Prince’s estate is up in the air after his untimely death, but they are about to get very active about releasing music and licensing Prince’s images. First up: the original, previously unreleased 1984 version of “Nothing Compares 2 You.” The music arrived accompanied by a video showing unreleased rehearsal footage form the same era. The video shows Prince working through choreography with the Revolution.
Although Prince had occasionally performed the song in concert, this was the first studio version of the song officially released by Prince. A live version does appear on 1993’s greatest hits compilation, The Hits/The B-Sides.
“Nothing Compares 2 U” was a global phenomenon in 1990, when it became a smash hit for Irish singer Sinead O’Connor. Prince originally conceived of the song for his side project, The Family, which included it on their 1985 debut album, where it went unnoticed.
The Prince version is everything that Prince was: Jazz, funk, soul, rock, all melded into one slow-burn electrifying track. O’Connor’s searing version is a pop ballad; Prince’s take is mixed with a classic 1980’s saxophone wail. Recorded with his favorite engineer, Susan Rogers, this version was performed at the Flying Cloud Drive Warehouse in Eden Prairie. As is customary, Prince performed and arranged the track. His longtime collaborators, Susannah Melvoin and Paul Peterson are on backing vocals, and the sax was played by Eric Leeds. The three were all members of The Family.
You can stream or buy the song and a seven-inch will be released on vinyl on May 25th. That same day, the Estate is releasing a limited-edition picture disc, which you can find if you hit up Prince’s online story quickly.
The Estate is far from settled, but there has already been one significant re-release, an expanded Purple Rain reissue was released in the summer of 2017. The release of “Nothing Compares 2 You” comes on the same day that the police officially closed their investigation into Prince’s 2016 death. Prince died from an overdose on counterfeit vicodin, which was actually a lethal dose of fentanyl. Police were unable to trace the origin of the drugs or identify anyone responsible for selling it.
The Prince Estate already made waves by signing an exclusive merchandise deal with Target Field, home of the Minnesota Twins. Although some fans love the idea of buying Prince merchandise at baseball games, others are critical of the idea that they would have to travel to Minneapolis to buy merchandise, which is not available online. For others, the addition of Prince as a kind of unofficial mascot of the Twins rankles their sensibility, particularly in view of Prince’s longtime goal of controlling his image and likeness.
Prince reportedly has huge vaults of unreleased music inside his Paisley Park home and studio. He was famously controlling about his image and music, so it is hard to say whether he would favor aggressive releases of music he had not completed. Now Pitchfork is reporting that the Estate is seeking an archives supervisor. Pitchfork found a job posting on the American Alliance of Museums’ career website. The full-time position is in the Archives Department. This is the literal dream job of many, many people, including established artists who would dearly love to get their hands on all the unreleased music. The job posting certainly lends credence to the rumor that there are reams of material which needs organized. The position also includes curating and lending materials to museums, festivals and music organizations.