Afer releasing his critically acclaimed album, Sign o’ the Times, many wondered what was come for Prince. Having amassed a level of credibility, respect, and mainstream success, some believed that Prince had become too much of a Pop artist. In response to critics, Prince recorded The Black Album, an exploration of some of the funkiest rhythms, compositions, and instrumentation. But, after realizing it’s dark content, and ill-placed intentions, Prince recalled the album just a few weeks shy of its release. After scrapping the album, in traditional Prince fashion, he put together an entire album in no time, recording much of the instruments himself. That album would turn out to be, Lovesexy, his 10th studio album. This past May Lovesexy turned 30, and has become a fan favorite, noted for it’s cover art, tour, and legendary afer shows.
Last week, friend of the blog, Tarick and I made the trip to New York City for the EYE NO Prince: Lovesexy Symposium at NYU’s Tanden School of Engineering. Organized by designer, photographer, web developer, DJ, and podcaster, De Angela L. Duff, the symposium served as a space for Prince fans to explore the life, music, and impact of Prince with special attention on his 10th studio album, Lovesexy. After the symposium I spoke with resident Princeologist, Tarick. Here’s our conversation:
Stanley: We just left Day 1 of the EYE NO Prince: Lovesexy Symposium. What did you think of the atmosphere of the event?
Tarick: I thought the atmosphere was pretty cool. I’m glad Prince is getting his just due in spaces as such (universities, symposiums, panels, etc.) even though it happened after his passing. It was interesting being in a room full of people who love the same person for similar and/or different reasons. For me personally, I loved being there. I was resisting really getting into it and letting my hair down when the concert played lol. I just wish it had a much bigger audience and I wish we had time to stay for day 2; which had more panels and more info for you seeings as you’re a fan and I’m a Stan (ironic, lol)
Tarick: What did you think of the atmosphere of the event? Would you go to another one?
Stanley: I thought the atmosphere was great! I really enjoyed Cat Glover’s spirit and energy - she really made the room light up. Watching the Lovesexy concert with Cat Glover was easily the highlight lol. It was like watching the director’s cut of a movie, or having a narrator.
I’ve heard Dr. Fink on podcasts and interviews before, and I’ve always enjoyed listening to his appreciation for Prince’s compositions. So, to hear him talk about Prince, in person, was really enjoyable. Dr. Fink seems like a chill guy, and just enjoys talking about Prince. I appreciate that.
Having been to a number of academic conferences, it was cool to see a similar set up, but the topic to be about Prince. I’d definitely go again!
Stanley: I was really impressed by Prince’s engineer - Joe Blaney, who worked with Prince on Lovesexy and a few other albums. Looking back, what did you think of their work together in terms of the production quality of Lovesexy?
Tarick: Lovesexy is a bit of a mixed bag for me. As you know I been a fan for a long time and my favorite time periods and eras change. Prior to his passing there was stuff I didn’t like at all and stuff I didn’t listen to much and Lovesexy was a mix of both. But after he died, I revisited a lot of the stuff from all time periods and I fell in love with this era completely; the band, the music (released and unreleased, lol) and the concerts and after shows. As far as production quality of the Lovesexy album, it’s great. In good headphones or via a great sound system is sounds cleaner and clearer than all his albums before it and there was a reason for that. Paisley Park was built and completed in 1987. Before paisley, he mostly recorded either live in the warehouse (the rehearsal space he used for his bands), his basement studio or sunset sound in LA. Lovesexy was recorded between dec 87 and jan-feb 88 @ the park. As most Prince fans know, once paisley was built his music became very very polished and you can hear it. To me, it’s louder and cleaner than his previous efforts. Listen with headphones and you’ll hear SO much that’s in the background with all the little flourishes he did with sounds, random instruments and even his voice/vocals.
Stanley: I like Lovesexy, though I wouldn’t say it’s one of my favorites. First, I liked that Lovesexy (again) showed his dexterity on multiple instruments, though musically, I like other albums more. I thought lyrically, and thematically, the album was brilliant. Prince’s constant return to themes of love, God, spirituality, and in this case, battles between good and evil, were especially enjoyable. With that said, Anna Stasia is probably my favorite song, Eye No probably number 2. I say “probably” because it is subject to change lol.
I thought it was really interesting hearing Joe Blaney talk about Prince’s ability to manipulate his voice (naturally), something I knew going in, but was impressed by after hearing Blaney’s accounts. It’s well documented how Prince created characters and manipulated his voice for those roles, but that’s...not easy to do? Blaney mentioned during some recording sessions how he had left and Prince had something recorded, and Blaney basically asked who the singers were, then he isolated each track only to find out it was all Prince. That’s amazing to me.
I should also add that my orientation with this album was primarily through bootlegged aftershows lol. I love those. The spontaneity of jam sessions is incredible. But the skill it took to sound good in those shows is remarkable.
Tarick: They had a panel and at the end they showed the Lovesexy concert from Germany. Now, I’ve seen it before but you’ve mentioned that you haven’t seen it in full before that. What did you think? Anything from the show that stood out?
Stanley: I thought the concert was great! One of the things I like about Prince’s concerts is that he fully engages in the artistry of the performance. He could just riff all night on the guitar, and I’d be happy. He could just dance all night, and I’d be happy. But instead he makes his shows a part of a larger story. I thought he and Cat’s chemistry on stage was really powerful (also helped that she was sitting right in front of us narrating the show).
I’ve always loved Miko’s playing - especially his rhythm guitar playing. Super funky. And the way he played off of Levi was incredible. And the connection between Levi and Sheila E? My goodness. They were super tight. And I thought Boni was incredible, per usual. Also, I feel like Prince used Eric Leeds solos when he wanted to go into hyperdrive - whatever song was being played automatically went to another level.
You can watch Day 1 of the EYE No Prince: Lovesexy Symposium below: