Catalog # SAB 173/174/175/176
Release Year 2002
4CD Length 73.37 | 78.19 | 71.33 | 75.48
Date/Venue Purple Rain Tour Rehearsals
Source Soundboard Recordings
Quality VG+ /EX
Fink's Comments (rates this release 5/5.0)
Although these rehearsals all date from roughly the same era they cover a very wide range of material. The piano rehearsals are stunning and appear to be totally improvised which makes them even more remarkable. The summer '83 band rehearsal seems to be an attempt to get the band familiar with some of his new material, while the First Avenue rehearsal from August 1983 is specifically for a particular show. It's available elsewhere but only here is it complete. The last rehearsal, dating from a month or two into the Purple rain tour concentrates on just a few tracks, none of which went on to be regularly featured in the live set. A magnificent collection of material.
The main bulk of Disc 1 contains the circulating recordings from 2 separate piano rehearsals dating from 1982 and 1983. The 1982 rehearsal is a much looser session with no real structure to it and is basically Prince letting the piano lead him. The actual date of the session is unclear however the reasoning behind dating it as 1982 appears to be this is when the first known version of 'Purple Music' appeared, and as this rehearsal features a very loose version, it would be safe to assume the recording dates from around the same era. The second rehearsal is dated as being from 1983 and is far more structured, although it is still one long continuous session. 'Purple Rain' features a slightly different vocal arrangement, as does 'International Lover', however that's to be expected due to the improvised nature of the recording. The most obvious stand-out of the 1983 rehearsal comes in the form of the unreleased outtake 'Wednesday' which Sabotage have mistakenly listed as 'There's No Telling What I Might Do' (as everyone else seems to do - no big deal). No studio version has (so far) surfaced for this track, and whilst the rehearsal version here probably bears little similarity the the studio version locked away in the vault, it is an indication of how beautiful a track it may be. The sound quality of both rehearsals is superior to the versions previously circulating on various older releases, however both 'Cold Coffee & Cocaine' and 'Mama' from the 1983 rehearsal suffer from some serious glitches throughout and really spoil the last 15 minutes of the rehearsal. Sabotage have since released this portion of the rehearsal from a different source recording on their 2004 release 'Purple Rush 5'.
The rehearsal featured on Disc 2 was previously available on Sabotage's 'Purple Rush 1' release, however this is the complete circulating rehearsal whereas the previous release featured only part of the rehearsal. Seemingly in preparation for the August 3rd 1983 First Avenue concert, it is features many different takes of songs performed at the show with the exception of the opening 20+ minute 'The Bird' and a great version of 'G-Spot' which is identical to the studio outtake.
Disc 3 concentrates on the another rehearsal for the August 3rd First Avenue concert, however this is a straight run-through of the show and is far more focused and concise than any other from the same period - and also one of the best rehearsals from the era. Firstly, I'd like to say I find the running order rather suspect and feel the 2 versions of 'Let's Go Crazy' back-to-back are not the way it was rehearsed, but what do I know. The opening 25 minutes of the recording consists of the band members tuning their instruments, laughing, joking and having a great time. There are small snippets of tracks played including 'Africa Talks To You' however the remainder is made up of Dr. Fink keeping everyone amused with various impressions before the whole thing descends in to chaos. It's a joy to listen to and there are many funny moments - none more so than when Matt Fink is singing "Catch A Falling Star" or "I Could Have Danced All Night". The remainder is rehearsed as it would be played on the night of the concert. The sound quality is a little heavy, and during the closing 'Purple Rain' and 'DMSR', there is an audible hiss, but whilst it's annoying, it's a minor point and overall it's a pretty impressive soundboard recording. A number of tracks have some fluctuation and/or a tape chew from the original source recording and an attempt has been made to rectify these - again no biggie, but it's most evident on 'Baby I'm A Star' - nothing major, but certainly worth pointing out. The closing two tracks from the rehearsal have been added to Disc 4.
Disc 4 is probably one of the weaker discs of the entire Purple Rush series as the sound quality is rather unimpressive in comparison to the rest of the set. The sound fluctuates greatly with large sections of the rehearsal being rather muted. There is an audible tape hiss throughout, and it also has a number of drop-outs. This also doesn't appear to be a soundboard recording, as one can clearly hear technicians talking throughout quieter parts of the rehearsal. I have no doubt it was taped somewhere in the vicinity of the soundboard area....but it's not a soundboard recording. The actual content of the disc isn't in question, and the rehearsal concentrates on working out the flow between 'Dirty Mind' and 'I Wanna Be Your Lover' - something which ironically was dropped from the tour anyway. The material appears to be new to the band members and both Dr. Fink and Bobby Z evidently have trouble getting it correct which leads to Prince barking orders for them pay attention. Overall this certainly isn't the best volume of the Purple Rush series - in fact it's one of the poorest. The quality and content fluctuates far too greatly, and I have a number of issues with glitches on a few of the tapes used. Why Sabotage couldn't have taken a little longer to source a better version of the piano rehearsal from 1983 is baffling to me as it IS available in far superior quality.
The fact Disc 2 was previously released (incomplete) on
'Purple Rush 1' should have been proof enough that re-hashing your own release
doesn't make good sense. That aside (although it IS a valid complaint), this is
a nice, but far from excellent collection of material spanning 1982-1984.