Interview

Prince archivist Michael Howe talks SDE through Sign O’ The Times bonus cuts

The official ‘vault’ archivist offers some insight into the unheard songs

Warner Records yesterday announced a reissue of Prince‘s 1987 album Sign O’ The Times. SDE has enjoyed an exclusive early listen to 10 of the 45 previously unreleased tracks and talked to Prince ‘vault’ archivist Michael Howe, who helped to put this set together (in conjunction with the Prince Estate and the record label). Read the interview, below:

SuperDeluxeEdition: The thing that really strikes me, is that even by Prince’s own high standards, 1986 seems to be phenomenal year for him in terms of creative energy. He had the film [Under A Cherry Moon], the Parade album to promote, the usual touring and this constant cycle of recording.

I think many Prince fans will be aware that that before we got Sign O’ The Times there were three aborted album projects: Dream Factory, Camille and Crystal Ball. How much did the archive offer you a clear trail to those individual projects in terms of both audio and documentation?

Michael Howe: There was a pretty clear map, overall. You know, there were finished versions of all three of those, as they were originally envisioned, so it was relatively easy from a forensic standpoint to determine what the bookends were, from beginning to end. But that’s not to say it was easy to wrap our arms around the sheer volume of material, which is enormous, obviously. But the table of contents, so to speak, made itself pretty apparent with out too much difficulty. If anything, we had to be judicious about it because there were a number of things that were unfinished ideas, or instrumentals that were intended for The Flesh [a loose band initiative that never came to fruition] or other projects that really weren’t necessarily envisioned for one of the three tentpole releases that you just mentioned.  In order, they were the abandoned Dream Factory album, then Camille and Camille then basically morphed into the original triple album Crystal Ball [not to be confused with the 1998 compilation with the same name] which then got redacted into the Sign O’ The Times album that people know and love. So it was quite a process of creativity and just a blizzard of activity, for him, in that year alone. I don’t know when the guy slept!

SDE: And Dream Factory had at least three different track listings I believe, so it was a moving target the whole time.

MH: That’s correct. The prevailing wisdom was to basically look at the final iteration of what Dream Factory would entail and that was around mid-July 1986. So we basically encompassed everything that would have been, or could have been, on that release and on Camille and the unredacted Sign O’ The Times –  basically, Crystal Ball. And the idea was to include everything so that the listener – and this is in the streaming world, obviously – could sequence any of those things in the way that he or she wants. You know, if you want to listen to the original Dream Factory you can do that, if you want to listen to Camille as it was originally envisioned, you can do that. Now most of Camille was released. Those very masters became publicly released, during Prince’s creative arc, so not all of those are necessarily in our collection, but….

SDE: Yes, I was going to ask you about that, because there are certain things like ‘Feel U Up’, which was originally part of Camille. That was later commercially released [as the B-side to the ‘Partyman’ single]. You didn’t consider it necessary to repeat that on this set?

MH: That’s correct. So the only bona fide rarity or vault track from Camille album is ‘Rebirth of the Flesh’, with the original outro, which I don’t believe has even circulated amongst bootleg collectors, but with the things that have been released and that track, you can listen to Camille from front to back, as it was envisioned – if you wish.

SDE: Was there any serious consideration given to trying to recreate those three unreleased albums on CD, on separate discs, as part of this set or was that dismissed due to repetition?

MH: [Yes], primarily due to repetition, but also because the beauty of the streaming world allows you to do that yourself. So from a standpoint of trying to be as comprehensive – but not repetitive – as possible, we decided to include all the tracks that are otherwise unavailable. You know, there’s not a dedicated Camille album in this larger body of work [i.e. the Sign O’ The Times super deluxe sets] – it seemed like it would be redundant to do that.

SDE: For the super deluxe editions you are including three CDs (or six vinyl records) of unreleased vault tracks. That’s 45 in total. Give us a feel for the process of pulling that material together and what perhaps you left in the vault. I’m assuming, for example that plenty of tracks may have existed with minor mix differences, and you had to decide whether that really justifies inclusion?

MH: That’s it, for the most part. There were multiple variants, or mixes, with very, very few differences, that aren’t necessarily represented here. In an effort to be as respectful and complete as possible we included everything that was theoretically a master; you know either a rough mix or something that was designated to be used as a master, so if there are variants of those mixes, or instrumentals or other things that are off-shoots if you like, they aren’t necessarily included. There are instances in this collected body of work where there is a little bit of repetition – for example there’s a version of ‘The Ballad of Dorothy Parker’ with horns that is an interesting counterpoint to the master that people know, and there’s a couple of 12-inch mixes that I don’t think people realise existed –  ‘Strange Relationship’ and ‘Wonderful Day’ – which I don’t think have ever circulated, even in the bootleg market. So there are things in the vault that aren’t included, but they are either redundant or they don’t necessarily represent the creative era that Sign O’ The Times encompasses.

SDE: Where did you decide the start and end points were for this Sign O’ The Times era? Because with Prince, he’d be recording the next album before the current one is even out, so it’s a tricky business…

MH: It’s tricky, but the ballpark was basically late March of 1986 – basically after Parade had been delivered and gone into production, meaning there were going to be no further changes on it – through to the middle of 1987, from a studio standpoint. There are exceptions, because there’s obviously a very, very early version of ‘I Could Never Take The Place of Your Man’ from 1979, that really doesn’t belong anywhere else. That’s so compelling and so essential, that it had to be included. And there were a couple of things that were not Parade items, and that were originally contemplated for Dream Factory or just had the spirit of Sign O’ The Times from a creative standpoint like ‘Power Fantastic’ and the 1985 version of ‘Teacher Teacher’ and ‘All My Dreams’ and a couple of things that pre-dated the end of March ’86, but for the most part, the vast majority of the material is late March 86… well April 86 to mid-87, basically.

SDE: Was there anything you had on your list that couldn’t be found for any particular reason?

MH: That’s a good question. There were things that are rumoured to exist, including the mythical first version of the song ‘Wally’, which Susan Rogers has said many times was wiped from the two-inch tape. We searched every corner to determine if there was even a rough mix of that, or a cassette version, and we could not find it. And there was a rumoured 12-inch version of ‘The Ballad of Dorothy Parker’, which I don’t think exists either. Whatever is floating around out there was created by somebody else; a fan or engineer. There’s no record that I have found or that we have found that indicates that there was a dedicated 12-inch mix of that. And I looked!

SDE: We think of Prince’s vault primarily containing audio and video, but what was there in the way of correspondence between Prince/his management and the record label? One of the things that really interests me is Prince’s relationship with Warner Bros. It fell apart in the 1990s but Sign O’ The Times is a good example of the label working really well with Prince, curtailing some of his excesses, telling him ‘we don’t want a triple album’ or ‘we don’t want an album released under a pseudonym’ (Camille). The album that everyone knows and loves wouldn’t have existed if Prince could have done whatever he wanted, so was there much in the way of correspondence or insight? Was Prince putting out Sign O’ The Times through gritted teeth, or was he quite happy with how it turned out, in the end?

MH: That’s a good question. I mean, I don’t think there is written correspondence as such; there’s a lot of legend around those conversations. The guy who knows the most about it, Lenny Waronker, who originally signed Prince and was basically his main A&R guy at the time. He goes into a some detail in the book that accompanies the release. And Lenny is a fascinating guy on a number of levels; super articulate. I love him and became very close to him when I was at Warners and he has better insight on that than anybody else, because he was the guy who actually had to call Prince and talk him down from a triple record to a double record; which Lenny himself did through gritted teeth. Initially, as I understand it, Prince was not particularly receptive, but the following morning he delivered a redacted version of Crystal Ball and basically said “here’s your record, put it out.” But Lenny is much more articulate and would give you a much more elegant description of it than I’m giving you here.

SDE: When you reach the end of a project like this and you move on to the next thing, is it fair to say that anything left in the vault is unlikely to ever see the light of day?

MH: I don’t know how to answer that question, really. Those choices are not unilaterally mine to make. There are a number of different voices in those conversations.

SDE: The current Sign O’ The Times master is generally regarded as sounding a bit ‘thin’ on CD, in particular. Clearly with the new remastering there’s an opportunity to improve that. Tell me a little of that process?

MH: We took basically the production master, the flat half-inch production analogue reels and we did a flat 24 bit /192 kHz transfer of those. And those files were sent to Bernie Grundman, who was the mastering engineer who did the original album – and basically all Prince’s work – and Bernie remastered from the flat 24/192 files. He did an incredibly great job. For me, it’s a much more involving listen than the existing commercial master which, as you say, is a bit thin and a little undynamic. This is like hearing the record anew, in my estimation. It doesn’t remove any of the emotion or intended artistry, it just brings things out in a way that, presumably, Prince intended them to be heard.

SDE: As you know I have been given access to 10 of the vault tracks on the box sets, so let’s discuss each one…


I COULD NEVER TAKE THE PLACE OF YOUR MAN (’79 version)


SDE: You’ve already mentioned that this is going to be a real revelation to virtually everyone. This was recorded in 1979. How much of a surprise was it to come across this?

MH: It was an enormous surprise. It was found very early in our excavation and digitisation process, but the rough mix we had was not dated and we assumed it was a little bit later than it actually was. But finally we found it on a two-inch multi-track tape which was dated May 1979, which kind of blew our minds. So it was a wonderful surprise and such a treat to be able to hear one of Prince’s best known songs in a completely different way.

SDE: And it’s all there, more or less. The lyric is all there.

MH: Yes, the song itself, the bones of the song are the same. Obviously the production and the embellishments in the arrangement are different but the song itself is recognisable from the jump.

SDE: I’m assuming your process is the same as before. So if you have a multi-track two-inch tape, you’ll use that and mix to match whatever other version might be available, like a rough cassette etc.

MH: Well, mixing for me is sort of the last resort. We will use whatever mix exists if we can. The only time we don’t is if it’s so sonically inferior that  it doesn’t not justify a commercial release, because it would detract from the overall impact. In that case we’d go back to the two-inch and mix exactly to the spec that’s on the rough mix. But you know, there are no creative liberties taken.


WONDERFUL DAY


SDE: This is an unreleased song that was going to be on Dream Factory. What’s interesting about this is that there’s two versions on the reissue; the standard song and a seven-minute 12-inch remix. The latter is quite a bizarre find, isn’t it?

MH: It is. I was quite surprised with this and the ‘Strange Relationship’ remix, neither of which, before unearthing them, we had any idea existed.

SDE: There’s some lyrical similarities, and maybe some melody as well, to ‘It’s Gonna Be A Beautiful Night’, so that could be an indication as to why this ended up not making it through to the final Sign O’ The Times album.

MH: I think you are right. I think it sort of anticipates ‘Beautiful Night’. It’s kind of the Yin to the released track’s Yang. That’s a very astute observation.


THE BALLAD OF DOROTHY PARKER (with horns)


SDE: Prince is a master at recording something and then taking elements off the track to improve it. This is a very good example of that, because it has the Eric Leeds horns on it, while everything else sounds more or less the same. Prince obviously decided the horn arrangement was surplus to requirements and this is a fascinating insight into his process.

MH: Yes, ‘more is more’ was not his philosophy. It was whatever served the song. Perhaps the most well known example of that is what ‘When Doves Cry’ was, to what it became, in terms of minimalism. This is along that track, although certainly not as extreme. But the absence of elements on the master version make it stronger.

SDE: Prince clearly loved this song because it was on all three versions of Dream Factory, and Crystal Ball and of course made it through to ‘Sign O’ The Times’.

MH: Yes, it was a keeper!


WITNESS 4 THE PROSECUTION 


SDE: There are two versions on the reissue. One is great funky rocker, with the Revolution, and the other version you could easily have imagined on Sign O’ The Times because it’s classic ‘solo’ Prince, a bit more minimal production, drum machine etc –  he reworks its completely and it’s just as good.

MH: I agree. Version one is Sly & The Family Stone and version two is late ’80s Prince solo. It’s pretty remarkable that the song can stand up to both ’costumes’ effectively, and I’m very excited for people to hear version two, which I think is a lot less common, certainly in the collector’s and trader’s circles. I don’t know that for sure, but I hope it is, because it’s an interesting juxtaposition

SDE: The second version was recorded in October 86, so the Revolution was effectively over by that point, wasn’t it?

MH: That’s right. They had basically just imploded. That show at Yokohama was the last one and shortly after that Prince pulled the plug. So this was the counter-Revolution, you know. Which was an interesting place for him to be. You know, he went from Prince the solo artist, to band leader to Prince the solo artist, again.

SDE: Do you have any idea what his plan was for this song, because it didn’t appear on any of the track listings for those abandoned albums.

MH: No. There wasn’t a clear indication of that, but because it was part of the creative era and particularly with that second iteration available we thought that we should include it.


FOREVER IN MY LIFE (early vocal studio run-through)


SDE: This is a wonderful, early organic run-through with acoustic guitar, piano

MH: It’s awesome.

SDE: It’s another indication of Prince’s mastery in terms of the sound he wanted for Sign O’ The Times and how he transformed this for the finished record.

MH: Agreed. This is one of those cases, and I’ve probably said it during our discussions before, but when you hear Princes vocals, even his guide, his scratch vocal, it’s so good! It’s better than a lot of artists multi-take comp vocals.


WHEN THE DAWN OF MORNING COMES


SDE: This is an interesting one because we’ve mostly been discussing music from those three aborted albums, but by all accounts this seemed to be earmarked for another abandoned project which was a musical called ‘The Dawn’. It’s quite a fast-paced number.

MH: It is. It’s like a gospel rave-up, or something. It’s an interesting track and a bit like an outlier. We don’t know a tremendous amount about what Prince thought about ‘The Dawn’ in general, aside from him mentioning it a few times and sort of alluding to it in concerts and in liner notes…

SDE: One of his websites was called The Dawn I seem to remember…

MH: That’s exactly right. So this is an instance where we have a track that is resolutely within the creative period, or the creative arc, that might not be the most obvious inclusion, but because it falls within the parameters and serves the entire body of work, we decided to include it and I think because it’s never circulated and it presents yet another side of his artistry that is pretty remarkable.


REBIRTH OF THE FLESH


SDE: This is an interesting one, because it was the first track on both Camille and Crystal Ball yet somehow it never made it to Sign O The Times. What do we know about this song?

MH: I’m not sure why he abandoned it in such a dramatic way. It’s not rare in the sense of being unknown or uncirculated but this version with the original ending, which is only about 18 or 20 seconds different than the edited version which has circulated, is one that we felt strongly about including, particularly as it rounds out the view of Camille as an entire body of work.


JEALOUS GIRL


SDE: This is an old, quite poppy, song, notable because it was offered to The Bangles.

MH: The song dates back to 1981 and was originally envisioned for The Hookers, which was the precursor to Vanity 6. It was Vanity 6 before Vanity entered Prince’s orbit. And then Vanity 6 ended up not doing it, so Prince ended up offering it to The Bangles, who respectfully declined. And then when Prince and Bonnie Raitt were working together, he offered it to her. This version was recorded in January 1987, getting towards the tale end of the period we are examining here. It was a re-tracked version of the song and it is substantially different, sonically, than the earlier version.

