The New Prince ‘1999’ Songs: The Story of Each Unreleased Track
Combining information from Paul Sinclair of Super Deluxe Edition's recent interview with Prince Estate archivist Michael Howe, Prince Vault and other sources, here's everything we know about the previously unreleased (but in some cases heavily bootlegged) songs featured on the expanded edition of 1999.
"Feel U Up / Irresistible Bitch"
These two songs, released separately years apart, seem to have begun life as conjoined twins way back in 1981, which is how they will be presented on the 1999 set. "We believe that this is what the intention was," explains Howe, "at least given the rough mix that was done by Prince on a cassette."
A different version of "Irresistible Bitch" - with drum machines replacing the more organic sound heard on this newly released version - served as the b-side to 1999's fourth single "Let's Pretend We're Married" in November of 1983. "Feel U Up" was re-recorded in 1986 for inclusion on the scrapped Camille album, and eventually released as the b-side to "Partyman" in 1989.
"Money Don't Grow on Trees"
This previously unreleased track is described by Sinclair as a "breezy, guitar-y kind of band song," with Howe agreeing that it's "less preoccupied with weighty matters than some of the other stuff that he working on at the time."
Not only was “Vagina” the stage name Denise Matthews wisely avoided in favor of “Vanity," it was also a song earmarked for The Hookers project that became Vanity 6. While producer David Z. Rivkin (brother of Revolution drummer Bobby Z) is quoted by PrinceVault as calling the song “obscene”, Howe is more impressed, calling it “a very timely, topical piece, given (the) LGBTQ movement and the general focus on gender issues, and it’s remarkable that he was thinking about this stuff in late '81 or early '82.”
According to Prince Vault, this song was recorded in late 1981, retrieved from storage and remixed seven years later, and then put back aside without ever being released. The earlier version is the one that will be featured on the 1999 re-issue.
Reportedly recorded the same day that Prince and Morris Day worked on "Gigolos Get Lonely Too" for the Time's What Time is It? album, this song eventually morphed into "New Power Generation" from 1990's Graffiti Bridge soundtrack. "But this is a much more organic sort of approach," explains Howe, who also notes they were forced to work from a cassette rough mix because all the other versions had been recorded over or discarded.
In a June 2019 interview with Jon Bream for the Minneapolis Star Tribune, engineer Peggy McCreary recalled her marathon recording sessions with Prince at Sunset Sound in Los Angeles in the early '80s. After they recorded this instrumental track, McCreary asked Prince what to call it on the studio and label paperwork. “He said, ‘What’s your middle name?’ I said ‘Colleen.’ He said, ‘Name it “Colleen.” ’ The song never got finished; it never had lyrics.”
"Turn It Up"
Described by Howe as "an up tempo sort of breezy pop song," this track was recorded early in the 1999 sessions. It was supplanted on the album's working track list by the similar-sounding "Delirious" a few months later. Howe seems to agree with this decision, calling the latter track "a much more complete thought."
"You're All I Want"
Engineer Peggy McCreary says Prince gave her two gifts for her birthday in 1982. She is sharing one with the world on the 1999 reissue. To celebrate her special day, Prince showed up to the studio “with a completely different look: blue jeans, white T-shirt, black leather motorcycle jacket, black leather boots.” He then proceeded to cut a rockabilly song entitled “You’re All I Want." “It made sense because of the way he was dressed,” McCreary told Bream. “After working 12 hours, I made him a cassette. He was standing at the door and he tossed me the cassette and said, ‘Happy birthday.’"
Prince also gifted his jacket to her, but after being exhausted from trying to keep up with his famous marathon studio sessions, McCreary confesses she would have preferred a different present. “I have an unreleased Prince song,” she told Bream. “For him, that was one of the greatest gifts he could have ever given me. At the time, I (just) wanted my birthday off.”
"If It'll Make U Happy"
Reportedly recorded in April of 1982 for possible inclusion on 1999, this song was one of 22 candidates fans at 2000's Paisley Park Celebration event were asked to choose from while compiling a dream track list for a potential sequel to 1998's rarities collection Crystal Ball. It didn't get enough votes to make the cut, and ultimately that didn't matter because the album was never released.
Two versions of this song have already appeared on official Prince releases - a concert version from 1985's Prince and the Revolution: Live home video release, and a March 1984 studio version on 2017's expanded edition of the Purple Rain soundtrack. This studio version dates back to 1982 and is described by Howe as "substantially different."
At least two versions of the anti-drug screed “Purple Music” are currently in bootleg circulation, a sparse mix north of 11 minutes, and a more fully realized version that clocks in about a minute shorter.
“Yah, You Know”
"What's a matter with U? Ain't U got nothin' better 2 do than sit unemployed watching television like a fool?" "Yah, You Know" is one of Prince’s liveliest diss tracks, with him running down an unknown person with the unfortunate habit of spitting while they talk. A 1986 version with horns by Eric Leeds (and possibly Atlanta Bliss) has been traded by fans for years. But the 1999 box set will be the first chance for many to hear Prince’s original cut, recorded in 1982 at the Kiowa Trail Home Studio.
“No Call U”,“Delirious (Full Length)”
Both the officially unreleased "No Call U" and the unedited six-minute "Delirious" explore different angles of the rockabilly sound Prince was experimenting on at same time that the Stray Cats were burning up the overseas charts with hits like “Rock This Town" and “Stray Cat Strut." He clearly realized they were onto something good. Their singles would also become hits in the USA later on in 1982, after Prince had already recorded these tracks.
“Can’t Stop This Feeling I Got”
After deciding to shelve separate 1982 and 1986 attempts at recording this song, Prince finally released a third edition from 1989 as the lead track on Graffiti Bridge. Howe says the original version, which will be featured on the 1999 box set, has more “humanity."
"Do Yourself a Favor"
Seven years after he served as guitarist on 94 East's "If You See Me" way back in 1975, Prince re-named and re-recorded this Pepe Willie composition in 1982. Former Time guitarist Jesse Johnson recorded and released his own version of the track on his 1986 Shockadelica album, again using the "Do Yourself a Favor" title.
"Don't Let Him Fool Ya"
Recorded in 1982 at Prince's Kiowa Trails home studio, this slinky funk song finds Prince warning a friend not to be seduced by a Cadillac driving Lothario: "I went 2 pay a bill at city hall, uh-oh / And I saw his picture hanging on the wall." The 4:28 version of this song currently in circulation is sung in a falsetto that recalls his For You / Prince era.
Originally recorded in 1982, in Prince: The Man and His Music, author Matt Thorne alludes to this as “an old cast-off that Prince gave to Wendy and Lisa to transform." After the duo added vocals and sitar, it was considered for the Dream Factory album, which was ultimately scrapped in favor of Prince's first post-Revolution album, 1987's Sign O' the Times.
“Lady Cab Driver / I Wanna Be Your Lover / Head / Little Red Corvette" Medley Even at this early stage of his career, Prince found himself with more hit songs than he could fit into his set list. So during a break between legs of the 1999 tour, he put together this medley. “He recorded this demo, basically gave it to the band to teach the band this thing,” Howe explains. "It sort of surprised me, because I didn’t realize that he would do those kinds of things to teach the band. I thought it typically happened just in rehearsals." Oddly enough, after all that work Prince dropped the medley after just one show, apparently displeased with how it went over with the crowd.
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