Prince offers direction and instructions on Originals

Prince - Originals - Header store.prince.com (store.prince.com)

Prince – Originals – Header store.prince.com

Introduction

I hadn’t planned on writing about Originals today, because I was under the assumption I would hear it in two weeks time, when the physical cd is released. Starting today the album is exclusively available on Jay-Z’s streaming service Tidal. But, I heard it. And what a treat this is!

Cause

Why this album, why now and why this release path?

Why this album?

Prince was a workaholic. He wrote constantly and was recording all the time. In fact, his life revolved around rehearsals, studio visits and concerts. The quantity of song was dizzying. In a little over three weeks an article on Purple Rain will be published on this blog. During the time between predecessor 1999 and that major hit, Prince was on tour, wrote a movie script, attended acting classes, recorded a movie and ‘in the mean time’ recorded over 100 (!) songs.

With that much material Prince sought a way to get his material released. In his renewed 1980/1981 contract with Warner Bros. he had a clause added that provided him with the opportunity to bring artists to the label himself. Perfect for Prince. He singlehandedly created bands and solo artists, who played Prince songs, without announcing that Prince was the one playing, directing and writing everything. He used a number of pseudonyms, like Jamie Starr, Alexander Nevermind, Joey Coco, etc. After recording the songs in full he recorded his vocals, utilizing them as a guide to whoever the song was meant for. At times that person was known, other times a song was given to others at a later time.

Prince - Originals - Streaming (tidal.com)

Prince – Originals – Streaming

Originals contains Prince songs, played and sung by Prince himself, released by others. A great idea for a release. A lot of the songs had never been available before, not even on the vast Prince bootleg marketplace.

Why now?

June 7th is Prince’s birthday. He should have turned 61 today.

Why this release path?

Factually, the album is the result of a lawsuit Tial had filed versus the Prince Estate.

In November 2015 Prince retracted all his music from on-line streaming services like Apple Music and Spotify and moved his music over to Tidal.

In November 2016 Tidal filed a lawsuit over the exclusive streaming rights of the Prince catalogue. According to the original deal, made by Prince in 2015, Tidal would obtain the exclusive streaming rights to the albums Hit N Run: Phase One and Hit N Run: Phase Two and an extr,a yet unreleased, album.

The Prince Estate questioned the deal. While still in court Prince’s music was released again on all major streaming services.

On May 11th, 2018 a deal was made. Tidal was to receive the exclusive rights for the debut of new Prince album containing unreleased material from the famous Paisley Park Vault, to be released in 2019. Tidal obtained exclusive streaming rights for two weeks, after which period the album would be physically released as well.

Jay-Z, speaking on Tidal‘s behalf: “Our only goal is to share Prince’s music with his fans as he wanted. After thoughtful and honest conversation with him, he chose TIDAL as his partner for HITnRUN Phase One and HITnRUN Phase Two, and we will continue to respect and honor Prince’s enduring legacy and wishes with this new collection.”.

Troy carter, advisor to the Prince Estate: “I’m very pleased this is resolved, and we get to honor the relationship between Prince and Tidal with this album. We look forward to fans hearing the new music and experiencing the genius of Prince.”.

Originals

Prince - Originals (tidal.com)

Prince – Originals

The cause is clear then, but what about the content? Is it worth al the fuss?

In short: oh yes. The previous posthumous releases were great, but were a bit dire to Prince fans. This release is far removed from dire. Of course it contains a number of song-versions that were previously available on bootleg, but they are few. The album shows the workings of Prince and the way he instructed the receivers of his music.

What stands out is that many of the instructions sound really good and could have been released instantly. It’s fascinating to see that many followed Prince’s guide lines to the letter, and couldn’t live up to Prince’s level. Luckily, the songs are oftentimes great enough, for it not to matter.

Songs

Apollonia 6 - Apollonia 6 (theisleoffailedpopstars.blogspot.com)

Sex Shooter

First released by Apollonia 6 on Apollonia 6 (1984).
The recording released on Originals stems from 1983.

Originally intended for Vanity 6. Because of Vanity’s leaving just before recordings for Purple Rain (the movie) began, a replacement had to be found. Patricia Kotero seemed to fit the bill perfectly, and was renamed Apollonia by Prince. 

Prince had intended this song for a woman. It not only shows in the lyrics, but also in his use of his falsetto. Funny to hear it like this. I have always had a fascination for this song. I like its rhythm.

The Time - Ice Cream Castle (dustygroove.com)

Jungle Love

First released by The Time on Ice Cream Castle (1984).
The recording released on Originals stems from 1983.

The released version resembles this very much, including the vocals. Prince sings/speaks in his ‘pimp’ character. Prince’s humor was very addictive.

The released version by The Time sees Morris Day following Prince’s clues almost literally, including the ad-libs. Funny to hear Prince proclaiming “Somebody bring me a mirror!”.

The Bangles: Manic Monday (princevault.com)

Manic Monday

First released by The Bangles on Different Light (1985).
The recording released on Originals stems from 1984.

The song came to Prince in a dream. Originally intended for Vanity 6, then for Apollonia 6. Obviously Prince thought the song didn’t fit both groups and saved it, until he met The Bangles’ Susannah Hoffs and she asked him if he happened to have a song for them. They got Manic Monday.

Newly recorded by the band, it turned into the first major hit for the The Bangles (it reached number 2 on the American Billboard chart, only to be kept from the number 1 position by Prince’s own Kiss.