SDE: It’s interesting because this is one of those songs were there was clearly never any intention for Prince to put this on one of his own records.

MH: Yes, it was expressly written for another artist and never really found a home.


STRANGE RELATIONSHIP (Shep Pettibone Club Mix)


SDE: This fascinating for a number of reasons. Firstly, just the very fact that Shep Pettibone remixed it, but also, and correct me if I’m wrong, but it sounds like a remix of an earlier version, because Prince’s voice isn’t treated in the same way, there’s different instrumentation and so it has lots of interesting facets to it.

MH: That’s correct, it’s an earlier version. This one was a complete surprise. And it exists only as a finished half-inch mix. There was no acetate, no test pressing… this was just the final mix that, I guess, Shep delivered to Prince. And there’s no documentation or notes, or other things that would indicate what the creative thought process was. It’s conceivable that Prince just let Shep Pettibone do what he wanted with it and then rejected it and just sort of kept it on the shelf, we’re not entirely sure about that, but as you said it’s a very interesting view into a song that has itself many different iterations and this is one the is substantially different enough that we decided to include it.

SDE: The reissue has an original version of ‘Strange Relationship’ as well, doesn’t it? A non-remixed original version?

MH: Correct.

SDE: It’s like ‘Wonderful Day’ with that 12-inch remix. That was part of Prince’s creative toolkit in a way. Remixing a track long before the album is finished and long before he’s delivered anything to the record company. With most artists, the record label goes out and sorts out remixes but here’s Prince thinking about and commissioning remixes mid-album.

MH: Exactly. Pretty remarkable.


SDE: Michael, one thing I must ask you about is the Sign O’ The Times film. It isn’t part of this box set. Why not?

MH: I can do my best to explain why not. The short-ish version is that Prince sold the rights to the film in 1987 and the film went through a number of different rights-holders basically, and the difficulty in untangling all of those rights worldwide, was so problematic that we couldn’t really figure out how best to do it and present the film as part of the overall body of work. It’s unfortunate – we intended to – but the rights issues became so problematic, primarily because Prince sold them in the early days, that we could not disentangle every single knot and get it agreed upon in time to include in this body of work. And unfortunately, the film rights extend to both of the concerts that were recorded as part of the film rights – meaning Rotterdam and Antwerp – so we couldn’t really use any of the music from those two shows [either]. So as a result, what we wanted to do was make this the most comprehensive look at the album and the music we possibly could, and then I hope at some point – this is just me thinking aloud – at some point in the future I hope we can represent the film in a more holistic and comprehensive way.

SDE: You’ll be well aware that Turbine Media in Germany put together a pretty impressive deluxe edition of the Sign O’ The Times film for the German marketplace.

MH: I know. We talked to Turbine, we tried to get all of the territories cooperating but it was just very, very difficult. It wasn’t for lack of trying. We certainly wanted to include it but unfortunately just could not.

SDE: What’s next on the agenda? Are you already underway on the next project? I imagine you are!

MH: Yes, I am and we are. I’m not allowed to say because of my non-disclosure agreement, but we’re already hard at work on what’s next.

SDE: Is it reasonable to expect something to come out next year. One project a year?

MH: That’s reasonable. I think that’s probably about right.

Thanks to Michael Howe who was talking to Paul Sinclair for SDE.
Sign O’ The Times will be reissued on 25 September. Pre-order your format of choice below.

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CD1 / LP1: Remastered Album (Disc 1)

1 Sign O’ The Times
2 Play In The Sunshine
3 Housequake
4 The Ballad Of Dorothy Parker
5 It
6 Starfish And Coffee
7 Slow Love
8 Hot Thing
9 Forever In My Life

CD2 / LP2: Remastered Album (Disc 2)

1 U Got The Look
2 If I Was Your Girlfriend
3 Strange Relationship
4 I Could Never Take The Place Of Your Man
5 The Cross
6 It’s Gonna Be A Beautiful Night
7 Adore

CD3 / LP3&4: Single Mixes & Edits

1 Sign O’ The Times (7” single edit)
2 La, La, La, He, He, Hee (7” single edit)
3 La, La, La, He, He, Hee (Highly Explosive) (12” version)
4 If I Was Your Girlfriend (7” single edit)
5 Shockadelica (“If I Was Your Girlfriend” B-side)
6 Shockadelica (12” long version)
7 U Got the Look (Long Look) (12” edit)
8 Housequake (7” edit)
9 Housequake (7 Minutes MoQuake) (12” edit)
10 I Could Never Take The Place Of Your Man (Fade 7” edit)
11 Hot Thing (7” single edit)
12 Hot Thing (Extended Remix)
13 Hot Thing (Dub Version)

CD4 / LP5&6: Vault, Part 1

1 I Could Never Take The Place Of Your Man (1979 version)
2 Teacher, Teacher (1985 version)
3 All My Dreams
4 Can I Play With U? (featuring Miles Davis)
5 Wonderful Day (original version)
6 Strange Relationship (original version)
7 Visions
8 The Ballad Of Dorothy Parker (with horns)
9 Witness 4 The Prosecution (version 1)
10 Power Fantastic (live in studio)
11 And That Says What?
12 Love And Sex
13 A Place In Heaven (Prince vocal)
14 Colors
15 Crystal Ball (7” mix)
16 Big Tall Wall (version 1)
17 Nevaeh Ni Ecalp A
18 In A Large Room With No Light

All tracks previously unreleased

CD5 / LP7&8: Vault, Part 2

1 Train
2 It Ain’t Over ‘Til The Fat Lady Sings
3 Eggplant (Prince vocal)
4 Everybody Want What They Don’t Got
5 Blanche
6 Soul Psychodelicide
7 The Ball
8 Adonis And Bathsheba
9 Forever In My Life (early vocal studio run-through)
10 Crucial (alternate lyrics)
11 The Cocoa Boys
12 When The Dawn Of The Morning Comes
13 Witness 4 The Prosecution (version 2)
14 It Be’s Like That Sometimes

All tracks previously unreleased

CD6 / LP9&10: Vault, Part 3

1 Emotional Pump
2 Rebirth Of The Flesh (with original outro)
3 Cosmic Day
4 Walkin’ In Glory
5 Wally
6 I Need A Man
7 Promise To Be True
8 Jealous Girl (version 2)
9 There’s Something I Like About Being Your Fool
10 Big Tall Wall (version 2)
11 A Place In Heaven (Lisa vocal)
12 Wonderful Day (12” mix)
13 Strange Relationship (1987 Shep Pettibone Club Mix)

All tracks previously unreleased

CD7&8 / LP11-13: Live In Utrecht – June 20, 1987

1 Intro/Sign O’ The Times
2 Play In The Sunshine
3 Little Red Corvette
4 Housequake
5 Girls & Boys
6 Slow Love
7 Take The “A” Train/Pacemaker/I Could Never Take The Place Of Your Man
8 Hot Thing
9 Four
10 If I Was Your Girlfriend
11 Let’s Go Crazy
12 When Doves Cry
13 Purple Rain
14 1999
15 Forever In My Life
16 Kiss
17 The Cross
18 It’s Gonna Be A Beautiful Night

All tracks previously unreleased

DVD: Live At Paisley Park – December 31, 1987

1 Sign O’ The Times
2 Play In The Sunshine
3 Little Red Corvette
4 Erotic City
5 Housequake
6 Slow Love
7 Do Me, Baby
8 Adore
9 I Could Never Take The Place Of Your Man
10 What’s Your Name Jam
11 Let’s Pretend We’re Married
12 Delirious
13 Jack U Off
14 Drum Solo
15 Twelve
16 Hot Thing
17 If I Was Your Girlfriend
18 Let’s Go Crazy
19 When Doves Cry
20 Purple Rain
21 1999
22 U Got The Look
23 It’s Gonna Be A Beautiful Night Medley (featuring Miles Davis)

 

108 responses to Prince archivist Michael Howe talks SDE through Sign O’ The Times bonus cuts

  1. Robert Staples says:

    Just FYI … the Official Prince Store have announced a “Sign O’ The Times Super Deluxe Sweepstakes” for US, Canadian, UK and German residents.

