søndag den 27. januar 2019


The making of gold
After having completed his best tour in years, the Act II tour of Europe 26 July – 7 September 1993, O(+> was back at Paisley Park in Minneapolis. With Warner Bros. unwilling to release any new albums from him for the time being, Come and The Undertaker collected dust in the vault.

While on tour, O(+> had recorded the new song It's About That Walk on 2 September in Paris, and back home he recorded two new songs on 20 September, The Most Beautiful Girl In The World, which was co-produced by Ricky Peterson, and Slave 2 The Funk. It signaled the beginning of a new creative period for him. On 10 October 1993, he recorded Now, Ripopgodazippa and Shy, and during the rest of October, Gold, Strawberries, 319, Billy Jack Bitch, Chaos And Disorder, Right The Wrong, Acknowledge Me and Listen 2 The Rhythm followed.

319 has been said by former Prince dancer Cat to originally have been recorded during the Batman sessions in February/March 1989, but this version features the four NPG members Michael Bland on drums, Sonny Thompson on bass and Tommy Barbarella and Morris Hayes on keyboards. It was recorded on 25 October. Ricky Peterson did co-production on the track before The NPG Hornz added horn overdubs in late October to both 319 and Now.

Ripopgodazippa featured Michael Bland on drums and Sonny Thompson on bass, as well as The NPG Hornz with Kathy J. on clarinet. The song was “inspired by an episode on a weight lifting bench,” O(+> said when it got released on the 1998 Crystal Ball collection.

O(+> composed Billy Jack Bitch along with Michael B. Nelson of The NPG Hornz and it features Lenny Kravitz singing background vocals on the chorus, which went uncredited because Lenny was signed to a different record label. O(+>’s keyboard player Morris Hayes recalled the recording process in a 2018 interview with The Current: “So many new songs happened like where he already kind of know. Some just came out of grooves. Billy Jack Bitch was like kind of crazy. We just kind of like got this groove going, and it just turned into this thing. And it was just cool.The song was supposedly about The Minneapolis Star Tribune gossip columnist Cheryl "C.J." Johnson, who regularly wrote negative articles about O(+>.

Chaos And Disorder and Right The Wrong were recorded on the same day, both featuring The NPG and the latter also The NPG Hornz. Acknowledge Me ended with a spoken segment lifted from the unreleased 1985 Prince And The Revolution track All My Dreams. Listen 2 The Rhythm was originally recorded in the autumn/winter of 1989 during the Graffiti Bridge sessions and included lyrics from an abandoned 1987 song lyric entitled Rhythm Angel possibly intended for Sheila E.

While O(+> was busy in the studio, Tevin Campbell’s I’m Ready album was released 26 October 1993. It featured four Prince produced tracks, one of which was Shhh, which was based on a live recording at Olympic Studio in London, 18 June 1992, with most of The NPG. O(+> would soon reclaim the song.

Musical collaborations
In the autumn of 1993, O(+> collaborated with poet and rapper Ninety-9 (also known as Poet 99). He created music to fit her spoken words, much like he had done with Ingrid Chavez in 1991. The collaboration with Ninety-9 spawned five tracks that remain unreleased, but which O(+> would use as samples in many songs from 1994 to 1996. The track Stained Glass (bootlegged as Give God A Try) would get sampled in both Love Sign (1994) and Face Down (1995). 40 Ounces (bootlegged as The Boom) would get sampled in remixes of Space (1994), Burns 1 would get sampled in both Mad (1994) and Joint 2 Joint (1996), while The Mood For Love (bootlegged as It's Our Music) got sampled almost immediately in Days Of Wild (1994). Finally, Three Shots would get sampled in The Good Life (Bullets Go Bang Remix) and Right Back Here In My Arms (both in 1995).

Poet Ninety-9 also got a mention in the lyrics of the song Now and guest-starred at a O(+> concert in New York 12 December 1994, performing a rap during a performance of Now. "That's my idea of a beautiful woman: Ninety-9," O(+> said before dedicating a performance of The Most Beautiful Girl In The World to her.

On a trip to Paris, 10-22 November 1993, O(+> recorded Hide The Bone with The NPG at the Guillome Tell studio. The track was co-written with Brenda Lee Eager and Hilliard Wilson. In 1996, another track co-written by this duo would surface – Somebody’s Somebody on Emancipation. It is possible that Somebody’s Somebody was actually recorded at the same time as Hide The Bone.

Was there a The Dawn album in 1993?
By now, O(+> had enough new songs to make up an album. When he got the idea to make NPG Operator segues for The Gold Experience in February 1994, the NPG Operator would say "welcome 2 The Dawn" more than once, which made some fans believe that the NPG Operator segues were actually recorded for an album entitled The Dawn which they figured O(+> worked on in late 1993. But on The Gold Experience, "The Dawn" is actually the name of the website that the listener accesses when playing the album.

