared on No, and some band members appeared in minor roles on Alphabet St., Anna Stesia, Lovesexy and Positivity. The album marks Cat and Boni Boyer’s first appearances on a Prince album.
A first sequence of the album was done on 21 January 1988. The exact sequence of this version is unknown, but likely had the first four songs (Side A of the album) as it was later released, although some versions (including Glam Slam and Anna Stesia were possibly edited or mixed differently at this point. The other songs on there were Dance On, When 2 R In Love, Luv Sexy, The Line and Positivity, most likely in that order.
Positivity at this stage included Cat rapping J.M. Silk’s "Music Is The Key", previously incorporated into Cindy C. which was removed from the version as it was released. Prince likely worked on mixing the tracks over the next week.
A version of the album was compiled and printed as an acetate on 26 January 1988. Possibly with its 'predecessor', the ill-fated untitled “The Black Album” in mind it was made without an artist or title presented.
The album now had eight songs, omitting The Line from its earlier configuration. All four tracks on side A, as well as Dance On and When 2 R In Love were now edited as on the released version, although the mix was possibly slightly different still on some. Luv Sexy was the penultimate track on the album, with Positivity still with the "Music Is The Key" rap included. I Wish U Heaven was yet to be recorded and therefore not on this configuration.
On 29 January 1988, two days after the acetate was made, Prince cut Lovesexy from scratch, using the lyrics he wrote as The Most Vital (but did not put to music as such) and taking various elements from Luv Sexy, including the hook-line and the varispeed dialogue at the end.
I Wish U Heaven was recorded two days after Lovesexy on 31 January 1988.
In early February 1988 a new test pressing of the album is made, now including both the newly recorded Lovesexy and I Wish U Heaven. Before its final release I Wish U Heaven was remixed once more and replaced a guitar part with a keyboard part, while Cat’s "Music Is The Key" rap was omitted from Positivity.
The album produced three commercially-released singles, Alphabet St. (which preceded the album), Glam Slam and I Wish U Heaven.
Prince supported the album with a major European, North American and Japanese tour, the Lovesexy Tour, which focused largely on the album (while including many songs from Prince’s back catalog).
The album reached number 11 on the US Billboard Top Pop Albums Chart, and number 5 on the Billboard Top Black Albums Chart. It fared much better in Europe, reaching number 1 in the UK, Netherlands, Switzerland and Sweden. The album also did well in New Zealand, where it also reached number 1.
The album was certified gold by RIAA seven months after release, on 5 December 1988. Lovesexy was Prince’ lowest and weakest selling album in the United States since Controversy. Prince was so disappointed in the less-than-stellar impact of the album in the U.S. that he decided to postpone the American tour that was planned. Instead, he opted to go to Europe before taking the show to the US, hoping that the momentum and anticipation would build.