Hide the Bone:30
Tell Me How U Wanna B Done:30
What's My Name:30
An Honest Man:30
Strays of the World:30
Days of Wild:30
She Gave Her Angels:30
18 & Over':30
Make Your Mama Happy:30
Don't Play Me:30
Circle of Amour:30
Man in a Uniform:30
The Other Side of the Pillow:30
One of Your Tears:30
Welcome 2 the Dawn:30
At Last... The Lost Is Found
The Ever Changing Light
Coincidence or Fate?
20 years into his career as a recording artist, Prince reached a monumental milestone with his five-disc release, Crystal Ball. It was the first time he’d released an album of his music completely independently — offering the album directly to his fans via a pre-sale phone line, 1-800-NEW-FUNK, and his website love4oneanother.com — and the first time he distributed CDs to other outlets through his own NPG Records, without the support of any major label.
Crystal Ball — I made that for the fans.”
Prince, Paper Magazine, 1999
After years of lamenting the slow-drip pace of releases by the commercial recording industry, Prince was finally free to share as much music as he wanted, as quickly as he wanted. Using his website to gauge interest from his worldwide network of supporters, he decided to release an unprecedented triple-album, the long-awaited Crystal Ball, accompanied by two additional releases, the acoustic-leaning The Truth and an instrumental album from the NPG Orchestra, Kamasutra. (The expanded edition was only available online and through phone pre-orders; when the CD was made available in stores, it was slimmed down to a four-CD set, including Crystal Ball and The Truth.)
Crystal Ball was the second triple-album that Prince released in succession, and he had already started teasing the release of Crystal Ball online around the time of 1996’s three-CD-set Emancipation. Each CD contained 10 tracks and ran almost exactly 50 minutes, and pulled from a back catalog of unreleased recordings and alternate versions of songs that spanned from 1983 to 1996, offering listeners the opportunity to travel through time and experience music from his legendary vault.
The 150 minutes of music collected here date back as far as 1985, when Prince was launching and scrapping multiple projects en route to crafting Sign o’ the Times.”
Keith Harris, Minneapolis City Pages, 2017
In addition to the five albums of music, Crystal Ball came with detailed liner notes written by Prince himself that offer a rare glimpse into his creative process and memories. “The song ‘Crystal Ball’ was written in a deepbluefunk depression as Prince pondered his future in a music business that had become more business than music,” he wrote about the title track, while songs like “PoomPoom” had more lighthearted backstories: “Never intended 4 any album, just a funny track 2 make a female laugh.”
I have everything on tape, man, including all the informal jams. To me, Crystal Ball was a test case. I was testing the water to see if people would buy music over the internet, and whether they would be receptive to a five-CD set.”
Prince, Guitar World, 1998
Both the retail version of Crystal Ball and the direct-order presale version each came with the album The Truth, widely regarded as one of Prince’s most underappreciated hidden gems. The Truth was the first Prince album to be labeled “acoustic,” though it does contain electronic instruments and elements, and it gave listeners an unprecedented chance to hear his songwriting and voice in a stripped-down presentation.
Those who ordered Crystal Ball directly from NPG Records via 1-800-NEW-FUNK or love4oneanother.com were also given an instrumental album, Kamasutra, that Prince recorded with what he called the NPG Orchestra: saxophonist Eric Leeds, the NPG Hornz (Michael B. Nelson, Kathy Jensen, Dave Jensen, Brian Gallagher and Steve Strand), and longtime collaborator Clare Fischer’s orchestra. It is the only album credited to the NPG Orchestra.
I genuinely loved ALL the songs on the album. I wish he’d do more like this. Raw and stripped down.”
Questlove on The Truth, 2016
Crystal Ball, The Truth, and Kamasutra Album Credits
Prince all vocals and instruments Susannah Melvoin background vocals Boni Boyer vocals NPG Hornz (Kathy Jensen, Steve Strand, Dave Jensen, Michael B. Nelson, Brian Gallagher) horns Michael B. drums Sonny T. bass Tommy Barbarella keyboards Carmen Electra vocals Mayte background vocals Mr. Hayes keyboards Rain Ivana NPG Operator Wendy Melvoin vocals Eric Leeds saxophone, flute Morris Day drums Rhonda Smith bass guitar Kirk Johnson percussion, vocals, beat programming Kat Dyson vocals and percussion Mike Scott guitar Clare Fischer orchestral arrangements