Retroactive Review: Lovesexy (1988)

30 years ago today, May 10, 1988, Prince released Lovesexy to the public1. However, this was not supposed to be what was originally released, as various bootlegs of The Black Album nearly everyone possessed clearly attested2. A rare, one-time ecstasy trip gone bad is credited with curbing The Purple One’s enthusiasm on the darker, malicious record, although its famously reported that Warner Bros wasn’t big on the album either, especially only nine months after the double-sided Sign o’ the Times.

After completing his two-month, European Sign o’ the Times Tour, Prince returned home, and fought off advances to tour America. His European sales were doing better than his American sales. and the conservative climate of the U.S. wasn’t nearly as kind to him as Europe’s more inviting, progressive atmosphere. Numerous disagreements with close friends and associates can accumulate stress, but throw in professional arguments with managers and the pressures of fame, and you begin to understand how Prince was able to harbor this darker streak that manifested itself in various tracks recorded during this incredibly prolific time period. Sign o’ the Times was incredibly pessimistic at moments, but ultimately, I believe the overall record does its best to inspire positivity and self-discovery; not so much the case with the batch of songs intended for The Black Album, recorded concurrently with its predecessor and the various failed projects that resulted in Sign o’ the Times conception.

Only one more song had been added to the track list after the tour, as Prince’s concern for the Sign o’ the Times concert film superseded recording work. After filming three extra Dutch shows in Rotterdam, The Netherlands at Sportpaleis Ahoy’ on June 26-28th, filming (and the entire tour) ended on June 29th, 1987, in Antwerp, Belgium, at the Sportpaleis. Additional filming was done at Paisley Park Studios, which had been partially operational since May 1st , but wasn’t officially opened until September 11th of that same year. The audio from the actual live shows was saved, but the entirety of the film was practically re-shot on the studio’s soundstage over the course of a week, from July 18th until the 23rd; complete with 100 extras (only on the last day of re-shoots), the band lip-syncing, and brand-new segues being filmed to assist editing.

Due to this development, The Black Album was put on the back-burner until October, when he tracked “When 2 R in Love” at Paisley Park Studios. Studious readers are already aware from my Sign o’ the Times review that “Superfunkycalifragisexy” was one of the last two songs tracked at the Washington Avenue Warehouse, however, work on it initially started sometime shortly after tracking “Shockadelica” at the Galpin Blvd Home Studio, as “Superfunkycalifragisexy” was recorded amidst a batch of songs that eventually made their way onto Sheila E.’s eponymous third album. I only bring this up to highlight the unusual recording process of what was initially envisioned to become Prince’s tenth album.

The idea was to release a plain black sleeve, with no artist credits or titling, only the catalogue number on the spine in peach; the color he had shifted to since Sign o’ the Times in order to subtly distinguish his newer approach from his “older”, purple stuff. I can only speculate that the idea for the album came about very sporadically, and out of spite. Five of the tracks were recorded before he returned to the Washington Avenue Warehouse for additional work on the anti-ecstasy “Superfunkycalifragisexy”, and each of those songs were tracked with a varying degree of intentions behind them. “Rockhard in a Funky Place”, as recurring readers are aware, was tracked on October 28th, 1986; intended for the aborted Camille record. “Superfunkycalifragisexy” sat around for months without a purpose; “Bob George” was the next song tracked, at Sunset Sounds, on December 7th, 19863, five weeks after “Rockhard in a Funky Place” was tracked. Interestingly enough, “Bob George”, as well as the songs “2 Nigs United 4 West Compton” and “Le Grind”, were recorded before the final song tracked for Sign o’ the Times was recorded; “U Got the Look”, and that’s due to Prince quickly cutting these songs together on December 9th (“2 Nigs United for West Compton), and December 10th (“Le Grind”), in order to play them for Sheila E.’s 29th birthday party he was hosting on the 11th.

Just before the release of Sign o’ the Times, during a brief period of productivity in the Galpin Blvd Home Studio, “Cindy C.”, and “Dead on It” were tracked, along with the eventual Madhouse track “Nine”, sometime in mid-March, as the latter half of the month would see him devote his time to getting the most out of the Washington Avenue Warehouse before ending the lease at the end of the month. A majority of the album had already been completed, and yet, there was no immediate plans for the record succeeding Sign o’ the Times, whose March 31st, 1987 release date perfectly coincided with end of the Washington Avenue Warehouse lease. After recording a litany of tracks that would eventually become songs for various associates, such as Mavis Staples, Prince departed overseas later that same April for a weeks-worth of rehearsals before the first show in Stockholm, Sweden at the Isstadion on May 8th, 1987. This tour saw the formation of his legendary ’87-’89 backing band, dubbed The Lovesexy Band, after the album they were mostly “featured” on.

