torsdag den 31. januar 2019


Some of these "Ultimate" articles were originally published on 10 years ago, but have now been completely updated and expanded upon.

The readers on said... 

“A fascinating account of this time” 
- KeithyT 

“Your never-ending fascination for every nuance of the development of the Come album is contagious! (…) Another exhaustively put together piece.” 
- NouveauDance 

“An outstanding introspect on this era” 
- L4OATheOriginal 

“Brilliantly written, Scifi. Such a complex back story – you made it crystal clear. (…) These ‘Ultimates’ are amazing” 
- djfine 

“Outstanding breakdown of a very cool period in Prince history.” 
- a2grafix 

“Damn, you wrote something… historical! Respect” 
- musicolog 

mandag den 28. januar 2019


Following a string of both critically and commercially successful albums in the eighties, Prince was all set to continue his streak of greatness by releasing a Rave Unto The Joy Fantastic album in 1989, but Prince's record company Warner Brothers would not release a new album so soon after the Lovesexy album. But then Prince was approached about writing a few songs for a Batman movie and he grabbed the opportunity to get some new music released, resulting in an entire Batman album. That wasn't exactly the great follow-up to Lovesexy which both critics and fans had dreamt of. They didn’t lose faith in Prince, though, as it could be excused as being a soundtrack album. However, in 1990 Prince disappointed again with the introduction of the Game Boyz rappers on the Nude Tour and with the Graffiti Bridge album that would have been great if it had been just a Prince album rather than a collection of songs also featuring his protégées of the time. Again, it could be excused as being a soundtrack album to the critically lambasted movie of the same title, which went straight to home video in Europe.

In 1991 Prince released the Diamonds And Pearls album that pandered a lot to popular trends in music where it used to be Prince himself who set the trends for others to follow. And this album couldn’t be excused as being a soundtrack album. However, Diamonds And Pearls became a huge commercial success. It reached number three on Billboard’s Pop Chart and spawned four hit singles. It sold about 2 million copies in the US and almost 4 million copies outside of the US. And so the stage was set for the deal that would change Prince’s career forever.

The contract
On 31 August 1992, Prince signed a new recording contract with Warner Bros. It would reputedly earn the star $100 million. It would fund six albums, each with an advance of $10 million, and provide joint-venture funding for Paisley Park Records, another new label, and payment for Prince in the role of vice-president of A&R, including a suite of offices in the Warner building in Century City, California.

Jill Willis, Vice-President of Paisley Park (until she was fired by Prince and replaced by Gilbert Davison on 17 September 1993), was one of the people who put that deal together. “At first, Prince was very happy with the deal,” she later told biographer Liz Jones for her book Purple Reign.

Although that $100 million deal made the headlines, many in the industry called it absurd. If Prince had been guaranteed that amount, it was unlikely that Warner would make a penny. The figure was the very highest he could make at the very best levels of sales performance. At his royalty rate of 20 per cent, he would have to sell five million copies before Warner could recoup its advance. At best the label had a chance of breaking even, and they certainly wouldn’t want him putting out album after album, not giving them a chance to recoup their money. Once the label had committed themselves to figures of that sort, they felt they would have more control over his output. They wanted to apply proven hit-making strategies: Release one album a year; ensure it contains a string of potential singles and put those out with a variety of mixes, as well as ensure that their artist adhered to the advice of in-house promotion and marketing departments.

The $10 million per-album advance, it was reported in Time, kicked in only if his previous album had sold five million copies or more; if sales fell below that number, a new figure would have to be negotiated.

The beginning of the friction years
The first of Prince’s contracted six albums was released 13 October 1992. The O(+> album didn’t feature the Game Boyz as prominently as on Diamonds And Pearls, and musically fans were generally pleased with the album. It wasn’t quite the “comeback” album some fans might have hoped for, but it certainly appeared to be a step in the right direction.

However, Prince wasn’t happy with its sales performance. O(+> reached number five on the Pop Chart and sold 2,8 million copies world-wide, a respectable showing but far short of the smash Prince expected and below the number that would ensure him a $10 million advance for his next album. He became furious about the sales figures, which he blamed on slack promotion by Warner Bros.

Prince’s griping helped generate a pervasive gloom about his career at the label. Having so recently signed him to an expensive contract, Mo Ostin (Warner’s Chairman) and Lenny Waronker (Warner’s President) were worried about the brisk pace at which he insisted on releasing albums. Warner Bros. noticed an increased resistance from radio stations to play the singles from O(+>, clearly indicating that the audience couldn’t absorb more music from Prince for the time being. By generating records more frequently than once a year and touring almost as often, he had become seriously overexposed – another point Prince would not think of conceding.

Matters weren’t helped when the Prince protégé album Carmen Electra was released 9 February 1993. The record sold very poorly and failed to even enter the Pop Chart. From the perspective of Warner Bros., which had sunk $1 million into promoting Carmen Electra, the entire effort was nothing short of a catastrophe.


The making of Come
“The Come album really evolved from boredom during Christmas vacation,” Prince's drummer Michael Bland told Guitar World in 1994. “Bassist Sonny Thompson and I were the only two cats in the band who hung around Minneapolis during Christmas vacation. And Prince got bored, as he usually does. Because when he’s not creating, he’s not alive, you know. So he went down to the soundstage where we were set up for rehearsal before vacation began. And he just played by himself all day; they say he stayed in there for like eight, 10 hours, just messing around with ideas. And then the second day he got up the courage to call us up and ask, “you guys bored too?” So we came out and worked on a good half-dozen tunes. And we went in the studio and started cutting them – we cut the rhythm tracks for Dark, Come, Papa and a few other things like that.”

The recordings took place on 2 January 1993 and also spawned the songs Endorphin Machine, Dolphin, Laurianne and Dream. Tommy Barbarella and Morris Hayes were brought in to add keyboards to some of the tracks after the initial session. At this point, the track Come reportedly sounded more like a jam than a fully-finished song and had no repeated chorus.

On 18 January Prince also recorded Dance Of Desperation and at some unknown date Pheromone followed. O(+> said in a 1999 fan Q&A that Pheromone was inspired by "Carmen Electra & the Crazy Horse." In February, he recorded Loose and, prior to assembling a tape with the new songs in March, Prince also recorded Space and Poem, the latter featuring a guitar sample from the 1981 Prince song Private Joy, as well as moaning from Vanity lifted from the unreleased 1983 Vanity 6 track Vibrator. The cassette featuring the new music was untitled and the tracks making up this first known configuration of what would become the Come album were:

Prince: untitled cassette (March 1993)
1. Come
2. Endorphin Machine
3. Space
4. Pheromone
5. Loose
6. Papa
7. Dark
8. Dolphin
9. Poem

All of the tracks on this first configuration remain unreleased versions.

Come – the Musical
Prince met with playwright David Henry Hwang while in New York 24 – 27 March 1993. Hwang was most known for his Tony Award-winning Broadway play M. Butterfly. Prince told him a story about the relationship between a rock star and a fan, an intense erotic affair conducted through letters, spinning off into exercises of fantasy and dominance – sex between lovers who never met in the flesh. From this premise, Hwang wrote the libretto for a musical titled Come, incorporating the songs on Prince’s tape. The musical never became a reality, however, but now Prince had a title for his new collection of songs, and the collaboration spawned a new song, Solo. In late March 1993 Prince also recorded Strays Of The World intended for the musical.

