Today in our daily demonstration that Prince can pretty much play whatever the hell he wants, we have “The Ride.” We’ve talked for months now about how Prince basically created his own genre by blending sounds from all different types of music. So much of his music is only identifyable as Prince music. The label for at least some of it is the Minneapolis Sound. Not today’s song. This is straight up blues.
The studio version of “The Ride” was originally recorded in 1993 and included on a 1995 VHS home video called The Undertaker. That video was 40 minutes of Prince on vocals and guitar, Michael B. on drums, and Sonny T. on bass. An accompanying album with the same title never came to fruition, so “The Ride” never got a proper audio release.
A live version of “The Ride” then appeared on another home video, this time 1995’s The Sacrifice of Victor. This VHS tape and laserdisc was a condensed recording of a 1993 aftershow in London, England. I would love to come across the laserdisc somewhere so it could immediately become the most obscure item in my growing collection of Prince memorabilia.
In 1996 VH1 aired a special called Love 4 One Another. The plot of this special is that a woman drives from Texas to Minneapolis to find her soulmate, Prince. She looks for him at Paisley Park but doesn’t find him, but apparently there are performances woven in throughout the special, including a live version of “The Ride.” Also, apparently the special features a young Dave Chappelle. I have to see this video. I have a feeling the non-music scenes are truly terrible and I think I’d like that.
Ultimately the version of “The Ride” that you can actually listen to without owning a rare video on obsolete technology came out in 1998 on the Crystal Ball triple album. If you’ve followed the blog, you’ll know that Crystal Ball was a vault cleaning of sorts for Prince. There’s a lot of random vault material from as far back as the mid-1980’s on that album. The version of “The Ride” on that album is the same live version that was included in the 1996 Love 4 One Another special. It’s five minutes of pure blues and the entire song is essentially an extended Prince guitar solo. You know that can’t be a bad thing. The lyrics are mostly silly, with Prince repeating lines like, “If you got the time, baby, I got the ride,” and, “If you like to be alone, I like to watch.” This song is not about the words. It’s about Prince’s mastery of the guitar.
Here’s my unpopular take: I don’t care for the blues. Am I the only person who doesn’t love the blues? I feel like everyone freaks out when a good blues song comes on and just universally adores it. I could take it or leave it. This song is an exception, again, because of Prince’s otherworldly guitar work. For the most part I get bored with the blues. Because of that, I’m going to rate this song more harshly than it probably deserves. If we’re rating it purely on his guitar work then it should earn about 4 out of 5 stars. The rest of it is kind of a yawner, in my opinion. If you dig the blues I’m sure you’ll enjoy it and want to slap me for the subpar rating.