Three-disc funkgasmagoria from Prince’s Purple peak – including disc of single edits and B-sides, a live DVD and a CD of tracks from the legendary vaults.

Rhino
5/5

Prince was usually too busy writing new stuff to bother about offcuts from old albums, so this is perhaps one of the few silver linings from his passing: Warners have been allowed into his vaults and the result is an expanded version of his 1984 meisterwerk, including 11 previously unreleased tracks. None that have ever been officially released, anyway, and even bootleg collectors and diehard completists will be surprised by some of the contents.

“It’s not the usual alternate mixes, either, the sort of flotsam that record companies use to fill up so-called deluxe versions of albums. No, these are fully-completed tracks of prime purple vintage, nearly a dozen further excursions for the Linn LM-1 drum computer, the Oberheim synthesizer, Wendy and Lisa, and that guitar sound.” – Paul Lester

Although he was, for a period at least, a master of the pop single, Prince was never really about concision, he was about immoderation. So although some might decry it as OTT, you could just as easily argue that it is utterly in keeping with his baroque munificence.

What of those new/old would-be classics, then? Well, alongside When Doves Cry, Let’s Go Crazy, I Would Die 4 U, the title track and the rest – all remastered and afforded a fresh lustre – is a plethora of delights. The Dance Electric is 11 minutes of crisp shimmerfunk. Love And Sex opens with a climactic orgiastic shriek, ahead of a five-minute cavalcade of Linn drum slap-beats and woozy synths, over which Prince gets his freak on.

Computer Blue (Hallway Speech Version) is the full 12-minute version of Purple Rain’s four-minute fourth track, a wild extrapolation of the original’s compact design. Electric Intercourse (Studio Version) was bumped from the original after Prince dreamed up The Beautiful Ones, but it’s every bit as grand as the better-known ballad that became Purple Rain’s third track.

Our Destiny/Roadhouse Garden anticipates the heady string-drenched fantasias Prince would visit on 1985’s Around The World In A Day and features a duet between his nibs and Lisa Coleman. Possessed sounds like a madly sped-up Kraftwerk, with plucked harp strings on top, Wonderful Ass is a two-chord synth-funk vamp, albeit a wildly inventive one, Velvet Kitty Cat is the sort of tinny machine beat melody that the excellent Felix Da Housecat, to name but one, built a career on. Finally, there’s We Can Fuck, a more explicit take on the George Clinton duet from Graffiti Bridge, and Father’s Song, a worked-up version of the 90-second snippet from the Purple Rain movie.

Then you’ve got the 1985 Prince and the Revolution Live! concert movie, filmed in New York, during the Purple Rain Tour, and a welter of edits and B-sides, notably 17 Days. Casual fans might consider it all too much, but for the rest of us it’s definitely a case of more is… more.

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