David Henry Hwang later revealed that all the songs on his copy of the cassette tape of new music included a middle section where the song faded out and back in to prevent bootlegging.
From 8 March to 17 April 1993, Prince embarked on a tour of the US entitled Act I. "Somewhere around this time, he wrote a song called Courtin' Time that came out later on the Emancipation album," dancer Mayte Garcia recalled in her 2017 book My Life With Prince.

At the concerts, fans were offered a preview of the song Loose, which was played in continuation of Partyman. At aftershow concerts, Prince played Come and Papa. Another new song was previewed on the tour, Peach, which had reportedly been recorded while on tour in Sydney, Australia in late April/early May 1992 as well as in London in mid-June 1992. It featured a sampled moan by actress Kim Basinger from the 1989 The Scandalous Sex Suite maxi single.

On 10 April 1993, Prince met with journalist Alan Light in San Francisco. Alan Light’s interview with Prince was published in Vibe in 1994. Prince told him: “We have a new album finished, but Warner Bros. doesn’t know it. From now on, Warners only get old songs out of the vault. New songs we’ll play at shows. Music should be free, anyway.”

Still, in April it was reported by MTV News that Prince intended to release an EP with four of the new tracks on his birthday, 7 June 1993. According to Uptown Magazine #9, the four tracks were:

Prince: Papa EP (April 1993)
1. Papa
2. Come
3. Peach
4. Race

Race was a song Prince had recorded in November 1991. His new track Fuck D Press, recorded 21 April, didn’t make the cut. Another track that was supposedly recorded around this time was Red Scarlett which got bootlegged in 2017.

Prince “retires”
Warner Bros. refused to release the Papa single, so on 27 April 1993 Prince’s publicity firm announced that Prince was retiring from studio recording to concentrate on new forms of “alternative media projects, including live theater, interactive media, nightclubs and motion pictures.”

A week before the announcement, Prince had been in the office meeting with Ostin and Waronker, expressing his dissatisfactions and frustrations during a 5-hour meeting.

According to the announcement, Prince would fulfill the remainder of his six-album contract with Warner Bros. with old songs from his “library of 500 unreleased recordings.” He would not stop producing songs for other artists or continuing other aspects of his career, including touring and operating Paisley Park.

Earlier in the day, Gilbert Davison had informed Warner Bros.’ chiefs, Mo Ostin and Lenny Waronker, that Prince would not be delivering any more new studio albums to the company. Despite an official attitude of “amused skepticism,” many Warner Bros. top-level executives were shocked by the announcement, fearing that they would not get any new music from one of their best-selling artists.

Prince, who was very disappointed in the sales of the O(+> album and lack of reaction to most releases on his Paisley Park Records label, accused Warner Bros. of failing to support the records adequately, expressing his dissatisfaction with their promotion staff, which he felt was weak. Arguing that his job is done once he delivers the music, he blamed the company for relying on him for interviews and participation in promotional activities and then using his reluctance as an excuse when something didn’t sell as expected.

Finalizing Come
Hesitant to give Warner a new album, Prince was increasingly thinking of new means of getting his music to the public. On the same date as the retirement announcement, an instrumental version of Pheromone debuted as a theme song for the TV-channel BET’s Video LP show.

The hit dance performance by The Joffrey Ballet, Billboards, which featured four different ballets set to 12 Prince songs from 1978 to 1991, probably inspired Prince to conceive a dance performance of his own set to his brand-new music. Initially called Glam-O-Rama, the idea was conceived by Prince and Kenneth Robbins, and produced by David Haugland.

During the month of May, Prince continued to write songs, despite his retirement from studio recording, including Pope, which featured backing vocals by Mayte and was an obvious stab at Warner Bros. President Lenny Waronker, Zannalee, which was obviously about O(+>'s ex-fiancée Susannah Melvoin, I Wanna Be Held Tonight (19/5), Emotional Crucifixion (26/5), as well as segueing the previously recorded Poem with the new track What’s My Name, extending Papa and supposedly updating Race. A new version of the song Come was also recorded with The NPG around this time. It got segued with Endorphinmacine.

By the end of May, he assembled a new sequence of his new music. According to a fax his dancer Mayte sent to the fan magazine Controversy on 1 June 1993 (published in Controversy #42), the sequencing took place two days earlier and included the following tracks:

O(+>: Come (29 May 1993)
Track list unknown, but includes Come, Race, Pheromone, Dark, Dolphin, Pope

Come free?
Mayte, who admitted to having had help writing the fax by someone whose name wasn’t Prince, wrote: “All I can say is that it’s unlike any music he’s done before. All one word titles and strange.
He seemed happy when he played me the sequence but when I asked him, “what are U going 2 do with this new music now that U have retired?” He looked me in the eye and said, “I’m going 2 give it 2 my friends.” I don’t know what friends he’s talking about."

"But I remember once he told me, “Music should be free – just like air.” Did he mean – the way it’s played or paid 4? I’m really afraid he’s not going 2 release any more new albums because now we’re rehearsing only the new music. With just Michael, Sonny, Tommy and Mr. Hayes.”

Considering Prince’s newfound attitude of “music should be free”, it is amazing that the Come album escaped bootlegging. During much of the eighties, Prince freely handed out cassettes of new songs to friends and acquaintances, but by the mid-1990s he had tightened up this practice. So did he really give Come to his “friends”?

“There was a time when my contract said I couldn’t even give a tape of new songs to a friend,” O(+> revealed in a 1999 interview with The Guardian/The Observer.

The name-change
Adding to the confusion of who would be getting his new music, Prince’s publicity firm announced on 7 June 1993, his 35th birthday, that Prince had changed his name to the symbol of his latest album. O(+>’s intention was to fulfill his Warner Bros. contract with “Prince” recordings from the vault while continuing to record and release new material as “O(+>.”

The media avalanche that followed was filled with derision and mockery about what to call him. Even his band members pondered this question. "After a while, everyone settled on "boss,"" keyboard player Tommy Barbarella revealed to biographer Alex Hahn 10 years later for the book Possesed - The Rise and Fall of Prince.

Among fans and in some media articles there was speculation that Prince was seeking to escape his contract with Warner Bros. by changing his identity and then arguing that the label’s agreement was with “Prince”. When Prince made the announcement in May 2000 that he was discarding the symbol name, he basically admitted as much. At a New York press conference, he said that the O(+> name had been a means of escaping “undesirable relationships” – that is, his contract with Warner Bros. He wanted the freedom to put out more material under his new name. Warner Bros. might have wanted Prince to put on the brakes, but he had other ideas.

When O(+> completed work on the side-project Goldnigga with The New Power Generation in late June 1993, his plan was for Warner Bros. to release it by summertime. For Warner Bros., the time had arrived to draw the line. They told O(+> that the company had no interest in the album, but instead wanted a reasonable pause in new music to allow for the release of a greatest hits package. They presented the best-of concept to O(+>, who with some reluctance agreed to support it.

The movie that didn’t happen
Although having just sequenced an album of songs with one-word titles, O(+> continued to record one-word titled songs as work on the Come album concept continued while awaiting release. In early June, O(+> recorded the song Interactive for which a video was shot on 22 June. It was shown on the music TV channel The Box 30 August 1993.

