Why a New Album of Prince “Originals” Is a Perfect Soundtrack for 2019

Fifteen songs the singer gifted to other performers now take on new meaning

Prince
Prince performing on stage during the Purple Rain tour (Richard E. Aaron/Redferns/Getty)
By Kirk Miller / June 7, 2019 10:32 am

We’ve railed against Prince’s estate for releasing “new” music by the late singer, with the argument that someone who builds a literal vault to safeguard their music probably wanted said music to stay away from the public’s ears.

But we’ll amend our rant to commend the just-released Originals, a new record that’s essentially demos of fifteen tracks the Purple One later gifted to other performers. The album will stream exclusively for two weeks on Tidal before hitting the rest of the streaming services and getting a physical release.

Why our change of heart? These songs, from “Manic Monday” to “Nothing Compares 2 U,” already exist in the real world, even if we only know versions by the Bangles, Sinead O’Connor or the seemingly dozens of Prince proteges (Sheila E., Apollonia 6, The Time, etc.). And as Rob Tannenbaum of the Los Angeles Times notes in his track-by-track review, the songs here take on radical new meaning when you hear them performed by the man who originally wrote them. “Hearing [Prince] sing lyrics he often intended for women suits our non-binary era,” he writes.

The standouts on Originals, many written during the incredible fertile 1984-1985 period when Prince also released Purple Rain, include the original takes on “Sex Shooter,” “Jungle Love” and, most interestingly, “You’re My Love,” a declaration of fealty eventually recorded by Kenny Rogers. “Prince’s version evokes Philly Soul producers Gamble and Huff, and he croons like he’s trying to steal a woman from Teddy Pendergrass,” writes Tannenbaum.

 

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