Label : “Eye” Records
Catalogue : #11-12-13
3Disc Length : 79:46 / 72:37 / 79:17
Source : Audience Recordings
Sound Quality : EX- / EX
Year Of Release : 2007
Fink's Comments (rates this release 4.5/5.0)
Released early June 2007, this is the 5th volume of "Eye" Records Las Vegas releases, and is another mightily impressive release in terms of recording quality. The majority of the main show recording on Disc 1 and Disc 2 is probably worthy of an EX- rating, however it does improve vastly for the closing encores. The 9th December (am) main show has an audible audience level throughout, and whilst it does not interfere with the show for the most part (95% of the recording is above any criticism), there are moments where people in close proximity to the recorder shout out various comments to Prince, "Bring it on home baby", "Play the blues", etc, etc which is a little obtrusive during the more sedate moments of the show. That said, I was at this show and from the encore section onwards, the room cleared as fast as I have ever seen a room clear (not enough hits?) - and this is presumably the reason why from 'Crazy' onwards, the recording is of truly excellent quality with no interference and very minimal audience noise. The show itself is something of a hit or miss affair, and suffers from the same problem which plagues many Las Vegas shows ; Prince walks offstage leaving the band to fill in time. No slight on the band, but 20 minutes of this show do not feature Prince.
That complaint aside, the show does have a number of very rare tracks performed (for Vegas) which make it very worthwhile. A cover of 'The Sun's Gonna Shine Again' (remarkably similar backing to Satisfied) is a nice break from the usual Las Vegas set-list, as is the closing few tracks on Disc 1. 'Partyman' is nothing more than Prince reciting the opening verse followed by a small portion of 'Love Rollercoaster' before Prince finally settles on a loose jam based around the "People call me rude, I wish we all were nude" lyric of 'Controversy'. These can hardly be classed as performances of said tracks, so the tracklisting on the packaging appears a little misleading. As with many 2006 Vegas shows, the Arabic interlude normally accompanying The Twins performance of '17 Days' begins, however it is cut short and the band launch into 'Purple Rain'. The show really takes on a life of it's own from 'A Case Of U' onwards and is, quite simply, stunning for the following 6 songs. Not least for the inclusion of 'Elephants And Flowers' and the breathtaking (yeah, I said it) version of 'I Like It There' - the performance of this song, and this particular version alone makes the release all on it's own. As mentioned before, the quality improves vastly for 'Crazy' and 'Nothing Compares 2 U' due to the room being less than half full - a sad sight, but beneficial to the recording.
Disc 2 features tracks from the Larry Graham / Maceo Parker shows on 13th and 20th December at Club 3121 with Prince featuring at both shows. The quality of these is great, but the audience noise is rather distracting and can overpower the recording - not bad, but perhaps sounds worse following on from the main 9th December recording. Disc 3 begins with 5 tracks from the 25th November (am) show which was also partially featured on their '3121 Las Vegas Vol. 3' release. Beginning with a short speech by Prince, it's followed by 'Get On The Boat' and a number of (mainly) instrumental horn-led cover versions. Quality-wise, it's impressive. Content-wise, less so. The release closes out with the 3121 aftershow at the Jazz Cuisine in the early morning of Saturday 9th December 2006. It begins with Mike Phillips spoken intro with the mantra of "real music by real musicians" and as if to prove the point, Renato's solo during the 16 minute 'Footprints' is stunning. The aftershows of 2006 were more lazy, improvised affairs than the later, more focused 2007 Jazz Cuisine shows, and the following 'Stratus' and 'All Blues' - whilst being impressive, are fairly pedestrian to listen to. The slight problems with the recording also begin at this point, and rear their head (albeit briefly at this point) during 'Stratus' where the volume fluctuates minimally and there is a little occasional distortion. This is followed by an instrumental version of 'Get On The Boat'. The closing two instrumentals 'Lover Rollercoaster' and 'Outa Space' unfortunately suffer from some piercing, shrill distortion in places. It is intermittent on 'Love Rollercoaster', but affects 'Outa Space' a little more frequently. Hardly horrendous, and it's to New Power Groove / Eye's credit that they left it intact for people who prefer their recordings complete.
The aftershow recording (out with the closing 2 songs) is again
impressive considering the small space it was recorded in, and putting aside the
odd clanking of cutlery and crockery, there is very little to be critical about
overall - a very decent effort. The accompanying packaging is impressive
including a 12 page booklet. The release also includes a cute addition in the
form of a menu copied from the 3121 Jazz Cuisine printed on heavy card - it may
not be highly important, but is a very cute idea and something I give them
(again) credit for. A nice touch. Overall, this is an extremely impressive 3cd
set and one of the best pressed releases for a few years. Interesting set lists,
very impressive quality and a diverse selection of bonus material all wrapped up
in attractive packaging. It suffers from some flaws towards the end, but those
are easily overlooked.