A Breakdown of Prince’s ‘Purple Rain: Deluxe Expanded Edition’
Prince's famed "Vault" is one of the more definitive aspects of his legacy. The legendary musician's unreleased works have floated around via bootlegs, fanpages and message boards for years, but since his April 2016 passing, his estate has promised the "official" release of an unspecified amount of Prince recordings in the coming years--the first of which being a remastered, deluxe edition of the blockbuster Purple Rain soundtrack.
The Deluxe Expanded edition largely lives up to the hype surrounding it; the remastering of the original album is very good, enlivening tracks that the world has heard endlessly for more than 30 years. And the alternate versions--which include different edits of album tracks and popular B-sides like "Another Lonely Christmas" and "Erotic City"--make for grand listening, even if they may be inessential to anyone except the most devoted Prince fan.
The centerpiece of this Deluxe Expanded edition is undoubtedly the remastered, previously-unreleased tracks. Eleven songs that have only previously been heard via bootleg recordings and rare live performances are now available here, fully remastered and presented in their (mostly) original glory.
For the purposes of this breakdown, we're going to focus on those tracks. So here is a look at the unreleased tracks from Prince's expanded edition of Purple Rain.
Featuring some of his signature programming (reminiscent of 1986s single "Mountains") and soft synths, this was originally released by Prince collaborator Andre Cymone on his third solo album A.C. The Prince track was recorded in August 1984, and the song was given to Cymone at the behest of his mother. Cymone would overdub his vocals onto Prince's backing track on his version. Prince and the Revolution would perform the song in the mid-1980s.
Recorded two days prior to "When Doves Cry" in 1984, and featuring Prince's soon-to-be-standard Yamaha DX-7 synthesizer, the track features whirling synths and the sort of programming that would become a cornerstone of Prince's mid-80s sound. "How am I supposed to sleep without you in my arms?" he wails, evoking his lover to "come on, baby, hurt me in the upper room."
The extended version of one of Purple Rain's most underrated tracks (if an album that indelible can even have an "underrated" track); this clocks in at more than twelve minutes. It isn't quite as long as the fully unedited version of the original track (which was more than 14 minutes) but it does include the extended break (which retains the elements of "Father's Song" from the Purple Rain movie score), a much more intense funk workout, a spoken word interlude and a much longer guitar solo.
Originally recorded during the same live concert that yielded the album versions of "Let's Go Crazy," "Purple Rain" and "Baby I'm A Star," but ultimately replaced by "The Beautiful Ones" on the official Purple Rain soundtrack album, "Electric Intercourse" has lived via bootlegs for years. It's one of Prince's most seductive ballads and likely would have been a hit had he tossed it to one of his female collaborators like Sheena Easton or Vanity.
Lisa Coleman is featured as the vocalist on "Our Destiny," a shimmering pop song with lush strings and more signature drum programming from Prince. Wendy and Lisa worked diligently on the track, which was overdubbed during the same sessions as "Pop Life," (released as a hit single from Around the World In A Day). "Roadhouse Garden" was planned for inclusion on an aborted 1998 Prince and the Revolution album.
This percolating dance tune was recorded in 1984 and performed live by Prince and the Revolution in 1985 and included on Prince and the Revolution: Live later that year. The studio version of the song only previously saw life as a short interlude included in the Purple Rain film during a scene between Morris Day and Appolonia.
Written for Vanity in 1983 and retooled by The Revolution as late as 1986 (just before Prince disbanded the group), "Wonderful Ass" is arguably the most radio-friendly track here. A slinky groove, with synths punctuating the hook, it's a tremendous midtempo groover, with Prince and Lisa Coleman dueting the catchy melody. "You think my neuroses is just a phase--you've got a wonderful ass."
Flirting with rockabilly stylings (as Prince had done on "Delirious," "Horny Toad" and even "Let's Go Crazy"), the song may have been intended for use on projects by The Time or Vanity 6, but ultimately never saw inclusion on any of their recordings. Originally recorded in 1983, Prince revisited the song in 1985.
A gorgeous pop song that wouldn't sound out of place on Parade or even Sign O' the Times, "Katrina's Paper Dolls" was recorded during downtime while Prince was on the 1999 Tour and he recorded it without The Revolution.
As brazen as anything Prince had released up to that point, the midtempo "We Can F---" would be heavily reworked by Prince over the years. Initially recorded in 1983, the song would see official release as "We Can Funk" with George Clinton on 1990s Graffiti Bridge soundtrack. Beyond the toned-down subject matter, the original retains the distinctive synth line, but the lyrics are--as to be expected--a lot more risque and the performance more impassioned; and the music is much more stripped.
A song that many fans will immediately recognize as both the instrumental that accompanies a pivotal scene from Purple Rain and as the musical motif revisited in "Computer Blue," many Prince aficionados have heard some variation of this tune. This full version features ominous synths accenting the delicate piano melody.