January 31, 2005
In praise of: Vanity 6
Imagine if u're favorite artist were to record an album and just add different voices on2 it. Prince did this over and over in the 1980’s. He probably released 10 albums, within 2 or 3 years, using other artists and production pseudonyms like Jamie Starr and Joey Coco. The finest of these, with the exception of Sheila E’s debut, was the only record by Vanity 6.
Prince had wanted to call lead singer Denise Matthews "Vagina" but she demurred. Then they were briefly called Vanity and The Hookers, before they became Vanity 6 (the 6 in their name was rumored to be a nipple count). There were 3 girls: Vanity (the hot mixed-race tigress; now born-again), Susan Moonsie (the not-quite-as-hot “middle sister” who had a child/woman thing happening) and my fave, the rough-neck, bitched-out white lady named Brenda Bennett (sort of the Mick Mars figure of the group?).
The record, out in 1982, was lean with only 8 songs and no filler – or no bad filler. Prince wrote much of it with some contributions from the players, The Time. Most people don’t realize there were 4 singles from this album. Vanity 6, the album, would continue to sell MEGA if Prince remastered it. If I could link to these tracks, believe me I would.
Let’s review the songs, shall we?
1 Nasty Girl [5:10]
Their great classic with the nasty, dick-lovin' spoken word breakdown in the middle: "That's right, I can't control it / I need 7 inches or more / 2 night, I can no longer hold it / Get it up, get it up / I can't wait anymore!" This is one of the few tracks you can get on CD, via the Girl 6 soundtrack. Hear a sample.
2 Wet Dream [4:12]
I would like 2 announce on the Internet that I, unlike some men, actually had a few of these as a kid and I remember them! Woohoo! TMI? I digress. "U're the star of my wet dream." More lyrics here.
3 Drive Me Wild [2:31]
Post “Little Red Corvette” woman-as-car motif. U remember this because it was basically these lines over and over: "C’mon baby do it / Drive me wild / Do it baby / Drive me wild."
4 He's So Dull [2:32]
“He's so dull, still livin' with his mother" A precursor to No Scrubs doncha think? This was their anti-girl group number and their first single.
5 If a Girl Answers (Don't Hang Up) [5:34]
Another classic, this one is (I suspect) a fave of some of my readers. U know who u r. This one’s a "rap" in which Vanity calls her boyfriend’s house and spars with his mistress (played by Prince, all sped up and sounding like LaWanda Page). Sample lyric: "There's 2 things we can't stand / One is a jive talk man / The other's a jive talk man / with no money.”
6 Make-Up [2:40]
Minimalist lyrics with this kicker: “If I wear a dress / He will never call / So I'll wear much less / I guess I'll wear my camisole.”
7 Bite the Beat [3:12]
Their new wave number! “It tastes like caviar.” Indeed! Sung by Brenda, the one who could really sing – she contributed to Sheila E’s debut album.
8 3 X 2 = 6 [5:24]
I don’t remember this one - do u? A ballad maybe...
Vanity 6 only completed one album. Vanity wigged out and left just before what would have been her big screen debut in Purple Rain. That part and the second CD ended up in the clutches of Apollonia, with Brenda and Susan still on board. Their record had some decent tracks (Sex Shooter and Blue Limousine), but it was nothing to write home about.*
Why is it that these sex goddess/bimbo types always become religious zealots later in life? Guilt? Rebellion against youth? Denise Matthews, reclaim the power and just accept Vanity as a part of your past. It was not all bad. The music you produced was wicked cool, fun, and funny, at least on that album. We need u. We want u.
*I also want 2 see Apollonia 6, Jill Jones and the BRILLIANT Family album on CD. The Family were the group, by the way, that first recorded Nothing Compares 2 U.