On 14 June 1993, O(+>, with Michael Bland and Sonny Thompson, recorded an EP entitled The Undertaker that included a prelude of Zannalee and a new version of Dolphin. The recording of The Undertaker was filmed and released as a home video in March 1995, albeit with some changes made to Dolphin. O(+> also recorded a different version of Space with his side-project Madhouse on 7 July 1993.

On 15 June, O(+> recorded another great guitar rock track, Calhoun Square, and on 26 June he recorded The Mad Pope which may be a remix of the song Pope.

Knowing that Warner Bros. would not allow him to release a new album only about eight months after the release of the O(+> album, Prince was still thinking of other ways to let his fans hear his new music. He contributed six previously unavailable songs to The Hits/The B-Sides, including Peach and Pope from Come. He then made a new configuration of Come, presumably removing or replacing the tracks he had given to the Hits compilation.

O(+>: Come (June-July 1993)
Track list unknown

During June and July 1993, O(+> developed an untitled film project with director Parris Patton. The film was shot at Paisley Park and featured music interspersed with dramatic footage. General Hospital star Vanessa Marcil and Nona Gaye, daughter of singer Marvin Gaye, starred in the leading roles.

“The movie is about the relationship between two girls,” Vanessa Marcil told Soap Opera Weekly. “We deal with racial, social and sexual issues. Most of the action takes place in this underground club. Prince is the performer there.”

The film project was never completed, but the performances of Loose and Papa from the movie turned up in The Beautiful Experience TV movie in 1994.

On 12 July 1993, the premiere of Glam-O-Rama was cancelled and it would be over a month until it opened under a new name, Glam Slam Ulysses.

On the same day as the cancellation, Alan Light talked with O(+> again for the interview published in Vibe in 1994. Alan Light noticed that O(+> was fixated on one thing: “He has too much music sitting around, and he wants people to hear it.”

Come live
Some lucky fans got a chance to hear some of O(+>’s new music on the Act II tour of Europe, which started 26 July and ended 7 September 1993. At some of the concerts, he played Come, Endorphinemachine and Peach in a row. Dark also made a rare appearance.

Before launching into Come, O(+> would usually quote the lyrics of What’s My Name and give a little speech. At Wembley Stadium in London, 31 July 1993, he said: “The only reason why I retired is because I can no longer give the music to someone else to give to you. I wanna come to your house and give it to you myself. You don’t need no records. Next time bring a tape recorder. When it’s over, press save.”

“People say I make too much music,” he continued. “People say you can’t keep up. But I’m under the impression I make just enough music. I’m under the impression, can’t nobody keep it up like you.”
Other Come era tracks performed during Act II, usually at aftershows, included Calhoun Square, Race and Pope. What’s My Name and Dolphin were played during a soundcheck in Paris. On 7 September, Prince played a live medley on BBC Radio One that included Pope and Peach.

The Act II tour was generally well received. Gone were the Game Boyz, leaving more room for exotic dancer Mayte. The NPG Hornz were also featured more prominently. Along with the new songs played, it had become exiting to be a Prince/O(+> fan again.

Photographer Terry Gydesen followed O(+> on his Act II tour and took the pictures that would be used on the covers for the Come album and the Letitgo singles in 1994, where more of her Act II photos would be released in the book The Sacrifice Of Victor. One picture was left out of the book, though. It was of O(+> in a car with Nona Gaye.

Glam Slam Ulysses
While O(+> was in Europe, Glam Slam Ulysses finally opened 21 August 1993 at Glam Slam in Los Angeles. The 65-minute show was described as an “interactive musical theatrical production” inspired by Homer’s classic Odyssey. The choreography was by Jamie King, who would later become Tour Director for Madonna. Carmen Electra and Frank Williams danced the lead parts.

The production combined dance performances with videos and featured O(+>’s most exciting studio recordings in years: Strays Of The World, Come (chopped into three parts), Interactive, Dolphin, Pheromone, Dark, Loose, Space, Poem, What’s My Name, Endorphinemachine, Race and Pope.

However, the critical response to the show (not the music) was unmercifully negative and O(+> himself wasn't pleased with the end result when he saw a videotaped performance while on tour in Europe. The show only ran for two weeks, until 4 September 1993, and plans to tour US nightclubs were abandoned, although the Glam Slam Ulysses dancers did get to perform to Endorphinemachine on the Arsenio Hall Show on 6 October 1993.

Even though he had very little interest or involvement in the hits compilation prior to leaving, O(+> expressed some interest in taking on a more active role in the project upon returning from Europe. Warner Bros. preferred to avoid delays and actually paid O(+> not to get involved. When The Hits/The B-Sides was released 14 September 1993, O(+> helpfully backed it up with the announcement: “Greatest-hits albums are for artists who are dead, physically and professionally.”

Peach was released as a single 18 November 1993 with an accompanying video featuring Mayte and just Michael Bland and Sonny Thompson from the band. Despite being a great rock song, Peach failed to chart.

Prince: Peach single (November 1993)
CD 1:
1. Peach (3:48)
2. Mountains (3:58)
3. Partyman (3:11)
4. Money Don't Matter 2 Nite (Edit) (4:12)
CD 2:
1. Peach (3:48)
2. I Wish U Heaven (2:43)
3. Girls & Boys (Edit) (3:27)
4. My Name Is Prince (Edit) (4:05)

Prince: Peach US single (November 1993)
1. Peach (3:48)
2. Nothing Compares 2 U (Edit) (4:17)

A 12” remix of Pope appeared on a vinyl promo-single. On Pope, fans were once again invited to “every time U want it I’ll be live, bring a date, I mean computer, when it’s over press save”. This practice never became allowed at concerts, though, and in 1995 O(+> stated his reason why in the song Feelgood: “Come to the show and bring a tape recorder ‘cause you oughta have a copy of the – yo! Wait a minute, no, in 1999 I’ll be free, so…”

Prince: Pope 12" promo (1993)
1. Pope (12” Remix) (6:06)
2. Pink Cashmere (12” Remix) (6:19)

Back in the studio
O(+> continued recording songs with one-word titles in October 1993, like Now, Ripopgodazippa, Shy, Gold and Strawberries. He also reworked some of the Come tracks. He remixed Loose and edited Space and Dark, making them shorter. Much to the dismay of his band, he also changed Come and Race from band recordings to solo recordings. "After 1992, we really did nothing to contribute to raising the bar," drummer Michael Bland recalled about the band's role to biographer Alex Hahn for the 2004 book Possesed. "What did we stand for? Was there a reason for what we were doing other than just good entertainment?"

O(+> eventually decided to include the new one-word titled songs on a new album project entitled Gold rather than rework the Come album to incorporate them, so in January 1994, rumors began to circulate that two albums were being readied for release. The first, Come, was to be an album by Prince, and the other, Gold, was to be a work by O(+>.

In early 1994, O(+> worked on making a movie entitled The Beautiful Experience which featured some of his new music. To coincide with the TV premiere of the movie, O(+> hoped to release an EP of the same title that included seven songs from the movie, including Come. However, Warner Bros. would only allow him to release just one song, so The Beautiful Experience instead became an EP with seven different versions of the same song.

