Well, this looks very lovely. At long last the Prince Estate seems to have gotten things right with a pretty definitive-looking Super Deluxe edition of one of his classic albums, here comprising 5 CDs plus a concert DVD, or (for vinyl collectors), 10 lps and a concert DVD (there’s also a ‘budget’ 2-disc (4 lp) edition whose only purpose seems to be pushing people into buying the more expensive/complete set as its so frankly redundant).
Being released at the end of November, this thing has Christmas List all over it, which is a canny move by all concerned- other than the Purple Rain Deluxe the other vault releases following Prince’s passing have had their merits but have hardly set the mainstream world alight, satisfied the fans or sold hugely. Maybe this set is the point at which things change and we get ‘proper’ Super Deluxe sets that deserve that moniker and fans attention. 1999 was the first single/album by Prince that caught me, back when I was at college, so for me it’s nicely apt that its the first ‘proper’ set.
Rumour has it Parade is next, but we’re surely all just waiting for the Sign o’ the Times Super Deluxe, if our bank balances can stand it (and maybe a revisit to Purple Rain someday? That would seem inevitable at some point). My only sobering consideration about this release is that it’s perhaps ten years overdue- Prince should have allowed these kind of releases many years ago, and it’s terribly sad that it had to wait until he passed. I understand it’s his music, his legacy, and he was more interested in ‘new’ music than looking back on his old success, even if the rumours of the Vault increasingly shadowed over then-‘new’ albums, but it’s almost tragic that he was never interested in curating this kind of release or having any input in it- imagine if this was accompanied by a book of his reminisces/commentary about the music and his career back then?
Perhaps if he had lived longer he might have reconsidered things- we’ll never know. As a fan, his shyness/enigma was both fascinating and infuriating, and it would have been marvelous if he had decided to pull aside the curtain, so to speak, and reveal to his fans the behind-the-scenes story behind one of the most gifted musicians and remarkable life’s work in that vault. Instead, well, perhaps we’ll eventually get to hear (most?) of the music hidden in the vault and when the scope of all that life’s work is known maybe that enigma and mystery will be all the more tantalising. We may get the music, but he’ll always keep us wanting more, eh?