Our story begins in October/November of 1986. October saw the completion and sequencing of the unreleased Camille album.
November 20 begins the planning of the Crystal Ball album with 2 weeks of recording and album sequencing at Sunset Sound in Los Angeles. Adore and Play in the Sunshine are the first tracks recorded during these sessions.
To understand the importance of Adore is to understand the importance of the radio
format known as The Quiet Storm.
The radio format was pioneered in 1976 by Melvin Lindsey while he was an intern at Washington D.C. radio station WHUR-FM. Melvin Lindsey, a student at Howard University with his classmate Jack Shuler, began as disc jockeys for WHUR in June 1976.
Lindsey’s on-air voice was silky smooth, and the music selections were initially old, slow romantic songs from black artists of the 1950s, 1960s, and 1970s, which Lindsey called “beautiful black music” for African Americans.
The title Quiet Storm comes from the 1975 Smokey Robinson song. The format has been adopted by R&B radio stations across the United States.
By 1986, the undisputed king of quiet storm is Luther Vandross, an artist whose smooth ballads and jazzy vocal arrangements have been the centerpiece of romance and one of the influences on Adore.
Adore’s other influence is Patti LaBelle. Her singles ‘If Only You Knew’ and ‘Love and ‘Need and Want You’ from her 1983 album I’m In Love Again have been quiet storm mainstays for the remainder of the ‘80’s.
10/5- 12/26, 1986 was an intense recording period for Prince. Holding residency in Sunset Sound Studios. Prince reflects on this period in the liner notes of 1998’s Crystal Ball on the song Good Love.
Towards the end of this blissful recording sabbatical the tracks are sequenced to what would become the 3 LP ‘Crystal Ball’. (Not the actual cover)
This original sequence placed “Adore” as the second to last track on the final side of the album with “Its Gonna Be a Beautiful Night” as the final track. The running order of tracks are important to the flow or overall concept of an album.
This blissful mood that Prince was riding on were derailed in late 1986 by 2 significant events: WB Execs forcing Prince to make his 3 LP set into a 2 LP release and his breakup with Susannah Melvoin.
Further details of the journey of the SOTT album is told brilliantly on the official Prince Podcast: The Story of Sign O The Times.
Until now, much has been made of SOTT being a concept album over the decades, but besides the title track and “The Cross”, the other songs could have gone on any other album. However, SOTT is more a personal concept album reflecting Prince’s own SOTT.
It’s with the changing of the album into a 2 LP that the placing of “Adore” becomes either consciously or sub-consciously more significant. It transcends from Quiet Storm contender to romantic spiritual resolution. Can the church say LOVESEXY?
I feel the lyrics are heavily inspired writing, meaning this wasn’t just a knockoff or album filler. Despite his turmoil prior to the album’s release, it was too good to leave off the album.
I believe the placement of “Adore” as the album closer was deliberate. What began as a creative high leading to a new direction musically turned into the reality of love lost and a music industry becoming more corporate business than music business.
Prince needed “Adore” to be a positive resolution to the sonic documentation of Prince’s SOTT. The lyrics declaring true love, the blending of Vandross’s arrangement artistry and the instincts of Gamble/Huff to add gospel flourishes for Patti.
Add those touches in which Prince makes an influence his own. The choir of layered one man background voices. Prince may have been influenced by the master of this technique, Marvin Gaye.
The held note by the choir at the end may have been inspired his reoccurring dream of angels holding a continuous eternal note representing his constant drive to create.
This album had to end not with a song by Prince & The Revolution no matter how festive, but with Prince musically, spiritually and romantically having the album to end with Prince balancing the highs and lows of 1986 and transcending them.
By December, the angst of angrily assembling the Black Album and the circumstances that led him to abandon that album and create Lovesexy definitely caused “Adore” to be lost in the shuffle of a great album with so many great songs.
For me “Adore” is that perfect end credits roll to my favorite Prince album. One of the many times we lived to hear the dawn.