Prince – Alphabet St.
The story of Alphabet St. and of Prince’s album Lovesexy is one of those stories that need to be known. The genius of Minneapolis released this song on April 23, 1988, roughly three weeks before releasing the album (May 10), but this is the only normal thing in this story. Actually the story began one year before: just after the release of Sign o’ the times, in 1987, Prince started working on a new project. An album with no name, no title, with a completely black sleeve. On the side of the cover, just a pink catalogue number: 25677. During one of the first songs, Prince calls this album The Bible of Funk, but nowadays everybody calls it simply The Black Album because of its entirely black cover.
The Black Album was almost ready, I mean, it was ready and had to be released on Dec 8, 1987. But few weeks before the date, the Genius had a “spiritual epiphany”, as he called it. He had the revelation that the Black Album was “evil”. Maybe not the absolute evil, it was simply “evil”. He said that he wrote this album under the evil influence of “Camille”. I can tell you who Camille was: Camille was Prince’s artistic alter-ego, maybe not just artistic. It’s the feminine voice that he obtained by accelerating his own voice. Sometimes he recorded his songs at a slow speed, and then played them at normal speed. “Camille” had to release an album too, to be honest, in 1986, with the title Camille, but also this album was retired.
So: few days before the release of The Black Album, Prince has this revelation: the Black Album is evil, due to the evil influence of Camille. And so? Let’s withdraw all copies, even if music stores are already full of copies, ready to fill the shelves. Let’s withdraw everything. The album is not released (it will actually be released years later, in 1994). After New Year holidays, the Great Genius enters the studios again with all his crew of friends (worth mentioning Sheila E., who played lots of instruments in this work), and within seven weeks he has a new album ready, Lovesexy, with his naked figure on the cover (maybe the evil influence was over).
Lovesexy is maybe the least successful in Prince’s albums. All this story left a mark, but some songs actually topped the charts, like Alphabet St. The video of course contains hidden messages, hidden between letters, and if during the video you see a sentence “Don’t Buy the Black Album, I’m sorry”… now you know what it means!!! But watch out: your eye needs to be really fast!!!
A final question: the great Sheila E. also appears in this video. Can you guess where?
Prince on Wikipedia