Monday, May 25, 2009

"don't buy the black album. I'm sorry."

Those of you who know me personally are likely aware by now that my hetero life partner and I are throwing a party for the 25th Anniversary of the Purple Rain album and film in Pittsburgh next month:

One of the good/bad things about this is that it's become an opportunity (read: excuse) to fill some holes in my Prince and Friends vinyl collection. I've been collecting Prince wax for about 10 years, though I've only become fervent about it in the last 5-7 years. It seems that I've gotten to the point where the items I don't have are those more difficult to come by/dangerously expensive pieces - The Gold Experience, Come, the so-called Love Symbol album - and the legendary Black Album.

I won't go into too much detail, as it would be redundant with what I am about to share. But for those of you that don't know, in short Warner Bros. was set to release The Black Album in 1988, and Prince pulled the plug at the very last minute. All copies were too be destroyed, but of course some WB staff snagged copies, and it went on to be the most heavily bootlegged album of all time. Pretty impressive, considering the history of albums like Smile and The Basement Tapes. Prince eventually let Warner Bros. release the album in 1994 as a contract filler, albeit in limited edition.
You can still find CD copies on Amazon etc. for fairly reasonable prices. I'm not sure how many they pressed, but they couldn't have been too limited, as I was still able to buy mine at the store (the now defunct Blockbuster Music) circa 1997-8.

Recently a friend mentioned that he saw a copy of The Black Album at Jerry's Fine Used Records in Pittsburgh. Sadly, by the time I made it there, someone else had nabbed it. So I've been poking around on eBay, and there are occasionally vinyl copies available. Some bootlegs from the late 1980s, some promos of the official 1994 release. Differentiating between them can be tricky, which brings me (finally!) to the purpose of this post.

In poking around for The Black Album on wax, I came across this very informative and detailed site: There's a great overview of the history, the various editions that were produced, etcetera. Very cool and interesting site for the Prince geeks out there. That is all, funky friends.


Rob D. said...

Nice! I was just thinking about the whole 25th anniversary thing. I can't believe it's been that long, I remember the Purple Rain craze vividly.

Gonzo said...

Ah, a fellow Pittsburgher, fantastic! Hope you can make it to the party next month - thanks for stopping by!

neeko said...

hey man, not sure if you still are after it or not, but i just saw the black album on ebay in the UK. I stumbled onto your site when I was looking for info on the "don't buy the black album" umbrella thing!