JEFFREY MORGAN'S MEDIA BLACKOUT #780.519.314!
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.
That's 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.
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!