Label : “Eye” Records
Catalogue : #14-15-16-17-18-19
6Disc Length : 79:43 / 78:32 / 74:58 / 70:55 / 73:36 / 79:38
Source : Audience Recordings
Sound Quality : EX- / EX
Year Of Release : 2007
Fink's Comments (rates this release 4.75/5.0)
Disc 1 features the New Years Eve 3121 show which Prince begins with '3121'. Whilst there is no outright "Happy New Year!", he does make a couple of dubious Prince-esque statements, such as "There's no such thing as time - we count down nothing, except the funk", and to close the song, "It's going down y'all..2007, 2008, 2009, whatever" - other than that, this is a pretty basic show with it's ups and downs. In terms of the recording, this doesn't quite match the stunning clarity of a couple of other "Eye" Records Las Vegas volumes, but it's mighty fine. Throughout the audience are fairly minimal, and it's only during the slower moments of the show where they are audible - the constant chattering throughout 'Gotta Broken Heart Again' being a perfect example. On top of this there are a few slight fluctuations in a number of places, but this accounts for a fraction of the recording and is hardly worthy of pointing out. The show is decent, but certainly not particularly memorable. 'Gotta Broken Heart Again' makes an unusual appearance in the Las Vegas setlist, but there really is very little worth noting on the first half of the show that doesn't appear on multiple other shows. Towards the second half of the show (Disc 2) it takes a funky tangent and the closing 15 minutes features Prince on guitar playing snippets from various tracks before Shelby rejoins to close with 'It's Alright'. Certainly not a classic show, and it pales in comparison to many other Las Vegas shows.
Disc 2 also features highlights from the Friday night/Saturday morning main show, and whilst the opening 'Spirituality / Johnny B. Goode' is always a pleasure to hear, the remainder is far too similar to the 31st December show and just sounds repetitive. Prince adds a short portion of the James Brown track 'There Was A Time' along with a shout-out to the recently deceased James Brown, which is a nice touch. Disc 3 features the 30th December (am) aftershow (first of the 3 consecutive aftershows played over New Year). The quality of this aftershow recording is very schizophrenic as it changes suddenly from being phenomenally clear and crisp to being badly distorted, very thin and very murky. The opening 50 minutes is worthy of great praise and the very minimal clink of cutlery/crockery and minor background chatter is all I can say to be detrimental. Suddenly around 50 minutes the bass level increases, then around 55 minutes the recording takes a turn for the worse and it's slightly painful to listen to. It's thin, it's distorted and probably sounds worse than it is following on from the near-perfection of the opening 50 minutes, but it ain't good and the closing portion of Disc 3 would warrant a VG- grading (at best). The real pity is that the show only really gets going as the recording turns bad - all very frustrating. The opening 2 tracks (consisting of around 32 minutes) feature guest players on piano, drums and bass before the regular 3121 band (Cora, Josh, Mr. Hayes, etc) take to the stage for 'Footprints'. It isn't until around 45 minutes into the recording (during 'Footprints') that Prince makes his first appearance onstage with a fierce guitar solo and momentarily manages to turn round what was becoming a very dull jazz workout. Prince hops off again while the band stretch out the track to 20 minutes long (give me strength!) and follow it by an instrumental 'Shake Everything You've Got', again with Prince popping back up towards the end. The show is dull as dishwater (Prince's guitar flourishes aside) until the closing 5 minute 'What Is Hip?' where Prince single-handedly manages to save the day and put a smile on your face after sitting through 70 minutes of tedious muzak.
Disc 4 contains the second of the 3 consecutive New Years aftershows and is far superior to the previous morning's show both in terms of content and overall sound quality. The quality of the recording is once again superb with a slightly intrusive bass level being the only real sticking point. It slightly crackles due to this for the opening 'Tutu', but subsides somewhat and the remainder is certainly worthy of an EX-, if not slightly better. The smooth opening 18 minute Miles Davis 'Tutu' has Prince onstage throughout before making way for Shelby to sing her duo of 'I Never Loved A Man' and 'Love Changes' (this song alone makes 3 appearances on this set). Maceo Parker takes control for an excellent 'Shake Everything You've Got' which has the chant, along with a small portion of the Blondie track 'Rapture'. The highlight of the show however is towards the end of this song where Prince and Cora trade in a guitar/drum duel, and anyone doubting Cora's prowess on the drums would do well to check this out. An instrumental 'Te Amo Corazón' follows before Shelby once again takes to the mic for a fairly straightforward 'Crazy'. The show is brought to a climax with an instrumental 'Get On The Boat' which sounds great and must have been phenomenal in such an intimate setting. Overall a funk-tastic aftershow, but be warned the Tambourine Lady is in attendance. Disc 4 also has a hidden live version of 'Somewhere Here On Earth' not on the accompanying artwork - taken from the 11th March 2007 (am) show already circulating on the 'Las Vegas 10/03/2007' release, although this is a different source recording. Unfortunately it is merely a 2 minute snippet of a slightly dubious recording, so it's inclusion here as a "teaser" is slightly baffling.
The aftershow on the morning of 1st January 2007 lasts around
104 minutes and spans Discs 5 and 6. Unfortunately it's a hit or miss affair,
and whilst there are moments of brilliance, the lengthy instrumental versions
just drag on too long at times. The recording itself is of similar excellence to
the opening half of the 30th December 2006 (am) recording and there is really
little to fault. The band are upfront, clear and the slight background chatter
(en Français ?) is probably only audible at high volume. Out with the lengthy,
extended jazz numbers, props go to Shelby for an inspired 'Crazy' and 'Sweet
Thing' and the closing jam based around 'Thank You (Falletinme Be Mice Elf
Again)' is performed by Mosaic and cleverly includes the "We are a part of a
Rhythm Nation" vocal from the Janet Jackson track. Disc 6 closes out with 34
minutes from the 31st December (am) show and 15 minutes from the 30th December
(am) show with the obvious attraction being the unique performance of Katie
Melua's 'Nine Million Bicycles' which on it's own is one of the most beautiful
vocal deliveries I've heard from Prince in a LONG time - a simply stunning
version, and something he should play far more often. The accompanying packaging
is nice, but short of the spectacular. It includes a gigantic 24 page booklet
with more detailed tracklists and a number of decent pictures, but it's hardly
exciting. Overall this is a great release in terms of sound quality. Sure there
are a number of low points - the second half of Disc 3 especially - but on the
whole, this is excellent and worthy of praise. Content-wise it can be a little
repetitive and at 6CD's worth, it's a mammoth set, but I feel a very worthwhile
document of the New Years Eve weekend in Las Vegas and a fitting end to 2006.