    One lucky winner will receive a copy of the newly announced Sign O’ The Times Super Deluxe bundle, including the 13LP + 1DVD set, the extremely limited 7″ Vinyl Singles Box Set, the Sign O’ The Times Snapback, Mug, Symbol Tee, and an exclusive art print.

    LINK here: https://swee.ps/paiSM_CMozvVd

  2. Pingback:Hear the 1979 version of Prince’s I Could Never Take The Place Of Your Man | superdeluxeedition

  3. madman says:

    Another intelligent and interesting interview Paul! I’ve never streamed music before, but this might change my mind. Well done!

  4. Tilley says:

    Such a wonderful interview with insightful question and even getting a compliment from Mr Howe on one occasion. I learned a lot, as would anyone those who’s read the interview.

  5. Carlos says:

    Thank you, Paul, for a great interview. Very informative. He says they’re working on new releases (and even if they’re not, they’d still be busy cataloging and preserving the tapes), my question about it would be: does he work for the Estate or for WB? Because I understand 2020 is the last year in which WB has the rights to release non-soundtrack albums (i.e., they will still be able to release Purple Rain, Parade, Batman, and Graffiti Bridge deluxe editions after that date), so if the next project is for WB that’d mean it’ll be a soundtrack album, if it’s past the 2020 expiry date it’ll be for Sony.

    • Martijn says:

      Michael Howe works for the Prince Estate. So he provides input for projects both from Warner and from Sony. He explained that (and much more) in this excellent interview around the release of Originals.
      https://www.superdeluxeedition.com/interview/princes-archivist-michael-howe-talks-to-sde/
      Yes, the interviews with Michael Howe on this site certainly are excellent and very informative. Follow the Michael Howe tag at the top of this page to also read the interview in preview to last year’s 1999 Super Deluxe set.

      • Carlos says:

        Thank you, Martijn, I had already read it but did not remember. The thing about the vault tracks is it isn’t clear yet which party has the rights to release them. Some say it’s WB, some say it’s the Estate who determines who’ll release them. There are lots of details about Prince’s contracts that are still unknown.

  6. Don says:

    “Sign ‘O’ The Times” is getting an insanely awesome SDE. Billy Corgan is working on an SDE for the Smashing Pumpkins’ “MACHINA”. And there are rumors that we might be getting TFF’s “The Seeds Of Love” in SDE form at some point in the near future.

    The crapfest that has been 2020 just might redeem itself before the year is over. (Musically, at any rate…)

  7. Eamonn says:

    Cool read and I’m not hardcore knowledgeable on Prince but interviews like this certainly pique my interest in an artist.

    And it’s great when the interviewee really respects your deep-dive questioning and gives equally thoughtful answers. Going by this and previous articles, Michael clearly respects you. Great work all-round.

  8. Ben Williams says:

    Great interview Paul. Very excited for the reissue now. It’s going to be a special set.

  9. Musikman says:

    A very interesting interview, but I was disappointed that there was no mention of the audio and video material featuring Miles Davis. There are also lots of rumours that Prince and Miles were in the studio together, and it would be great if next time you speak to Michael Howe, Paul. if you could please ask him about what is in the vaults re. Prince and Miles.

    I appreciate you haven’t got the time or space to cover every topic when you conduct an interview about Prince!

    Even so, lots of interesting insights, and it’s refreshing to read an interview conducted by someone who has clearly done his research.

    • unique says:

      i asked eric leeds directly about a miles/prince album and eric leeds said he did not know about miles and prince working together in the studio or having a secret album, and said if such thing existed, knowing the way prince was, he would have let eric hear it, knowing how much a jazz fan he was. plus prince typically bragged a lot so would have mentioned it. prince did give people the impression one existed in an interview by saying a what if scenario. the only officially released prince and miles track is sticky wicked where they recorded parts seperately, just like can i play with u, which was going to be on a miles boxset but pulled last minute. the few minutes on the NYE show are the only times they played together and miles wasn’t happy with prince as he didn’t understand princes cue’s to his band, which is why he walked off stage. miles played a few prince tracks live, such as moviestar and there are bootlegs compiling many miles performances of prince tracks

      the main thing i’d like to know is if there really is a long version of adore in the vaults, which prince told a fan a few years ago when they came across each other in a club/afterparty. as that and the 12″ of dorothy parker were 2 of the things i was hoping for. joy in repetition with the long intro would be great, but i wasn’t expecting that on this release, maybe on graffiti bridge, along with the can’t stop medley, but that could end up on a parade box, which i presume is up next

  10. Seth Hollander says:

    I gotta type this for someone, somewhere…
    My idea for the other WB albums as Box Sets revolve around pairs:
    For You & Prince with singles/vault disc and live disc
    Dirty Mind & Controversy with singles/vault disc and live disc
    Around TWID & Parade with singles disc(s), vault discs, and live 86, inc. video
    Lovesexy & Black Album (& Batman?) with singles disc(s), vault discs, and live 88, inc. video
    Graffitti Bridge is an “odds & sodds” and really should be spread out over the boxes relevant to each track’s recording date… or it could anchor a rest-of-the-vault compilation…
    NPG 90-94 would be awesome: Diamonds & Pearls, Symbol, Come, 3 discs of singles, 2 or 3 discs of vault, at least 2 concerts (a 92 and a 93), and a club show, plus video

    while I think the first two (the pre1999 albums) would best be done in the packaging style of the Purple Rain CD/DVD set, I think the other sets would be able to be packaged as more expensive and lavish boxes.
    And finish off the release series with a new Purple Rain Deluxe, focusing on the pre-album period that the previous collection virtually ignored; the album disc (newly remastered with less compression) could be nearly the last disc in the box, preceded by the earliest album sessions, the 8/3/83 club show that was recorded for the movie/album, movie soundtrack material, the later album sessions (maybe do half a disc of “When Doves Cry” early mixes?), and followed by an early-part-of-the-tour concert.

    GEEZ, I’d buy ALL of those!

  11. Ian Mears says:

    Thanks Paul, hope you can turn this into a booklet like the Flowers in the dirt one?
    I have mint condition first pressings of Sign Of The Times and Flaming Pie, yet I have just spent nearly $2000 on SDE pre releases of them. I guess I’m in the right place and amongst friends on here.

  12. 21Purple says:

    Why are people sugar coating the fighting over SOTT. It has been known that he was in a terrible fight with WB over this album. It was the beginning of the end.

  13. Jacqueline Ned says:

    I’ve got all Prince’s music every song he’s ever recorded and I’ll never part with them. Love you Prince Rogers Nelson forever and a day

  14. Zongadude says:

    A fantastic and very enjoyable interview. Thanks Paul !

  15. jd says:

    Excellent interview Paul & Michael!

