275: Eye No / The Ball

Lovesexy (1988) / Unreleased (1986)
On its own merits Eye No is the perfect Lovesexy opener – a technicolor gateway to a world of futuristic psychedelia. It sets up all the themes of the album and lets you know straight away that this is a record unlike any you’ve heard before. But when compared to earlier incarnation The Ball, you begin to miss the predecessor’s grit and grime. Eye No starts to sound a little too sterilised; the lyrics a little too wholesome. What was a thousand-petaled corona of light crowning the very concept of funk quickly becomes Britney covering (I Can’t Get No) Satisfaction. The opposite is true too: The Ball can sound like a premium export from whichever planet George Clinton comes from or it can lack the direction and nuance of its successor. The fat to Eye No’s tallow. The songs are two out-of-phase waves cancelling each other out. Destructive interference. I believe this is a curse sent by Prince for anyone straying away from officially sanctioned releases. A pharaoh’s revenge for opening the vault. A plague o’ all your bootlegs. But from this point on I’m going to break the hex and phase-shift the waves. The two songs will now compliment instead of compete. Eye No will forever dance with the ghost memory of The Ball’s looser, stankier funk, and The Ball will be superposed with all the gravitas and anticipation of Lovesexy’s opening sequence (where we’re introduced to the concept of the New Power Generation for the first time and are only three songs away from our date with Anna Stasia). The waves now bolster each other. Constructive interference. To misquote Stevie: when you believe in things you don’t understand, you suffer – superposition is the way.