Excuse me if – for the second time this week – I’d rather talk about the Sign ‘O’ the Times reissue than my daily chosen song. More on “Le Grind” shortly.
I received my eagerly awaited e-mail from the Prince Estate yesterday about the Super Deluxe re-issue of Sign. I have two words to sum up the release:
92 tracks, including 63 previously unreleased from the vault. 13 LPs. Eight CDs. A 120-page hardcover book. A DVD including Prince’s only on-stage work with Miles Davis. HOLY SHIT AGAIN. The price tag is an unsurprising $300. I was mentally prepared for that. A box set of this magnitude is not going to be cheap. Here was the surprise…or at least I wasn’t ready for it. Maybe people who are deeper in the Prince rumor mill knew this but I didn’t. There’s a limited edition box set of seven (7) peach colored 7″ singles including an unreleased song called “Witness 4 the Prosecution.” I’m aware that there were a lot of sevens in that last sentence, but this is Prince we’re talking about. They limited this box set to 1,987 (the album was released in 1987 in case you hadn’t figured that out) copies at $100 each, so I had to jump on that and order it immediately this morning before they sell out. The box set looks gorgeous and will look amazing on my Prince shelf next to my 80+ other Prince records. I didn’t order the $300 box set yet because…damn…it’s $300. I better do a lot more selling on Discogs. For real, here’s a link. Buy some of my stuff so I can afford this. Being an avid Prince collector ain’t cheap. You can bet I’ll find a way to add that set to my collection when it’s released in September, though.
It just occurred to me that 63 previously unreleased tracks means 63 more songs to add to the Daily Prince Song Randomizer. That’s two more months of writing. Time to get back to work.
Today we revisit the infamous Black Album. To sum up in case you didn’t read my posts on “2 N*gs United 4 West Compton” or “Dead on It,” The Black Album was supposed to be released in late-1987 but Prince scrapped it at the last minute. He believed it was too dark and hateful. Legend has it the music from the album was the product of Prince’s lone use of ecstasy. I’ve never used ecstasy myself so I’m unable to speak on the effects, but I have to say, if the dude did ecstasy once and was able to create an entire album, imagine what he could’ve done with more. What happened when he drank Red Bull? One ecstasy trip produced an entire album?!? Also, what’s the appropriate terminology for using ecstasy? Do you “do” ecstasy? “Take” ecstasy? Pop it? Ingest it? I’m such a fucking square.
Anyway, Prince nixed the project, changed course, and released Lovesexy four months later in its place. This added a layer of mystique and intrigue to The Black Album that made it one of the most bootlegged albums of all-time. In 1994 while Prince was at war with Warner Brothers over his contract he agreed to release The Black Album and reportedly received $1 million in return but made a point to let everyone know that he was still spiritually opposed to the album. Money talks, I guess.
“Le Grind” is the opening track on The Black Album and it’s my favorite. An appropriate start to an album that was referred to as “The Funk Bible.” You can tell within the first five seconds that it’s funky. The drums kick it off and then a sound comes in that’s difficult to describe. It’s gotta be a synth with some kind of effect on it. I can’t quite make it out. Either way, it goes on for over six minutes straight, and if you listen to the song you’ll have those three notes stuck in your head all day. Prince doesn’t do a lot of singing on this track. More like some shouting, spoken word, and some occasional melody. It’s not rapping either. He’s just urging you to get off your ass and dance. Some of my favorite Prince background players are involved on this track including Eric Leeds on sax, Atlanta Bliss on trumpet, and Boni Boyer singing background vocals (among others). Boyer is such a powerhouse you can’t miss her. She’s underrated as hell.
This song, like so many others in the Prince catalog, is just fun. It’s funny that it was the opening track on an album that Prince deemed too dark to release. “Le Grind” is funky as hell and would fit in at any club or dance party. Nothing remotely dark about it. It must’ve been written during the happy part of his ecstasy trip. I dare you to listen to it without tapping your feet and nodding your head throughout.