Upon the completion of the tour, after subsequent re-shoots and editing for the concert film, Prince tracked “Everything Could Be So Fine” on September 1st, 1987 as the original story for the film Graffiti Bridge, but the closer that project came to fruition, the more this track was left in the rear view. His performance at the MTV VMA’s on September 11th, 1987 coincided with the grand opening of Paisley Park Studios, but his one-off matinรฉe performance the following morning at the Rosedale Country Club prevented him from recording anything else at the new studio for another day. In fact, it wasn’t until early October that Prince returned to Chanhassen, but when he did, he did so with a vision in mind.

Perhaps he really did want to perform for the VMA’s, since he would go on to infamously rock assless chaps at the 1991 VMA’s, in addition to becoming a regular host in his later years, but considering this was his first performance and appearance for the VMA’s, I believe it was something more akin to a contractual obligation as a result of not touring in America for Sign o’ the Times, which would explain the relative inactivity of recorded material during August and September of 1987. I mean, for fucks sake, the band was pre-recorded, if that’s not mailing it in, considering this is The Lovesexy Band we’re talking about, then I’m not sure what is. Regardless, frustrations had to have hit a fever pitch, as he tracked four songs in this early October session at Paisley Park Studios. What later became lyrics of the extended version of “I Wish U Heaven” was initially conceived as a track titled “Take This Beat”; ironically, what later became the last song recorded for Lovesexy, the response to the cancelled Black Album, was tracked during the same elongated session that resulted in “When 2 R in Love”, the final song recorded for The Black Album, as well as the first song recorded for Lovesexy. This is the only time one song has been released in the same version on two different Prince albums.

Grimy dance tracks were on Sign o’ the Times, not quite as dingy as the ones on The Black Album, but songs like “It” and “Housequake” were a return to an R&B style, and since Sign o’ the Times was partly a conscious effort to get in touch with his roots and give back to the culture, it must’ve been rewarding to see the album chart two spots higher on Billboard’s Top Black Albums than it did on Billboard’s Top 200. Therefore, since the idea was to release a low-key effort with no credits or information, it made sense to release an album full of songs rooted in that grimy R&B, pop-funk style that complimented the jazzy pop overtones on Sign o’ the Times. Think 1999 without the commercialism and you’re not far off from the preliminary idea of The Black Album. Warner’s release schedule kept up the intrigue of the record, labeling the release under “somebody” on their release schedule4, beginning rumors of “the Funk Bible” being unleashed upon the masses, dubbed after the introductory rant buried behind the mix of “Le Grind” that’s meant to act as the intro to the album; recorded around two weeks after tracking “When 2 R in Love”, and the trio of other songs recorded during early October ’87.

A release date of December 8th, 1987 was set, but one week before release, on December 1st, Prince pulled the plug on the project. He had been uneasy about releasing the album in the month leading up to the surprise release, and Warner echoed his concerns. Unsure of how the public would respond to such a dark record, Prince decided to cancel the album, promising Warner a brand-new album in a couple of months time. They agreed, and began to recall the album, resulting in a few hundred promotional copies remaining, serving as the reference point for the most bootlegged album of all time. German DJ Ruth Rockenschaub played the record in its entirety on her nightly radio show Nachtrock on March 6th, 1988; near the same time Prince finished the final version of the Lovesexy album, although she couldn’t have known that. “Alphabet St.” was released as the first single on April 15th, 1988, eight days later in the U.S., but more interestingly, the spur-of-the-moment music video for “Alphabet St.” contained numerous references to The Black Album, the most famous one being the split-second message at the end of the video stating,

Don’t buy The Black Album, I’m sorry

Spurring all kinds of rumors of why the album was cancelled, with the most famous one being the ecstasy-gone-bad story, further backed up by the hidden message stating “ecstasy” in the “Alphabet St.” video, as well as unnamed associates outright stating it was a bad ecstasy trip. Considering he had already gone against drug use on “Pop Life”, “Play in the Sunshine” and other various songs including “Superfunkycalifragisexy” from the same album he cancelled due to this bad ecstasy experience, it’s not hard to imagine The Purple One feeding his temptations, especially during such a tumultuous time in his recording career. Disciples of Christ are often tempted in the Bible, leading to many people having to learn their lesson and redeem themselves, and to a religious man like Prince, perhaps this bad ecstasy trip really did result in him seeing the negativity being expressed in The Black Album, and decided to release something more uplifting, continuing his path of spirituality that had been hinted at on Sign o’ the Times, culminating in this devotion to love, hope, and God on his tenth album.

