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Any Major Prince Songbook Vol. 1

On June 7, Prince would have reached the retirement age of 65. Which is as good a reason as any to issue the first of two Prince Songbooks. It is remarkable that the three most iconic (a rare occasion when this word finds correct application) pop stars of the 1980s were born within a few months of one another in 1958: Prince in June, Michael Jackson and Madonna in August (29th and 16th respectively).

The mix kicks off with Sheila E.’s wonderful Love Bizarre, which features Prince on vocals and various instruments. It was co-written with Sheila E. Likewise, Martika’s 1991 hit Love…Thy Will Be Done was produced by Prince, and co-written with the singer. Prince wrote Sheena Easton’s Sugar Walls under the pseudonym Alexander Nevermind, and did backing vocals on it, played several instruments, and co-produced.

When you contemplate the obvious candidates for doing Prince songs, the name Kenny Rogers will not come to mind immediately. Yet there he was in 1986, recording a Prince song titled You’re My Love that hitherto had been unreleased (of which there were, and apparently still are, many). It is not true, as the popular story goes, that Prince wrote the song for Rogers specifically.

Prince had demoed You’re My Love — a title you’d expect rather from Ken’s other soul friend, Lionel Richie — in 1982. When Prince fan Rogers called the man to ask for a song, the Purple One dug into his vaults and gave him this power ballad, demo and all. It was an astute choice; the song suited Rogers well. Hear Prince’s version. The songwriting credit was Joey Coco, one of the many pseudonyms Prince used.

The cover of Raspberry Beret is credited here to Warren Zevon. I must confess, it is a bit of a honey trap. To be sure, Zevon sings the song, and it has appeared on at least two best-of-type compilations. But it was first released in 1990 by the supergroup Hindu Love Gods, which included members of REM and Zevon.

In 1984, Chaka Khan had a mega-hit with I Feel For You, a song that appeared on Prince’s eponymous sophomore album in 1979. But two years before Khan turned a decent song into a minor masterpiece, The Pointer Sisters tried their hands at it. Their version features here, and it’s a fine cover.

Chaka Khan would later work with Prince. She features here with a track from her 1988 album, CK. Eternity is a Prince composition, but originally for Sheena Easton. Prince contributed another track to CK, Sticky Wicked, which he also produced, on which Chaka raps (hear it here — or check out Prince’s unreleased recording).

I imagine the track many will skip to first will be Patti Smith’s version of When Doves Cry. It takes courage or foolhardiness (or both) to cover a song like that, possibly Prince’s greatest. Smith was so confident that she pulled it off that she released it as a single. Her confidence was not misplaced, even if nobody could possibly eclipse Prince’s astonishing original.

On her debut album in 2001, Alicia Keyes covered How Come You Don’t Call Me, which in Prince’s hands was the b-side of his big hit 1999. It was, however, a regular in his live shows, from 1982, when it was first released, until his last concert on 14 April 2016 in Atlanta, a few days before his death.

The first Prince songbook closes with Prince’s demo of a song that would become a massive hit for Sinead O’Connor six years later. Prince recorded Nothing Compares 2 U in July 1984 — he had just released Purple Rain — and gave it to his project, The Family (featured on The Originals: 1990s & 2000s). The song made no impact until O’Connor had a hit with her superior version. Incidentally, the subject of the song was Prince’s personal assistant, Sandy Scipioni, who had left his employ after her father’s death.

As ever, the mix is timed to fit in a standard CD-R and includes home-purpled covers and the text above in a PDF. PW in comments.

1. Sheila E – Love Bizarre (1985)
2. The Pointer Sisters – I Feel For You (1982)
3. Corinne Bailey Rae – I Wanna Be Your Lover (2011)
4. Matthew Sweet & Susanna Hoffs – I Would Die 4 U (2015)
5. Warren Zevon – Raspberry Beret (1990)
6. Foo Fighters – Darling Nikki (2003)
7. Lucky Peterson – Purple Rain (1997)
8. Alicia Keyes – How Come You Don’t Call Me (2001)
9. Valerie Carter – Crazy You (2000)
10. Kenny Rogers – You’re My Love (1986)
11. Martika – Love…Thy Will Be Done (1991)
12. Matt Nathanson – Starfish And Coffee (2004)
13. Eels – I Could Never Take The Place Of Your Man (2006)
14. Marshall Crenshaw – Take Me With U (2004)
15. Patti Smith – When Doves Cry (2002)
16. TLC – If I Was Your Girlfriend (1994)
17. Sheena Easton – Sugar Walls (1984)
18. Chaka Khan – Eternity (1988)
19. Bob Belden feat. Phil Perry & Everette Harp – Diamonds And Pearls (1994)
20. Prince – Nothing Compares 2 U (1984)


Previous Songbooks:
Ashford & Simpson
Barry Gibb Vol. 1
Barry Gibb Vol. 2
Bill Withers
Bob Dylan Volumes 1-5
Brian Wilson
Bruce Springsteen
Burt Bacharach & Hal David Vol. 1
Burt Bacharach & Hal David Vol. 2
Burt Bacharach’s Lesser-Known Songbook
Carole Bayer Sager
Carole King Vol. 1
Carole King Vol. 2
Chuck Berry
Cole Porter Vol. 1
Cole Porter Vol. 2
Elton John & Bernie Taupin
George Harrison
Gordon Lightfoot
John Prine
Jimmy Webb Vol. 1
Jimmy Webb Vol. 2
Jimmy Webb Vol. 3
Lamont Dozier
Laura Nyro
Leonard Cohen
Neil Diamond
Paul McCartney Vol. 1
Paul McCartney Vol. 2
Rod Temperton
Sly Stone
Steely Dan

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  1. amdwhah
    June 1st, 2023 at 09:11 | #1

    PW = amdwhah

  2. Johnny Bacardi
    June 6th, 2023 at 13:20 | #2

    A suggestion for vol. 2: Nona Hendryx’s “Baby GoGo”.

  3. Bradford Ross-MacLeod
    August 3rd, 2023 at 01:19 | #3

    I would recommend “Let’s Pretend We’re Married” and “17 Days” both by Self (aka Matt Mahaffey).

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