Even the biggest artists in the world have songs you haven’t heard. In our series Z-Sides, we shine light on those rare tracks and deep cuts that only hardcores know word for word. We kicked off with The Lonny Breaux Collection from Frank Ocean, and now we venture further back in time to 1982 and the artist who was yet to be formerly known as Prince.
Like much of Prince's back catalogue, you won't be able to find this song on iTunes, YouTube, Spotify or Apple Music. But that’s Prince. He has more enigmatic tunes than sexual conquests, trapped in vinyls and rarity collections scattered all over the shop. One day, I found this one lurking in a dusty corner of Grooveshark, and then Grooveshark itself disappeared. Who knows if "Irresistible Bitch" was responsible.
To even talk about an artist of his breadth you need to highlight what era you’re on about. So, for clarity, I class this song as the dark and lonely side of "Little Red Corvette". I should probably say something like: “Irresistible Bitch” first arrived in 1982 as a B-side to “Let’s Pretend We’re Married” but, the truth is, I was barely a sperm in 1982. I was in my pre-sperm days. So, I heard this track in 2012, being played off vinyl by a really grumpy DJ in a shit pub in Brighton.
When I heard it, I didn’t even really clock it as Prince. It’s super sparse – basically vocals and a drum beat made from both a live kit and a machine – favouring dark disco hypnotism over sparkling pop pomp. Some rationed slap/funk bass jostles for attention, and those jubilant church bell keys popularised by Blondie’s “Rapture” make an appearance. Then, in the final minute, it mutates into a jamming prang out, with percussive flourishes and deep backing vocals that bellow “EVERYBODY DANCE!”, whilst sustained minimal synth notes make your ears feel like they are filling up with liquid. Probably viscous purple liquid.
If this is a bit too devastated disco for you, then check out this live version of the track, hosted charitably by a Nigerian video clip website, because he sexes it right up, with extra guitar and massive bursts of horn (in every sense of the word).
The song’s legacy has spidered out since '82 as a cult rarity amongst fans of The Purple One – apparently it’s Ice Cube’s favourite Prince track, it featured as a sample on LL Cool J’s “Dangerous” and even spawned a modern cultural counterpoint in Eve’s not quite so worthy “Irresistible Chick”.
But nothing comes close to that original Prince version. For a start, “Irresistible Bitch” is the antithesis of its’ fast-paced a-side “Let’s Pretend We’re Married”. Where that song would charm you into a back alley with lines like “I wanna fuck the taste out of your mouth”, this track is much more sullen. And, considering it was written and recorded in 1981, you could almost call his vocal delivery proto-rapping, as the Purple One spins a bittersweet sordid love tale about this "irresistible bitch" who treats him like shit and tortures his mind, but, like a drug, she has certain tricks that make him keep coming back for more – the helpless addict.
And that is why this track was so great. It epitomised the way Prince could make you feel dirty, sexy and sad all at once; like cry-wanking on the dancefloor with a brand new hair do.
See more Z Sides here.