Even before the rumored ecstasy trip; perhaps he had been squeamish of releasing it even then, why else would he wait seven months before recording the “final” track of an album consisting of pre-recorded tracks? It’s likely he was already heading in the band-inclusive direction of Lovesexy, and he just needed that extra push to fully realize his vision. Whatever the case may be, just ten days later, at Paisley Park Studios, on December 11th, 1987, the full band was brought in to track “Eye No”, the second song recorded for Lovesexy, after it was decided that “When 2 R in Love” fit within the structure of the upcoming album.

Between the cancellation of The Black Album and the tracking of “๐Ÿ‘๏ธ No”, I must mention the one-off performance on December 5th, 1987 at the Fine Line Music Cafe in Minneapolis, MN, if only because this show, as well as the one on New Years Eve 1987 at Paisley Park to a select crowd for the Minnesota Coalition for the Homeless, famous as the only time Prince and Miles Davis were able to share a live stage, were the only shows prior to The Lovesexy Tour; meaning that the feeling of this album was to match the intensity, as well as the interactions and improvisations, of a live setting. That’s why the band is so heavily “featured” on this album, even though it really only is Sheila E. on drums for upwards to seven songs; potentially only four. Boni Boyer, Eric Leeds, Atlanta Bliss, and Cat5 are the only band members to appear on more than one track other than Sheila E., and Cat is the only one of those four not relegated to “Alphabet St.” (although her rapping is featured on the track), or “Positivity”, since her original contribution on the track as the rapping guest was deleted once Prince realized he couldn’t use her verse without paying J.M. Silk and giving him credit for lyrics in her verse from his 1985 song, “Music Is the Key”; rapped in full on his Black Album track “Cindy C.”, which kept the plagiarized verse due to being an unreleased track for 7 years before getting an official, limited release in Europe, in 1994.

“Positivity” was tracked the same day as “Eye No”, but the mix would be continuously edited until late-February, meaning the day after he tracked “I Wish U Heaven”, The Purple One spent an entire month on post-production for the entire album before the first single was released, just under two months after-the-fact. The day after Sheila E. recorded lead vocal overdubs on the unreleased “Latino Barbie Doll”, kept around until 1993 for a planned track for Prince’s future wife Mayte, The Purple One recorded “Dance On” on December 16th, 1987, two days after “Luv Sexy”, the original version of the eventual title track. This version had a faster tempo and different key, but much like the original version of “๐Ÿ‘๏ธ No”, titled “The Ball”, Prince was able to re-work the track into something different; even if “๐Ÿ‘๏ธ No” really only features different lyrics, as even the “party segue” between “The Ball” and “Joy in Repetition” on the original Crystal Ball was kept, being reimagined as the introductory piece between “๐Ÿ‘๏ธ No” and the bluesy energetic lead single that follows it on the track list.

Six days after “Dance On”, a song titled “The Line” was tracked, inspired by new associate Ingrid Chavez’s poem she had written and recorded with Prince earlier in the month when they tracked 13 songs around the same time work on Lovesexy began. Six of those tracks wound up on her debut, but more importantly, the songs “Glam Slam” and “Anna Stesia” were tracked shortly after “The Line”, although “Anna Stesia” would be worked on well into January. Hard-pressed to come up with new, uplifting tracks, The Purple One must’ve received a spiritual boost from the knowledge of being able to play live with an idol, because the day before Miles Davis and Prince’s only performance together, he was able to start and complete tracking on “Alphabet St.”, getting himself closer to a finished product with one of the quickest recording processes of any album he’s done.

The composition of “Anna Stesia” was finished in early January, and an early configuration of the album was put together three weeks later on January 21st, 1988. However, just five days later, another configuration was submitted, with “The Line” being omitted from the track list, as well as several edits and mixing changes being done to the remaining songs. Cat’s sampled rap from “Cindy C.” was still apart of the track “Positivity” at this point, as well as still featuring the original “Luv Sexy”, which received a makeover just three days later, on January 29th, 1988.