"Hello. Welcome to The Dawn - playground for The New Power Generation," the NPG Operator says at the beginning of The Gold Experience accompanied by the sound of buttons being pressed on a computer keyboard. "There are over 500 experiences to choose from. Here's a sample."

Like with Nona Gaye in the Beautiful Experience TV movie, the NPG Operator at The Dawn website then guides the listener through the "Interactive" Gold Experience with helpful comments like "you have just accessed The Beautiful Experience," "this experience is great for dancing and improving self-esteem"" and "you have just accessed The Hate Experience. Do you wish to change your entry? Very well. Please enjoy your experience."

O(+>'s use of the term "The Dawn" around this time wasn't necessarily as a name for an album like it would be in 1996, but rather as a name for a spiritual event like "the dawn of a new age or era" or "the dawn of my liberation from my record company" or even just "the dawn of a brand-new day." In the inner sleeve for the 1984 Purple Rain album, he had written: "Thank U all - may U live 2 see the Dawn". Back then, he had recorded an unreleased 15 minutes instrumental entitled The Dawn and in September 1986 he had worked on songs for a musical entitled The Dawn that was quickly abandoned, but now, 10 years later, the Dawn had finally arrived. "I love you. Welcome 2 The Dawn," he said at the end of the track Poem and quoted it before launching into live performances of Come on the 1993 Act II tour. "This is the dawning of a new spiritual revolution," he proclaimed at the beginning of the song Come and repeated it in the cover for The Beautiful Experience EP.  Audiences on his 1994 The Love Experience Tour were occasionally greeted by O(+> saying "welcome 2 The Dawn" - a phrase that was repeated on the covers for The NPG: Get Wild and Mayte: If Eye Love U 2night singles in 1995.

In a 1997 interview with Minnesota Monthly, O(+> admitted that even he never fully understood what “The Dawn” meant. “I just knew I had to write it back then (on the Purple Rain cover),” O(+> said. “Today I see that this is what it’s all about: The Dawn is here, a time of greater consciousness and spiritual understanding.”

In October 1997, O(+> would clarify his meaning behind the words “The Dawn” in an interview with Yahoo! Internet Life: “In my humble opinion, “The Dawn” occurs when spiritual enlightenment takes place. When 1 learns of his or her relationship 2 everything on Earth and the universe.”

“People design their own plans. That’s when the dawn takes places,.” O(+> added in a 1996 Rolling Stone interview. “The dawn is an awakening of the mind, when I can see best how to accomplish the tasks I’m supposed to do. I feel completely clear.”

So The Dawn having arrived seemed to just be an overarching theme for his 1993 to 1996 era of music.

But knowing that Prince/O(+> was always working on a project, the possibility of him making a supposedly triple The Dawn album towards the end of 1993 cannot be ruled out. He certainly had enough material for it. But there is no evidence that such an ambitious project was in the works at that time. No one reported seeing it, hearing it or even heard it being talked about.

Instead, in January 1994, rumors began to circulate that two albums were being readied for release in 1994. The first, Come, was to be an album by Prince, and the other, Gold, was to be a work by O(+>.

Eligible bachelor seeks…
On 10 December 1993, O(+> had placed advertisements in the British and US press, including Entertainment Weekly, The Village Voice and New York Magazine. The ad read: “Eligible bachelor seeks the most beautiful girl in the world to spend the holidays with.”

It encouraged all interested to send videos and/or pictures to Paisley Park. The material sent in response to the advertisement was utilized in the video for The Most Beautiful Girl In The World, which was shot 22 January 1994, and on the single cover.

Originally, a huge and expensive video shoot had been planned to take place in Los Angeles, but the earthquake that hit L.A. on 17 January 1994 put a stop to those plans, resulting in the 22 January video shoot at Paisley Park instead.

In 2016, Carmen Electra shared a card on Instagram which O(+> had sent her back in 1993 along with a cassette copy of The Most Beautiful Girl In The World. "I'm sure many people were told this song was about them too, but I want to dedicate it to all the women around the world," she wrote. "U are all beautiful."

"The Most Beautiful Girl In The World is a song that was particularly important to him," O(+>'s dancer Mayte recalled in her 2017 book My Life With Prince. "I know of at least three women besides me who believe it was written specifically for them. I hope every woman who hears it thinks it was written specifically for her. Because it was. Take a look at the music video. You won't see me in it. You'll see a collage of girls and women of every age, race and body type. This was his love song to all of us."

