MORGAN’S MEDIA BLACKOUT #519.314!
PLATTERS OF THE WEEK: Prince – The Work: 1976–2000 (Thunderball) :: This guy once
put out an album called Musicology—an egghead handle with an edifying air to it that conjured up visions of
Professor Prince holding class in his best zoot suited Cab Calloway mortarboard attire. But if you want a real musical
history lesson in what Prince is up to every night while the rest of the world is sleeping, then I strongly suggest that you
seek out a copy of this definitive 20 disc set.
right, spanning a quarter of a century, this astonishing set contains a whopping 20 discs of unreleased studio demos and outtakes.
That’s a grand total of 331 tracks, all presented in strict chronological order. Amazingly, there are no false starts,
no incomplete songs, and no duplications with any officially released Prince albums or extended singles.
With each individual disc clocking in at a full eighty minutes in length, that’s
over 24 hours worth of music. And for those of you who would like an old school conversion, we’re talking the equivalent
of 40 full-length vinyl records, or 80 album sides. This mammoth monolith makes Keith Jarrett’s original vinyl ten record
Sun Bear Concerts box set look like a one-sided Ramones single.
And although some of these tracks have been available on various individual bootlegs
for decades, more often than not their muffled tenth-generation sound quality was so inferior as to be almost unlistenable—but
not this time around. As might be expected from a major undertaking like this, the sound is uniformly of a high studio quality.
Not only are we privy to outtakes and demos from all of Prince’s own albums,
we’re also treated to an extensive array of unreleased songs from virtually every artist Prince has worked with over
the years, from The Time and The Family to Jill Jones and Carmen Electra—including tracks from completed follow up albums
which were never released. Indeed, after listening to all the myriad variations presented herein, it’s not unreasonable
to think that Prince routinely assembles several completely different versions of each album before he releases it.
Some of the stellar selections contained on The Work include: The original
demo for The Time’s “Chocolate” wherein Prince shows where Morris Day’s ‘ad libbed’ conceited
shtick really comes from, including his “Yessssss” catchphrase; the full unedited 12 minute
version of “Computer Blue” that restores the missing six and a half minutes which were cut from the end of the
version that’s on Purple Rain; and a marathon 30 minute studio version of “I Would
Die For You” that served as the arrangement template for Prince’s live television version.
Folks, that’s only three selections from the first three discs, so you can
just imagine what’s waiting for you on the remaining 17. In other words, school’s in session, so you’d better
take notes because there’s going to be a final exam—and knowing Professor Prince, it’ll be oral.
Be seeing you!