On January 3rd and 4th, 2003 (almost immediately following the unexpected release of Xpectation on January 1st, 2003) five songs were made available as MP3 downloads to members of the NPG Music Club, an on-line Prince community, active from 2001 until 2006, through which Prince communicated directly with his fans and released music. Costing $100.- annually (from year 4 onward decreased to $25.-), the members received (monthly) new music, physical cd’s and were granted access to exclusive pre-sale of concert tickets, guaranteeing seats near the stage.
As can also be read in the article on Xpectation, C-Note can be seen as redemption of a debt to members of the NPG Music Club. It is the second (of three in total) release containing instrumental music in 2003.
Because C-Note was only made available as a collection of MP3’s without artwork, it has been released as a bootleg on a regular basis, with corresponding prizes.
In 2004 the album was offered on NPG Music Club‘s Musicology Download Store. At that time an album cover was released and the downloads were titled using the moniker C-Note for the first time.
In September 2015 a lossless version was made available through streaming service Tidal. The album got its final cover. The album has never had a physical release.
At the time of their release I downloaded the songs and burned them onto a cd. I made a cover, based on screen prints of the urls that were distributed. Given that no further was available at the time, I placed the songs in alphabetical order and subsequently burned them on the cd. The disc was highly popular with me. I think the release is interesting and very good. I thought Prince’s new route was exciting and bold. Still do.
C-Note is the third live album from the One Nite Alone… Tour. The album consists solely of recordings made during soundchecks which took place prior to the regular shows later the same day. These soundchecks were accessible for members of the NPG Music Club. At the soundchecks Prince played new material, oftentimes improvised on the spot, and fan-favorites.
The album is instrumental, barring Empty Room, at the time an unreleased outtake and highly popular among Prince music lovers.
Op January 3rd and 4th, 2003, the songs were made available as separate MP3’s to members of the NPG Music Club, grouped together under the moniker European & Japanese Soundchecks 2002. In 2004 the songs were re-offered, now using the name C-Note, on the same day as The Chocolate Invasion and The Slaughterhouse, two compilation albums.
The titles for the instrumental pieces refer to the cities in which they were played. It is probable more instrumental jams exist in the Paisley Park vault, maybe not using the name of the cities they were played in (yet).
At the end of 2003 announcements were made that a 7cd boxset was to be released, named The Chocolate Invasion. C-Note was supposed to be part of the set, and would be released in a physical format. Unfortunately, the plan fell through.
All songs written by Prince (not officially confirmed).
- Empty Room
Production of the album was done by Prince.
Thee first four musicians perform Empty Room. On all the other songs the following musicians perform.
- Prince – all instruments, except
- John Blackwell – drums
- Rhonda Smith – bass
- Renato Neto – keyboards
- Eric Leeds – saxophone
- Candy Dulfer – saxophone
- Greg Boyer – trombone
- Dudley D. – scratching
As stated above, this album is a personal favorite. Lots of glorious guitar by Prince and the loose atmosphere of the soundchecks make the recordings sound direct, spontaneous and original. Played by, arguably, his most versatile band ever.
Song by song
I read that Copenhagen was made available as early as October 29th, 2002, to NPG Music Club members. I don’t remember that. As far as I know, I heard it on January 3rd, 2003, for the first time. Recorded on January 25th, 2002 during the soundcheck in Copenhagen, Denmark. A funky song with lots of keyboards and inventive drumming by John Blackwell.
The version that was offered earlier was 3:30 minutes longer than the version on C-Note. The song was later edited, probably because it contained a small piece of Miles Davis’ song Jean-Pierre.
The least song on the set.
Also made available earlier to NPG Music Club members, Japanese members in particular. Recorded on November 29th, 2002, in Nagoya, Japan. Extremely funky song with beautiful (solo)guitar by Prince. Essential addition to his body of work.
Recorded during the soundcheck on November 28th, 2002, in Osaka, Japan. Legend has it that Prince played the best show of the entire One Nite Alone… Tour that night. Listening to this song, the statement could be true. Beautiful laid-back song, in which Prince lets his guitar scream (halfway though). Stunning!
Lots of attention to piano and keyboards on this song. Great atmosphere in the relaxed sounding song. Performed and recorded on November 18th, 2002, in Tokyo, Japan.
As stated before, a fan favorite. A truly magnificent song, part of my Prince song top 50 (number 26). Recorded on the same day as Copenhagen on October 25th, 2002, in Copenhagen, Denmark. The only C-Note song that was made available on January 4th, 2003.
Of all the songs on C-Note, Empty Room is not an instrumental and a studio version of the song exists, several actually. The song was written in August of 1985, probably as a result of relationship issues between Prince and Susannah Melvoin (twinsister to Revolution guitarist Wendy). Re-recorded in 1992. A video was made, based on the 1985 version of the song. Both versions have never been released.
Do you know C-Note? What do you think? Let me know!
Prince relaxing after soundcheck – Kodak Theatre Hollywood – 2002 image: Afshin Shahidi
NPGMC Logo & Prince – The Chocolate Invasion 7cd set announcement – 2003 images: princevault.com
Prince – C-Note (2004 album cover) image: archive.org
Prince – C-Note image: tidal.com