|Originals is the first posthumous stand-alone album of previously-unreleased studio material by Prince, and the seventh posthumous album release overall. The album is a collection of Prince’s original versions of songs he gave to other artists for release. As a result, all songs on the album had been released by other artists. The final track had been previously released in the same form on the Nothing Compares 2 U posthumous single in 2018, which was at that point a stand-alone single.
Sessions and compiling
The album is a compilation of tracks recorded between 1981 and 1991. Recording information is listed in chronological order below:
Chronologically, the earliest written track on the album is Wouldn’t You Love To Love Me?, which is also among Prince’s most-recorded songs. Initially the track was recorded in 1976 as a home recording on a basic cassette recorder, featuring some lyrics that were changed or removed for later recordings. It was then re-recorded twice in Summer 1978-at Prince’s France Avenue Home Studio in Edina, Minnesota; once with Prince on vocals and once with Sue Ann Carwell on vocals. It was re-recorded again in June 1981 at Hollywood Sound Recorders in Los Angeles, California, which is the version featured on this album. Yet another version was started from scratch on 1 April 1982, at Sunset Sound in Hollywood, California. That version was worked on further in 1986 and was submitted to Michael Jackson for use on his album Bad. When it did not get included on Jackson’s album Prince offered it to Taja Sevelle, who for her version simply replaced Prince’s own vocals from the 1986 recording. It was released in 1987 as the second track on Taja Sevelle’s first album Taja Sevelle and, in early 1988 was released as the album’s second single.
Make-Up was originally recorded with Vanity 6 in mind, to be sung by Susan Moonsie. While specific recording dates are unknown, basic tracking took place in Summer 1981 at Prince’s Kiowa Trail Home Studio in Chanhassen, Minnesota. It was released as the sixth track on Vanity 6’s first and only album Vanity 6. The track was included as the b-side of He’s So Dull, the album’s third single, and soon after also the b-side of Drive Me Wild, the album’s fourth and final single.
Gigolos Get Lonely Too, although written solely by Prince was intended for The Time and was credited to Morris Day when it appeared as the fifth track on their second album What Time Is It?, and was released as the album’s third single. Basic tracking likely took place on 11 January 1982 at Sunset Sound in Hollywood, California.
You’re My Love was written by Prince, using the pseudonym Joey Coco when released, the first time this pseudonym had been used officially. The song was featured as the third track on American country music singer-songwriter Kenny Rogers' album They Don’t Make Them Like They Used To and as the b-side of Ronnie Misap and Kenny Rogers single Make No Mistake, She’s Mine. Although exact recording dates are not known, basic tracking for Prince’s original version took place in March 1982 at Prince’s Kiowa Trail Home Studio which is the version on this release. Clare Fischer added orchestral overdubs in May 1986, by which time the song was attributed to Prince and the Revolution, but Kenny Rogers and his band re-recorded the song in 1986. Kenny Rogers' version of the song contains no musical input by Prince or Clare Fischer.
Baby, You’re A Trip as it appears on this album is from 1982, but did not get an 'associate artists' release until 1987 when it was released as the eighth and final track on Jill Jones eponymous album. It was also included as the b-side of Jill Jones’s For Love. Basic tracking for the original version took place on 8 July 1982 at Sunset Sound in Hollywood, California. The version on this album has overdubbed Jill Jones vocals alongside Prince’s guide vox.
Jungle Love was written by Prince with Jesse Johnson, who came up with the music. His credit was removed when he left The Time and the Prince-camp. Basic tracking took place on 26 March 1983 at Sunset Sound in Hollywood, California. Jesse Johnson, Jimmy Jam and Terry Lewis were all present in the studio, but it’s unclear if they contributed to the session. The song was released on The Time’s third album Ice Cream Castle and as a single with moderate success.
Sex Shooter was originally planned for a second album by Vanity 6. Basic tracking took place on 30 April 1983 at Prince’s Kiowa Trail Home Studio in Chanhassen, Minnesota. Vanity recorded her vocals on the track, likely in the week following basic tracking, while Brenda Bennett, Jill Jones and possibly Susan Moonsie recorded backing vocals on it at a later date. The version here is with Prince’s guide vocal on it. It was later redone with Apollonia’s vocals and released on Apollonia 6’s eponymous album and released as a single with limited chart success.
