Jack White Releasing Prince’s Shelved 1986 Album Camille
Jack White’s got a lot going on these days. He’s about to release two new albums. He’s touring, and he’s got Be Your Own Pet reuniting to open. He’s telling major labels all about how to press vinyl. And now Jack White says that he’s about to release a scrapped 1986 Prince album that’s been a fan myth for decades.
In 1986, Prince recorded Camille, an album built around one of his alter-egos. For a few years, Prince had been experimenting with pitch-shifting his own voice upwards, creating a sort of androgynous vocal effect. Using that effect, Prince knocked out 10 songs in a couple of days, and he planned to release those songs under the name Camille rather than his own name. But after finishing up the album, mastering it, and pressing up a tiny number of copies, Prince abandoned the project. A few of those Camille tracks — “Housequake,” “If I Was Your Girlfriend,” “Strange Relationship” — ended up on Prince’s classic 1987 double album Sign O’ The Times.
In 2016, one of the very few vinyl copies of Camille went up for auction. Jack White made a bid to buy it, but Questlove won the auction. But now Ben Blackwell, the man who co-founded Third Man Records with Jack White, tells Mojo that he paid $49,375 for a different vinyl copy of Camille and that Third Man now plans to release the album: “We’re finally going to put it out. Prince’s people agreed — almost too easy.” Jack White himself adds, “We had to show we had some skin in the game.”
Over the years, all of the songs that were supposed to appear on Camille have come out. Other than the Sign O’ The Times inclusions, Camille songs have been on soundtracks, B-sides, and deluxe reissues. But it’ll still be different to get the whole thing on vinyl. The details of that Camille release haven’t been released yet, but Third Man does seem to get stuff done.