Anyone who saw Prince back in the day knows that “Do Me, Baby” was a show-stopper of his early concerts, a steamy ballad from his groundbreaking “Controversy” album that he often sung sprawled on his stomach, shrieking and panting and Prince-ing while the audience screamed. A classic soul ballad, it was a prototype for many of his other ballads that followed, from “Insatiable” to “Slow Love” and beyond.
In celebration of the 40th anniversary of “Controversy”’s release, the Prince Estate and Warner Records have unveiled Prince’s original 1979 demo of the song. Like many of Prince’s serious demos, it’s a fully realized song, performed entirely by Prince with multiple vocal overdubs, layers of keyboards and a finger-popping bass part. Faster and less drawn-out than the album and live versions — and minus the X-rated ad-libs in the middle — this one would have fit in perfectly on R&B radio of the era.
While it’s a one-off release, apparently not connected to any forthcoming album, it’s been given a nice treatment, as a special replica cassette single of Prince’s demo (limited to 1,981 units) that replaced the “TDK” logo on the original cassette with a “PRN” (Prince Rogers Nelson’s initials), and an etched 7” single pressed on purple vinyl that incorporates Prince’s original hand-written lyrics for the song.
“Do Me, Baby” is best known as the centerpiece of 1981’s “Controversy” album, but Prince first recorded the song years earlier. A demo featuring Prince and his best friend and creative collaborator André Cymone was initially recorded in 1978. Then a year later, Prince fully reimagined the track as a solo recording during the April 1979 recording sessions for Prince at Alpha Studios in North Hollywood, CA, with overdubs added in the same period at Hollywood Sound Records in Hollywood, CA.
From that 2″ multitrack master tape, a cassette rough mix – recently discovered in Prince’s legendary vault and labeled in the artist’s own handwriting – was rendered but ultimately shelved. This special release of “Do Me, Baby (Demo)” has been newly mixed to match the original demo cassette specs by Prince’s Grammy-nominated engineer Chris James, and mastered by Prince’s longtime collaborator and multiple Grammy-winning engineer Bernie Grundman.
As was typical with Prince, he revisited the song afresh more than two years later when he created an entirely new solo recording of “Do Me, Baby” at Sunset Sound in June 1981. That master recording was released on October 14, 1981, as the epic final song on Side A of “Controversy.”
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