Catalog # SAB 316-317
Release Year 2008
2CD Length 64:30 / 72:35
Date/Venue Glendale Arena, Phoenix 31st March 2004
Source Audience Recordings
Quality VG+ / EX-
Fink's Comments (rates this release 4.25/5.0)
A very decent release documenting one of the earlier Musicology shows presented in excellent sound quality. The Musicology tour was hardly the most musically inspiring, and the shows really don't vary too greatly from one concert to the next (besides the "acoustic" set - which is not on this release), so what you have here is fairly representative of the early stages of the tour before various tracks were swapped around and/or dropped.
The recording is extremely impressive from the beginning up to the the point 'Let's Work' begins. The show is loud and clear and the recording has a nice depth to it. A few audible voices are heard on occasion during the 'God' interlude and elsewhere, and a female screaming throughout the opening few minutes are really all that are worthy of comment - and even then they are not at all overtly intrusive. Alas from 'Let's Work' to 'Take Me With U', whilst the recording is still of a very high standard and Prince and the show are extremely clear, the recording has an annoying tendency to switch from L to R regularly throughout - again, nothing major, but it certainly demotes what could have been an EX recording to an EX- (at best). One last point worth picking up on is the beginning of 'Let's Work' seems to have been taken from Sabotage's 'Biloxi 2004ever' release - although they have cheekily failed to mention this in the accompanying booklet when they are explaining various "pops" and "bangs". That longwinded, overtly critical nonsense aside, this is a great release of an enjoyable show.
The majority of Disc 1 is fairly straightforward with nothing worthy of mention other than the show lacks the finesse and polish of later shows of the tour. 'Controversy' is as bare a version as I have heard (still phenomenally funky) however for me the highlight of the first half belongs to 'Insatiable' which includes a few spoken lines from 'Call My Name', along with a sublime solo from Renato. 'The Question Of U' is instrumental with an extended guitar intro from Prince before proceeding with the usual insertion of both 'The One' and 'Fallin'. The remainder of the show is good, great in parts, but short of the spectacular.
The bonus 27 minutes from San Antonio are a welcome addition, although the quality of the recording is nowhere near as clear as the Phoenix recording and perhaps sounds worse following on from it. No matter as it's not the main draw here, yet is still better than 50% of the other Musicology recordings circulating. The portion of the show selected for inclusion on this release is a perfect example of how the show progressed and improved over the months with 'Controversy' being a prime example - lasting almost 12 minutes as opposed to the Phoenix version which was less than 7 minutes in length.
The accompanying artwork and 10 page booklet is nice enough, but not Sabotage's best effort. Some nice pictures included, Renato's interview with Keyboard magazine from 2004, yet the highlight remains a short explanation of Prince throwing a Diva tantrum at the Phoenix concert during 'God' as explained by the taper of the show.
Overall, the quality of the Phoenix recording is the main attraction, and even with it's minor flaws, it's still one of the better audience recordings from the Musicology tour - all in all making this an impressive, albeit not particularly necessary, release.