Revisiting Piano & A Microphone 1983

By Speed on the Beat

In 2016, we lost a legend when Prince died. In the almost-five years since his death, we've seen a lot of unreleased and re-released material. For example, his Originals project saw Prince sing versions of songs he gave to other artist. You haven't lived until you've heard Prince's versions of "The Glamorous Life" and "Gigolos Get Lonely Too." It's hard to pick a favorite posthumous Prince release, but one of my favorites is Piano & A Microphone 1983



The 2018 project has a simple setup. Prince is in a room with a piano, recording demos and covers, some of which eventually found their way onto albums. It's a mostly one-take project, one that keeps you enthralled with its vocals and stripped-down approach. But the kicker is this: these stripped-down versions allow for Prince's vocals to shine through even more than some of the final versions. On top of that, the project lets listeners get a view into his creative process unlike some other Prince projects. 



For example, with "17 Days," the 1983 version plays more mournful and pensive than the B-Side version. Perhaps I'm a sucker for piano arrangements, but this one played--for me--as the stronger of the two. You get to hear more of the emotion behind the song, more of the pain coming from Prince's thoughts about his significant other--and who she may involved with while he's waiting on her to return with her decision. 

I absolutely loved hearing his version of "Mary Don't You Weep." A classic track, Prince's version added something that some other versions I've heard didn't capture. Since "Mary Don't You Weep" is often thought of as a spiritual, some version I've heard weren't as...spiritual. They captured the protest side, but not as much of the religious side.

Enter Prince, an artist known as much for his religious leanings as he is his flamboyancy. Both are on display here. Prince makes the song his while still showcasing the religious and potentially political sides to it. I mean, this is the man who wrote "slave" on his head as a protest against his label. It's only right that he flipped a spiritual into his own.

If you've slept on this one--for whatever sad reason you have--check it out...now. Remember, though Prince is no longer with us, his music will live forever. 

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