Using the horn and synth hook-lines, the repeating “rain is wet, sugar is sweet” vocal section, the “tonight we make love only with words” dialogue from the original “Luv Sexy”, as well as lyrics from a completely different track titled “The Most Vital” that never made it to a studio recording, Prince remade “Luv Sexy” into what we hear on the finished product of this album. Sections of music from the original version are re-used for the released version, but since “Luv Sexy” remains unreleased, we may never know the full extent of the work that went into the construction of this title track.

Two days later, January 31st, 1988; “I Wish U Heaven” is tracked, completing recording work for the album. A test pressing was sent to Warner Bros. with the new songs, but during post-production, the mix was further edited, with a keyboard being switched for a guitar line in the mix of “I Wish U Heaven”, as well as the exclusion of Cat’s rap on “Positivity”; minor changes when you consider this album was cut together in the span of two months on emergency notice. However, it’s not like Prince wasn’t used to putting an album together quickly, think of For You, Prince, and especially Dirty Mind. Those were the first three albums of his career, so it’s true he’d been given the luxury of larger budgets and more time afforded, something he absolutely took advantage of during what is regarded as his critical and commercial peak, but now, at this point, he was 29.

He’d conquered the world, and during a moment of weakness, he folded on a project he thought too dark and personal to release. Returning readers should be familiar with my numerology theory from my Sign o’ the Times review, where I stated,

In numerology, 29 represents teamwork and relationships, and halfway to his 29th birthday, Sheena Easton set the foundation for the following year.

Just over a year later, after returning to his R&B roots, during a stretch of time where his numbers were dwindling significantly from his ’84 peak, on the tail end of a deadline that he locked himself into, he turned to several close associates, and assembled what is considered his most talented backing band. Sometimes, maintaining faith can take you to great places.

Unfortunately, the numbers didn’t reflect the attitude of the record. A good amount of critics and fans loved the record and gave glowing reviews to the tight rhythms of the LP due to the great drum and percussion work by Sheila E. and Prince, but a certain subsection of fans and critics alike didn’t particularly care for what they viewed as a series of gimmicks essentially. Initial copies of Lovesexy on CD were put together as one long continuous take, which was cool in theory, but annoying if you just wanted to skip around the track list for your favorite songs. The cover was controversial upon release, as you can imagine, and ironically, many retailers carried the album covered in black shrink-wrap, or something similar. All this led to a disappointing commercial performance, and no matter how many fan lists rank it a top ten album, or how many archived fan threads discuss the underrated beauty of the album, it can’t change the fact that it peaked at #11 on Billboard’s Top 200, and became the first Prince album since Dirty Mind to not earn Prince a platinum certification. It was out of the charts a week faster than even Parade, and this time, the album didn’t achieve a certification until the album was off the charts; barely achieving gold on December 5th, 1988, just under seven months after the album’s release.

Platinum certification or not, “๐Ÿ‘๏ธ No” deserves a nod amongst the best Prince album-opening tracks. Bouncy; full of life, “๐Ÿ‘๏ธ No” reinvents the pessimistic demeanor from “Sign o’ the Times” into a grounded, grand sweeping, celebratory track of faith and self-improvement. The drum kit Sheila E. expertly drives the rhythm with is an extremely welcomed addition to the mix, as the electronic drum kits featured on the previous two records, as well as an overwhelming majority of tracks crafted in the past eight years, hadn’t necessarily become stale, but the echo; the natural sound of a real drum being hit, it’s very inviting, perfect for the environment the track establishes, but it’s also extremely rewarding.

Free from cynicism, the snares and percussion of the breakdown give Prince a section for the crowd, asking us to swing with the rhythm. Anytime a Prince track delves into jam section territory, you’re usually in great hands, and this breakdown is no different. The “live setting” of the record keeps the optimistic spirit of the track alive, flowing leisurely into “Alphabet St.”; maintaining the fun energy this record exudes.

Although “๐Ÿ‘๏ธ No” is the only track to feature contributions from The Lovesexy Band as a whole, “Alphabet St.” bounces along just as well without Miko Weaver, Levi Seacer, Jr., or Dr. Fink; Cat raps near the last third of the track, and Ingrid Chavez gets to add mysteriously sexy vocals on the second track in a row when she lists off the alphabet, skipping the letter g and ending with “I love you” when it gets to the letter i at the end of the song, after another jam section complete with a bluesy guitar solo composed of understated guitar licks and fast, sharp chord progressions. Another phenomenal single to hang his hat on, “Alphabet St.” sadly peaked at #8 on Billboard’s Hot 100 Singles; the dedication to Bo Diddly and various other blues artists went unappreciated, as the genre often does, but when this album often gets remembered as “the end” of his best critical run, it’s shocking to see such an intriguing fusion of genres glossed over, and forgotten in the long run. As one of the few obvious crossovers on this album, I believe it’s criminal to forget “Alphabet St.” amongst the best of The Purple One’s singles; give it another listen and tell me I’m wrong.

