by John Gaddis
It is hard to compare Prince’s genius to modern day artists, though the plethora of artists is almost growing to a glut, there seems to be less and less genius in the stacks of product that flood the market. Prince was in the prime of his career during 1983, reining his purple majesty to ears across the globe. Piano and a Microphone 1983 is a personal listen, an opportunity to hear genius creating and exploring in the moment. Yes, its raw, its unfiltered at times. The piano is out of tune, but it’s the humanity of this recording and the realization that we can be humans. Prince Rogers Nelson had more emotions wrapped into one soulful finger than most do in their entire body and that maturity of being in touch, emanated from his music. The LP’s nine tracks were taken from cassette recordings Prince made at his piano at his Kiowa Trail home studio in Chanhassen, Minnesota. The estate who is releasing this project states, it is filled with early home recordings of future Prince classics.
“17 Days,” is filled with riffing, experimentation and searching, while shaping the ideas of what is to come. Even the moments of “Is that my echo,” or “turn the voice down,” to the engineer will thrill the avid Prince fan. A rendition of “Purple Rain,” in a 1:26 exploration wanders into jazz voicings before the track ends.
Many of Prince’s tunes in the early 80s circled around relationship struggles, “Strange Relationship,” is a flurry of ideas streaming from the consciousness of Prince. Not fully formed, but in full survey. With a bit of James Brown inflect thrown in, which made me smile for hours.
As many know, Prince is and always was about privacy and putting forth sheer perfection, and after an artist’s death its always inevitable that the “B” tracks or cuts like this get released. I am not sure Prince would approve overall of this exploitation. That being said; as an avid fan of Prince, I already know he is and was human, and I love this recording because it helps everyday people like myself know he worked hard, he gave to his art and it’s a peek into the genius as it was forming and being formed into ideas. Does it show human flaws – well not in my eyes – to me, it shows beauty, it highlights the creativity, passion and commitment Prince regularly showed in his outpouring of legacy music. Others may feel differently, but I am grateful to have any and all recordings that Prince ever did, as nothing will sway me to ever feel any differently about what a lasting contribution he made to the music industry.