Before I start I’ve gotta send thoughts out to the family, friends, and fans of rock guitar legend Eddie Van Halen. Not many musicians reach a point where the mere mention of their name conjures greatness, but Eddie Van Halen was certainly one of them. As someone loyal to Prince I’ve spent too much time arguing against Eddie Van Halen over the years in debates about the greatest rock guitarist of all-time. I meant no disrespect. No doubt Eddie Van Halen belongs on that list at or near the top. It’s a matter of style and preference. Regardless of preference, you’d have to be a fool not to recognize his greatness and impact. When Rolling Stone magazine’s readers ranked Van Halen #8 on their list of the 100 greatest guitarists (Prince was 33?!?) Pearl Jam’s Mike McCready said this about the first time he heard “Eruption,” a 90-second Eddie Van Halen guitar solo from 1978: “It sounded like it came from another planet. I was just learning basic chords, stuff like AC/DC and Deep Purple. ‘Eruption’ really didn’t make sense to me, but it was glorious, like hearing Mozart for the first time.” Enough said. Also, if there’s a more badass name than Eddie Van Halen, I’ve never heard it. It sounds like a stage name, but that was actually the guy’s name. His name alone is so cool his bandmates were like, “Fuck it, we’re calling ourselves Van Halen.” Although, his brother was the drummer, so maybe they didn’t leave the other guys much choice. No offense, David Lee, but Roth is not an effective band name. I digress. Much respect to Eddie Van Halen. I’m saddened by the loss of another legend. May he rest in peace.
On to the Daily Prince song, and I’ve been waiting a while for this. It took nearly six months, but the old Daily Prince Song Randomizer finally produced our first track from Prince’s oft forgotten and criminally underrated Lovesexy. Let’s recap a few things in case you haven’t been keeping up.
Prince started releasing albums in 1978 with For You. He followed up with a self-titled album in 1979. On October 8, 1980, (40 years ago this Thursday!) he produced his first classic, unforgettable, essential, insert hyperbolic adjective here album, Dirty Mind. That started an unparalleled run of great albums every year (he skipped 1983) through 1988’s Lovesexy. 1985’s Around The World In A Day seems to be forgotten because it came so quickly on the heels of his best selling album, Purple Rain. Lovesexy suffers the same fate as it was released 14 months after the album many consider to be his greatest, Sign O’ The Times. It also came in the aftermath of Prince nearly releasing, then cancelling The Black Album. When Prince decided The Black Album was too dark he spent two months recording all new music for Lovesexy, with the exception of the track “When 2 R In Love” which appears on both albums.
I find it unbelievable that Prince recorded so much music throughout 1986-1987 that didn’t make it on to an album (check out the recent Sign O’ The Times Super Deluxe Edition), but he decided to create an entire new album anyway. When that new album was done he scrapped it because he wasn’t feeling it. Then he recorded another album in two months, leaving dozens of amazing unreleased songs in the vault. By the way, Lovesexy is an amazing album. Prince accomplished more in two months in the studio than most do in their entire lives.
One other notable fact about Lovesexy is that Prince made the controversial decision to release the CD as one single track. You cannot skip around on the Lovesexy CD. Prince forces the listener to listen to the album as one track. There are nine song titles listed on the CD sleeve, but the CD itself forces you listen to it in order. Later versions of the CD came with the album separated in to nine tracks. I’m not sure how I feel about that. As a big fan of albums and vinyl, I like it. I enjoy hearing songs in the sequence that the artist intended and trying to decipher why they made the decisions. Especially Prince. It’s part of why vinyl is my preferred medium. At the same time, it’s kind of a dick move. If I want to hear the song “Positivity” on the CD I have to fast forward through 37 minutes to get to it. I can see why that would turn people off.
For whatever reason, fans were not buying it. Literally. Lovesexy only reached #11 on the US Billboard Pop Albums chart. It only went *gasp* gold! That’s a massive step backward for someone who sold over eight million copies of Purple Rain only four years earlier. I’d love to say Prince didn’t give a fuck, but the work that followed indicates to me that he did. The albums that followed for many years sounded less like Prince and more like Prince doing some interpretation of contemporary R&B and hip hop with varying degrees of success. Lovesexy was not his final great album, but it was the end of a near-flawless run that lasted the better part of a decade.
After all of this praise for Lovesexy we get to today’s song, “Glam Slam.” I can say without hesitation that it’s my least favorite song on the album. Again, my least favorite song on a Prince album is still better than most, but I’ll make this bolder declaration instead: “Glam Slam” is my least favorite Prince single. It just doesn’t do much for me. It’s unspectacular and lacks the enthusiasm I would expect based on the lyrics. When you’re singing the lyrics, “Glam slam thank you ma’am, you really make my day,” I just expect it to sound different. By the way, that’s not the finest chorus Prince has ever written, either.
Have you ever seen the show Sherman’s Showcase on IFC? I have no idea how to write a synopsis of what Bashir Salahuddin and Diallo Riddle have created with Sherman’s Showcase, so I’ll lazily call it a spoof of Soul Train. They dedicate the entire third episode of the show to a genius from Nebraska named Charade and his band The Mardi Gras. As if the Prince parallels weren’t obvious immediately, Morris Day (Living Legend, Minnesotan) hosted the episode. One specific performance by Charade on Sherman’s Showcase marks “the end of his reign” as Morris put it. That performance reminds me of the “Glam Slam” video. Prince in his polka dotted suit and blindfold. Cat’s interpretive dancing. The strings. Dr. Fink’s puzzling wardrobe selection. Dancers in spandex surrounding the stage. Prince was taking his music to a place the kids weren’t interested in going. He was attempting to make art while Bobby Brown was stealing his audience. By the way, if “Vicki Is The Water Warm Enough?” was a single I’d buy it immediately. Shout out to Charade’s keyboardist, Scientist. That show is hilarious.
Lovesexy might be Prince’s forgotten masterpiece, but in my opinion “Glam Slam” is the weak link on the album. The only song I occasionally skip when I listen to his greatest hits compilations. I look forward to tackling something different from Lovesexy in the future.
“Roth is not an effective band name” is my favorite chabrawner line.
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