In February 1994, O(+> first made an untitled configuration of new music that included Come and Endorphin Machine and then transformed that into the first configuration of The Gold Experience which included four Come tracks (Interactive, Endorphinmachine, Space and Pheromone) before deciding to just stick with the concept of Come and The Gold Experience being two separate albums after all.

On 6 March 1994 the largest TV and radio network in Holland, Radio Veronica, began broadcasting a tape they had purchased from O(+> which included Pheromone as it had appeared on The Gold Experience featuring an intro with spoken lines taken from a new version of Poem. 

The devolution of Come
By now, it had been a year and five months since the release of O(+>’s last album. The time had finally come to present Warner Bros. with a new album for release. On 11 March 1994, O(+> delivered a scaled down configuration of Come to Warner Bros. Gone were potential hits like the title track and Dolphin. But it wasn’t all bad. It still retained the guitar rocking tracks Interactive (segued from a version of Poem that now had an actual poem in it), Endorphine Machine, Loose and Strays Of The World, plus the funky, highly danceable tracks Pheromone and Race (now edited for length). Thankfully, this configuration got bootlegged and the songs on it actually told a story - about Internet dating (Interactive), desire (Space) and lust (Pheromone), only to get one's heart broken (Dark) and suffering an existential crisis (Solo) before being offered salvation (Strays Of The World). All of the song lyrics seemed easily relatable.

Prince: Come (11 March 1994)
1. Poem (3:36)
2. Interactive (3:05)
3. Endorphine Machine (3:49)
4. Space (4:30)
5. Pheromone (4:23)
6. Loose (3:26)
7. Papa (2:48)
8. Race (4:17)
9. Dark (6:03)
10. Solo (3:50)
11. Strays Of The World (5:18)

The line "welcome 2 the Dawn" had been replaced with a giggle at the end of the opening track, Poem - a track which could be interpreted in three ways. On the surface, it was just O(+> urging a female to come, but it could also be heard as O(+> guiding the listener onwards to the actual beginning of the album with Interactive (“keep going” and “you’re almost there”), while at the same time teasing Warner Bros. with lines such as “isn’t that what you want” and “imagine what you look like from across the room.”

The provocation certainly sparked a strong reaction from Warner Bros. “The company was so upset with that album. People said it was a piece of shit,” Vice President at Warner Bros. Marylou Badeaux recalled to biographer Alex Hahn. "There was a feeling that he was dumping garbage on us."

Ostin and Waronker bluntly told O(+> that the album was unacceptable. They asked for the title track and The Most Beautiful Girl In The World, as well as two or three other really strong songs. O(+> agreed.

On 16 March 1994, O(+> recorded Let It Go, that would be included on the final configuration of Come. It featured flute by Eric Leeds, additional keyboards by Ricky Peterson and additional background vocals by Kathleen Bradford, as well as The NPG Hornz.

On 22 March 1994, the video version of Endorphine Machine that was later included in the Interactive CD-ROM game was recorded.

An exciting time to be a fan
The Beautiful Experience-film starring Nona Gaye premiered on the British Sky One TV channel on 3 April 1994 followed by broadcasts in many other countries. It was a science fiction movie set in a future where O(+>’s website offered “over 500 experiences” for only $19.99!

Besides the videos for Loose and Papa from the abandoned 1993-movie, The Beautiful Experience also featured a video version of Interactive with the NPG Operator in the middle, a charming video featuring the entire band in a long version of Race, and an extremely cool dance video of Pheromone starring O(+>, Mayte and the hot choreographer Jamie King. The new version of Come and the old version of Poem could also be heard in the movie.

Combined with bootlegs of the radio tape, the Glam Slam Ulysses show and Act I and Act II performances of Come songs, fans had heard all of the songs from the Come album by now. O(+> had indeed succeeded in finding alternative ways to let his music reach the fans.

And the new O(+> music and the image he presented in the videos were well-received among longtime fans. It was his most guitar driven music since Purple Rain and he was back to being the mysterious, dark, brooding and sexual, yet spiritual person they had first fallen for back in 1984.

The 4th Come configuration
In mid April, O(+> recorded a maxi-single version of the song Come to which The NPG Hornz added overdubs on 17 April. Then he made a new configuration of the Come album, which he brought with him on a trip to Europe where he met with three journalists in Monaco, 2 May 1994. One was from Q, the other from Max and the third was Alan Light from Vibe once again. O(+> wanted them to check out two albums that may or may not see the light of day: The next Prince album, Come, scheduled for an August 1994 release, and the first O(+> collection, titled The Gold Album, both pressed on CDs with hand-drawn cover art.

“Now you have two albums from two different artists in your hands,” O(+> told one of them.
“First comes the Prince album, which includes Endorphinmachine, Come and Dark,” noted Alan Light. “O(+> skips back and forth between tracks. It all sounds strong – first rate, even – but he seems impatient with it, like it’s old news.”

Prince: Come (April 1994)
Track list unknown, but includes Come (The Beautiful Experience version), Endorphinmachine and Dark

Supposedly this configuration included two versions of Come, concluding with the maxi-single version of Come which would then continue into the hidden track, Strays Of The World.

While in Europe, O(+> played some concerts in Monaco and Paris, 3 – 6 May 1994. He played Come, Endorphinmachine and Space in a row, leading to speculation that those three songs were now the opening tracks on Come. He also played Race, Dark, Peach and a rare performance of Solo. While in Paris, Prince performed Endorphinmachine on the TV channel Canal+.

The final devolution of Come
Before turning Come over to Warner Bros. on 19 May 1994, O(+> decided to make further changes to the album. Strays Of The World was replaced with the weaker Letitgo. Pheromone, Race, Dark and Letitgo had annoying bits of Poem added at their beginnings, and what was left of Poem was retitled Orgasm and placed at the end of the album.

O(+> refused to include The Most Beautiful Girl In The World because it had been released as a O(+> song and Come was going to be a “Prince” release. Endorphinmachine and Interactive were removed from the album on the same grounds. O(+> reasoned that those were now “O(+>” songs because of their inclusion on the soon to be released Interactive CD-ROM game. These decisions left O(+> with a very short album, which may explain why he decided to include the maxi-single version of Come on the album instead of the shorter, original version.

Another reason for including the maxi-single version of Come might have been to provoke Warner Brothers who had asked for the song for the album and now got a version that included enough "fuck you" and "suck you" to prevent radio airplay anyway. Certainly, O(+> himself subsequently seemed to lose interest in the song and stopped performing it live.

Prince 1958-1993: Come (May 1994)
1. Come (11:13)
2. Space (4:28)
3. Pheromone (5:08)
4. Loose! (3:26)
5. Papa (2:48)
6. Race (4:28)
7. Dark (6:10)
8. Solo (3:48)
9. Letitgo (5:32)
10. Orgasm (1:39)

And predictably, Warner Bros. wasn’t satisfied with the album O(+> submitted. They thought that it was worse than the last configuration they had received. They asked for Shhh, as several radio programmers were aware of it from The Beautiful Experience TV movie and there was a great deal of interest in the song. O(+>  said no, leaving Warner Bros. no other option than to accept the album as it was since released.

