Listen to Prince's original 'Nothing Compares 2 U' for the first time (and see him rehearsing in 1984)


#1

Originally published at: https://boingboing.net/2018/04/19/listen-to-princes-original.html


#2

Those moves! In heels!


#3

Always love Prince. Sinead’s version was better than his original concept. I also adore Jimmy Scott’s plaintive rendition.


#4

It’s a great Prince song, but Sinead made it absolutely legendary.

It’s nice having better audio of this track than I’ve heard before and I’ll always watch him dance, but damn, that editing hurt my brain.


#5

I had to watch this twice – once to listen to the song and the second to watch the dance moves. They don’t really belong together, but I suspect we wouldn’t have gotten the rehearsal footage as a stand-alone release.

In my old music groups and ensembles, the directors often said, “How you practice is how you’re going to play.” This video shows that Prince practiced high energy, which made it look effortless in front of large crowds. He was amazing.


#6

as much as i love prince and am in continual awe of his genius, i really do feel that sinead’s version is still the definitive version of this song. the pain she poured into it still leaves me breathless.


#7

I love how he threw James Brown moves in there. Those heels!

So, it’s pretty well known that he wrote the lyrics even though (almost) everyone first heard Sinead sing it. It’s also somewhat well known that Prince hated her version and felt disrespected by it (not seeing it, personally, but I think he was just mad she made it a hit and he didn’t.) Which is to say, he didn’t write it for her (which he was known to do: e.g. he gave Manic Monday to The Bangles etc.) Then, if you check Prince’s release history, his only version is a live duet on The Hits I compilation, which was released years after Sinead. So the question is “How the hell did Sinead first hear the song,” and if you’re like me, once you got the internet, you used it to find out.

Huh? Well, The Family was one of Prince’s work-arounds to release the mountains of songs he made that his label wouldn’t let him release under the Prince brand (you may remember he started writing “slave” on his face for a while, this was in reference to his contract.) He would make Potemkin village bands, sign them to Paisley Park, teach them the songs that he already had recorded completely by himself so they could play them live, then cut his vocals off the tracks and had The Family’s singers re-record them, and released “his” album that way. And dig this: Nothing Compares 2 U was not even released as a single off that album.
To her great credit, Sinead heard NC2U as an obscure album cut and in her wisdom realized this was the jam, and gave it the appropriate treatment.

I really dig this demo version in the OP. The live version on Hits I is good but I find the duet and the background noise distracting, and the live instrumentation lacks Prince’s signature studio sound.


#8

Personally, I’m more partial to Prince’s duet version, with Rosie Gaines.


#9

Never heard it, thanks! I’m a Prince fan, but not a completist, by any means. And he didn’t exactly make it easy to hear his music in the digital age…

ETA: Nvm, I had heard it, but never with her fully credited (one of the consequences of being hyper-litigious is that your art gets muddled by the interwebs).


#10

De nada.

Sinead’s version is undeniably haunting, but there’s just something about the song’s arrangement that makes it perfect for a duet; and Rosie’s gospel-bluesy voice is a great compliment to Prince’s over the piano.

Word.

One of the things that’s most morbidly ironic to me is that Prince’s death made his music more accessible to the world.


#11

Watched this a few times over. Wow, thank you! Speechless.


#12

Hearing The Family’s version now, there are some unfortunate elements in the arrangement, but it’s a very emotional song, and the sax solo kills it in this version. I bought this album and considered this song to be the best on the record by a mile(it is a much better album overall in retrospect, I think), so I am not surprised the Sinead picked this, and I recognized it when it came out. Because of that, I don’t like her version nearly as much, although the album of hers this appears on has some amazing stuff on it.


#13

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