Prince was well known in the entertainment industry for having a vast body of works that have never seen the light of day. It has been said that his vault contains over 50 fully produced music videos that have never been released, along with albums and other media.
Prince leaves behind a cache of unreleased music so vast that his estate could put out a posthumous album every year for the next century. One of the biggest questions surrounding Prince’s untimely death this past April was: what’s going to happen to the vault ? The state of the music legend’s famous—and enormous vault of unreleased music seemed up in the air.
Today, the first stirrings of an answer happened, as NPG Records and Warner Bros. announced two new Prince albums that will both contain songs from the vault.
The first album of the two will be a best-of called Prince 4Ever, which will be released on Nov. 22. But in addition to “When Doves Cry,” “Raspberry Beret,” and the like, the record will also contain a previously unreleased song called “Moonbeam Levels.” According to a statement issued by Warner Bros., the track was recorded in 1982 during the sessions for 1999. Prince 4Ever will also contain a booklet with never-before-seen photos by Herb Ritts.
Always a man with a surprise up his sleeve. Prince and 3rdEyeGirl released an electric guitar-heavy cover of Christian singer-songwriter Nichole Nordeman’s “What If,” a song that embraces the closely-knit relationship between doubt and faith. Prince has sang about God and religion for years in his own songs, but he usually didn’t release studio versions of cover songs — much less covers of songs by a VeggieTales.
There are few more transcendent in pop culture than the late Prince. Not only was he a master performer, songwriter, singer and guitar player, he was also a massive music fan who lent his genius to all genres, including country. He often enjoyed working under a pseudonym: Prince had many in his too-short life, from “Jamie Starr” to “Camille” to “Alexander Nevermind” and, of course, the infamous symbol once entirely substituted for his name.
Prince wrote songs for everyone from Paula Abdul to Sheena Easton — sometimes under his own name, sometimes not, using the pseudonyms to play masterfully with his own identity and our cultural associations. He didn’t want any notion of what he was “supposed” to sound like or produce precede his art, or, maybe worse, dictate it. As Joey Coco, he wrote several tracks with two recorded by country artists: “Telepathy,” by Deborah Allen, and “You’re My Love” by Kenny Rogers. Many others are only available on bootlegs or locked away in Prince’s massive archives.
It was as “Joey Coco” where Prince connected with his country side, writing the song “You’re My Love” that was recorded by Kenny Rogers for his 1986 album They Don’t Make Them Like They Used To.
“Back in the Eighties, I had contacted Prince through a mutual friend to ask if he would write me a song. . . and he did,” Rogers wrote on Facebook. “When he sent the song to me, if I remember right, it was him playing all of the instruments on it and he had his background vocals on it. Unfortunately on the finished record, somehow my producer didn’t end up using the music or vocals (the song was re-cut). It was such an incredible thing that Prince took the time to do that for me. He was a brilliant guy and a gifted musician with a lot of feelings, and you could tell his feelings went far deeper than what was written on his face.”
The same year Rogers released “You’re My Love,” Prince offered his own LP, the wildly excellent Parade that concluded with a ballad, “Sometimes It Snows in April.” And now, with his death on April 21st, he proved to be right. “Sometimes I wish that life was never ending,” he sang. “And all good things, they say, never last.”