[Photo Credit: Justine Walpole]
If u know me or if u read this blog regularly, you’ll know that Prince means the world to me, most definitely my favourite musician of all time and of course one of my all time favourite artists. His music is with me constantly and will be till I drop!
In 2010, he performed at about 3 major festivals in Europe and I was lucky enough to be on a line-up with him at Roskilde 2010, not on the same stage mind you ahahahha. I watched him from about 50 yards and I have no shame to admit that I cried that night whilst watching him perform. I have seen him live on numerous times but that night was special for me <3
My good friend Hector Heathcote just inboxed me this and I had to stick it up.
From the GUARDIAN:
From the 50-minute epic guitar workout Billy to the minimalist electro funk of Love, Matt Thorne, author of a new biography of the purple one, chooses 20 little-known Prince gems
When Prince plays a big show, the setlist is familiar. He knows people want Purple Rain, Kiss and Cream and seems happy to keep delivering them. But catch him at a small club and you’ll hear a different mix, songs that mean as much to him and his hardcore fans as the tracks that made him famous. His back catalogue is rich with little-known gems. Hundreds of bootlegged tracks have yet to achieve official release. Here’s a top 20 of the best of Prince’s deep cuts, unreleased songs, and live-only favourites.
20. F.U.N.K. (internet-only, 2007) Prince has alwasy seemed dubious about fan-sites in his honour. In 2007, a group of beleaguered websites banded together and formed “Prince Fans United” to stand up to perceived persecution from the man himself. Prince immediately defused the situation by sending site moderators this hilariously nasty song in which he simultaneously disses everyone who loves his music and reminds them that – deep down – he still loves them.
19. U Will B … With Me (unreleased, 2011) Prince normally produces at least one album a year, but has been unusually quiet recently. Collaborations with Sly and The Family Stone’s Larry Graham and young protege Andy Allo are due out this autumn, but for the moment new songs are confined to live shows and occasionally leaked to radio, such as this vicious putdown of a love-rival’s inability to match Prince’s income.
18. Just as Long As We’re Together (For You, 1978) This track from Prince’s first album, For You, was his most important early song. He demoed it five times on the way to the studio, including test-pressings for CBS and Warner Brothers to prove his ability to play multiple instruments and produce himself. A sweet love song, it showcases Prince’s early Stevie Wonder-esque skills.
17. Can I Play With U? (unreleased, 1985) Prince and jazz superstar Miles Davis quickly became good friends. But they collaborated on only a handful of songs, of which this is the most significant. More pop-Prince than dark magus funk, it feels more like the start of a conversation than a definitive statement, but it’s a fascinating fusion of styles. Unfortunately, Prince wasn’t satisfied and blocked official release of the song.
16. Billy (unreleased, 1984) The kind of song Prince could never officially release, Billy sounds how stoner-doom merchants Sleep or Earth might if they went funk, consisting of more than 50 minutes of guitar riffing accompanied by Prince repeating the gnomic statement: “Hey Billy, where d’you get those sunglasses?”
15. Dance With The Devil (unreleased, 1989) Getting Prince to do the soundtrack for Tim Burton’s Batman represented good creative synergy for Warner Brothers, but the best song Prince recorded for the project was nixed. This warning about the lure of wickedness reveals how Prince’s vision of the battle between good and evil was much darker than Burton’s take.
14 Future Soul Song (20Ten, 2010) The standout track on Prince’s last official album, 20Ten, a record that – as with Planet Earth three years earlier – Prince gave away with a newspaper. Unlike the rest of the record, which felt rushed and throwaway, it was clear Prince had spent real time crafting this laidback velvet-plush love song and no surprise when it emerged that the song dated from earlier sessions.
13 The War (tape-release, 1998) Prince’s weirdest record, a 26-minute apocalyptic rant with Prince intoning Gil Scott Heron-style about the bad things the government wants to do to you and how we’re all going to end up with microchips in our necks. Playing it live, Prince would baffle British audiences by demanding to know how many of them owned guns and being surprised when few answered in the affirmative.