It becomes more apparent how crucial the harmonies are to this album once you get to the third track “Glam Slam”; the first one that’s not an obvious standout. The playful chorus shimmers; the shining production ebbs and flows as the regal instrumentation expands and contracts on a whim. The end of the song features a heavy synth breakdown that slowly halts itself into the power ballad that is “Anna Stesia”, but the more interesting question is, how much involvement did Sheila E. actually have on the drumming in these two tracks? If even one of these tracks features electronic drumming, or Prince on the kit, then much props must be given to The Purple One for being able to sit in the drummer seat on his album most centered around the rhythm and drum fills.

Once you’ve received the wonderful horn work from Bliss and Leeds on the two opening numbers, it’s disappointing to hear no horns on “Glam Slam”, something that does unfortunately make the mix feel rather empty. However, the synth breakdown, slightly heavier emphasis on harmonies, and elimination of any silly raps or elongated intros ensures the song continues the audio voyage set in place at the very beginning of the record. The incredibly dramatic ending leads into the slower, passionate “Anna Stesia”; pretty piano keys being plucked innocently to express that longing for devotion.

More beautiful harmonies at the end of the track cry out, beautifully stating that “Love is God, God is love”, and then uses imagery from one of his more playful tracks, “Girls & Boys”, to add to that sentiment. “Girls and boys love God above”; something I don’t believe most people were expecting from the 80’s most provocative artist. Pitch-shifted vocals at the end imply the Devil is with us even in our most piteous moments, giving more credence to the bad ecstasy trip story. It’s your duty as a religious man of the community to ensure people are informed of such evils, and by recording such devotion to the lighter side of life, Prince had to have felt as if he had let something off his chest.

The high-pitched falsetto leaping across the stereo space on “๐Ÿ‘๏ธ No”, “Alphabet St.” and the chorus to “Glam Slam” is absent on “Anna Stesia”, with Prince sinking into the deeper registers of his range. The dramatic instrumentation conveys the necessary emotion on a track suggesting the utmost devotion to a person or principle, and it’s only more fitting considering this was the last song played live on every show of the first half of the “darker” segment of The Lovesexy Tour.

“Bob George” was always the penultimate song of the first half of the show, ending with Prince’s character being shot, revived, and then being redeemed by performing this song. Is it meta-commentary on religion, or the ecstasy trip he had that ultimately gifted him with this eureka moment? Likely both, remember, the man was a Gemini after all, and multiple meanings are usually what signifies a well-written Prince track, so kudos for not being afraid to end side one on a strong, spiritual note, since that’s where his temperament was residing at the time.

The undoubtedly weaker side two picks up where side one left, with “Dance On” preaching spirituality and reaching your full potential. However, what should feel like a powerful, anthemic jam ends up coming off like “Tamborine” done much better. Sheila E.’s drums provide a strong foundation for a playfully conscious track; namely the advertisement of American army recruitment to the underprivileged, idealized black community. Anyone can find a message in the broad appeals for understanding in “Dance On” however, further proving The Purple One’s genius as a songwriter. The pulsing rhythm, funky snares, and exciting guitar lines dispersed throughout the track give the groove energy to chug along and allow the band ample stereo space for more beautiful harmonies.

“Lovesexy”, “When 2 R in Love”, and “I Wish U Heaven” follow “Dance On”, in that order. Ever aware of pacing, Prince attempted to load the middle of side two with the poppier material from this side. The live drums of “Dance On” suggest “Anna Stesia” has more Sheila E. involvement than “Glam Slam” based on the livelier echoes from the drums, so I feel confident in stating Sheila E.’s drums are likely not on any of these next three tracks. This isn’t to suggest “Dance On” is the best song of the side, although the interesting imagery of war ruining culture; best evidenced by the line “They all know the words but the music is doomed”, is one of the best written moments of this entire side; the most interesting moments from this side of Lovesexy come from Prince’s vulnerability.

