Photo, artwork and words by G.
lamestream mainstream media was reporting on Prince reinstating his Instagram account, the real Prince news item of the day went unnoticed: an early incarnation of his 1991 classic album “Diamonds and Pearls” has leaked, and in perfect sound quality! I’ll get to the differences in a little bit, but can we just take a moment to completely lose our minds at how awesome this is! For decades, Prince fans have wondered how these things make their way out of Prince’s legendary vault, and we could speculate for days without a clear answer since reporters never directly ask Prince this million dollar question. One thing you should know if you are just a casual Prince fan: the man has had a 30+ year career and has released over 40 albums under his own name, has written the lyrics and words for another 20 albums for his “proteges,” has toured the world tirelessly throughout his career, sometimes performing as many as 3 shows a day (with completely different set lists) and never stops recording! At his Minneapolis recording complex, Paisley Park, a library of music known to die-hards as “The Vault” exists, and is rumored to contain thousands of unreleased songs. THOUSANDS! The average number of songs an artist releases in a 30 year career usually averages around 300, and this means that Prince is sitting on at least 700 songs that the world will never get to hear. That’s several 30 year careers worth of music if you don’t want to do the math! Whoa! Luckily for die-hards, songs mysteriously escape the vault from time to time, and many of the tracks are as vital as anything he has officially released. The creativity of this man is something of an anomaly, and that is something that is rarely celebrated in the press, and frankly should be mentioned in every article about him from now until eternity.
“Diamonds and Pearls,” The 13th studio album released by Prince on October 1, 1991 featured the debut of his new band, the New Power Generation. For the first time, Prince included a backing singer (Rosie Gaines) and a rapper (Tony M.) in the official band lineup. While Rosie Gaines was a perfect compliment to Prince’s voice, fans and critics did not feel the same way about Tony M. Prince’s 1980s “golden period” where basically every song he released was amazing, had started to wain, and Prince, for the first time in his career – up to that point – decided to follow a trend rather than set it. The result was an album that featured some brilliant tracks along side some cringe-worthy rap performances by both Prince and Tony M. Over the years, the Prince fan community has learned to love all the songs on the record, except “Jughead” which aside from his current output ranks as one of the worst songs he’s ever released. Meanwhile, in November of 1990, his box office bomb “Graffiti Bridge” had just been released and Prince submitted the first incarnation of one of his final classic albums. The bootleg “Diamonds and Pearls: Beginnings” features not only a vastly different track list, but every version of every song that eventually got released was dramatically changed. So this is what you will hear when you track this amazing bootleg down (read: please don’t come asking me for it!)
- Something Funky This House Comes. The officially released album opens with the spiritually charged “Thunder,” but before that song was included, the album was set to open with the rap-heavy “Something Funky This House Comes.” Tony M. introduces each member of the band and gives them a chance to “do their thing.” A bold move for Prince to sparsely appear on the opening song, but eventually he changed his mind completely and the track remains unreleased officially to this day.
- Daddy Pop. The song also sits as the second track on the officially released album, but this version is dramatically different. It features different vocals and the end rap verse by Tony M. is cut out completely in favor of an instrumental break down. The song shows off Prince’s bad-assery (not a word), where he plays the role of “Daddy Pop,” the funkiest man in the land who has “grooves and grooves up on the shelf,” (the first lyric to acknowledge the Vault). He also basically tell the competition to kiss his ass with the cut lyric, “Oh yeah, I turn the other cheek/ Swing… oops and miss / See this, kiss it!” Rosie Gaines is utilized greatly for the first time in her brief stint with the NPG as she plays off Prince towards the end, but all of that was cut from the final version. Personally, I think this version is much better than the officially released version.
- Walk Don’t Walk. Not that much different than the officially released version, other than it’s a little more stripped down, and perhaps mixed differently.
