It was said that only Prince knew the combination to his legendary, quite literal vault with the spinning wheel doorknob. But sometime after his death on April 21, 2016, the hulking door was drilled open, revealing an astounding archive of unreleased songs--so many thousands of tapes and hard drives that his estate could allegedly release a Prince album every year for the next century. Now, the latest from the vault, comes Prince: Originals, a compilation of 14 previously unreleased songs written for other performers that prove once and for all that a Prince demo was often better than most other musicians' finished songs.
Police investigation notwithstanding, the minute Prince died one question rose above almost any other: what would happen to the music in his Vault? And, given Prince's own reluctance to release anything from it during his lifetime, should anything happen to this near-mythical collection of songs that reportedly number into the thousands and include entire projects recorded and shelved at the whims of their creator? The latter was almost irrelevant: posthumous archival releases were inevitable. Initial signs, however, suggested that the new Vaultmeisters were themselves struggling with the amount of material they had to wade through. The long-awaited deluxe edition of Purple Rain had much to get excited about, but fell short of being the full package both hardcore fans and the artist deserved.
The title Originals is a bit of a misnomer for this 2019 compilation, suggesting these 15 songs were intended for an official release by Prince. That's not the case. Every cut on Originals is a demo of an original song Prince handed off to another artist, usually an act who was firmly within his orbit. Prince had a number of these artists during the 1980s, the period when he was at his creative and commercial zenith.