On Saturday, it’ll be exactly two years since Prince passed away. But thanks to the wealth of riches hidden away in his legendary underground vault, we’re still getting to hear new and previously unreleased Prince material, and it doesn’t seem like the faucet is turning off any time soon. Last year, his estate teamed up with Warner Bros. to release an expanded reissue of his classic 1984 album Purple Rain featuring outtakes like “Electric Intercourse” and “Father’s Song,” and now they’ve shared Prince’s original studio recording of “Nothing Compares 2 U.”
Originally released in 1985 on the self-titled album by the Prince-assembled funk band the Family, the song didn’t become a hit until it was reimagined by Sinéad O’Connor five years later. But in 1984, Prince himself recorded a version with his longtime sound engineer Susan Rogers at the Flying Cloud Drive “Warehouse” in Eden Prairie, Minnesota, featuring backing vocals from Susannah Melvoin and Paul “St. Paul” Peterson and saxophone from Eric Leeds. And now that version has finally been unearthed.
“I spotted the 2″ multitrack reel in the Vault some weeks back while doing a 1984-era inventory,” explains Michael Howe, the official vault archivist for Prince’s estate, in a statement. “After retrieving my jaw from the floor, we took the reel upstairs, analyzed it, put it up on the Studer 24 track machine, and digitized it to 24/192. Even our ‘faders up’ rough mix was compelling enough to indicate that this was something very special indeed.” Listen to the song below, accompanied by a video directed by Andrea Gelardin and Ruth Hogben of previously unseen rehearsal footage from the summer of 1984.
In other Prince news, the BBC reports that no criminal charges will be filed over his death. The star died of an accidental overdose after taking counterfeit Vicodin pills containing a large amount of fentanyl, an opioid many times more powerful than heroin, but following a two-year investigations, prosecutors were unable to determine the source of the pills and found no evidence of intentional wrongdoing. “The bottom line is we do not have sufficient evidence to charge anyone with Prince’s death,” Carver County Attorney Mark Metz said in a press conference today.