|The Gold Experience is the 17th full-length studio album by Prince, and the first to be released using the name , after Prince changed his name in 1993 to the unpronounceable symbol that first appeared on his 1992 album. It was released worldwide in September 1995 (13 months after his previous new release Come and eleven months after “The Black Album”).
Sessions and compiling
While the bulk of the album was recorded in a condensed time period, between September 1993, and March 1994, some tracks date back to earlier recording sessions. Shhh had originally been recorded in mid-to-late June 1992 for use by Tevin Campbell, but the version included on The Gold Experience was a re-recording from early 1994.
Endorphinmachine and Dolphin were recorded in early January 1993. The Most Beautiful Girl In The World was recorded in late September 1993, soon after returned to Minneapolis from the Act II tour, and became the starting point when he began working on the album that would eventually become The Gold Experience in October 1993. Now and Shy were recorded in early October 1993. 319, Billy Jack Bitch and Gold were recorded in late October 1993.
Hate U was recorded in early 1994. The NPG Operator segues were recorded between September 1993 and March 1994. We March was recorded at some point from May - July 1994, but was re-worked in early-to-mid 1995 when additional work took place on the album. P. Control (initially known as Pussy Control) was the latest recording to be included on the album, recorded in late July 1994.
An untitled album was compiled in early 1994, considered to be an early configuration of The Gold Experience, although it seems to have been intended to be known as ’’"The Gold Album"’’ (similar to “The Black Album”); this version included Space, which ended up on Come, and Ripopgodazippa and Interactive, which ended up on Crystal Ball, as well as the studio version of Days Of Wild, Strength, and cover versions of the Rolling Stones' Angie and Graham Central Station’s The Jam, all of which remain unreleased.
Further configurations took place in March (including Acknowledge Me, which was later included on Crystal Ball), May, and Summer 1994 (including Chaos And Disorder and Right The Wrong, which were later included on Chaos And Disorder, and Listen 2 The Rhythm, later included on Mayte’s Child Of The Sun as The Rhythm Of Your Heart), with another configuration compiled on 13 October 1994; this latter configuration was considered final, but Days Of Wild and its corresponding NPG Operator segue were removed prior to the album’s eventual release.
The album had been preceded 19 months earlier by the single The Most Beautiful Girl In The World, but this had not been connected to an album at the time. Dolphin, P. Control and Endorphinmachine had been available as promotional singles in one form or another prior to the album, but Hate U was the first commercial single release from the album, followed by Gold a few months later.
Prince (as ) also toured heavily in 1994-5 (mostly in one-off shows, but also on The Ultimate Live Experience), focusing heavily on playing tracks from the album. Between the promotional singles and Prince’s live performances of the songs, many fans were very familiar with a lot of the material before the album’s release. At the time of release, however, it seemed that Prince himself had moved on to other projects, and he didn’t promote the album much upon release.
In 1995, two Italian songwriters, Bruno Bergonzi and Michele Vicino filed a lawsuit against Prince for plagiarism. Bergonzi and Vicino claimed that The Most Beautiful Girl In The World borrowed heavily from one of their song called Takin’ Me To Paradise released by Raynard J. in 1983. Bergonzi and Vicino won their case in 2007. This judgement was confirmed by the Supreme Court of Cassation in Italy in 2015, acknowledging Bergonzi and Vicino as co-authors of The Most Beautiful Girl In The World. Although this decision is only limited to the Italian territory (where the song is banned for distribution), it impacted the status of The Gold Experience in other countries. After Prince’s passing, his Estate re-released many of his albums physically (through Warner Bros. or Sony’s Legacy Recordings), except The Gold Experience because of this legal action. All of his albums were also made available on streaming plateforms including The Gold Experience, but without The Most Beautiful Girl In The World. It was not until February 2022, after the dispute was settled, that the song was finally put online. On 18 June 2022, the album was re-released by The Prince Estate and Sony’s Legacy Recordings.
The album reached number 6 on The Billboard 200 Chart, and number 2 on the Billboard Top R&B Albums chart.
It was certified Gold by the RIAA two months after release, on 7 December 1995.