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The Black Album

Warner Bros. Records

Don’t buy The Black Album!

Originally recorded for Sheila E’s birthday, it later evolved into a collection of songs Prince intended to release as a club album in response to media speculation that he was too pop and no longer funky. He sought to create the funkiest album anyone had heard, it would be so funky even the cover would have no picture or artwork, be just black, and was so named The Black Album. “Camille found a new colour, the colour black,” said Prince. With the exception on Rockhard In A Funky Place, written in 1986 by Prince and Eric Leeds for inclusion in the aborted Camille album project, the remaining songs were written in 1987 after the Sign O’ The Times sessions.

The Black Album was recalled from sale one week before its intended debut (8 December 1987) – Prince citing the excessive eroticism and violent undertone of the lyrics (and Warner Bros. doubting its sales potential). Prince hastily wrote a more enlightened replacement album, Lovesexy. When 2 R In Love, the sole survivor from The Black Album was transferred to Lovesexy.

Prince still performed several songs from this withdrawn album during the Lovesexy Tour, even reference it in the video of Alphabet St., where the caption “Don’t buy The Black Album” can be read in a few frames, scrolling in the background. With approximately 100 promotional copies remaining in circulation following the withdrawal, The Black Album became one of the most bootlegged albums in music history, but got its eventual official release in November 1994 as The Legendary Black Album (packaged accordingly to retain its legendary forbidden mystique) – albeit only to fulfil Prince’s contractual output for Warner Brothers, for which the label paid $1m to suede him to sanction this release.

Performers

All Instruments
Prince
Saxophone
Eric Leeds
Drums
Sheila E. 2 Nigs United 4 West Compton
Trumpet
Matthew Blistan "Atlanta Bliss"

Data

Producer
Prince
Label
Warner Bros. Records
Distribution
Warner Bros. Records
Cover Art/Photo
-
Released
25 years, 7 months ago on 22 November 1994
Running Time
44:44
US Chart Peak
47
UK Chart Peak
36
Prince Album
#16

Tracklist

  1. Le Grind [feat. Sheila E, Boni Boyer and Cat Glover] (6:44)
  2. Cindy C. [feat. Cat Glover] (6:15)
  3. Dead On It (4:37)
  4. When 2 R In Love (4:00)
  5. Bob George (5:37)
  6. Superfunkycalifragisexy (5:56)
  7. 2 Nigs United 4 West Compton [feat. Cat Glover] (7:00)
  8. Rockhard In A Funky Place (4:31) 1

1 Co-written with Eric Leeds.

Singles from The Black Album

The Black Album produced no singles.

The Black Album – review

This is not music, this is a trip. And it was and quite literally! Prince wrote The Black Album in 1987 after experimenting with ecstasy, and then hating it when he came back down, locking the album away until Warner Brothers finally, and against his wishes, set it free in 1994 when needing material when that fell into short supply due to their contractual spat with Prince. The reason for its long confinement in the vault was that it was too darn rude and negative for the 80’s and because of this, the saintly Lovesexy was written to purge Prince from his sins and turned around in a matter of weeks to move the whole sordid experience swiftly along – doing Prince a huge favour in the process. Frankly this unnamed album would have bombed commercially. Prince had stayed headlong into uncharted territory by attempting gangsta rap (Dead On It, Bob George) and at a time many others were already doing it and far more successfully. The playability of The Legendary Black Album is due to the legacy it has greatly benefited from, passing into lore as the most coveted bootleg in music, its status diminished with an official release because unlike any other Prince album this was dated even long before its ultimate release. There are still tracks fit for the clubs, in the shape of Cindy C (named after Prince’s love interest Cindy Crawford) and Le Grind, which are probably Prince’s best return to funk since 1980s Dirty Mind. The Black Album is refreshing if only to hear Prince poke fun at himself (Bob George) since he was a serious artist since the wake of his Purple Rain success. The rose amid a tree of thorns, When 2 R In Love is too saintly for such a ‘naughty’ album. This Black Album is different and that’s why you dig it.

The Black Album

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