O(+> delivered The Gold Experience into Warner Bros. around the same time as this new version of Come. He proposed that Warner Bros. should release Come by “Prince” and, a few weeks later, The Gold Experience by “O(+>,” and he wanted both to count toward the fulfillment of his contract. The idea didn’t meet with much enthusiasm, however. Flooding the market with material was exactly what the executives wanted to avoid. Nor were they optimistic about releasing music with an unpronounceable symbol, rather than the powerful “Prince” trademark on the front cover. They agreed to release Come; The Gold Experience would have to wait. Again, O(+> was furious and complained that the label was censoring him.

Ironically, twenty years later in 2014 Warner Bros. would have no problem releasing the Prince: Art Official Age and Prince & 3rdeyegirl: Plectrumelectrum albums simultaneously.

The first Come single
On 7 June 1994, the CD-ROM game Interactive was released. It included the version of Interactive with the NPG Operator as an audio track and the videos for Interactive and Endorphinmachine. An instrumental version of Race and an a capella version of Race were also included.

Meanwhile, O(+> had embarked upon a The Love Experience summer tour of clubs in Minneapolis, Miami, Los Angeles and New York. The tour lasted from 28 May to 26 July 1994 and included performances of Space, Papa, Race, Dark and Peach, as well as a short version of Interactive and Endorphinmachine, which he also performed on the TV channel VH-1 on 26 June 1994.

Warner Bros. decided that Letitgo should be the first single from Come. O(+> refused to shoot a video to support the single that was released 9 August 1994. A maxi-single followed on 27 September 1994 with remixes that had no involvement from O(+>, but the single’s Edit version of Letitgo starts off without the annoying Poem-intro of the album version, so if you splice the beginning of the edit with the ending of the album version, you get the original song.

Originally, Come was supposed to be the B-side of the Letitgo single, but Warner Bros. considered Come a strong contender for its own single and replaced it with Solo.

Prince 1958-1993: Letitgo single (July 1994)
1. Letitgo (Edit) (4:15)
2. Solo (3:48)
3. Alexa De Paris (Extended Version) (4:54)
4. Pope (3:28)

Prince 1958-1993: Letitgo maxi single (September 1994)
1. Letitgo (Caviar Radio Edit) (4:59)
2. Letitgo (Cavi’ Street Edit) (5:02)
3. Letitgo (Instrumental) (5:02)
4. Letitgo (On The Cool-Out Tip Radio Edit) (4:34)
5. Letitgo ((-) Sherm Stick Edit) (5:42)
6. Letitgo (Original Album Version) (5:33)

Strangely, Caviar Radio Edit and Cavi' Street Edit were identical and Letitgo only reached number 31 on the Pop Chart and number 10 on the R&B Chart.

“You know the song Letitgo?” O(+> asked a journalist from Echoes in a March 1995 interview. “Now that was a great pop song. If Warner had promoted it properly it would have been a huge hit. Now I don’t have any control of that. They can stop working an album after one single if they want to.”

“If they don't want to promote a song, they don't make the effort to cross it over into other markets and the fans don't get to know it,” he continued in an interview with The Guardian.

“Now if Letitgo sold two million like The Most Beautiful Girl In The World did, people wouldn't be saying that I'm slippin',” he added in The Voice in March 1995. “But to sell two million, the dudes gotta PRESS two million copies, see what I mean?”

Meanwhile in Germany, a promo single was released in advance of the Come album, containing the full version of Orgasm (previously titled Poem).

Prince: Come promo single (1994)
1. Orgasm (3:42)

The release of Come
Come was released 16 August 1994 and it was not the strong album one might have hoped for or even expected based on the bootlegs. The new, longer and sexually explicit version of the song Come would have been fine for a maxi-single release, but not as an opening track of an album. It seemed to have no other purpose than to provoke Warner Bros. at the cost of disappointing the fans that loved the original version.

Gone were all the guitar rocking tracks with the exception of Loose!, transforming the album from a funky rock album to an ordinary R&B album. At least the middle section of the album was still intact, so fans finally got Space, Pheromone, Loose!, Papa, Race, Dark and Solo in good sound quality.

If O(+> had never released Come in any form, it would have gone down in history on par with the mythical Black Album from 1987. But instead of just skipping the album and moving on to his newer, equally unreleased album, The Gold Experience, O(+> unfortunately felt Come should be his next album to see release despite the fact that he was actually consciously devolving it by removing songs with every new configuration he made. Why he would want to release a shadow of the former masterpiece that was Come remains one of the universe’s great, unsolved mysteries.

"It was a collection of lackluster songs with dated production," O(+>'s drummer Michael Bland later told biographer Alex Hahn. "I felt we were cheating the fans."

Critical reaction
The reviews of Come were fairly negative. Many critics labeled it as Prince’s “sex album,” picking up on the sexual contents of songs like Come, Pheromone, the Poem-bits and Orgasm. They complained that the lyrics were too explicit and sexually preoccupied, while most of the music was dismissed as uninspired or lackluster.

Simon Price wrote in Melody Maker: “This, the last recording under the name Prince, is apparently his parting gift to Warner: An album containing no feasible singles. Touché.”

Not everyone was all-negative, though. “In the middle of it all comes a run of more tenuously related tracks, which are actually pretty good," Ian Cranna of Q concluded. "There's the harder, up-tempo excitement of Loose, the bumping equality rap of Race, the '60s Southern R&B-style lament of Dark and the poppy, bouncy funk of Letitgo. This segment also includes the album's one genuinely shocking track, Papa.”

Chuck Arnold of Philadelphia Daily News wrote: “It marks a return to his more bare-bones pre-New Power Generation days, although NPG members do play here. This back-to-basics approach results in some of his best dance music in years.”

Jim Walsh of St. Paul Pioneer Press was probably the one person most pleased with Come: “Dead or alive, Prince - and Come, his most powerful record in years - provides pleasure and warmth in a cold, cold world.”

Despite Jim Walsh’s enthusiasm, Come became a commercial failure. It reached number 15 on Billboard’s Pop Chart, which was O(+>’s lowest position for an album of new music since Controversy in 1981. The record peaked at number two on the R&B Chart. It sold around 345,000 copies in the US, making it the poorest selling album of O(+>’s career up until then.

Neither O(+> nor Warner Bros. did much to promote Come. Much like the case with the greatest hits collection in 1993, O(+>’s heart wasn’t in the Come album. The former masterpiece had quite simply ended up as contract filler.

O(+>’s Come singles
In the middle of September 1994, O(+> set to work on a Space single. The initial track lists were:

Prince: Space single (19 September 1994)
1. Space (Universal Love Remix Edit) (4:00)
2. Pop Life (Kirky J Remix Edit) (4:36)

Prince: Space maxi single (21 September 1994)
1. Space (Universal Love Remix) (6:10)
2. Space (Funky Stuff Remix) (5:41)
3. Space (Funky Stuff Remix Dub) (4:47)
4. Space (Acoustic Radio Remix) (4:41)
5. Space (Album Version) (4:31)
6. Pop Life (Kirky J Remix) (6:13)

The single was only released in the US, and it contained the album version of Space instead of the Pop Life remix edit.

Prince: Space US single (autumn 1994)
1. Space (Universal Love Radio Remix) (3:57)
2. Space (Album Version) (4:28)

When the maxi single was released in the entire western world on 1 November 1994, O(+> had removed the Kirky J Remix of Pop Life, but otherwise it was the same. Despite some very good new recordings of the song, the single failed to enter the Billboard Pop Chart and reached only number 71 on the R&B Chart. There was no video to support the single.

