Beginning the excavation of Prince’s vault of unreleased music with this 1983 home cassette recording is a canny move. It can’t sound dated, and it provides a pleasing circularity, taking its name and solo piano format from Prince’s swansong tour. Of course, we all still hope there’s one last classic unheard album or song to be retrieved. And while this short, spare offering dampens those hopes somewhat, there’s no mistaking Prince’s incandescent, unquenchable brilliance, as he swoops from song to song, vamps and pirouettes up and down the scales. It’s a guilty pleasure, knowing he didn’t intend us to hear this, knowing he has no idea what comes next – the five-year peak of astonishing achievement, the fog of superstardom to descend within months. Or did he suspect? Is this the confidence of predestiny?
Either way, it’s an intensely intimate experience, appropriately voyeuristic and transgressive for a songwriter who wrote about both things so well. The versions of Prince’s better-known songs may disappoint some – Purple Rain is a meandering snippet – but what stays with you is the sense of talent, hardening to genius.Continue reading...
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