Thursday 13 February 2020

"Party Over Oops Out Of Time"

In what appears to be the second of Warner Brothers' inspired album  reissues of Prince's classic works, the first being the glorious three disc reissue of 'Purple Rain' in 2018 - the focus is now on '1999'.  And what stunning focus it is.

The beautifully-presented "super deluxe" set includes five CDs - a re-mastered version of the original album, a b-sides and remixes compilation, two discs of unreleased music from the Vault, a live performance from 1982 and a bonus DVD plus a bonus booklet - making this an indisputable treasure trove of gems.

But this "treasure trove" really begs the question, as the die-hard fan of Prince's music that I consider myself to be - should I really be enjoying this record as much as I am?

Prince's revered "Vault" had become stuff of legend.  As a guest on Arsenio Hall's show, he once referenced the Vault as containing so much music that if anyone ever attempted to listen to all of it, they'd look a lot different at the end of it.  And with the amount of music that Prince would go on to release, be it material for his own work or projects that he would write or produce for others, it's widely understood that if it wasn't released then he didn't want it heard.  That level of "control" is synonymous for Prince - as much as he was a pioneer for seeing the value in the internet as a useful tool as an independent artist, he would later go on to revile his own creation by refusing to have his music available on YouTube or streaming sites even going as far as to have websites shut down for sharing his music illegally or for featuring his songs as background in home videos uploaded to

We could really spend thousands of words when reflecting on Prince and his desire for control.  It's incredibly stretches as far back as to the creation of his 1978 debut album 'For You'.  During initial conversations, Warner Brothers, feeling that Prince was too inexperienced to helm production on a full-length at such a young age, wished to secure the services of Maurice White from Earth, Wind & Fire to produce the project - a suggestion that was immediately shot down as "who could produce Prince better than Prince?".  (Prince's words, not mine.)

And despite indulging in covers himself - both in the studio and on stage - Prince inexplicably felt that covers somehow over-rode the original version to the point where the original would no longer exist (as he once outlined to presenter George Lopez).  I always imagined these comments stemming from people who assumed that he was covering songs like 'Nothing Compares To You', 'I Feel For You' and 'Kiss' without realising he had actually written and recorded them first.

Control.  I've yet to decide if it's a dirty word in this context or not.  While I suppose some of these thoughts and actions might seem extreme to most, I suppose it's fair that any artist be in control of their own art - how people receive it, consume it, etc.  Which brings us back to '1999's super deluxe reissue and the previously mentioned Vault discs.  As I say, I consider myself a die-hard Prince fan so it's natural for me to clamour for this material but, knowing what I know about Prince, I have to ask... is the real die-hard fan the person who would stay away from projects like this?

As an added bonus, check Episode #37 of the Blue-in-Green:PODCAST which sees Imran and Rhonda chop it up about the complete project...

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