128: Shhh

The Gold Experience (1995)
Prince first gave Shhh to 18-year-old Tevin Campbell for his I’m Ready album, but later reclaimed the ballad because why ask a boy to do a man’s job? Now the only trace of its previous teenage owner is the line “do you after school like some homework” – a phrase a late 30-something could never pull off. Prince’s Shhh starts with an energetic intro that sounds like a news theme – coming up tonight: candlelight accused of mood-killing – but soon settles into the type of slow jam he’s been perfecting since Do Me, Baby. Steel threads of guitar are delicately interwoven with orgasmic gasps and a hint of a scream that never arrives, all to keep you on the edge of satisfaction. Two-thirds of the way in we get another dramatic news fanfare – sex on kitchen tables: passionate spontaneity or unhygienic degeneracy? – and then a guitar solo swoops in to chaperone us to the song’s sweet and gentle conclusion. The delicate touch of an experienced hand. In comparison, Tevin’s Shhh is a fumbled dry hump behind the bike sheds.