In 1983, when Prince was on the verge of finding worldwide fame with his breakout album and film, Purple Rain, he sat down at the piano at his home on Kiowa Trail in Chanhassen, Minnesota, and serenaded himself with an improvised medley of his latest material, singing along as he played. After he finished playing, the cassette tape recording of that day’s rehearsal was tucked away into his legendary vault for decades.
In addition to spending untold hours in the studio recording demos and perfecting versions of the hundreds of songs that were released to the world, Prince was also known to record the jam sessions that occurred during his soundchecks on tour, his late-night rehearsals and collaborations with fellow musicians at Paisley Park, and his quiet moments in the studio or at home when he was just beginning to develop new ideas into songs.
I record everything I do, just like Jimi Hendrix did.”
Prince, Guitar World, 1998
The private rehearsal captured on Piano & A Microphone 1983 provides a rare, intimate glimpse into Prince’s creative process as he worked through songs including “17 Days” and “Purple Rain” (neither of which would be released until 1984), a cover of Joni Mitchell’s “A Case of You” (which he would perform throughout his career, including at his final Piano and a Microphone Show in Atlanta in April 2016), “Strange Relationship” (not released until 1987 on his critically acclaimed Sign O’ The Times album), and 1999’s “International Lover.”
The album also includes a rare recording of the 19th Century spiritual “Mary Don’t You Weep,” a song that was also chosen to be featured during the end credits of Spike Lee’s 2018 film BlacKkKlansman.
As with Prince’s final Piano & A Microphone performances in early 2016, much of the album is one spontaneous live medley; tracks 1-7 of the album flow together and are presented in that same format as they were originally recorded.
The album cover photo captures a rare view of Prince backstage during the 1999 tour, which wrapped up in April 1983. The photo was taken by Prince’s trusted photographer and creative collaborator Allen Beaulieu, who worked closely with Prince between 1979-1984. Allen’s work with Prince includes the cover shots for the Dirty Mind and Controversy albums and iconic promotional photos for the 1999 album.
- 17 Days
- Purple Rain
- A Case Of You Mary Don’t You Weep
- Strange Relationship
- International Lover
- Cold Coffee & Cocaine
- Why The Butterflies
Set to release September 21, 2018 via Warner Bros. Records, Piano & A Microphone 1983 is available now to pre-order on CD, LP, Deluxe CD+LP, digital release and pre-save for streaming. The Deluxe CD+LP format will include a 12” booklet featuring brand new liner notes written by Prince’s then engineer Don Batts, as well as candid shots of Prince including never before seen images.
*Piano & A Microphone 1983* Album Credits
Prince vocals and piano Don Batts engineer