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"Gotta Stop (Messin' About)" was the follow-up single in the UK to support Prince's third album, Dirty Mind. The single was not an album track, though it was written at the same time, and possessed a similar sound. This was the first time Prince released a non-album track, and would start a long tradition of releasing them throughout the 1980s.
The song is keyboard dominated, and the lyrics speak of a woman who's constantly "messin' about" with other men. The song contains familiar Prince themes of sexual frustration, masturbation and sexual metaphors. The track consists of twoverses and multiple repeats of the chorus. It was played live on the Dirty Mind Tour with an extended instrumental section at the end.
"Gotta Stop (Messin' About)" was released in the UK as two separate 7" singles, one with the Dirty Mind track "Uptown" as a B-side, and the other with "I Wanna Be Your Lover", from Prince. Each single also had an accompanying 12" single, both with the same tracks as the 7" and both including the song "Head", from Dirty Mind. Despite an extensive advertising campaign and promotion, and coinciding with Prince's first UK gig, neither issue of the single charted. The track would later be released in the U.S. as the B-side of the 12" single for "Let's Work", and become a highly sought after collector's item. "Gotta Stop (Messin' About)" was also later released on The Hits/The B-Sides.