The Glamorous Life was originally recorded on 27 December 1983 at Sunset Sound in Hollywood, California and tentatively intended for Apollonia 6 until Prince began to work with Sheila E. in February 1984, at which time he set the song aside for her. Sheila E.’s version appeared as the sixth and final track on her debut album The Glamorous Life and was released as the lead single, which went to the top of the charts in many countries. A longer version of the Prince solo version as it appears here, which is mixed slightly differently remains unreleased. Jill Jones appears on backing vox on, but is uncredited for it on this album
Manic Monday was originally intended for Apollonia 6 (as a duet between Prince and Apollonia), and was included as the third track on the early configurations of the Apollonia 6 album, but was withdrawn from the album prior to release. Basic tracking for Prince’s original version took place on 4 February 1984 at Sunset Sound in Hollywood, California. It was offered to The Bangles in April 1985. They re-recorded the song overdubbing most Prince’s music with their own, but some tracks including Brenda Bennett’s and Jill Jones backing vox can still be heard on the album. It was released on The Bangles 1996 album Different Light and made a big impact on the charts, reaching number one on some countries when it was released as a single.
Noon Rendezvous was written for and with Sheila E. and tracking took place on 13 February 1984 at Sunset Sound in Hollywood, California. The song was co-written by Prince and Sheila E., although the extent of her contributions is unclear. It appeared as the third track on Sheila E.’s first album The Glamorous Life, and was released as the album’s third single, which failed to chart.
100 MPH was written and largely performed by Prince. While specific recording dates are not known, basic tracking probably took place in June 1984 at Flying Cloud Drive Warehouse in Eden Prairie, Minnesota. Although unconfirmed, it is thought that Prince created it with Mazarati in mind, specifically as a replacement for the song Susannah’s Pajamas, which had been intended for Mazarati under its former name Mazarati, before Prince decided it suited The Family instead. It appeared as the third song on Mazarati’s first album Mazarati and was released as the album’s second single.
Nothing Compares 2 U was originally written for and recorded with The Family, but it is likely best known in its version by Irish singer Sinead O’Connor, who scored a worldwide number one single with her cover in 1990. Basic tracking took place on 15 July 1984 at the Flying Cloud Drive Warehouse in Eden Prairie, Minnesota. The original The Family version appeared in 1985 as the sixth track on The Family’s only album The Family. A live version by Prince (sharing lead vocals with Rosie Gaines) was the eleventh track (one of two new tracks) on The Hits 1 in 1993. Prince’s original version as it appears on this album was released in April 2018 as a download and 7" single.
Dear Michaelangelo was recorded in January 1985 at Master Sound, Atlanta, Georgia, while in Atlanta for dates on the Purple Rain Tour. Sheila E.’s version appeared the second track on Sheila E.’s second album Romance 1600, and was included as the b-side of Bedtime Story, the album’s second single.
Holly Rock is another Sheila E. song on this compilation. Basic tracking took place on 24 April 1985 at Sunset Sound in Hollywood, California amid the highly productive sessions that yielded a lot of songs for Parade. Parts of the lyrics were in fact revamped from the unreleased The Family song Feline from 1984. The version on this album is the cut that also ended up as 'Extended Version' on the German 12" and US Promo 12" for Holly Rock, but with Prince’s vocals instead of Sheila E.’s
Love... Thy Will Be Done is the only song on this compilation that dates from the 1990s. Although specific recording dates are unknown, basic tracking took place in January 1991 at Paisley Park Studios in Chanhassen, Minnesota, as the first track recorded by Prince for Martika. Her version appeared as the third track on her album Martika’s Kitchen, and was released as its first single, to medium success.
While the title 'Originals' suggests these are Prince’s original versions of the songs, exactly as he created them at the original time of recording, all tracks are in fact 'facsimile' new mixes by Niko Bolas (and Tony Maserati on Nothing Compares 2 U, which already received this treatment in 2018 when it was released as a separate single). Love... Thy Will Be Done (mixed by Michael Koppelman) is the only track on this release where a usable half-inch 2-track tape from 1991 was available.
The 2019 mixing was done out of technical necessity, because in most cases the original tracks, with Prince’s lead vocal, were never properly remixed or mixed down and/or such mixes were not preserved to a high quality half-inch 2-track tape.
Noon Rendezvous seems to have been given a 2019 mix that was not approximating anything Prince originally did with the track in 1984, as it seems likely that if it were, this mix with the a capella intro, would have been the version that would have ended up as such on the The Glamorous Life album with Sheila E. simply replacing Prince guide vocal with hers.
The 'Cinematic Mix' of Nothing Compares 2 U, that appears as a bonus track on the cd available from Target and on the Japanese release, was also made in 2019. It was constructed with the separate tracks found on the 24-track master, including the Clare Fischer arrange that is audible only slightly on the regular Prince-vocal version – indicating that in itself is also mixed after the fact and not the true original that would not yet have featured the orchestral arrangement.
The album was announced with a press release dated 25 April 2019 (released late the previous evening).
The album reached number 1 on the on the Billboard Top R&B/Hip Hop Albums chart and number 15 on The Billboard 200.