Tuesday was the 20th – count it! – anniversary of I Do Not Want What I Haven’t Got, the polarizing breakthrough LP by Sinead O’Connor. There’s a fascinating write-up about the record and its aftermath over at Popdose that really shows off what an intriguing figure O’Connor was at the time. It certainly says something that an album with one Top 40 hit (her only one) sold over 7 million copies in its day. Clearly something was up here.
I completely forgot that the record was given a double-disc reissue last year, which more or less took it off the books for a Reissue Theory post. But the album does give way to discussion of a much more obscure group from a few years prior to the success of I Do Not Want.
Everyone knows that Sinead’s chart-topping hit, “Nothing Compares 2 U,” was written by Prince. To this day, it remains the most successful cover of a Prince song (even more so than The Bangles’ Manic Monday” or Chaka Khan’s “I Feel for You”). But the heartrending breakup song wasn’t a mere outtake from Prince’s fabled vault; it was a fleshed-out work recorded by The Family.
The side project, comprised of former members of The Time and a few other session musicians with Prince connections, was one of The Purple One’s early attempts to get back into mogul status. Having lost The Time and Apollonia 6 after the Purple Rain tour, Prince split his own duties as an artist in 1985 with producing two hit records for Sheila E. and intending for The Family to follow her successes on the fledgling Paisley Park label.
The self-titled record featured a number of Prince songs generously credited to others (but, tellingly, he received credit for “Nothing Compares 2 U”). However, the song wasn’t released as a single. Those honors went to funky dance tracks “The Screams of Passion” and “Mutiny,” both of which tanked. The album fared little better, hitting no major sales landmarks and never actually getting a proper CD release in America.
Twenty-five years later, though, it’s interesting to look back at The Family – hell, of the entire, mostly-out-of-print Paisley Park discography – and watch what seeds they planted in Prince’s own career. Besides being the first of Prince’s many collaborations with saxophonist Eric Leeds, it started to get The Artist out of his New Wave/R&B trappings and into some other genres, notably jazz fusion (which he’d revisit through the equally obscure Paisley Park group Madhouse). So, after noting again how much a revisiting of Paisley Park’s brief catalogue would be welcome, I present the Reissue Theory take on The Family.
The Family, The Family (Paisley Park 1-25322, 1985)
- High Fashion
- The Screams of Passion
- River Run Dry
- Nothing Compares 2 U
- Susannah’s Pajamas
- The Screams of Passion (Extended Version) (12″ A-side – Paisley Park 0-20360, 1985)