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Prince | Originals

The latest release from Prince's vault is one big demo-listen derby.

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WHO IS THIS? The late, great musical genius formerly known as The Artist Formerly Known as Prince.

WHAT IS THIS? His previously unreleased demo versions of famous songs that were written for or covered by other artists like The Time (Jungle Love), Vanity 6 (Sex Shooter), The Bangles (Manic Monday), Sinead O’Connor (Nothing Compares 2 U), Sheila E. (The Glamorous Life) and, um, Kenny Rogers (You’re My Love).

WHAT DOES IT SOUND LIKE? Sometimes, like the exact same song you already know — except with Prince singing. (That’s no accident; some artists either borrowed or virtually Xeroxed his musical tracks.) Other times, the differences are more noticeable. But not surprisingly, few artists wanted or needed to rework Prince’s songs drastically.

WHAT WOULD BE A BETTER TITLE FOR THIS ALBUM? Do Me, Baby.

HOW SHOULD I LISTEN TO IT? Back-to-back with the more recognizable incarnations.

WHAT 10 WORDS DESCRIBE IT? Funky, soulful, raw, sexy, intriguing, revealing, nostalgic, celebratory, idiosyncratic, adventurous.

WHAT ARE THE BEST SONGS? The outliers like You’re My Love, with Prince singing in a deeper voice (perhaps attempting to imitate Rogers) and the James Brown-channeling Holly Rock (which Sheila E. cut for the Krush Groove soundtrack).

WHAT WILL MY FRIENDS AND FAMILY SAY? ‘Why didn’t he just release these songs himself?’

HOW OFTEN WILL I LISTEN TO THIS? Until the novelty wears off.

IF THIS ALBUM WERE CLOTHING, WHAT KIND OF CLOTHING WOULD IT BE? Purple hand-me-down lingerie.

SHOULD I BUY, STREAM OR STEAL? For the moment, streaming is your only option — vinyl and CD versions don’t come out until July.