Boomkat Product Review:
Some observations about this epic package - the biggest iteration of which is over 8 hours long (not including the bonus DVD) - it’s incredibly well executed, smart, thoughtful, insightful - a proper fucking masterclass in how to go about painstakingly assembling and reissuing archival material (without getting into a discussion about whether or not Prince would have wanted these vaulted tunes to see the light of day).
The good news is that even if you go for the most threadbare version here, you’ll be in possession of the best this set has to offer. Two things that shine out above everything else here; Prince was a really good editor of his own work, the version of Sign O The Times that saw the light of day is stronger than any of the proposed other iterations of it - better then the Camille album would have been, better than Crystal Ball, better than Dream Factory - although the Vault tracks included in the bumper edition allow you to assemble any one of those albums for the first time using official masters. The tunes themselves - as much as ’The Ballad Of Dorothy Parker (With Horns)' is just totally fucking incredible to hear - the version you know is infinitely superior, and being able to witness Prince's editing process is one of the great pleasures of this set. Same thing goes for ‘Forever In My Life’ - what was almost a country pop tune ended up as one of the greatest linndrumm ballads ever made - and now you can hear what could have been, and thankfully wasn't.
Secondly - the mastering - by Bernie Grundman - is properly astonishing, especially if you grew up with an original version. Grundman doesn’t just go for loudness here - although the master is significantly louder than the version you’ll know - the detail, space and lightness of touch is the thing that elevates this set to absolute greatness. Listening to the remastered version of ‘Forever In My Life’ - just as one example - will alter yr perspective on pretty much everything. Also - what a fucking tune.
The vault stuff - there is about 4 hours of it - a complete dream come true. The best of it - 'Emotional Pump' (a sort of 'Feel U Up' variant), 'Big Tall Wall' (fucking drums!), The Cocoa Boys (slow, syrup horn funk), 'Rebirth Of The Flesh Original Outro’ (Camille missing piece) - to be honest - it’s all pretty amazing, even ‘Wally’ is on this - surely the most elusive of all the vaulted tracks.
Anyway, if yr an obsessive - you'll need the bumper set, if yr a newb - start with the basic remaster - either way, after running through all 8 hours three times in 2 days, we feel v strongly once again that the original version of this album - benefitting massively from this new remaster - is really one of the greatest ever made - and what we thought could never be improved on, now somehow sounds better than ever before.
Prince forever <3