- Schoolyard. This song is Prince as his nastiest. Taking the view point of a 16 year old kid who is trying to get laid for the first time, it’s perhaps a little more true to life than we all know as around that time, Prince had met his future first wife, Mayte, who was 16 at the time of their meeting. Not only is the song funky, but the lyrics are the tongue-in-cheek Prince that is very absent from his recent output. Only Prince could have and get away with a chorus that contains the refrain “Schoolyard / Schoolyard / Gettin’ it on in the Schoolyard.” The first verse finds Prince fantasizing about his dream girl and when he hangs out with her and his friends, they sit too close in the car and with each turn “Carrie fell in my lap / He asked me where I wanted to / I said “yeah right, like you need a map!” The second verse finds the botched seduction with Prince getting turned down in favor of his girl getting stoned. “I said “Carrie, do you wanna dance?” / She said “mmm hmm, yeah, like later man. First let me smoke this weed.” / “I said “Damn! My cologne ain’t sayin’ shit if this is what she needs.” The bridge comes around and Prince finally gets laid. “Now boys and girls for the graphic part / Close your ears if you ain’t got a nasty heart.” He continues by slipping a condom on and having premature ejaculation! “Take a glove and fill it with hot baby lotion and slip it on / Pull it tight / That’s what Carrie was like / 1 stroke and I was done.” Despite being super funky, the song got shelved and has been circulating in sub-par sound quality among die-hards for 20 years – until now! He could never release a song like this now, because a Bill Cosby-like investigation of sex with underage girls would surely come up (and maybe it should? Just sayin’).
- Diamonds and Pearls. One of the big hits off the album, after all these years, it comes a huge surprise to hear a Prince-only version of the song. The officially released version features Rosie Gaines mirroring Prince’s lyrics and she has her big solo in the middle of the song when she sings “D to the I to the A to the M / O to the N to the D to the Pearls of Love.” This version features music only during that part and your brain will still hear Rosie when that part comes on. I’d also like to take this time to give a shout out to the video, where during this part, Prince jumps off a couch and does the splits. BAD ASS!
- Strollin‘. Again, not much different than the officially released version, but a slightly different mix. What was great about this song was that Prince showed the world that he could master any style of music from rock to funk and light jazz, in this case, often all in the same album. Not many people did that then, and certainly not that many people do it now. That’s yet another reason Prince is so great!
- Interlude (Joyful Sound). This has been circulating as part of an early mix of “Willing and Able” among fans, and it’s basically just a false start and stop to the next track.
- Willing and Able. Prince and the NPG take you to church with this song as Tommy Barbarella’s organ is featured prominently. The officially released version featured backing vocals by The Steeles, giving the song an extra gospel vibe, but this version features only Prince on vocals. The Tony M. rap verse at the end of the song is also absent and instead we hear that organ solo I previously mentioned.
- Insatiable. This is the jewel in the crown of this set as this version of the sexy single is dramatically different. The music is more sparse, to give it a late night jam feeling, and while the vocals on the verses and chorus are the same, the second verse was cut out of the officially released version (despite the lyrics appearing in the CD booklet). As the song discusses Prince’s insatiable appetite for sex, he also talks about filming his lover for their tryst and as you hear the song, you will submit to any request Prince makes of you! The ad-libbing at the end of the song is quite different too, and Prince admits that he’s had too much wine, perhaps the only time in his entire catalog he’s admitted that he is wasted. An interesting historical document even if Prince’s ballads aren’t your thing.
- Money Don’t Matter 2Night. The mix is different, but otherwise the politically charged track is the same.
- Horny Pony. The track was eventually scrapped to make room for the hit song “Gett Off,” and later became the b-side to “Cream,” which was not on the first draft of this album! A bootleg version that is different than the b-side version has circulated among collectors for many years, and this version is different to that one! Gotta love Prince! It is closer to the bootleg version than the b-side version, with different lyrics than the one that got released, but this version is more stripped back and is a lot funkier than both other versions.
- Live 4 Love. The final track on both this and the officially released version of “Diamonds and Pearls.” This version is slightly different from the original version that has been in circulation and much different to the officially released version. The lyrics are much more sleepy sounding, versus the released version that finds Prince asserting the lyrics much more forcefully. The robotic intro is gone from this version and once again Tony M.’s rap verse is nowhere to be found. The lyrics are also a lot different in several places and the song is about 1 minute shorter than the track that saw the light of day in 1991.
As you listen to this bootleg, you hear a whole different side to Prince, and again, the things he decided to throw away are often better than the best tracks from artists which we shall not name! It’s really remarkable. While the casual fan probably cannot comprehend how prolific this man is, die-hards across the world are simultaneously losing their minds as another puzzle piece of the genius known as Prince is revealed.