Catalog # SAB 354/355/356/357/358/359
Release Year 2008
6CD Length 76:26 / 79:55 / 78:26 / 77:22 / 79:29 / 75:46
Date/Venue Various 1983-1985
Source Soundboard / Audience Recordings
Deane's Comments (rates this release 3.5/5.0)
Want the quick one-sentence review : Too many differing sources, too many different genres, too much filler, too many associated artists on too many discs with too little Prince for too high a price - that sums up this perfectly. There's one basic flaw with this release, and that is it runs for 467 minutes, yet Prince appears for less than 220 of those minutes. A soundboard recording of a James Brown show may be a beautiful thing, but on a James Brown release. Dedicating almost 2 discs to Sheila E may be a thing of greatness, but on a Sheila E release (or the very least a Prince and associates release). Touting this 6CD set as "Prince - Rehearsals & Concerts", then filling the discs to include everyone but Prince doesn't sit well with me and I'd happily disregard the majority of Discs 1, 2 and 4, and a fair chunk of Disc 3 - which doesn't leave much remaining on a 6CD set.
Disc 1 features a soundboard recording from James Brown's 1983 LA show, and while the recording runs at 67 minutes, Prince's appearance lasts less than 2 minutes - and even those 2 minutes are not soundboard - instead the circulating video recording has been used to fill the gap in the soundboard recording. As good a soundboard recording as it is, this recording ever making it onto a Prince release is a sorry state of affairs. Sabotage can sugar-coat it's inclusion here any way they want to (including dedicating 7 [yes, 7!!] whole pages of the booklet to it), but it's a pathetic attempt at filling the release to the max. The closing 10 minutes of Disc 1 contain a slight rarity which doesn't appear very often in the form of Prince's appearance at First Avenue following the Jah Wobble show. The recording is really rather poor, however for rarity value alone it's inclusion on the set is worthwhile - forget the quality for once. Prince performs in his Jamie Starr voice with Sheila E banging on the percussion throughout the loose jam.
Sheila sticks around to take over Disc 2 with her First Avenue 84 show with Prince guesting on guitar for 'Too Sexy'. It's an admirable audience recording for it's time, and although the crowd are a little loud in parts (the "we want Prince / bring out Prince" shouts in particular), it's a very decent effort with very little worthy of complaint - other than the show itself. Sheila has zero stage presence and listening to the old dyke performing is only slightly more enjoyable than being fisted lube-free. That aside, Prince manages to brighten the show for his appearance, and the crowd certainly perk up for his time on stage. Disc 2 closes with Prince's MTV interview from Nice 1985. It's addition to this release is pointless in the extreme and it's better suited to Sabotage's 'Sound & Vision' sets. Still, it stretches the disc out by another 17 minutes, which I guess is the point.
Finally with Disc 3 Prince gets almost an entire disc to himself with the Prom Center birthday concert from 1985. The source of this is the 4DaFunk release '27 : Mutiny At The Prom' and whilst that was good, to me, this is better. The recording is less harsh with a more balanced bass, although in fairness the difference between the two is minimal and I only took preference to this version after repeated listens with headphones. An excellent mini-show with many tracks performed live for the first time ('A Love Bizarre', and 'Sometimes It Snows In April'), and one played the one and only time ('Drawers Burnin'). Prince shares the stage with his band along with Sheila E and The Family and it's a relaxed, funky affair. Disc 3 closes with two versions of Prince and Sheila's brief two-song performance at 7th Street Entry in July 1985. Quite why this has been included twice is beyond me, and even though the accompanying booklet explains the reasoning (one is sourced from a 4DaFunk release while the other is sourced from 'MPLS'), it still makes no sense to have two identical source recordings repeated one after the other. One cleaner, improved version would have been quite sufficient.
Continuing on to Disc 4 which features zero Prince input and I'm going to skip completely as it would be a total waste of 77 minutes of anyone's life. Disc 5 begins with the 32:34 version of 'I Would Die 4 U' before moving onto an interview with Wendy & Lisa seemingly dating from the time of 'Fruit At The Bottom'. The remainder of Disc 5 contains The Family's one and only complete live show (until The Family Jamm of 2003) which is a very respectable audience recording. It's a little heavy for my taste with some background humming for the duration of the recording, but it's a nice recording and a decent show. Disc 6 focuses on the Purple Rain mini-show at First Avenue from August 1984. The recording is very average even for it's time with a loud, obtrusive amount of audience noise which can overpower the recording in places. There is some distortion and the recording is heavy and muted.....however Sabotage have managed to improve it from it's previous state on 'Computer Blue', and whilst it won't be winning any awards for excellence, it's an improvement and a listenable, very enjoyable show pre-Purple Rain tour mania. It's a basic run-through of the main core of the tour and the majority of tracks are performed as they would be on the Purple Rain tour. The obvious exception being the opening 'Sex Machine' which bears more than a passing resemblance to 'Controversy' to begin with Prince adding the repeated "Get up, get on up" lyric.
Purple Rush 6 then ends with Sheila's two song performance on Saturday Night Live. The release comes with a massive 22 page booklet containing highly detailed, candid notes from Sabotage regarding the choices for inclusion, the re-mastering gone into each selection, and a fair amount of historic detail for each selection. The booklet really is a thing of great beauty, and although I could live without the 7 pages dedicated to the James Brown show, I cannot fault their attention to detail and presentation. However, the musical content is the most important thing on any release, and for me, this is a real disappointment on this release. Far too little Prince on a Prince release is inexcusable, and I'm left feeling very unimpressed by the content on this release.