There has never been – nor will there ever be – a perfect Prince compilation. It would be impossible. Prince fans are not the easiest group to satisfy, so there’s no way you’re going to create a compilation that will please everyone. I would argue that the closest thing to perfect was 1993’s three-CD box set The Hits/B-Sides. The first two discs are the hits, and it nails damn near all of them. The Batman soundtrack is oddly missing, but it hits the other 13 albums Prince had up until that point.
What puts The Hits/B-Sides collection above the others is the killer list of B-Sides that had only been available as, well, B-Sides until then. This is where you could discover amazing music like “Erotic City,” “17 Days,” “She’s Always in My Hair,” and “Shockadelica” (among others) without buying all of those singles.
Hidden amongst the hits on Disc 2 of the collection are two previously unreleased tracks called “Peach” and “Pope.” I’m not sure how they were received in 1993, but listening to them now I’m thinking maybe they should’ve stayed in the vault. “Peach” has a real ZZ Top “Legs” vibe to it…and that’s the better of the two tracks.
“Pope” was clearly created during the time when Prince was wrestling with the meteoric rise of hip hop and how to incorporate that in to his sound. It has a beat straight out of the early-90’s hip hop cookie cutter drawer. Imagine a C&C Music Factory song, but with Prince rapping instead of Freedom Williams, and Mayte singing the chorus instead of someone more capable. Not that the person singing the hook on “Pope” needed to do much heavy lifting.
The lyrics to “Pope” are…confusing? He refers to car mags as “dippy dippy dope” a la Kris Kross. At one point he seems to be bragging about his skills on the drums over others who “might have better luck if he was drummin’ with his dick.” I’m sure he’s right, but he’s rapping it over a corny beat. There seems to be a political message as he repeatedly refers to the President, but I have no idea what he’s trying to say. Prince is no doubt thinking on a different level than I am, but on this track I have no idea what his message is supposed to be. Here’s the second verse:
Call your girl named Sally and you figure you were chill
Then you find out I’m the reason Sally’s on the pill
What am I supposed to do when the President can’t get nothing passed
Find an alley, find an alley
Undress Sally right in front of your ass
(Well she helped me once again)
You know I love you, Prince, but I can’t find a lot to like on this track. I read on princevault.com that Warner Bros originally considered making this a 4-5 disc set but then decided it would be too expensive. Prince wanted to be a bigger part of this collection and Warners actually paid him to stay out of it. I hope “Pope” was Prince’s way of saying, “You don’t want me involved, but you want some new music? Here, take this crap I was just messing around with.” I’m creating a time machine so I can go back to 1993 and do whatever it takes to replace “Peach” and “Pope” with “Batdance” and “Partyman” instead.