|Controversy is the fourth full-length studio album by Prince. It was released worldwide in October, 1981 (twelve months after his previous album, Dirty Mind).
The album produced four commercially-released singles, Controversy, Let's Work, Do Me, Baby and Sexuality (released in Germany, Australia and Japan only). Prince toured extensively in the USA to support the album on the Controversy Tour, which largely focused on the album.
The album reached number 21 on the US Billboard Top LPS and Tapes Chart and number 3 for 8 consecutive weeks on the Billboard Soul LPs Chart. On 14 January, 1982 Controversy was certified gold by the RIAA, indicating 500,000 copies shipped in the USA. On 11 January, 1985, it was certified platinum, indicating 1,000,000 copies shipped in the USA.
Specific recording dates for most of the album's tracks are not known. Do Me, Baby was initially recorded in February, 1979, and was written by André Cymone (although it was credited to Prince on the album). The version included on the album is a re-recording from the album sessions, however, which took place in Spring and Summer 1981, at Prince's Kiowa Trail Home Studio, Chanhassen, MN, USA and Hollywood Sound Recorders, Los Angeles, CA, USA.
The album was completed at Sunset Sound, Hollywood, CA, USA, between 14-23 August, 1981. Let's Work had initially been recorded in Spring or Summer 1981 as Let's Rock, named after a dance Prince had seen in clubs during the summer of 1981, and Prince wanted to release it as a single immediately after recording. Warner Bros. declined, and while Prince liked the track, he felt it needed to be renamed when released to avoid it seeming dated.
Private Joy was the last song recorded, on 16 August, 1981 at Sunset Sound, during a week of final work on the album, following some equipment problems at nearby Hollywood Sound Recorders (marking the first Prince track recorded at Sunset Sound, where Prince would continue to work throughout the 1980s, and return again in 2008).
Controversy was largely a solo recording project by Prince, although Bobby Z. (drums), Lisa Coleman (keyboards and background vocals) and Dr. Fink (keyboards) all appear on the final track, Jack U Off. Additionally, Lisa Coleman also sings background vocals on Controversy and Ronnie Talk To Russia.