The world continues to reel from the passing of Prince on April 21, but fans have also taken to listening to his amazing catalogue however they can. And thanks to the folks at Prince’s former home at Warner Bros. Records, the entire year will see a spate of vinyl (and–believe it or not, cassette) reissues.
The Minneapolis Star Tribune reports that 11 of Prince’s original Warner Bros. albums will be repressed on vinyl throughout 2016. In 2011, four of the artist’s most enduring albums from the ’80s–Dirty Mind (1980), Controversy (1981), 1999 (1982) and Purple Rain (1984)–were repressed on vinyl for the first time in decades. Earlier this year, two years after Prince inked a new deal that finally gave him ownership of his original masters, to be licensed back to the label (along with a 30th anniversary deluxe edition of Purple Rain which never materialized), Warner issued his 1978 debut For You on vinyl this past April (despite denials from the Prince camp about its legitimacy, in a series of since-deleted tweets).
Now, from May to December, all of Prince’s albums not currently in print on vinyl will come back, including several titles rarely (or barely officially) pressed in the format.
The schedule is as follows:
May 27: Prince (1979) – Prince’s self-titled sophomore album features his first hit–the Top 20 “I Wanna Be Your Lover”–plus a tight mix of funk rock tunes, including “Sexy Dancer,” “Why You Wanna Treat Me So Bad,” “Bambi” and “I Feel for You,” the latter a chart-topper for Chaka Khan in 1984.
June 21: Around the World in a Day (1985) – the follow-up to Prince and The Revolution’s Purple Rain was a surprise on multiple levels. Arriving in stores with no promotion, the record is a kaleidoscopic record rooted in psychedelic sounds and largely trading funk and soul for straightforward rock. “Raspberry Beret” and “Pop Life” were chart hits, and “America” and “Paisley Park” (the name of his new label) remain solid entries in his canon.
July 19: Parade: Music from the Motion Picture “Under the Cherry Moon” (1986) – While the 1986 film featured little of the music and failed to meet the same heights of Purple Rain, the final Prince and The Revolution record dazzles with art-rock flourishes, including the funky jams “Mountains,” “Girls & Boys” and “Anotherloverholenyohead”; the mournful ballad “Sometimes It Snows in April” and the immortal “Kiss,” a No. 1 hit.
August 23: Sign “O” The Times (1987) – A sprawling double-album (reduced from its original 3LP running time), this ambitious set is rightfully considered one of Prince’s best. Here, he tackles current events (the slinky title track), lust (“If I Was Your Girlfriend,” “U Got the Look”), romance (“Slow Love,” “Forever in My Life,” “Adore”) and moments of pure pop ecstasy (“Housequake,” “I Could Never Take the Place of Your Man”).
September 20: The Black Album (1987) – Now here’s a surprise: this down and dirty record–which Prince pushed for release while Sign “O” The Times was still in its promotional campaign, hoping to beat back criticisms that his music lacked funk and soul like it once had–was cancelled at the 11th hour under mysterious circumstances, becoming mythical thanks to a few well-placed review copies that became widely bootlegged. In 1994, anxious to shed his contract with Warner Bros., Prince agreed to a limited CD pressing of The Black Album, but it’s never officially had a wide release on vinyl.
October 18: Lovexexy (1988) / Batman: Original Motion Picture Soundtrack (1989) – a spiritual response to The Black Album, Lovesexy was the first Prince album in years to miss the Top 10, despite killer singles like “Alphabet St.,” “Glam Slam” and “I Wish U Heaven.” A year later, on assignment from Warner Bros., Prince regained some commercial footing with an underrated album inspired by Tim Burton’s blockbuster film adaptation of the Batman comic book; the quirky lead single “Batdance” became his fourth No. 1 hit.
November 22: Graffiti Bridge: Music from the Motion Picture (1990) / Diamonds and Pearls (1991) – the soundtrack to Prince’s third and final film (a disjointed sequel to Purple Rain) far surpasses its parent entertainment. Here, a spate of spirited tracks (mostly written and recorded through the last decade, save lead single “Thieves in the Temple”) mixes with tracks from The Time, Mavis Staples and Tevin Campbell (whose “Round and Round” was actually the album’s biggest hit). A year later, Prince re-emerged with a new band, The New Power Generation, and cut a record heavier on soul, jazz and even hip-hop while still maintaining Prince’s sterling standards (such as pulsing single “Gett Off”).
December 13: The Love Symbol (1992) / Come (1994) – The second, more conceptual Prince and The New Power Generation album suffered from less growing pains than its predecessor, spinning off excellent singles like “My Name is Prince,” “7,” “Sexy M.F.” and “The Morning Papers.” The album’s unpronounceable title would, in 1992, be used as Prince’s new name in an attempt to cut his ties with Warner Bros. Records; a year later, he attempted to “kill” his former self with the album Come, a dark, meandering record even The Artist dismissed in favor of the more commercial The Gold Experience, released in 1995.
Sign “O” The Times, Graffiti Bridge, Diamonds and Pearls and Love Symbol will all be double LP sets, while the others are standard singles. It’s not entirely clear whether these are newly remastered, though one can only hope they are.
In addition, Warner Bros. is going Guardians of the Galaxy-style with cassette editions of Prince, Dirty Mind, Controversy and Purple Rain on June 24.
These reissues will keep Prince’s near-flawless catalog strong in the minds of music buyers in the year to come, as has certainly been the case since his passing. In the week following his death–with only a day and a half of tabulated numbers and a decided lack of digital support (Prince’s discography exclusively streams on Tidal, whose numbers do not count inBillboard and SoundScan’s tallies)–the 1999 compilation The Very Best of Prince and Purple Rain were the two highest-selling albums of the week. A week later, even as Beyonce’sLemonade thundered to the top of the charts, the two sets only sank to No. 2 and 3 on the Billboard 200, and were joined by three more collections for a record five entries in the Top 10: 1993’s triple-disc The Hits/The B-Sides (No. 4), 2006’s double-disc Ultimate compilation (No. 6) and 1999 (No. 7).
Questions are certainly brewing about the future of the estate and what to do with what are doubtlessly eons of unreleased material. But in the meantime, it looks like fans will be able to rediscover these albums as vinyl continues its unexpected but enjoyable resurgence.
Pre-order links for the reissues are below.
Prince: Amazon U.S.
Around the World in a Day: Amazon U.S.
Parade: Music from the Motion Picture “Under the Cherry Moon”: Amazon U.S.
Sign “O” The Times (2LP): Amazon U.S.
The Black Album: Amazon U.S.
Lovesexy: Amazon U.S.
Batman: Original Motion Picture Soundtrack: Amazon U.S.
Graffiti Bridge: Music from the Motion Picture (2LP): Amazon U.S.
Diamonds and Pearls (2LP): Amazon U.S.
The Love Symbol (2LP): Amazon U.S.
Come: Amazon U.S.
Prince: Amazon U.S.
Dirty Mind: Amazon U.S.
Controversy: Amazon U.S.
Purple Rain: Amazon U.S.