    As someone who is only interested in the CD SDE box, the real draw for me is the full Lp sized hard cover book. That’s what makes this a must own item. The more deluxe the better :)

    It will be nice to finally have official versions of material I’ve owned for years from unofficial sources. The one I often refer back to is Thunderball’s 5 volume 20 disc set “The Work” which covers 1976-2001. Also of note is Moonraker’s 2 disc “Wonderboy” title that includes the Rotterdam & Antwerp shows that this box was unable to include because of rights issues. I never sweat what isn’t included in these sets as there’s always something. I’m just thrilled to have what is on offer. What’s amazing about the upcoming set is that it includes so much material that has not circulated at all!

    Thanks again Paul for all the amazing info!

  16. Bob says:

    Excellent interview as always Paul. I ordered the CD SDE from Amazon Canada Here is a question for hard fans about the song, Dream Factory which is not included. I know it’s on Crystal Ball 98 it wasn’t that an edit or a remix? I read about a longer version meant for the original album. Can someone explain?

    • Gerbrand says:

      @Bob

      Information like this, about released and unreleased songs and versions, recording dates and places, and much much more you can find on princevault.com. Recommended.

      In short, there is no longer version of Dream Factory.

      • Bob says:

        Thank you very much. I wish that every prolific recording artist had a website like that. it answered all of my questions and more. it looks like I assumed that Nevaeh Ni Ecalp A was part of Dream Factory.

    • wahmbeck says:

      Following the infos on princevault.com there is no real other version than the one on Crystall Ball 1998.

      And… thanks Paul for the exquisit interview. Very informative. :-)

  17. Joe Donato says:

    I am looking forward to the original album being remastered. Though arguably his greatest work, the sound quality on the old CD’s is dull, probably the worst sounding of any of Prince’s CD’s, even though the album was released around the time CD’s started to become the standard. Hoping the new remaster does this album justice.

  18. Quante says:

    Thanks for publishing the Michael Howe interview. Once the set is out, it’d be good hear his views on all the additional tracks printed in a lovely SDE booklet.

    Despite knowing I need to order this straightaway, I gulped and waited a day before getting into action, and only then when I saw Paul had sold out of the 8 cd set. Still, I’d wait on the LP box set, and then saw it also sell out at the SDE shop. So the order is placed to ensure I get what I want. The deal with my wife is, if furlough isn’t resolved I’ll cancel the LP set.

    Ive never been one for bootlegs, so the additional tracks will all be new material to listen to. In old money (10 songs per album) that’s 4 1/2 new albums of Prince music. He was prolific, beyond what any other artist has been (?), combined with an amazing quality level. The Duane Tudhal book on the 1999 / Purple Rain / Around The World In A Day period is a great document on the songs recorded. It’s a shame his next book on the Parade / Sign O The Times period isn’t out until next March. He’d make another good interview opportunity and I doubt he’s locked into any non disclosure agreements to limit what he can talk about.

    It’s sad that it takes a death for the floodgates to open on this wealth of material, but I doubt while Prince was alive that we’d have had the 1999 , SOTT box sets done so comprehensively. The only surprise was that Prince had agreed to Purple Rain material being released, but done in a budget packaging format (at a brilliant price). What sort of volume of material is sitting unreleased by Stevie Wonder? Why not get it out while Stevie is still alive. I heard Gary Byrd on the radio about twenty years ago saying Stevie Wonder had so many unreleased recordings of great songs.

    Regards,

  19. Maikel Hendricks aka NLFreak says:

    Most bootlegs came from cassettes he so now and then forgot to take it outta the car, the guy who washed his cars or chauffeur was smart and kepped the tapes.

    make love not war!

  20. Maikel Hendricks aka NLFreak says:

    Cool read indeed, but i`m missing 2 important songs on the vault tracks Joy in repetition original clean version without the bla bla segue that was used on the G.Bridge album, and i miss Adore full version which was played only once in Celeb 2000 <– full show was officiele recorded, he wanted to release a live cd then, but you know with P..it never happend.

    make love not war!

  21. WP says:

    I love this interview and so excited about this release. I’m more of a casual Prince fan, but this is my favorite Prince album, so this release is perfect. I’m only getting the 3cd and peach vinyl, though I would have bought the 7″ vinyl set if they didn’t sell out so fast.

  22. Sean Mondout says:

    Great interview. I didn’t need any more encouragement to order this. There isn’t anything He has ever done that I’d want more or would pay more for. I get why The Estate is charging so much for this. They will never, ever be able to charge this much for so few discs of material ever again and they know it. This IS the Holy Grail of Prince recordings. If you own just one SDE set, it has to be SoTT.

    The unfortunate thing about this release is that on CD at least, the first two discs could have easily fit on one CD. That was true 25 years ago and it sucks that they held to some sort of misguided “let’s keep it true to the original experience” notion of splitting it into two discs unnecessarily. That extra disc could have held the original Camille album along with a hidden track of the full-length alternate version of the song Crystal Ball (and more, obviously. Who knows? Maybe they could have put a Dream Factory configuration AND Camille on a single disc?). I do recognize that Crystal Ball the song is not the masterpiece that some who should know better think, but sisters and brothers of the Purple Underground deserve to have an official release of that version. I also do hope the included version of Crucial is the superior sax version. As much as I love Prince’s guitar playing, it was not inspired on Crucial and the song works much better with Eric’s soloing. Lastly I can only assume Can’t Stop/Girl ‘O My Dreams/We Can Funk, Movie Star, and others from my 80s Maxell cassette tape (bootleg) are destined for other Super Deluxe Editions in the future. Even Prince admitted after Parade that he didn’t record enough songs for that project and thus didn’t have enough strong ones for the soundtrack. That SDE will be lacking without the songs I just mentioned.

    But going forward I will instead focus on what is included in SOTT SDE. And what is included is amazing. I have been waiting for this release since 1997, when I preordered Crystal Ball no knowing what songs would appear.

    I also wish there was a market for The Estate to develop box sets around the protegees. Getting all the The Time, The Family, Madhouse, Jill Jones and Sheila E albums with singles, outtakes and a DVD with promo videos would be awesome. A two disc set featuring songs he wrote for other artists, but unlike Originals actually performed by the other artists would be great too. Call it Unoriginals. ;)

  23. Dan says:

    I would love to know what the long-term strategy is for Prince’s catalog. I know these releases take time to source, remaster, clear rights, design, produce and market, but I’ll be dead long before they get through his entire catalog. I’d also love to see more stand-alone live releases (O2 and Forum residencies, Act I & II tours, Piano & A Microphone, etc.). I wonder if they’ll start combining albums at any point and focus on the packages as eras? In any case, looks like they’ve done a stellar job with this one and I’m thrilled to hear this soon enough.

  24. Arthur Lizie says:

    Great interview, as usual. This looks like another hit, like 1999 Super Deluxe. Flaws? Yes? Complaints? No. Although: I would like to see the third version of “Witness 4 the Prosecution.” And the already released “Rebirth of the Flesh” for contrast (outside the time frame here, but they cheat on ’79 ICNTTPOYM). But probably copyright issues for the latter, as with the soundtrack version of “Good Love.” “Prince FAQ” book – out in the UK 15 July

  25. PRN says:

    I am so excited about this one after hearing only great things about the big 1999 vinyl box. My order is in with SDE. Have you thought about trying to get an SDE booklet together for this? One of my favourite albums of all time; none of which have had an amazing reissue like this. I’m sure there are other albums that have been celebrated in this way but off the top of my head I can’t think of one! Reissue of the year so far and I can’t see that changing!

  26. Friso Pas says:

    Again, a great interview with Michael Howe. You ask the questions people (fans) want to ask, Paul. Many thanks. Maybe another interview with Susan Rogers or Lenny Waronker, when the release date comes closer? In any case, excellent in depth piece.

