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Prince | Piano & A Microphone 1983

The first release from Prince's vault is a revelation. And entertaining to boot.

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Within days of Prince‘s tragic and untimely death in the 2016, much of the talk and speculation quickly centred on the fate of The Vault — the insanely prolific artist’s massive, legendary treasure trove of unreleased material. Would it be unceremoniously raided? Could it be done respectfully? Should it even be touched? After all, if he had wanted all that music to be heard, he wouldn’t have put it in a vault, right? Well, probably not. But that doesn’t mean he was right. And here’s the proof. Piano & A Microphone 1983, the first posthumous release of unheard archival Prince material, is nothing short of a stunning revelation. And entertaining as hell to boot. Reportedly recorded in one sitting in his home studio while he was working on Purple Rain, this intimate, bare-bones tape captures Prince’s insatiable creativity in full stream-of-consciousness flight. Over the course of 34 minutes, he seamlessly segues between nine songs, from snippets of Purple Rain, Strange Relationship and Joni Mitchell‘s A Case of You to the jazzy ballad Why the Butterflies, the vamping B-side 17 Days, the gospel spiritual Mary Don’t You Weep and the mischievous Cold Coffee and Cocaine. And even though this was obviously intended as a work tape, the performance is full-blooded and on point, while the sound is crisp and clean. Truth be told, it’s often more satisfying, coherent and interesting than some of his official studio albums. If there’s more where this came from in The Vault, empty that sucker and bring it on. Case closed.