Saturday, January 9, 2010

The mystery of the Prince Vault

If you've followed the blog or the podcast. it's pretty easy to tell that I am a fan of Prince.

Hell, I've often said if Prince knocked on my door as a Jehovah's Witness that I would be more then happy to have him preach to me because it's freaking Prince!

And for those wondering, yes he is a JW and yes he does occasionally do the door to door thing.

Okay to qualify, more old Prince then current Prince but he's an artist that I will give a listen to just on principle. Album wise, he's never done anything terrible, just albums that are not to my taste.

I even love Purple Rain in it's craptacular glory...the movie I mean... the album is just awesome.

There is no denying his talent as not only a song writer but as a musician. Take a look at the following video for instance. This is taken from the 2004 Rock N Roll Hall of Fame inductions. Prince was among the artist inducted as was George Harrison (as a solo artist). Watch the guitar solo at the 3:30 mark.

Now you know why many versions of this youtube video are labeled "Best guitar solo ever".

On a separate note just when you look at everyone on stage, isn't it kind of like that old Sesame Street bit?

"One of these things is not like the others..."

He is definitely the best dressed.

But the thing I like about Prince is his mysterious "vault."

Now a good majority of the public discovered this vault through our good friend, Kevin Smith speaking about a documentary he did for Prince that will never see the light of day around the summer of 2001.

Now I have included it below but my summary up above pretty much sums up the story in less then 30 minutes. But if you haven't heard Kevin's version of the's worth a watch. But if not just scroll past the videos.

Prince fans however have known about the Prince vault for some time. Through out the years Prince has had a history of producing videos, albums and even a possible movie (although details on that are sketchy at best).

And it's not like all of it is based on rumor and conjecture. We know about the Kevin Smith documentary for instance due to the man in question talking about it. A number of Prince's unreleased albums we know about because they've been mentioned in Prince material or record company listings.

Let's take Prince's The Black Album for instance... speaking of which how many Black albums are there by various artists?

Originally planned for a December 7th, 1987 release, the album was suddenly canceled right before it was supposed to be released. Promo copies were out in Europe and a few legit copies had leaked into the hands of a few people in North America. At one point this album was thought to be one of he most bootlegged after The Beach Boys Smile. And much like Smile, The Black Album did eventually get a real release. (The funny part being that by this point most Prince fans had this album in one way, shape or form of bootleg)

Now here comes something I find astonishing. In it's place the Lovesexy album was released in January 1988.

That's right. Within a month, Prince recorded, mixed and mastered an entire album.

What's even more astonishing was that at that time Prince had two other albums on the shelf that weren't really known to the general public.

And this trend has continued over the years. 1988: Rave Unto The Joy Fantastic (not to be confused with a similar titled album he released years the way, Prince reuses names a lot), 1994: The Tora Tora Experience, 1994/95: The Undertaker, 1997: The Dawn (another name that pops up occasionally in the Prince unreleased catalogue), 1998: The Roadhouse Garden, and so on and so on.

The important thing to remember is during all these shelving's, Prince was more or less releasing music. There is a brief era during the 90's (when he became Symbol Man) where he wasn't releasing music due to a contract dispute but for the most part there is one or two albums released for each of the unreleased.

There are at least two documentaries in Prince's vault. One is the Kevin Smith directed one and the other is professionally shot footage during his 1981 tour called The Second Coming. There is an estimated 50 music videos (although that may be an exaggeration as I've only seen proof of a dozen).

As Kevin Smith mentions, money was spent. None of this stuff is cheap. Sure his recording costs are smaller due to owning his own studio complex but music videos and documentaries, even those done on the cheap, still cost money.

So the question is...what is Prince going to do with all of this stuff?

Kevin Smith figures it's an after the bomb scenario. Myself, I have two thoughts.

1) Eventually Prince will die and someone gets to host a tv special going into his vault like that Geraldo/Al Capone's vault special except way better music accompanying it. And then suddenly Prince will appear in the Vault and it will be the biggest box set release in the history of the music industry.

2) When Prince is ready, he will unleash all of it on the internet. All of it. He will become the most downloaded artist of all time due to fans, accidental downloads and sheer volume. Eventually leading to a sect of Prince worshipers.

Or he could be really weird and we'll never see any of it.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Great stuff. Thanks. Prince is one of the very few icons ever in the pop industry that will last. Of course this genius have to be strange. But still, he remain sane in this crazy world despite, I would say, being a JW.