Review: Prince – Piano & A Microphone 1983
There was, presumably, a reason Prince kept his vault sealed. Yet upon his death, his estate drilled its lock to find enough unreleased material to issue an album every year for a century. No one’s asked whether that’s what Prince would have wanted, though – despite his refusal to put out The Black Album showing he had strict guidelines about what was suitable for release. But here he is, in his home studio, performing 35 minutes of unreleased songs behind a piano. The recordings are so raw, cassette hiss is audible; whether an 87-second sketch of Purple Rain is indispensable is debatable and while a jazzy version of Strange Relationship is more satisfying, both sound like hotel-lobby improvisations. Elsewhere, a heartfelt stab at Joni Mitchell’s A Case Of You segues into a passionate take on spiritual Mary Don’t You Weep, and there’s also the delicate but directionless Wednesday. He grunts through Cold Coffee & Cocaine before concluding with Why The Butterflies’ minimalist soul. Yet there are two crucial inclusions: a hushed – human-beatbox effects aside – version of International Lover, and a celebratory 17 Days.
Written by Wyndham Wallace. Released on Warner.