Prince: Originals (Warner Records) - Review | Under the Radar Magazine Under the Radar | Music Blog for the Indie Music Magazine
Wednesday, May 31st, 2023  



Warner Records

Jul 15, 2019 Web Exclusive Bookmark and Share

Plenty of artists can bang out hit after hit song, but it’s rare when someone is so good at it that they’ll pen extra hits just to give them away. Prince, on the other hand, gave away more tracks than a lot of musicians were able to write in their entire careers. Originals collects the late pop legend’s mostly-unreleased demo versions of 15 songs that were passed along to others. While many went to the numerous protégé projects Prince invested himself in throughout his career, others were made famous by singers who were already stars in their own right.

Interested in hearing how Prince envisioned “The Glamorous Life” before gifting it to Sheila E., or how close The Time stayed to his first take of “Jungle Love”? This is your record. The thing is, though, that in many cases—including those two examples, plus “Love… Thy Will Be Done” (recorded by Martika) and “Gigolos Get Lonely Too” (The Time)—the receiving artist would keep Prince’s demo as is, musically, and only re-record their vocals. While it’s fun to hear Prince’s voice singing these particular songs, there’s nothing exceptionally enlightening about the experience.

Most of the tracks featured on Originals already sounded like Prince songs even when they were performed by other artists-his stamp is so individual that it’s near-impossible to obscure. The excitement, though, comes when the performing artists decided to put their own spin on the music. In those cases, hearing Prince’s versions is so much more fun. His piano ballad version of “Noon Rendezvous” brings so much delightful, kitschy melodrama that was absent from Sheila E.‘s more pop-oriented (and in hindsight, slightly bland) take. Prince’s original “Nothing Compares 2 U” feels emotionally much closer to Sinéad O’Connor’s than it does to The Family’s version, to whom he’d originally given it. Occasionally, it almost feels weird to hear Prince’s voice singing some of these familiar words, even though they’re his. When The Bangles sang “these are the days when you wish your bed was already made” in “Manic Monday,” it was a relatable line about how it sucks when the weekend is over. But when Prince croons that same lyric, it’s impossible not to picture that him singing about his king-size, elevated platform bed with purple crushed velvet comforter. (And obviously, Prince’s take on “You’re My Love” is worlds different than Kenny Rogers’ version.)

Posthumous releases can feel uncomfortably close to grave-robbing, but thankfully that’s avoided on Originals. Nothing here sounds unfit for public consumption. Even in demo form, these songs possess the polish you’d typically associate with his work. Given how many artists barely tampered with what he gave them, it’s clear he knew what he was handing over needed to be mostly-finished songs.

In the end, any cuts from Prince’s supposedly deep vaults will be worth our attention—and probably better than half the new music released in any given year. For big Prince fans, Originals will be an essential peek into his methods as a musical mentor. For anyone else, it’s a curiosity worth checking out but certainly not recommending over any of the dozen-plus better records he released during his lifetime. (

Author rating: 5.5/10

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Average reader rating: 8/10


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