    • Paul Sinclair says:

      Thanks! Yeah, might see if I could talk to Lenny, because I’m very interested in the record company side of things.

      • Friso Pas says:

        That could be insightful indeed. Glad to hear you’re interested in that, although it doesn’t suprise me, because often you try to uncover the inner workings of the labels and ask why they put out this and that. All the best.

  27. Gareth says:

    Looks like a terrific package……Still my favourite Prince release -and it’s $161 on Amazon Canada right now compared to 200 pounds on Amazon UK. So it’s about half the price here. It’s ordered!

    • Ryk says:

      Gareth,

      That’s a more palatable price, a NZ$51 saving over the next lowest price I’ve found. If only I were back in Canada right now because no Amazon will ship to NZ anymore.

  28. Peter says:

    Thanks so much Paul for another amazing article and I am so happy your site goes from strength to strength

    There are a number of songs from the period March 1986 that seem to have been overlooked some of which are circulating , I would love further discussion around these

    Conversation Peace (sometimes misspelt Piece)
    Funny Love
    Boy U Bad
    twos day
    Pony ride
    Movie Star (original mix)
    Sexual Suicide (original mix)
    Frustration
    Crystal Ball (original mix)
    Strange relationship (Shep Pettibone dub mix – sterling sound acetate)
    Yo a Mister
    telepathy
    U got the look (alternate mix)
    La la la he he he (alternate mix with different instrumentation)

    That’s just off the top of my head, would love further insight please.

    • John says:

      I’m hoping, as they weren’t included this time, that Funny Love, Twosday and Conversation Peace have been held over to be included on the Parade SDE. I know the Parade sessions had ended when they were recorded but they were recorded before the release of Parade. So technically could be included on that. Hopefully.

    • Julian Stockton says:

      Twos Day, Boy U Bad, Frustration, Conversation Piece & Pony Ride are all instrumentals and to be fair the earlier mixes of Sexual Suicide and Movie Star are not terribly different to the Crystal Ball ’98 versions. I would say if Originals 2 were ever to happen Telepathy, Yo Mister, 101 etc would appear on that. Good point on Fun/Funny Love and the alternate mix of U Got The Look though.

  29. Justin I'Onn says:

    The issue with recreating the Camille album yourself (as others have said) is that you’ll need the Partyman CD Single, to rip “Feel U Up (Long Stroke)”; The Black Album CD, to rip “Rockhard In A Funky Place”; and the Bright Lights Big City album on CD, to rip the long version of “Good Love.”

    I’m lucky that I’ve got all those discs – but others haven’t.

    Even when obtaining the songs from these sources though, you’ll then have to use audio software to adjust the EQ and match the levels of your rips to the newly-remastered tracks available from the Sign O’ The Times Super Deluxe edition.

    I think it’s a missed opportunity by The Prince Estate to not release the Camille album as a separate release, alongside this very expensive collection.

    It’ll only take one fan to assemble an amateur Camille album in FLAC and share it around on the down-low, to render any future Camille release a non-essential purchase.

    It’s obvious that most fans expected a separate Camille disc to have been included in any Sign O’ The Times super deluxe reissue.

    Unlike the other projects which led to Sign O’ The Times, the Camille album wasn’t a work-in-progress and was pressed with an official catalogue number.

    It’s such a wasted opportunity.

    • WP says:

      @Justin I’Onn I think a better way to look at it is that this is about releasing what was, not what could have been. Camille wasn’t released and Prince wasn’t interested in revisiting after the fact. Not a missed opportunity by any means. If you want to recreate what could have been, have at it. Others that really want it will find a way as well. I have to keep reminding myself that the fact that this music is being released at all is an opportunity in itself.

    • Lars-Göran Hultberg says:

      Or maybe its allready decided that Camille will be a Sony release. WB didn’t want that record in the first place.

  30. Andrew r says:

    Paul amazing access to MH . I am interested in how
    You got first go at what must be re release of the year so far
    There must be front line music mags out there pulling their hair
    Out for a scoop of this quality. Well done you . Ref some of the neg comments
    about this set . Whether one can afford it or not I am glad it exists at all.
    Back in the day record companies just didn’t put this much effort into archival releases
    This is truly a golden period and maybe the last .

  31. Steven C says:

    Over the past several years, this has got to be the greatest site in the world for someone who loves box sets like this. And I am a massive fan. Reading this, and considering Prince’s output between 1978-1992, I challenge you to find anyone more prolific. And when you think you’ve done it, consider this:
    For You, Self-titled “Prince” album, Dirty Mind, Controversy, The Time (self-titled protege project written and all instruments played by Prince apart from some drumming by Morris Day), 1999, The Time “What Time Is It?” album (written and performed by Prince and Morris Day), Vanity 6 (written and performed by Prince with Morris Day and Vanity), Purple Rain, Purple Rain film, all those amazing b-sides like Erotic City, 17 Days, Another Lonely Christmas, The Time “Ice Cream Castle” (written and performed by Prince with Morris Day on drums and Jesse Johnson finally plays guitar on 1 song), Apollonia 6 album, 4TheTearsInYourEyes (for the “We Are The World” benefit album), funded most of the We Are The World Project, just 9 months after the Purple Rain album, we get the surprise of “Raspberry Beret (amazing 12” with perhaps his best b-side “She’s Always In My Hair”), 10 months after Purple Rain, we get Around the World in a Day with a completely new look, songs for the Bangles, Jesse Johnson’s Revue solo (but, shhhh, we’re not supposed to know that), Mazarati, The Family, Madhouse, Sheena Easton, then just 10 months after “Around The World In a Day we get “Kiss” and around 11 months after the last album, we get “Parade” and “Under The Cherry Moon”, the we have all of the material mentioned above in interview within the same 12 month span! Followed by “The Black Album” and “Lovesexy” a year later, The Batman Soundtrack and you know the rest. Here is the thing, and why I love this site… In the era of streaming and listening to things song by song, without the presentation of complete albums, artwork, physical image/persona and all, will we EVER have another Prince? Or Bowie? No.

    • Michael says:

      Indeed. Though would any individual artist ever be able to work like Bowie in the 70s or Prince in the 80s? They seem to be in a class by themselves in these terms.

  32. Christopher Merritt says:

    Paul – this is a fantastic interview! Thank you so much for your thoughtful and insightful questions. Couldn’t ask for more.

  33. Justin Abbott says:

    I wonder why the 12” version of SOTT wasn’t included, would love to hear that, never had the vinyl.

    • Paul Sinclair says:

      There is no 12-inch of Sign O’ The Times. It’s just the full length album version.

      • Peter says:

        Hi Paul
        There is a 12” which was only released on a very hard to find (Near impossible) acetate , the mix was submitted and rejected by Prince

        A Sign “O” The Times (Bailey Edit) 6:32
        B Sign “O” The Times (King/Lewin Re-Edit) 6:36

        The mixes aren’t extraordinary , but i was at Warner when that 12” passed through luckily

        • Julian Stockton says:

          The Mark Bailey mix was done for the the Prime Cuts series of DJ albums and was actually released at the time, it’s pretty easy to pick up but it’s a re-edit rather than a remix. As you say it’s not extraordinary, a curio at best.

  34. MüllerMüller says:

    Great job Paul – you are a little bit in Prince wonderland……
    A place in haven!!
    One question – how long is Rebirth Of The Flash with longer outro?? Is this the 4.53min Version?

