Must Have Prince Bootleg: “Diamonds & Pearls: Beginnings”

Posted by The G on October 26, 2015 under G Reviews | Read the First Comment

Photo, artwork and words by G.

Diamonds and Pearls

Diamonds and Pearls

While the 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!)

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. 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’).
  5. 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!
  6. 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!
  7. 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.
  8. 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.
  9. 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.
  10. Money Don’t Matter 2Night.  The mix is different, but otherwise the politically charged track is the same.
  11. 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.
  12. 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.

 

Prince live at the LA Forum (May 27, 2011) – The G Review

Posted by The G on May 28, 2011 under G Reviews | 16 Comments to Read

Photos by G.

Prince - Forum May 27, 2011

Prince

In case you didn’t know, I am a die-hard Prince fan.  I’ve seen him in concert in excess of 50 times in multiple cities across the United States.  In recent years, I have started to fall out of love with him primarily because of his religious beliefs.  In the late 1990s, he became a Jehovah’s Witness.  His music which had formerly been so open-minded became preachy and intolerant of any belief system that varied from his own, which is contrary to some of the core reasons I became a fan.  In my personal opinion, he also stopped taking artistic chances.  Whereas you would never know what to expect when you saw him in concert, he seemed to have settled and has become a “greatest hits” artist appeasing not the people who stuck by him through embarrassing name changes (from Prince to an unpronounceable symbol and back again) to record label disputes and instead plays for casual fans who don’t realize that Prince has continued to make albums consistently since “Diamonds and Pearls” in 1991.  Of course I was sad to see songs with “dirty” words get dropped permanently from his setlists (because let me tell you that it was an amazing experience for 20,000 people to shout out “you sexy motherfucker” in unison), but I respected his need to do things his way. 

It’s been a few years since I’ve seen Prince in concert and the last time I saw him, I was at a very exclusive one-off gig where I stood less than arm’s length from him for over 3 hours while he played guitar like it was everybody’s last night on earth. For the reasons above I decided I should probably stop seeing him live so as not to ruin all the life-changing moments we’ve shared together.  It just so happened that as I booked my vacation to Los Angeles, Prince was in the middle of playing 21 concerts in LA.   Getting the opportunity to see Prince live with my brother and my best friend, who are as big of fans as I am, was such a rare thing, I decided to go see Prince on May 27, 2011 at the Los Angeles Forum.

One thing that can be said about Prince – he has some very cool fans.  At a Prince concert, you should definitely expect to see every ethnic and socio-economic background represented and everybody there is ready to party! You’ll see people decked out in their finest threads, colorful suits and a lot of women in lingerie.  My good fortune would have it that Nikka Costa opened the show with a brief set that included “Like A Feather,” “Keep Pushin,” “Everybody Got Their Something,” “Can’t Please Everybody” as well as a new song from Nikka’s upcoming EP (which will be released in the summer of 2011).  As always, they don’t call her the “funky white bitch” for nothing!  She had the Forum up out of their seats and dancing.  When Prince hit the stage around 9:30, he started off the show with a medley of snippets of songs which included “When Doves Cry,” “Nasty Girl” (by Vanity 6 – which Prince penned), “Forever in My Life,” “Hot Thing” and a lyric free tease of “Darling Nikki,” one of Prince’s “nastier” songs.  I felt this was progress as years ago, he publicly announced he’d no longer play that song live.  At one point early on in the concert, Prince even opened his shirt, suggesting that “dirty Prince” is slowly coming back to us (you can see a picture, after the jump).  I was getting pretty excited. 

Prince and Nikka Costa

Prince and Nikka Costa

 Things started to go downhill from there as he went straight into a very “safe” set list.  Now, let me also say that Prince sounds great, he looks amazing and his band is tight.  You certainly get your moneys’ worth when you go see him and he still remains one of the best live performers out there.  It looks like Prince.  It sounds like Prince.  But it’s not the Prince that used to pull random songs out of thin air and reward all the people that have stuck by his side through thick and thin.  It’s the equivalent of seeing new works by Salvador Dali, only to find they are stick figures instead of the amazing paintings the world knows he is capable of making.  Aside from a rant about Facebook and Twitter and telling the audience to “be present at the concert instead of texting,” gone were the overly preachy Jehovah’s Witness propaganda that Prince has been trying to shove down people’s throats for years.  To my disgust, however, he is still singing “Open up your Bibles and let God guide you to the Purple Rain,” but for die-hards like myself, “Purple Rain” has become one of the songs where you take a bathroom break because he’s played the song nearly at every show since its release in 1984.   

The fact that he obviously had hip surgery (as he dances all over the stage – though does not do the splits anymore) and is using “the Prince symbol” as his stage design (when JWs are against symbolism) suggests that Prince has either been disfellowed or is on his way out of the religious cult.  He recently publicly stated that it should be illegal to perform cover songs and a show staple is a cover of Michael Jackson’s “Don’t Stop Till You Get Enough” which morphs into “Cool,” a cover version of a track he wrote for The Time.  It’s hard to say what’s going on in his Gemini mind, because he is one of the most contradictory artists I’ve ever encountered. One thing is certain (from my 50+ concert experiences of seeing Prince), you can clearly see the dollar signs in his eyes.  I refuse to believe that a person who allegedly has written a new song a day since 1978 enjoys playing “Kiss” and “Purple Rain” night after night at the expense of his artist integrity.  Security guards were extremely strict about the taking of photographs which makes no sense in an age where picture taking has become part of the concert experience (for better or for worse).  It was actually very intrusive to the show and as someone who goes to as many shows as I do, I certainly think I have a lot of experiences to compare and contrast this to.  I still have hopes that one day Prince will stop being such a douche bag about his image (especially since he can still pull off his unique look and sound like nobody else can) and focus on setting trends instead of following them.  I know that somewhere deep down, that this Prince I speak of  is still alive, and on behalf of all the die-hards – we want that Prince back!  I don’t think that’s too much to ask!

See the set list and a photo of Prince with his shirt open after the jump.

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