|The Family is the first album by The Family. While Prince was only credited with writing Nothing Compares 2 U, he wrote seven of the eight songs and played almost all the instruments on the album (Bobby Z. wrote the remaining track, River Run Dry). Vocals were provided by St. Paul Peterson and Susannah Melvoin.
This album was the first Prince-related release to feature saxophone by Eric Leeds and string orchestration by Clare Fischer. This album is also the second album, after Prince and the Revolution’s Around The World In A Day), to be released on Paisley Park (records).
Sessions and compiling
Recording took place in late June and the first two weeks of August 1984. High Fashion, Mutiny, Mazarati (later renamed Susannah’s Pajamas), and Desire were the first tracks recorded for the album in late June 1984. Nothing Compares 2 U was recorded in mid-July 1984.
Lisa (later renamed Yes) and River Run Dry were recorded in early August 1984 while The Screams Of Passion followed in mid-August 1984 (a year to the day before the album’s release). Vocal overdubs by St. Paul Peterson were added in late 1984 or early 1985. Orchestral overdubs by Clare Fischer also took place in late 1984 to early 1985, and mixing taking place in April and May 1985.
Other tracks recorded for the album include Feline (recorded in mid-July 1984) and Miss Understood (recorded in the second week of August 1984). After recording, St. Paul Peterson objected to some of the more explicit lyrics in Feline, leading to Prince removing the track from the project (some of the lyrics were reworked and used in Holly Rock). Prince also sent the 1982 track You’re My Love to St. Paul Peterson to learn, but Peterson’s lack of enthusiasm for the track led to Prince dropping the idea (the track was later sent to Kenny Rogers, who re-recorded it and released it on his 1986 album They Don’t Make Them Like They Used To). I Don’t Wanna Stop and Rough were also considered for the album.
An undated early work-in-progress configuration of the album is known to exist, tentatively titled Hi Fashion, which also included Paisley Park (an instrumental song different from the Around The World In A Day song of the same name), and a track titled BMW (thought to be an interim title of Susannah’s Pajamas).
The final configuration was compiled on 13 May 1985, after which an acetate (dated 28 May 1985) was produced. The songs are in the same sequence as they were ultimately released, although the instrumentals Yes and Susannah’s Pajamas (listed on the acetate as 'Susannah’s Clothes') are each listed as being some 30 seconds longer than they were released. However this was down to errors in writing down the timings, the versions on the acetate are exactly as released.
The album produced two singles, The Screams Of Passion and High Fashion.
There was little other promotion for the album, as Jerome Benton and Susannah Melvoin flew to France with Prince to film the Under The Cherry Moon movie at the time of the album’s release, and St. Paul Peterson was taking acting and dancing lessons in Los Angeles to prepare for a future (undetermined) Prince film project.
As such, a planned tour and other promotional activities were put on hold. The Family played only one show at the time of the album’s release, on 13 August 1985 at First Avenue in Minneapolis.
Perhaps due to the lack of promotion, the album reached only number 62 on the US Billboard Top Pop Albums Chart, and number 17 on the US Billboard Top Black Albums Chart.