  35. Richard says:

    A really interesting interview. But unlike so many people who seem to comment on your pages I do not have unlimited funds. I would love to own this. Would have loved to have bought the 1999 Super Deluxe (but couldn’t justify the cost). This has even more CDs, most of which I already have as originals and B sides or are concerts I can live without.
    Would love to have copies of the Vault tracks for this and for 1999 on CD.
    People joke about the Purple Rain collection being too small, but I was happy with that as I could afford it. £140?! For THREE CDs I want, sorry, no. I cannot even THINK about buying this. Which hurts. Not everyone’s pockets are the same depth.

    • Matthew McKinnon says:

      These box sets cost actual money to curate and produce, and that’s reflected in the price.
      That’s always been the way with collector’s editions. You can’t just bang these out.
      Yes, you may have a lot of the originals, but Prince discs are notoriously thin-sounding and desperately need a remaster – you get that here, too.
      Yes, £140 is steep, and I had to grit my teeth pre-ordering as well; but you’re getting a lot more than just 3CDs – if you divide up the cost per disc – not including the packaging – you’re spending £15 per disc. That’s not terrible for something this carefully and lovingly presented.

      • Steven Roberts says:

        Yes, these thing cost money to curate and produce, but at the same time they are well aware that this is the BIG ONE in the Prince catalogue and are using the oversized package (with – ooh – a big book!) to elevate the price.

        Think of it this way – if they had packaged this in similar fashion to the 1999 SDE and charged, say, £90 for it – would anyone be saying “I’d gladly have paid an extra £50 to have it in a bigger box”?

        I think not.

        I think not

        • Paul Sinclair says:

          This really is the jewel in the crown of Prince’s entire output. When you know that demand is high for something and a large proportion of the target market aren’t overly price sensitive, then market forces will mean you (normally) end up with an expensive product. It is nothing to do with ‘greed’ or ‘generosity’ or those kinds of terms. Yes, there are exceptions, showing things CAN be cheaper, but so what? The price of the Prince Sign O’ The Times super deluxe editions is nothing to do with the physical cost of making some CDs and a book, it’s to do with “what is the value of this product to our target market? What are they prepared to pay?”

          We’ve had this conversation on SDE so often… For me, I will never understand why people who happily splash £100 on a Friday night for curry and beer with the lads (and have nothing to show for it afterwards except a hangover and wind) complain bitterly when a once in a lifetime box set – which will sit proudly on your shelf forever – is the same price and is immediately a ‘rip off’. Some people will wait for nine months of their lives to save £4 on some ‘overpriced’ 2CD set, and the same afternoon pop into Costa and buy a £5 latte masimmo with almond milk. It’s like, you either value music or you don’t…

          The important thing here is that Warner Records have – more or less – got the product right – it’s a desirable product, there is no doubt, and they’ve placed a high value on it. It’s not Paul McCartney charging £135 for Flowers in the Dirt and missing off loads of important and really obvious content and giving you stuff you really don’t need (hello, ‘This One’ video shoot photo book).

          And also, there are six different versions of this product for different price points AND it’s not like the old days where you’ll never get to hear the bonus tracks in the super deluxe editions because they will be on streaming services and you can listen to them for free.

          • Jeff D says:

            Paul…..excellent!!!! You hit the nail on the head!!!!!

          • Ian Smith says:

            Absolutely agree Paul, this looks like s fantastic release. I sympathize with those who feel they are being priced out of it, I went through that with Varese Sarabande’s gigantic Spartacus box a decade ago, but at least the music here will be available digitally. That Spartacus music was locked into the boxset and apart from its first disc has never been available elsewhere.

  36. Jason says:

    Absolutely fantastic interview Paul. You always ask the probing questions many of us want to know, and this was a well-thought out dip into the pool of one of the greatest albums ever released. The wealth of additional material makes this a no-brainer, especially as it comes from one of his most very fertile periods. The world may be suffering terribly with coronavirus this year, but if we gotta go at some point, hopefully we can revel in this great material before the bell tolls…Trying to be optimistic…

    It is interesting how we only get a 7″ mix of “Crystal Ball”…I wonder why? “Good Love” was an odd omission and I really hoped the song he gave to Sheena Easton, “101” would have appeared, but maybe that’s going to come along with “Originals 2”? I would have thought that would have been out this summer, but maybe there will be one sometime? The first one seemed to do quite well…

  37. David Olstein says:

    The idea that fans can simply assemble their own versions of Camille, Dream Factory and Crystal Ball is lame at best and downright disingenous at worst. Since the SOTT box is imcomplete in this respect, I’d like to see these three unreleased albums released separately, newly remastered and, if possible, artwork that would have reflected what Prince inteded for these projects.

    • Peter Bravestrong says:

      He said we can take these tracks and the ones already out there to create our own albums / playlists….but for the Camille album, Rock Hard in a Funky Place isn’t on streaming, the CB 98 album that has the missing tracks from here isn’t on streaming either and the released Good Love and Feel U Up are edits. Reading between the lines it sounds like this won’t be the last SOTT release they’ll do, hopefully this will be fixed by then…and they include the 10 minute version of Adore that Prince spoke about to Peach and Black Podcast

  38. Andrew Hapeman says:

    Paul, I love your website and I loved reading the interview. Lucky guys you both are! I’m the odd man out here, but I’m personally waiting for the super deluxe “Dirty Mind”. Bring it on!!!

  39. James Hoffmann says:

    This is an absolutely incredible box – of that there is no doubt, but it is SOOOOO overpriced.
    I will have to forego the DVD and sate myself with the streams of the bonus material.
    I love my other Prince boxes, but feel that the success of those has made anyone with an interest in his estate (in other words, the beneficiaries of these reissues) EXTREMELY greedy. The “1999” box was priced nicely, and although the artwork on this is large format, and there are a couple of more discs, the additional tracks/video don’t justify a list price nearly TRIPLE that of “1999”…This is a shameless ripoff.

    • Michael says:

      I agree James. Had a choice between paying $325 for the 8 disc set or $55 for the 3 disc set. Chose the 3 disc set. And will buy the other songs I actually like from streaming services.

      I bought the deluxe Purple Rain & never listen to any of the extra songs anymore. I will however buy deluxe ATWIAD & Parade.

      Good interview Paul.

  40. AdamW says:

    I understand why they didn’t include the three interim albums in their entirety in the box set proper. However, like the limited 7″ box set, there was an opportunity to offer one-time limited-edition versions of Dream Factory, Camille and Crystal Ball as Prince store exclusives. That said, my wallet is very grateful that they didn’t do that. :-)

    Top interview as always, Paul. Thank you and Mr. Howe!

  41. CSIII says:

    Thanks for this! Great read, and while I’m forever jealous that he has my dream job, Mr Howe seems to be one of the good guys.

  42. mike says:

    I’d now love to ask Shep Pettibone his opinion on the Strange Relationship remix and the process with Paisley Park and whether his rumoured remix of I Could Never Take The Place Of Your Man exists.

    • Chris says:

      The remix of ICNTTPOYM leaked years ago & is the biggest omission to me. Great version.

      • Julian Stockton says:

        Just like the Dorothy Parker extended version that remix isn’t official, it’s someone with access to the Dream Factory bootleg, a keyboard and some audio software.

    • John says:

      OK, the thought of two Shep remixes of Prince makes me a bit giddy. Hopefully Strange Relationship doesn’t disappoint.

  43. Jose says:

    Hello Paul! Did he mention anything about “The Loring Park Session 77’” the great mysterious instrumental songs supposedly recorded during the beginning of carrier? Any possibility to be release on CD?

  44. Xander says:

    Thanks a lot Paul for this “avant-goût” of this important release. A very great interview.

