Crystal Ball is the first track on the first disc of Prince’s 20th album Crystal Ball (his fourth using the name ). In 2020, an edit of the track was released as the fifteenth track of Vault Tracks part 1, one of the discs with previously unreleased tracks included with the Sign O’ The Times Super Deluxe Edition.
The album is not clearly divided between Prince tracks and tracks, but the liner notes' discussion of this track discuss "Prince" making this track, and says "all other noises are made by Prince", so it is credited to Prince in this entry.
Basic tracking took place on 17 April 1986 at Galpin Blvd Home Studio in Chanhassen, Minnesota (two days after band overdubs on Witness 4 The Prosecution and the recording of Visions, both without Prince, and three days before recording Starfish And Coffee).
Although this track was not included on a late April 1986 configuration of the aborted album Dream Factory, a full length version without Clare Fischer’s contribution was included, on the 3 June 1986 configuration and again on the 18 July 1986 configuration, now omitting a minute and a half of the intro that was obsolete as in this incarnation without orchestration it was only a beat of the left channel.
In late November 1986, Prince began to compile the Crystal Ball triple LP (completely separate from the 1998 release of the same name), and Crystal Ball was included as the first track on the third side of the album in its 30 November 1986 configuration. This was the version with the Clare Fischer orchestration added, but edited down by a minute from the previous version.
In the days preceding the release of Emancipation in 1996, thedawn.com teased the next release, Crystal Ball as a 3CD set of previously-unreleased material, so it was assumed immediately that Crystal Ball would be included.
The version featured on 1998 Crystal Ball is identical to the version that was to be on the Crystal Ball 3-LP release from 1986.