For starters, if you didn’t click on the YouTube video directly above these words I command you do that now before you go any further. If you don’t love this video you have a problem. What a classic. Prince swaying back and forth with a lustrous head of hair and giant hoop earrings looking like a beautiful woman with a mustache. It wouldn’t be complete without some cheesy effects that I’m sure were cutting edge in 1979. I don’t know where to rank this on a scale of 1 to 10 for 1970’s awkwardness because Hall & Oates shattered the scale when they created the video for “She’s Gone” in a high school auditorium.
OK, enough bullshit. Let’s get down to business. This song is essential Prince. The song that put him on the map. It was the first single from his self-titled second album. It went to #11 on the Billboard Hot 100 singles chart in January of 1980 and #1 on the Hot Soul Singles chart. What exactly qualified at “hot” soul and where is the cool soul chart? I have no idea. This is a great dance song that I hope filled dance floors in 1979-80. While not as funky as some of Prince’s later work, it had just enough funk to prevent it from falling in to the yacht rack category. Prince’s flawless falsetto floats over this track and reminds me of a question I’ve been asking myself for years now: When did Prince finally reveal his ability to sing in full voice? I’m always wondering and Googling it seems too lazy. I need to research this myself. I swear we don’t hear Prince in full voice until at least his third album.
One more thought on this song: Last fall when the Super Deluxe version of 1999 was released it was so full of new goodies for Prince enthusiasts like myself it was easy to miss songs. I became obsessed with specific vault material and it took months before I got around giving some of the other stuff a proper listen. There are 10 full LPs of material in the collection. It took a while to digest. The final two LPs are a recording of a full live show from November of 1982. However, sandwiched between the vault tracks and the live show is a “Tour Demo” medley of “Lady Cab Driver,” “I Wanna Be Your Lover,” “Head,” and “Little Red Corvette.” The band is in a sick “Lady Cab Driver” groove when they break in to the lyrics to “I Wanna Be Your Lover.” It’s fantastic. The band is so tight and funky. The harmonies are perfect. It’s a cool peek at how the song evolved after just a few short years. Check it out.
“I Wanna Be Your Lover” should be on every Prince hits playlist. Even if you don’t love it or you think it sounds dated, this was the song that introduced young Prince to the pop music audience. I give it 4 out of 5 stars.