The unreleased Dolphin had a video, however. It was released to TV on 30 September 1994 without a single for it to promote. O(+> had “slave” written backwards across his cheek in the video, which also featured his band and Mayte dressed as an angel. Keyboards had been added to Dolphin since it was last heard in Glam Slam Ulysses.

O(+> also worked on a Come EP that autumn. He recorded Come (Techno Mix) and Come (18 And Over). A video of 18 And Over was made which was shown on The Gold Experience Tour in 1995 along with a video for Zannalee. A Straight Pass Remix of the album version of Come with the beat from 18 And Over was also made.

Prince: Come single (pre 14 October 1994)
Track list unknown, but the B-side was Dark.

Prince: Come maxi single (pre 14 October 1994)
Track list unknown, but supposedly 7 versions of Come, incl. the original version, the Beautiful Experience version, Come (18 And Over), Come (Straight Pass Remix) and Come (Techno Mix).

A song entitled Alone In The Dark was offered to the From Dusk ‘til Dawn movie soundtrack in 1995 and it may or may not be identical with the Dark remix So Dark, of which an edit was released on Crystal Ball in 1998.

When the Come EP wasn’t released, O(+> came to regard 18 And Over as a song unto itself. It may have been included on an early configuration of the Chaos And Disorder album from late 1994 and was certainly included on a 1995 collection of songs entitled Playtime by Versace that was intended as a gift for Gianni and Donatella Versace. Finally, an edit of the song was released as 18 & Over on the 1998 Crystal Ball collection.

In late 1994, O(+> worked on yet another single from Come that wouldn’t see release. This time, the chosen song was Loose!. O(+> recorded a remix of Loose! entitled Loose Dub. It was renamed (Lemme See That Body) Get Loose! and credited to his alter ego Tora Tora when a snippet of it appeared on a give-away NPG Records Sampler cassette on The Gold Experience Tour in 1995. Another version of Loose Dub was released as Get Loose on Crystal Ball in 1998.

The final Come tracks
O(+>’s final TV-performances in 1994 were Peach at MTV Europe Music Awards on 24 November 1994, and Dolphin on CBS’ The Late Show With David Letterman on 13 December 1994. A home video of a 1993 Act II tour aftershow, The Sacrifice Of Victor, was released in March 1995, featuring a live version of Peach.

The European Gold Experience tour started 3 March 1995 and lasted until 31 March 1995. During the rest of 1995, O(+> gave concerts at Glam Slam Miami and at Paisley Park, before embarking on a Gold Experience tour of Japan 8 – 20 January 1996 and of Hawaii 17 – 19 February 1996. Endorphinmachine, Letitgo and (Lemme See That Body) Get Loose! were a fixed part of the set list, which occasionally also included Race, Dolphin, a playback of Orgasm and a shortened version of Peach with a changed second verse: “Summertime, feelin’ fine, here she come, lookin’ fine, here she come, dressed in gold, get her done, ‘fore she gets too old, her hot pants can’t hide her cheeks, she’s a peach.”

At aftershows, O(+> also occasionally played Come (18 & Over), Dark and Zannalee. At the end of the tour, O(+> disbanded The NPG, signaling the end of an era.

The Gold Experience had been released 26 September 1995 and it contained the Come-era tracks Endorphinmachine and Dolphin. Unfortunately, O(+> had decided to ruin Endorphinmachine by remixing it and adding an annoying cowbell, as well as Mayte speaking Spanish at the end of it, before releasing it.

A similar fate befell Zannalee. A new, horribly overproduced version of it was released on Chaos And Disorder, 9 July 1996. O(+> had also changed the lyrics, leaving out the line “then we watch a movie, one of them dirty kinds.” This new version was performed live on The Today Show on the day of the album release.

The final Come era tracks to see the light of day was the full version of Interactive, Calhoun Square, What’s My Name and Strays Of The World on Crystal Ball in 1998. Thankfully, O(+> had not messed with those four, great tracks.

In 2005, a live version of Letitgo recorded at Paisley Park 22 October 1995 became available as a download from Prince’s now defunct NPG Music Club website.

søndag den 27. januar 2019


The making of The Undertaker
Having just wrapped up work on the Come album in late May 1993, O(+> conceived the idea of doing a different kind of album, using just drummer Michael Bland and bassist Sonny Thompson as he had done for the original Come session, 2 January 1993. It would be the first music to actually be recorded by O(+>, just a week after the name-change from Prince.

Nicknamed The Paisley Park Power Trio, the three of them set up together on the soundstage at Paisley Park 14 June 1993, their amps cranked up full, and did some bluesy jamming. The result was an album called The Undertaker.

“Picture this,” Michael Bland told Guitar World in 1994: “A DAT machine, a 32-channel board, two techs and three players. It was about three o’clock in the morning. We got our sounds together and just let the DAT roll. We took about an hour to make that record, from start to finish, playing straight through with no overdubs. The sequence of songs on the record is exactly the way we played it. The guitar segues from one song to the next, like when we do live stuff.”

“He tends to really start opening up and playing a lot of different things when me and Michael do a trio thing with him,” added Sonny Thompson. “There’s no keyboards there – no nothing. So he can venture out and play what he wants to play.”

The songs and the video
The Undertaker was a mixture of two new songs, The Ride and Poorgoo; a cover of The Rolling Stones’ Honky Tonk-Woman from their 1969 hits collection Through The Past, Darkly; a preview of the new song Zannalee; and new versions of old songs: Bambi from the 1979 Prince album, the Mavis Staples-song The Undertaker, and Dolphin from the Come-album.

Mavis Staples’ album featuring The Undertaker had yet to see release. The song had been recorded in August 1992 and was written by Prince, Tommy Barbarella, Michael Bland, Levi Seacer Jr. and Sonny Thompson. It was inspired by Mavis Staples telling Prince about her eight-year marriage to a mortician. Prince doesn’t play on her version of the song.

A camera team filmed the live in the studio-recording of The Undertaker and O(+> produced a 42-minute film directed by Parris Patton focusing on the Power Trio’s performance and featuring limited acting by Vanessa Marcil from the day-time soap General Hospital. She plays a drug addict in the video. "I don't do any dancing. I wear no makeup and my hair's kinda messy throughout the whole thing,” she told Soap Opera Weekly about her part. “I look pretty scummy. Those are the kinds of roles I really like to play. I'd much rather play someone basic and real than someone who's all done up wearing pretty tight outfits.”

The destruction of a masterpiece
O(+> privately manufactured a CD in around 1000 copies containing the Power Trio performance. Unfortunately, when the sleeve cover was at the printer’s office, Warner Bros. heard of the record and ordered O(+> to destroy the whole edition. Luckily, some copies of the 36 minutes album escaped and appeared on the collector’s market in 1995, although at very high prices. Fortunately, it got widely bootlegged, ensuring that fans got to hear it.

O(+>: The Undertaker (14 June 1993)
1. The Ride (10:54)
2. Poorgoo (4:24)
3. Honky Tonk-Woman (3:01) (Mick Jagger/Keith Richards)
4. Bambi (4:03)
5. Zannalee (Prelude) (0:44)
6. The Undertaker (9:45)
7. Dolphin (3:40)

The album seemed like a natural continuation of the guitar rock style on the 29 May 1993 Come album configuration, which it complimented perfectly. “It starts off in a blues vein,” O(+> told Guitar World in 1994, “but then quickly goes to funk. But because of the first song, (The Ride,) people tend to want to put it in that glass of water. It’s real garage, you know, but Warners won’t release it.”

