Rejoice fellow Prince fans because tonight we’re gonna party like it’s 1979. Newly released, previously unheard music from the late artist’s storied music vault debuted Thursday and the track is a blueprint of sorts, a window into Prince’s evolution from the decade he emerged in to the next decade, which he dominated.
The track is familiar to even casual fans who’ve listened to the Purple One’s epic 1987 double album, Sign O’ The Times. It’s an early version of “I Could Never Take the Place of Your Man,” first recorded in Los Angeles in 1979. The song was released this week to build excitement for this fall’s expanded reissue of Sign O’ the Times, slated for a September 25 release.
The Prince Estate, in partnership with Warner Records, released the track and noted it will be the oldest recording on this fall’s “Super Deluxe Edition.” This version was recorded in Los Angeles for sessions for Prince’s eponymous 1979 album, the one which featured a bare-chested, fresh-faced artist on the cover and all-out jams like “I Wanna Be Your Lover,” “Sexy Dancer” and “I Feel For You” etched into the vinyl and music history.
We had a listen or 17 yesterday once the song released and the differences are noticeable, though both versions are Prince and both groove. The “new” song is a pared-down version of the 1987 track, with live drums and a heavy synth sound. The 1980s version features drum machines and a guitar solo, but the prototype boasts something extra special – nine layers of Prince’s voice.
This is actually the second track from the upcoming reissue to emerge in as many months. In June, “Witness 4 The Prosecution (Version 1)” was made available to fans. Both will be among 63 previously unreleased tracks and a never-'til-now released two-hour Paisley Park concert from New Year’s Eve 1987. These gems were culled from Prince’s vault for the album’s new edition, in addition to the first remaster of the classic album.
Last year, the Houston Press visited Paisley Park and a highlight of the trip was viewing Prince’s handwritten lyrics to some of his biggest hits, scrawled across lined paper in spiral notebooks. The artist’s official Instagram and Twitter pages shared never-before-seen handwritten lyrics to “I Could Never Take the Place of Your Man” with fans to celebrate this week’s release of the song’s earliest version. Nice, but Prince might be the first to suggest celebrating by listening to the tracks and dancing, if you felt like it. Both versions are presented here, so you can decide whether you wanna party like it’s 1979 or 1987.