Can I Play With U? is a song recorded on 26 December 1985 (the same day as A Couple Of Miles) at Sunset Sound in Hollywood, California, with saxophone overdubs by Eric Leeds done the next day.
The track was sent to Miles Davis (in both instrumental and vocal versions) in January 1986, following a request from Warner Bros. for Prince to contribute to Davis' first Warner Bros. album (called The Perfect Way at the time, before being renamed Tutu). It was accompanied by a note from Prince, reading:
"I can tell just from listening to your music that you and I are so exactly alike that I know whatever you play would be what I'd do. So if this tape is of any use to you, please go ahead and play whatever you feel over it. Because I trust what you hear and play."
Miles Davis added trumpet to the song in late February at Capitol Studios, Los Angeles CA, USA.
Prince contributed additional material to the track to extend it a few days later, on 1 March 1986, but neither Davis nor Prince were very excited by the final result, and after hearing the rest of the finished album, Prince asked that his track be removed, as it didn’t fit in with the style of the rest of the album.
After Davis died in 1991, Warner Bros. asked Prince to add some post-production to this track (as well as Penetration, Jail Bait and A Girl And Her Puppy) to include on his first posthumous album, Doo-Bop, but Prince was not interested in contributing to tracks that he felt didn’t show Davis at his best.
During a Love4oneanother.com "? of the week" in 1999, someone asked whether Prince had recorded in the studio with Miles Davis, to which Prince replied:
- " have recorded with Miles... it sounds as u would xpect: chaotic and beautiful! Its release depends on the length of The War." [referring to feuds with record companies rather than the track The War]
The longer version of the track was planned for release (credited to "Miles Davis with Prince") as the twelfth track on a 2001 box-set of Miles Davis’s Warner Bros. work, entitled The Last Word, but the track was not included on the eventual 2-disc 2010 release, titled Perfect Way.
The song was released in September 2020 as the fourth track of Vault Tracks part 1, one of the discs with previously unreleased tracks included with the Sign O’ The Times Super Deluxe Edition.