The title track jams, preaching love and positivity, or maybe he’s just talking about how good his sex is? Of course, the two aren’t mutually exclusive, an idea he’s flirted with before, but it’s now become fully realized on this album, and this song in particular. The energy from “Dance On” continues into the title track, but where “Dance On” quiets down during the lazy chants of the chorus, giving plenty of open stereo space to sneak in Sheila E.’s bottom-heavy snare fills, “Lovesexy” maintains that sexually raucous intensity. The opening monologue to “๐Ÿ‘๏ธ No” returns midway through the track, giving the album a sense of cohesion; strengthening a concept that he did not want to go overlooked.

Expertly ending on a drum beat, the title track’s masterfully produced stereo space gives way to the cheaper-sounding, less reverberated electronic drum kit of “When 2 R in Love”, which isn’t nearly as much as a negative as it looks in that sentence. Personal, and the least-pessimistic of any track from The Black Album, it makes sense this would be the song that re-focused Prince’s direction towards the positive emotions displayed on this record. Prince’s recurring romantic motif of bathing with your lover returns for this chorus, expertly building into a crescendo of love and tenderness after verses detailing the cutesy feelings one goes through when falling in love.

When two are in love, their bodies shiver at the mere contemplation/Of penetration, let alone the actual act/When two are in love, the thought of his tongue in the V of her love/In his mind, this thought it leads the pack.

Once again hammering home the idea that religion, devotion, and sex are not exclusive. It’s what gives “I Wish U Heaven” the proper environment to chug along expertly like a great power ballad should, inviting the audience to join the well-intended plea of a chorus. Another song crafted more to capture a positive, loving feeling, “I Wish U Heaven” slows the proceedings down, but adds to the overarching theme of the record; joining “Lovesexy” and the breakdowns on “๐Ÿ‘๏ธ No”, “Alphabet St.”, and “Glam Slam” as the musical moments that really capture the essence of the spirit of this album.

Deciding not to end the album on a slow burning soul-stirrer, the seven minute “Positivity” picks up right after the vanishing echoes of “I Wish U Heaven” with a badass distorted guitar line, which gives way to one of Sheila E.’s more interesting drum beats. The extra reverb and goofy-sounding empty space of the drum provide an incredibly wide frequency range for Prince to sneak some great guitar lines and backup harmonies throughout the track, something he’s masterfully down throughout the album, less so on side two, but it’s an effort that hasn’t gone unnoticed, as it does add to the overall cohesion. The final two minutes feature a vocally stacked chorus breakdown, more goofy sounding percussion that works perfectly with the low notes Prince strives to hit on the track, as well as the distorted, middle eastern-influenced guitar lines, and it all results with an audio baptism; literally. Water splashes, and an ethereal drone, likely stock sounds from a sampler of some sort, provide a calming spirit to close the album on.

It’s not the first album of his that I would label as an “experience”; the past five albums could all claim that. However, it is the first time he set out to craft an uplifting experience that his audience could use for inspiration or motivation to better themselves. He’d exercised his artistic privilege on Around the World in a Day, discovered himself on Sign o’ the Times, and now he’s sharing that feeling and sense of discovery with us on Lovesexy so that we too may hopefully become closer with our own beliefs. Later decades would see more of this method to recording, but for the first time, Prince went into the studio with intentions of re-creating the energy to his stage approach, and it was all in the name of love. He expanded on this same energy by putting the same thought and dedication into the actual tour for this album; spending almost as much money on the stage design as the overall tour made. He gave the rest of his time for the year to the tour, splitting it into three legs; a three-month tour of Europe from July 18th to September 9th, returning to the States for a show on September 14th, and then ended the American portion of the tour just over two months later, on November 29th. Ever dedicated to his craft, on the brink of beginning a new project, he returned to Japan for a brief, two-week third leg of the epic tour, the last one he put on for the decade. Perhaps if we all took this approach to life, heaven would always be just a kiss away.

Editor’s Notes

1. This record and I share a birthday, although it is a few years my senior.

2. The Black Album is usually referred to as “the most bootlegged album of all time”, and for good reason. I don’t know if it holds up anymore, with everyone being able to illegally download any audio file off the internet, but at one point, this was the epitome of the recovered lost album.

3. A gospel song titled “Walkin’ in Glory” was tracked the same day “to compensate” for “Bob George”, according to Susan Rogers.

4. Black Album History

5. Miko Weaver, Levi Seacer, Jr., and Dr. Fink rounded out the legendary line-up.

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