12 Love (3121, 2006) Prince’s 2006 album 3121 was the last time he tried to compete with what was in the charts, producing a rap and R&B-influenced record stuffed with great songs (3121, Fury, Black Sweat) that would revitalise his live performance. Love was the very best of these, not the soft ballad the title might suggest but instead Prince complaining about his partner to a backing of minimalist electro-funk.
11 Moonbeam Levels (unreleased, 1982) Prince once considered writing a novel. This early outtake starts out as a description of this creative process, before turning into a strangely beguiling sci-fi song, suggesting that he chose the right career route.
10 Xenophobia (One Nite Alone…Live!, 2002) Prince’s straight jazz records pleased few, being too smooth and poppy for the jazz cognoscenti and too experimental for the masses. This song, a highlight of Prince’s live boxset One Nite Alone … is the exception, an angry horn-driven jam which Prince would perform to a somewhat prosaic video of passengers being hassled as they came through customs while intoning “You must remove your shoes” in a scary tonebox-altered Darth Vader voice.
9 Space (Universal Love Remix, maxi-single, 1994) In the 90s, Prince often seemed more interested in remixing his songs than recording them. Of the many long EPs of alternative versions he’s put out, this woozy re-do of a song about leaving earth after a doomed relationship is what the Curiosity Rover should really be beaming from Mars.
8 Colonized Mind (Lotusflow3r, 2009) In a hotel suite in New York, I witnessed Prince bring a roomful of celebs to silence with this song, in which he details what’s gone wrong with the world and delivers his best Hendrix-inspired guitar-work to date.
7 Mutiny (The Family, 1985) While Nothing Compares 2 U is the most famous track Prince wrote for proteges The Family, Mutiny is the best. When Paul Peterson left the band, Prince performed the song live for much of the following year, using it to attack him by getting the audience to chant that the poor former frontman was the “punk of the month” as the song grew ever longer, funkier and more aggressive.
6 Empty Room (C-Note, 2003) To date, Prince has yet to write a breakup album like Blood on the Tracks or Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds’s The Boatman’s Call. The closest he’s come is a handful of songs he wrote after splitting with Susannah Melvoin, the sister of his collaborator in the Revolution, Wendy Melvoin. This is among the bleakest and most beautiful, regularly the highlight of his run of aftershows at the O2’s Indigo club.
5 Wasted Kisses (New Power Soul, 1998) A hidden track from Prince’s least highly regarded record, New Power Soul. Even the album’s engineer thinks New Power Soul is the worst album Prince ever made, but the promo people were floored by this haunting noir-playlet set in a hospital and couldn’t understand why it wasn’t the lead single.
4 All My Dreams (unreleased,1985) Before getting rid of two of his closest collaborators, Wendy & Lisa (and disbanding the Revolution), Prince recorded several records worth of songs, most of which have never been released. For this song, Prince told Lisa to “sing like you’re Bette Davis” while showing the band 1930s-era movies for inspiration.
3 Others Here With Us (unreleased, 1985) Did Prince invent witch-house? No, of course not, but 24 years before Salem, Balam Acab and the rest of the creaky-coffin brigade, Prince sat down with his new Fairlight synthesizer and utilised all of its spookiest samples for this creepy song about the death of a baby and the suicide of a boy’s uncle.
2 Electric Intercourse (unreleased, 1983) Prince dumped this song from Purple Rain after coming up with The Beautiful Ones. Had he released this electro-rock power ballad, he might still be using it to close shows. Containing some of his most emotionally affecting guitar, it has all the heart of Purple Rain and none of the bombast.
1 Crystal Ball (unreleased, 1998) An edited version of this song appeared in 1998, but the full track remains unreleased. A long mysterious number about making love during the apocalypse, Brent Fischer, who helped arrange the 50-piece orchestra, remembers Prince telling him “it was the most important thing he’d done in his life”.
Prince by Matt Thorne is published by Faber on 4 October.