Label : “Eye” Records / Purple Underground
Catalogue : #20-21-22-23
4Disc Length : 77:51 / 79:57 / 78:47 / 76:17
Source : Audience Recordings
Date/Venue : O2 Arena, London 1-3, August 2007
Sound Quality : VG+ / EX
Year Of Release : 2007
Fink's Comments (rates this release 4.5/5.0)
Released late November 2007 this is the first pressed release documenting Prince's summer stint in London, and whilst the content of the aftershows is a little questionable, the audio quality throughout the 4 discs (25 minutes of Disc 2 aside) is extremely high. To be honest I'm not really a fan of these "best of" releases with numerous shows crammed into a 4CD set, however as the main shows were so similar, and the majority seem to be already circulating in their complete form (albeit on different source recordings), I guess we are not missing out on anything by only having the highlights of certain nights included - this release contains only a portion of the 3rd August 2007 main show.
Discs 1 and 2 concentrate on the opening night show and for the majority of the concert it's a truly excellent audience recording. Minimal crowd noise and clear, sharp vocals combine to make an enjoyable listen for the main portion of the show. Two slightly detrimental points worth picking up on are 1) A distinct lack of bass on the recording, and 2) The recording appears to have picked up a slight echo/delay which, whilst not too noticeable throughout, is obvious during 'Satisfied' (amongst others) - the 2nd point is a shame as once you notice it, it's rather hard not to concentrate on it. Unfortunately the encore section of Disc 2 ('Little Red Corvette' onwards) is not such an impressive recording and the audience level during the solo guitar trio of 'Little Red Corvette / Raspberry Beret / Sometimes It Snows In April' can be deafening. It subsides for the closing band encore, but Prince's vocals sound distant and slightly unclear - certainly the encore section of this disc would warrant a VG+ rating at best. The disc ends with around 14 minutes from the 3rd August show which was also made available to view on 3121.com. It's another excellent quality recording and out of all the content on this particular release, it's probably the best quality recording included.
Disc 3 and the first two tracks on Disc 4 contain the first aftershow, and it's sadly a hit or miss affair. The recording is again of extremely high quality with barely any problems worthy of mention. Some minute wavering on a few tracks is really all I can be critical of and it's a pity the recording is so impressive as the show's content is (for the most part) bland, uninteresting and tired. Candy makes her one and only appearance of the London show's, and even she fails to add a touch of magic to the long, meandering, aimless jams which make up over half of the show - a 17 minute 'Can I Kick It' jam, anyone? Prince makes a number of appearances to lift the show, but when he is offstage, the NPG return to familiar, plodding ground, and it's a sad day when 'Down By The Riverside' is the highlight of a show. Moving on.
Disc 4 contains the Nikka Costa aftershow which is the only material on this release which I can't imagine getting a repeat listen. Prince appears onstage to join on guitar during 'Like A Feather' before exiting sharpish, and the NPG join Nikka's band for 'Everybody Got Their Something'. The only saving grace of this show is a nice rendition of 'Miss Celie's Blues' from the film "The Color Purple" - other than that, and the few minutes Prince is onstage, it drags - however, it's a decent recording. Slightly wasted on this show, but very decent all the same. Overall this is an impressive release purely down to the audio quality, but is a nice overview of the first few shows/aftershows. The audience recordings are consistently superb (leaving aside the encore section from the 1st August main show) and whilst the 4th August main show appears to have been ignored, I would have rather heard at least part of that than the Nikka Costa 3121 aftershow.
The accompanying packaging is worthy of applause with a 14 page booklet containing detailed tracklistings made to resemble the London Underground, along with 3121 "spy reports" and venue information - nice attention to detail and well executed. The second week's highlights are available on 'Get On The Clipper Boat'.