One girl who did appear in the video was Nona Gaye. She did some recordings with O(+> in 1993 - a couple of covers of songs written by her father Marvin Gaye, (Got 2) Give It Up for the Madhouse: 24 album and Inner City Blues, as well as two O(+> songs, Snow Man and A 1,000 Hugs & Kisses. But the only song that would get released (on the 1994 1-800-NEW-FUNK collection) was a cover of A Woman's Gotta Have It by Bobby Womack.

The end of the Paisley Park era
On 1 February 1994, Warner Bros. and Paisley Park Enterprises announced that they were terminating the Paisley Park Records label, a joint venture between O(+> and Warner Bros. since 1992. While under O(+>’s sole aegis, the label could probably have survived for as long as he saw fit, but with Warner Bros. holding the purse strings, the financial burden proved too great. Apart from Prince releases, it hadn’t come up with a hit. Albums by Eric Leeds, Carmen Electra, Mavis Staples and George Clinton had all failed to catch fire. The plush offices in Century City, which O(+> had never set foot in, were closed and its twelve staff laid off. “I did not get the feeling that it even mattered to him,” Marylou Badeaux (Vice-President at Warner Bros.) recalled in the 2004 book Possessed - The Rise And Fall Of Prince by Alex Hahn.

To replace the Paisley Park Records label as an outlet for side projects, O(+> formed NPG Records under his Paisley Park Enterprises umbrella.

Supposedly, a senior Warner Bros. executive told O(+> that he didn’t have it in him to make another hit record. Arguing that it wasn’t over saturation or the lack of quality that prevented Pink Cashmere and Peach from becoming hits, but rather the lack of support from Warner Bros., O(+> was allowed to release The Most Beautiful Girl In The World independently on NPG Records as part of the Paisley Park Records closedown agreement.

In early 1994, O(+> was working 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(+> had hoped to release an EP of the same title that included seven songs from the movie.

O(+>: The Most Beautiful Girl In The World single (early 1994)
1. The Most Beautiful Girl In The World (Edit) (4:07)
2. Love 4 1 Another (3:43)

O(+>: The Beautiful Experience EP (early1994)
Track list unknown, but 7-tracks including Come and The Most Beautiful Girl In The World

The song Love 4 1 Another was inspired by the 17 January 1994 earthquake in Los Angeles. It was renamed New World when it was finally released on Emancipation in 1996.

However, Warner Bros. would only allow O(+> to release just one song at this point, so The Beautiful Experience instead became an EP with seven different versions of The Most Beautiful Girl In The World.

The story behind Eye Hate U
In early 1994, O(+> recorded the song Eye Hate U, which was co-produced by Ricky Peterson.
O(+>’s keyboard player Morris Hayes recalled the recording process in a 2018 interview with The Current: “I happened to come in one day, and Prince was just sitting at the piano, and he's kind of like going through these chords, and I'm listening to him and watching him do his thing, and he's like picking it out. As I'm watching him I'm like, “Wow, this is crazy.” So he gets it kind of worked out, and I tell him, "Prince, that's crazy. You just made like a million dollars right now. That's a hit.” I said, "Dude, how do you do that?" He said, "I really don't know how other people don't know how to do it." I was like, “That's crazy, man.” And that would be Eye Hate U, and I remember when we all started to play it. He just kind of let us feel it out, like I had this crazy chord that I just like - and I hit this chord and he's like, “Yeah, that, like that, I like that chord.” And he just would like take everybody's input and roll with it.”

Carmen Electra admitted in 2016 that the song was written about her. "His brother once told me Prince was looking at rings when I was still in Minnesota and that he was going to propose to me. I was so excited and in love," she revealed to E! News. "One day, Prince asked me if I wanted to work or be a housewife. I said, “I want to work.” I was only 19 or 20 and he ended up never asking me to marry him. But, I was with him every day. I needed to leave and be my own person."

"I told him I wanted to live in LA and he spent as much time here as he did in Minnesota," Carmen continued. "He controlled everything, but I loved that about him. How I dressed, the music, hairstyles. He was genius at all that."

"I don't know one beautiful woman who didn't want to be with him," she elaborated to GQ. "But it did hurt me. It hurt me really bad. And I was too young to really communicate with him, so I just kind of pulled away."

In 2018 she spelled it out on Instagram: “He cheated on me a lot I found out later. I was young and didn’t communicate about it like I should. He always told me I was the only one and eventually I ended up cheating back with a guy I met in LA. I wish I would have dealt with it differently but I’m sure u all know he also cheated on me with his (future) x- wife and she also knew we were together."

"And during that time I went out with a guy - I hadn't slept with this person - and Prince found out. He said, "I wrote this song about you," and then he played Eye Hate U," Carmen revealed to GQ. "It was hard to hear. And it was even harder to hear the parts of the song that said it could have been a completely different way. Then to say "I hate you, because I love you" - I literally cried in front of him. I think he just wanted me to hear it, and to know that he was really upset. Then he flew me back to Los Angeles."

