Happy Monday, everyone! It’s a fresh week. Let’s get it. Today we’re back to 1998’s Crystal Ball triple album for the 2nd track on the 3rd disc, “Last Heart.” Every time I delve in to Crystal Ball I feel the need to give a brief background. Here goes: Prince tried unsuccessfully in 1986-1987 to sell Warner Brothers on several ambitious ideas – one of them being a triple album named Crystal Ball – and they weren’t having it. Instead the chosen music from that time period became the classic double album Sign ‘O’ the Times and the rest went in to Prince’s legendary vault. In 1998 Prince (who was no longer Prince, but O(+> or TAFKAP or The Artist…) put out a triple album featuring 150 minutes of vault tracks and outtakes called Crystal Ball. When you see 1998 on many of the Crystal Ball songs it’s misleading. 1998 was the year they were exhumed from the vault, but most of the music was recorded earlier.
In the case of today’s song, “Last Heart,” it was actually recorded in January of 1986. It was included on multiple configurations of a Prince and the Revolution album called Dream Factory that was abandoned in July of that year when Prince and the Revolution split. My impression of “Last Heart” is that it’s a smooth vanilla track. Prince’s vocal performance is solid, but the music is mildly funky, but mostly bland. At the risk of sounding insulting, it has the kind of smooth “urban” sound that would be used as bumper music on the Arsenio Hall Show. Prince can do better. My instinct proved correct when I did my research on princevault.com and discovered that the track is actually a demo that Prince had planned on re-recording but “never got around 2 it.”
My other thought when I hear “Last Heart” is that one of the lines repeated during the chorus is oddly threatening. The song is about Prince confronting a significant other about her infidelity and him lamenting his heartbreak and loneliness. Then the chorus kicks in and he sings, “If you break my heart one more time it’ll be the last heart you’ll ever break.” Is he going to kill her? Everything else in the song points to Prince being the sympathetic victim of a cheating lover, but that line “it’ll be the last heart you’ll ever break,” seems to imply that there’s something really dark awaiting her. I’m guessing he meant, “If you break my heart one more time it’ll be the last time with me,” but what he sings is much more ominous.
Lyrical ambiguity aside, “Last Heart” is a solid if unspectacular track. It’s not one that I seek out, but I don’t dislike it. I’m indifferent, which is not how I should feel about a Prince track. I expect more from the GOAT.