  45. Mike C says:

    This explains why the soulful re-recording of If I Was Your Girlfriend has never seen the light of day AND the instrumental Sign Of The Times from the movie

  46. CDM says:

    OK, I’ve already ordered the 8CD box but I think MH is being a little economical with the truth about the track listing. This is a physical release and many of the expected but missing tracks are difficult to obtain e.g. (referring to my Xcel spreadsheet!) the ‘Dream Factory’ title track,’Interlude’, ‘Last Heart’,’Movie Star’, ‘Sexual Suicide’,’Crucial’, ‘Crystal Ball’ (original and orchestral versions), ‘Good Love’ (Bright Lights Big City soundtrack) and ‘Feel U Up’ as you mentioned Paul. Fans buying a pricey physical box set such as this expect the whole story in a nutshell with loose ends tidied up and without needing a multitude of hard to find CD singles, compilations, bootlegs etc. A little duplication across future releases e.g. ‘Joy in repetition’ (Graffiti Bridge) or ‘Rock hard in a funky place’ (Black Album/Camille), is insignificant and preferable to the frustration of the absence of essential tracks being presented in their correct chronological context.

    This may sound churlish given the amount of new material on the box. If there are publishing or copyright issues (alluded to by another poster) then MH should just say so. If not then it’s not too late to press up a bonus disk to add to the box!

  47. Otto says:

    As always a great interview. I hope you maybe get the change to listen to all the unreleased songs and talk to him again about those as you did with these 10. It’s like chocolate I want more.
    Bought the 13 album vinyl edition.

  48. Arno says:

    Great interview. The tracklist is amazing but from a die hard fan point of view, it’s a pity “Rock hard in a funky place” is not included. So far, this song is not available on streaming service (like the whole Black album) and thus it’s impossible to recreate the Camille album using a streaming service
    Nb : I don’t have the BA, which is out of sales for 26 years…if you ever consider a Lovesexy Super Deluxe you know what many of us expect as a vault companion disc!

  49. CJ Feeney says:

    Excellent interview.

    He clearly explains the parameters for what to include and what to leave out. That answers some if the questions we asked on yesterday’s article.

    You must have a decent reputation in parts of The Music Biz these days to get to preview the music.

    I’m still not biting. It’s so expensive, even though its a superb package. And one of the great albums of my teenage years, too.

  50. Matt says:

    Such a great discussion! Thank you. Am I correct that even when Sony takes over, that Howe will be in charge of the archival? I’m hoping that is true, because this, and 1999 are SO well done I’d hate to see the quality drop off.

  51. John says:

    Outstanding interview! You asked all the questions I had rolling around in the back of my head! I especially liked discussion of the “Camille” project and SOTT movie rights issue, very informative!

  52. Roland says:

    Dear Paul,

    As a prince fan since 1985 I can only agree with all The other comments: A great interview! Thank you.

    I guess this super deluxe release will be the best effort from the Estate. I wonder if a Parade super deluxe can top this one!

  53. Phil G says:

    As if I couldn’t get even more excited for this release…!

    Fascinating interview, Paul, great work.

  54. RODOLFO MARTIN says:

    Paul, as usual, very nice talk and thank you for sharing. Question: When do you think it will be the right time to talk to Michael Howe (or someone else) about how so many non-album tracks made it to so many bootleg CDs? I think it could be interesting to know about Prince’s reaction to those bootlegs and if it was ever known how those tracks were able to escape from the vault.
    Thank you

    • Steve says:

      Prince provided cassettes of recordings to band members, etc, before the content was released. There were also things like “The Black Album”, where tons of copies were made & then destroyed before release. Some (of course) escaped destruction & turned into bootlegs.

  55. Lyle says:

    Fascinating interview.

  56. ant says:

    ha! – just read the other comments! yep – this is the go to website

  57. Johnathan says:

    Another great interview with Mr. Lowe. Looking forward to the day when these are printed up and offers for sale in the SDE shop!

  58. ant says:

    Just want to say thanks, Paul. You’re interviews are continually first rate. Great insight and the best questions. Also, I think someone else has requested a SOTT book (like the one you did for Before The Dawn etc.) Hope it’s being planned. That would be so fine! long live SDE

  59. Tec says:

    Great interview. Thansk Paul!!

  60. Fred Smith says:

    A really great read Paul.you asked all the right questions regarding my favourite Prince album.Thank you.

  61. Elim Garak says:

    I guess next deluxe reissue will be “Parade”. :-)

    • GentleRabbit says:

      Oh dear, I certainly hope so… we’re being spoiled and I feel like someone needs to pinch me. Pure ecstasy.

      Paul, thank you as always, but this… this was another cut above. I truly wish it was longer. Howe seems like a gentleman and very likeable, you two seem like you have a repoire. Fascinating insights. Really. Please make this a regular thing.

      I would’ve loved to find out if indeed they are considering possible RSD vinyl editions of Camille, Dream Factory (or even the original Crystal Ball set!), but I doubt Mr Howe would’ve been able to disclose.

      Thank you, Paul.

  62. Elim Garak says:

    Too bad the longest version of “Starfish & Coffee” is not included.

  63. Matthew Jessee says:

    Paul, another fantastic interview with Mr Howe! You really asked the questions the die-hard fans and collectors most wanted to know. I enjoyed this immensely – definitely builds huge anticipation!

    Also the attention to detail and design on the forthcoming set looks fantastic. I can’t help but recall your idea for a SOTT Super Deluxe from years ago. I think you’ve just about got your dream set!

  64. Ken A.! says:

    Love it, thanks so much for doing these. Makes me even more eager to hear everything.

  65. Dave H says:

    Well done Paul, another great insight in to Prince’s material from the 80’s. I can’t say that I was heavily into Prince during the 80’s but it certainly looks as though you’re very knowledgeable on the subject.

    It does come across that Michael Howe is happy to answer your questions because you’re a fan of his music. I feel there may be another booklet on the way in the near future.

  66. Ernie says:

    Paul, one more thing, not to blow smoke up your arse, but there’s no website where you can read about this sort of thing , where the journalist really asks the questions that the fans want to know about content etc. You don’t read about that not in the NME, too much right on attitude or say the Guardian which to be fair is very good so well done. This makes you the “Go to” website for definite information that the buyer / fan wants. Well done!!

  67. Peter says:

    Very interesting read Paul, really looking forward to hearing these vault tracks now.

  68. Ernie says:

    Maximum credit to the Prince estate!!! They know what’s what, by & large they know what the fans want & expect & they deliver. I think the Purple Rain 3CD was a rush job as there wasn’t a big f**k off box when it should’ve been, the 1999 box should’ve had a DVD but hey ho but this SOTT looks very nice. I personally cannot wait to have mine, read the book, see that live gig & play that fantastic album. Well done Prince Estate for what you are doing if you read this & personally, I cannot wait for the “Parade” SDE, one of my favourite albums.

  69. R. Michael Cox says:

    Thanks Paul! Great interview from someone on the inside. Christmas will be in September this year. I doubt will we get an Originals 2 this year but maybe early next year to hold us off until the next round. SOTT and Dirty Mind are two Prince albums that sound much better on vinyl than cd. Looking forward to the upgrade.

  70. James (from Canada) says:

    Wonderful as always Paul.
    I am not going to complain about this release because I think it is excellent and I really look forward to it but……
    I do not stream and I do not download music. I only listen through physical products. This means I am not part of the ‘streaming world’ which means I would love to have those three albums released as they were intended in a physical format even with the repetition. A small companion box modeled after the ‘Up All Nite’ box which contains the three would be welcome by me.

    • Michael says:

      This is what I’ve been thinking all along too. Why can’t the physical editions be more like the versions Prince had once intended? Forcing us to make our own streaming playlists doesn’t service the fan –

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