Sheila E - The Glamourous Life (rockitpoole.com)

Noon Rendezvous

First released by Sheila E. on The Glamorous Life (1984).
The recording released on Originals stems from 1984.

First of no less than 4 songs on this release, that were released by Sheila E. A great rendition of an equally great song. Piano and Linn drum motif in the background and Prince’s voice.

Very, very beautiful.

Vanity 6 - Vanity 6 (youtube.com)

Make-Up

First released by Vanity 6 on Vanity 6 (1982).
The recording released on Originals stems from 1981.

A real treat hearing Prince do this song. Meant for and released by Vanity 6.

A highlight on the album, this song that sounds highly electronic and seems a practice drill for the later Prince album 1999.

Mazarati - Mazarati (discogs.com)

100 MPH

First released by Mazarati on Mazarati (1986).
The recording released on Originals stems from 1984.

In 1986 Prince gave Mazarati the acoustic blues song Kiss. They turned it into a steaming funk song. When Prince heard it, he took the song back. He worked on it some more and released it on the last Prince And The Revolution album Parade in 1986.

As compensation, Mazarati were given this 100 MPH. A great song, which has a perfect cadence and glorious guitar.

Kenny Rogers - They Don't Make Them Like They Used To (youtube.com)

You’re My Love

First released by Kenny Rogers on They Don’t Make Them Like They Used To (1986).
The recording released on Originals stems from 1982.

What would the music world have said if Prince had released this song like this in 1982?

Prince goes Nashville-Tennessee. Prince sings much lower than he used to, in this song that is far removed from the music he released at the time (and has since, to be honest). Did he think of Kenny Rogers when doing his vocals?

Sheila E - Holly Rock (discogs.com)

Holly Rock

First released by Sheila E. on Original soundtrack: Krush Groove (1985).
The recording released on Originals stems from 1985.

Second Sheila E. song, that was released on the soundtrack to the movie Krush Groove. Great song, über funky performance. Prince is on fire, vocally powerful. Funny to hear Prince singing “Sheila E.’s my name”.

The stop/start “Everybody stop on the one!… Good, God!” is pure genius and highly addictive. Some party this is! He ends the recording proclaiming “Now try to dance to that”. No problem.

Jill Jones (princevault.com)

Baby, You’re A Trip

First released by Jill Jones on Jill Jones (1987).
The recording released on Originals stems from 1982.

Fantastic song, that was already exceptional on the Jill Jones album. Prince’s version is just as good, if not better. Prince’s vocals are inspired, his scream towards the end induce goose bumps again. What a song, what a performance!

Sheila E - The Glamourous Life (rockitpoole.com)

The Glamorous Life

First released by Sheila E. on The Glamorous Life (1984).
The recording released on Originals stems from 1983.

Third Sheila E. song, the infectious, exciting The Glamourous Life.

Sheila E. stayed very true to the way Prince originally sang the song. What really stands out, is the lack of percussion, which is such a big part of the song’s distinctive sound. The swing is there, but the percussion completes the song.

The Time - What Time Is It? (besteveralbums.com)

Gigolos Get Lonely Too

First released by The Time on What Time Is It? (1982).
The recording released on Originals stems from 1982.

Released on the second album by The Time. I have always like this ballad, in part of the concept that ‘womanizers’ can be alone and feel lonely as well.

This song blatantly proves Morris Day’s rather limited skill as a singer. Prince outshines him in every possible way.

Martika - Martika's Kitchen (bol.com)

Love… Thy Will Be Done

First released by Martika on Martika’s Kitchen (1991).
The recording released on Originals stems from 1991.

The only song stemming from the 1990’s. Apparently, the song was added at the request of Jay-Z.

Although the song really differs from the rest of the material, it’s still very welcome. Even though I heard it on bootlegs years and years ago, it still feels like a present. I love the song. The way the background vocal are intertwined with the lead vocal is impressive, to this day.

Sheila E - In Romance 1600 (youtube.com)

Dear Michaelangelo

First released by Sheila E. on Romance 1600 (1985).
The recording released on Originals stems from 1985.

Uptempo song, containing some nice guitar work. No personal favorite this song, but I’m still happy to have it in Prince’s version.

Taja Sevelle - Taja Sevelle (promo) (discogs.com)

Wouldn’t You Love To Love Me?

First released by Taja Sevelle on Taja Sevelle (1987).
The recording released on Originals stems from 1981.

Fine song, which disappointed in the version that was released by Taja Sevelle, which is so much less when compared to this original by Prince.

Prince - Nothing Compares 2 U (single) (princevault.com)

Nothing Compares 2 U

First released by The Family on The Family (1985).
The recording released on Originals stems from 1984.

The single with this version was released last year, as s vinyl-only release. For me personally, the additon on this album is great.

1985 saw the first release of this song, in a completely different version than this one. Prince himself released it as a (rather dull) live version on 1993’s The Hits / The B-Side, after Sinéad O’Connor turned it into a mega hit.

Review

And, what’s my take? I am enthused, very much so. It is funny to notice that these so-called demo’s and instructions sound ‘definite’, like they are ready for release. Prince oftentimes sings to the best of his abilities, and tries to place himself in the shoes of the person who has to deliver the song later on. The admiration for his relentless way of working keeps on growing. A fine release. Hopefully onward to more releases like this one!

In closing

Have you heard the album yet? What do you think? Let me know!