The Undertaker live
A few lucky fans got to hear some of The Undertaker performed live at some of the aftershows on the Act II tour of Europe, which started 26 July and ended 7 September 1993. A section of the shows would feature just the Power Trio, usually performing The Ride, Honky Tonk-Woman and a cover of Elvis Presley’s 1957 hit Jailhouse Rock written by Jerry Leiber and Mike Stoller. Bambi and Poorgoo were occasionally included in the set.

The song The Undertaker was also performed at the aftershows, but in a version more resembling the Mavis Staples-recording, as it featured the entire band, including the NPG Hornz. Mavis Staples’ album The Voice featuring The Undertaker was released during the tour, 24 August 1993, and O(+> would then also introduce the song as being from that album, rather than from The Undertaker. Mavis Staples herself joined O(+> and the NPG for a performance of it at the tour’s final aftershow in London, 8 September 1993.

The final aftershow was filmed and parts of it were released as a home video, The Sacrifice Of Victor, in March 1995. It included The Ride, Jailhouse Rock and Mavis Staples’ rendition of The Undertaker.

On 8 October 1993, the NPG store invited visitors to view The Undertaker video. Less than 50 fans got the chance to see the film. After the showing, questionnaires were given out and the attendants were asked of their opinions and if they would buy it if it was released as a video.

Then, on 6 March 1994, Holland’s largest radio network, Radio Veronica, began broadcasting songs recorded during a concert at Paisley Park 13 February 1994. They had purchased audio and video tapes of the performance, which included a short version of The Ride. O(+> also played The Ride at concerts in Monaco and Paris, 3 – 6 May 1994.

The mysterious blues-album
From 28 May to 26 July 1994, O(+> embarked upon a summer tour of clubs in Minneapolis, Miami, Los Angeles and New York. The tour, dubbed The Love Experience, included occasional performances of The Ride, usually as the show opener.

At this time, O(+> gave an interview to Guitar World, which was published in November 1994. O(+> revealed that, although there’d been talk for a while of a straight-up blues album, The Undertaker was not that album. It is possible that he was hinting at Chaos And Disorder, which was sequenced in late 1994, shortly after the publication of the Guitar World interview. Certainly, the Zannalee prelude on The Undertaker ended up being of the version on Chaos And Disorder.

As for when The Undertaker would come out, Levi Seacer Jr., head of NPG Records, didn’t know. “The thing here is that he’s always working on something. But I think this needs to be heard.”

O(+> would have liked to give The Undertaker away with the issue of Guitar World containing the interview. “I’d like to put out 700.000 copies of some blues guitar music with a guitar magazine but Warners won’t let me,” he told New Musical Express in March 1995.

In an interview with Q, also from March 1995, he added: “I have a song called Undertaker, which I wanted to give to Guitar Player, so they could give it away free with the magazine – to remind people that, hey, I’m actually a guitar player, too. (Laughs.) That’s what it is – really long guitar solos. But Warners wouldn’t let me.”

The release of the video version
O(+>’s European Gold Experience tour, 3 - 31 March 1995, included occasional performances of Dolphin and The Ride. Now keyboards were added to The Ride. The Ride, Jailhouse Rock and the Mavis Staples-version of The Undertaker were also performed at aftershows.

To coincide with the tour, the 1993 The Undertaker movie was finally released as a home video, although under the name of Prince, not O(+>. Vanessa Marcil’s character pops some pills and runs rampant at Paisley Park, stumbling upon the Power Trio performance. Strangely, O(+> doesn’t have her thrown out - not even when she pukes all over his guitar solo during The Ride.

The amusing puking sound was actually used to cover up the video version of The Ride being an edit of the album version. The video version of Poorgoo supposedly also has subtle differences from the album version. Dolphin is an edit of the Come album version with the ending of The Undertaker album version added.

Although one critic complained that O(+> only played obscure tracks and no hits, the psychedelic video featured O(+>’s most inspired, awesome and impressive guitar playing to date. It was a riveting, masterful performance.

To celebrate the release of the video, O(+> performed the entire The Undertaker album at an aftershow at The Emporium in London, 23 March 1995, except for Dolphin, but with a full version of Zannalee. Keyboards were added to all of the songs, except Bambi. O(+> decided to include the version of Poorgoo (now entitled Poor Goo) performed at this date on a summer 1995 collection of songs entitled Playtime by Versace intended as a gift for Gianni and Donatella Versace.

Release of The Ride (Live)
During the rest of 1995, O(+> gave concerts at Glam Slam Miami and at Paisley Park, before embarking on a Gold Experience tour of Japan 8 – 20 January 1996 and of Hawaii 17 – 19 February 1996. The Ride was occasionally played.

On 26 August 1995, a concert at Paisley Park included an Undertaker segment. O(+> played Dolphin, Zannalee, Bambi, a cover of Steve Vai’s instrumental Tender Surrender and The Ride.

In 1998, a fairly short live version of The Ride from Paisley Park, 28 October 1995, was released on the Crystal Ball collection. Prior to that, the Crystal Ball version of The Ride had been featured in the TV movie Love 4 One Another that premiered on VH-1 27 January 1996.

In November and December 2001, members of Prince’s now defunct NPG Music Club got the opportunity to download the song The Undertaker and the video version of Poorgoo, but the album remains unreleased.


The making of Madhouse: 24 vol.2
On 7 July 1993, O(+> recorded six instrumental tracks during a five-hour session. Where he had just played guitar for the The Undertaker session with Michael Bland on drums and Sonny Thompson on bass, he now played keyboards along with Michael on drums and Sonny on bass and had Levi Seacer Jr. join them on guitar and Eric Leeds on saxophone. The idea was to make a second attempt at a third Madhouse album of which the first attempt from 1988 remained unreleased. The first Madhouse albums, 8 and 16 from 1987 and the unreleased 24, had consisted of instrumental tracks mostly performed by just Prince and Eric Leeds. Now, there was more of a band-sound to the music.

With the new band line-up, O(+> recorded an instrumental take on the song Space from his then unreleased Come album, as well as a cover of the Marvin Gaye song Got To Give It Up from 1977. The other four tracks recorded were Carnac, Rootie Kazootie, Edward and Parlor Games. Post-production work on the tracks was done in late August and September 1993 by Ricky Peterson.

When O(+> started dating Nona Gaye, the daughter of Marvin Gaye, in 1993, he added her vocals to Got To Give It Up, and The Steeles added background vocals for Space. Eric Leeds also added additional saxophone to the recordings. When the 24 album was completed by mid-1994, O(+> also added a few new segues featuring the musicians from the 7 July 1993 session. The track Carnac was retitled 17 and Edward was retitled Asswoop.

