83: Do Me, Baby

Controversy (1981)
André Cymone says he wrote Do Me, Baby and put a version to tape in 1979, during a recording session with Pepe Willie who backs up his claim. Without hearing this early version it’s impossible to know how much Prince took (if any) for his Do Me, Baby but regardless of origin it’s a Prince song through and through – his ur-ballad that spawned a dozen sequels and marked the arrival of the scream. There were screams pre-Controversy but buried low in the mix and easily missed. Sexuality is the first track that brings his cries to the fore but they’re more like James Brown vocal stabs – warm-up exercises for The Unleashing that occurs next. When Do Me Baby starts, anybody familiar with Prince’s later output knows where it’s heading, but back then there were no clues to the tumult ahead. The first sign you get is at 2:45 where he holds a note and feels the power surge within. Thirty seconds later he takes practice swings at an “ooooh”, each one increasing in intensity. Then at 3:54 comes the first bona fide scream. It’s his “power of Grayskull” moment. What starts out as the word “yeah” ends as a sonic boom of primal pain and desire. At 4:18 he gives it another go – all that he’s got – and it breaks both him and the song. The final three minutes are spent shivering and asking for help. It wipes him out but there’s no putting the genie back in the bottle. He’s now able to break the sound barrier of anguish at will and just past the halfway point on the album’s next track he’s ready to go again.