Madhouse: 24 (mid-1994)
1. 17 (5:22)
2. Rootie Kazootie (7:05)
3. Space (4:47)
4. Guitar Segue (1:05)
5. Asswoop (7:09)
6. Ethereal (0:32)
7. Parlor Games (4:02)
8. Michael B. (0:40)
9. (Got 2) Give It Up (7:18)
10. Sonny T. (1:44)

Warner Bros. had no interest in releasing the new Madhouse album, but eventually it got bootlegged in its entirety. However, the opening track 17 got officially released on the 1-800-NEW-FUNK compilation of songs by various artists signed to Paisley Park and NPG Records released in August 1994. 17 was also the B-side to the hit single from the 1-800-NEW-FUNK compilation, Standing At The Altar performed by Margie Cox.

Recording a ballet
In the spring of 1994, O(+> also started work on an instrumental project entitled Kamasutra. The title was inspired by the Indian erotic book Kama Sutra by Vätsyäyana. O(+> performed all of the non-orchestral instruments, Eric Leeds added saxophone, The NPG Hornz added horns and in December 1994 Clare Fischer had his orchestra add the rest.

O(+> considered Kamasutra to be a ballet and sent a copy of the work-in-progress to his ex-fiancée from eight years back Susannah Melvoin with a card that read: "This is my 1st ballet. A few passages are still missing but Eye'm almost done. Eye love U. Please write."

When O(+>'s television movie The Beautiful Experience was released in early April 1994, it included a brief instrumental that sounded like it might have been from the Kamasutra sessions. It lasted about 1 minute and 20 seconds and was played in continuation of a live performance of the song Shhh that had Nona Gaye get all hot for O(+> only to have her heart broken by watching him handcuff and kiss his dancer Mayte.

Combining the experiences
On 5 January 1995, O(+> sequenced an NPG Records Sampler Experience that included a snippet of Asswoop entitled Asswhuppin' In A Trunk, Ethereal Segue and a snippet of Parlor Games. An 0:42 excerpt of Kamasutra credited to The NPG Orchestra was also included. The experience was handed out on cassette to some fans at the 3 March 1995 opening of O(+>’s European Gold Experience tour in London.

Also in 1995, O(+> resumed work on the Madhouse: 24 project by recording a mostly instrumental take on his 18 And Over version of the song Come. Madhouse versions of the Kamasutra tracks Kamasutra/Overture #8 and Promise/Broken were also recorded and got included as Overture #5 and Overture #6 on a new configuration of the 24 album in May 1995. (Got 2) Give It Up was edited for length and Parlor Games was now spelled differently.

Madhouse: 24 (May 1995)
1. 17 (5:22)
2. Rootie Kazootie (7:05)
3. Space (4:47)
4. Guitar Segue (1:05)
5. Asswoop (7:09)
6. Ethereal Segue (0:32)                                                                                
7. Parlour Games (4:02)
8. Michael Segue (0:40)
9. Overture #5
10. Overture #6
11. 18 And Over (5:53)
12. (Got 2) Give It Up
13. Sonny Segue (1:44)

By 8 July 1995, O(+> had also sequenced a “soundtrack” to a Versace fashion show during Paris Fashion Days 8-10 July 1995, previewing some of the music he was hoping to get released around that time. The Versace Experience included a 0:28 edit of Sonny T. Segue and a 2:37 edit of Rootie Kazootie from the Madhouse: 24 album, as well as Kamasutra Overture #5 by The NPG Orchestra.

Change of plans
In mid-July 1995, Mayte told Uptown magazine about the Kamasutra ballet: "It has three characters in it. It is done with elegance and beauty. It is a romance that ends up in, well not a tragedy, but it ends up with you thinking about everything."

The plan was for the Kamasutra ballet to open in Puerto Rico in December 1995. "Because I know of a really good company that I worked with before and they asked for it," Mayte told Uptown. "They'll be starting out in Puerto Rico," she added. "We are talking about going to New York to film it. And if it does well, we'll tour."

Those plans ended up not happening, though.

Meanwhile, Nona Gaye left O(+> on 3 December 1995 and O(+> removed the song (Got 2) Give It Up featuring her vocals from the Madhouse: 24 album. The cover picture of the Madhouse band featured O(+>'s keyboard player Tommy Barbarella instead of Levi Seacer Jr. who had left O(+>'s employ in 1994. O(+> was pictured in his Tora Tora disguise that had also been used for his NPG: Exodus album project. Michael Segue was renamed Drum Segue and Sonny Segue was now called Bass Segue.

The release of Kamasutra
An early 1996 configuration of O(+>'s triple album Emancipation included the Kamasutra track Coincidence Or Fate? as the fourth track on the second disc which featured love songs for his wife Mayte. Toward the end of the 1996 sessions for the Emancipation album, O(+> recorded the brand-new track The Plan of which a 1:46 edit was included instead of Coincidence Or Fate? on the album which was released in November 1996. The cover said it was an "xcerpt from full length ballet Kamasutra available on NPG."

The NPG Orchestra: Kamasutra became available on cassette from O(+>'s 1-800 NEW FUNK mail-order store in February 1997 and was also sold at concerts. The slightly longer full version of The Plan was now the opening track on Kamasutra and Kamasutra Overture #5 from the Versace Experience had been renamed Serotonin.

The NPG Orchestra: Kamasutra (February 1997)
1. The Plan (2:03)
2. Kamasutra (11:49)
3. At Last... "The Lost Is Found" (3:37)
4. The Ever Changing Light (2:59)
5. Cutz (3:03)
6. Serotonin (0:47)
7. Promise/Broken (3:46)
8. Barcelona (2:16)
9. Kamasutra/Overture #8 (3:11)
10. Coincidence Or Fate? (3:24)
11. Kamasutra/Eternal Embrace (4:02)

In her 2017 book, My Life With Prince, Mayte revealed that she believed that Kamasutra had been composed for her wedding with O(+> in 1996. "On our first anniversary, February 14 1997, he released Kamasutra, the music he'd composed for our wedding," she wrote.

O(+> promoted the release by telling Harper’s Bazaar that it was “perfect music to make love to.”

The short-lived Kamasutra dance performance
In late 1997, Mayte's NPG Dance Company danced to the full Kamasutra album during the second act of their three-act Around The World In A Day performance in Chicago. "For a long time I'd wanted to do a major project of my own," she recalled in her 2017 book. "Ever since I saw the Joffrey Ballet interpret some of his music, I'd been thinking I'd like to form a dance company and take that idea to the next level."

"He'd created the NPG orchestra to do the music for our wedding," she claimed. "I looked at the image of myself dancing on the cover. My shadow was the symbol that was now his name. This music was moving and told a story about a love affair between a rock star and a ballerina."

"I developed a script with a three-act structure," she continued. "The first act was the hits, because Mama gotta pay them bills. The second act was Kamasutra, because - wow. It was classical instrumental, and with a darkness and a sexiness that a dancer would drool to move to. The third act was all new music."

A pregnancy got in the way of Mayte herself appearing in the show, but on opening night in Chicago on 19 November 1997, she sat in the audience with a headset giving lighting cues. O(+> attended the performance sitting next to her. "I did him proud," she recalled, but: "We went home and after some heart-to-heart discussion, we disbanded the company."

In 1998, Kamasutra was released on CD as part of a 5 CD limited edition of O(+>'s Crystal Ball collection that was only available from 1-800 NEW FUNK.

In 2000, O(+> made a promotional cassette entitled Man 'O' War (Remix) NPG Records Sampler that included snippets of the two unreleased Madhouse tracks Overture #5 and Overture #6 now renamed Seventeen and Eighteen.