"He wanted me to move back to Minnesota and I said no," Carmen told E! News and added on Instagram: "My heart was broken and I just couldn’t stay quiet anymore."

"I broke it off with him and stayed in LA. I gave up everything with him to live here and make my own career," Carmen told E! News. "It was a hard time. I ended up calling him and he hired me to dance at his club in LA. I made $90 a week. I wasn't his girlfriend anymore, but I was one of his girls. This was after we split."

"Now that I look back I can’t blame him for having so many girlfriends. He’s PRiNCE and everybody wanted him," she wrote on Instagram. "Yes, the song is about me. And as sad as the song is it’s very beautiful but no one talks about the other songs written about me. (...) I have not come out and talked about any details with us but I will say there were many many girls he was with while being with all of us that he kept closest."

One Gold February
In February, O(+> made the first known configuration of Gold, which like the Black Album was to be identified by its cover color. It started out with two tracks from the unreleased Come album. The drum machine was removed from Shy and O(+> added guitar to Gold, which Ricky Peterson did some co-production on. “I happen to think Gold is the best song I’ve ever done,” O(+> told Echoes in a 1995 interview.

Hide The Bone was removed from later configurations of the album but would be released on O(+>’s 1998 Crystal Ball compilation of Vault tracks.

O(+>: untitled (February 1994)
1. Come (4:49)
2. Endorphin Machine (3:51)
3. Hide The Bone (5:03)
4. Chaos And Disorder (4:13)
5. Listen 2 The Rhythm
6. Now
7. Right The Wrong (4:42)
8. Acknowledge Me
9. Ripopgodazippa
10. The Most Beautiful Girl In The World
11. 319
12. Shy (5:04)
13. Billy Jack Bitch
14. Eye Hate U
15. Gold (7:36)

This configuration was the source of the Outtakes 1993-‘94 bootleg, which appeared in 2004. Judging from the six tracks that got bootlegged, there were no NPG Operator segues on this configuration. The person who had the six tracks was supposedly not happy about sharing them, which may explain why fans are still waiting for the rest of this configuration to appear.

In February 1994, O(+> also recorded a bunch of remixes of The Most Beautiful Girl In The World: Beautiful, Beautiful (Extended Club Version), Beautiful Beats, Staxowax, Sexy Staxophone And Guitar and Flutestramental. Ricky Peterson co-produced Mustang Mix and Mustang Instrumental. Brian Gallagher of The NPG Hornz recorded a saxophone version, Brian’s Mix.

O(+>  also recorded Days Of Wild in February and made a version of the Come track Interactive that included the NPG Operator, so the rest of the NPG Operator segues on The Gold Experience were probably also recorded around this time.

“Prince had this conversation with Mo Ostin, the head of Warner Brothers Records, on the phone, after Prince had mentioned the Gold Experience in an interview,” O(+>’s drummer Michael Bland revealed in a 2018 Tidal Read. “Prince told him that he hadn’t even begun work on it, and that it was just a concept, and my understanding is that Mo’s response was, “Well, whatever, it’s ours, anyway.” Prince got off the phone and was floored. He said, “This guy just told me that whatever ideas I have in my head are not mine. They belong to Warner Brothers.” And I think that everything really changed for him after that. His sense of being an artist was being toyed with from his point of view.”

The recording of Shhh and release of The Most Beautiful Girl In The World
On 13 February 1994, O(+> gave a concert at Paisley Park, which was later bought and broadcast by Radio Veronica in Holland. The concert was filmed and used in the Beautiful Experience TV movie. It included performances of Interactice (with NPG Operator), Days Of Wild (with NPG Operator), Now (with NPG Operator), The Jam by Graham Central Station and Shhh.

Tevin Campbell attended the show and O(+>’s drummer Michael Bland told Podcast Juice in 2019 that O(+> wanted Tevin Campbell to guest on stage for the performance of Shhh. “Tevin wanted to do Can We Talk and we didn’t know that. Prince was like: “Why would I want to play one of the songs I didn’t write for you?”

“(Tevin) didn’t want to do Shhh so Prince said, “then I’ll do it.” And that’s what happened,” Michael Bland said. Legend has it that Tevin Campbell afterwards told O(+> to stop playing “his” song Shhh. Supposedly, O(+> then went straight into the studio and recorded his own version of it, based on the live arrangement.

To me it's the definition of a power ballad in terms of - it was crazy,” keyboard player Morris Hayes recalled about Shhh in a 2018 interview with The Current. “We used to love listening to old music and old school type music like the Ohio Players and different types of things like that, and there was a song the Ohio Players did called I Wanna Be Free, and it has this crazy drum solo in it, and then it just drops down - shoop, shoop, shoop, and it just goes to this really smoothed out thing. But then in the middle of it you got this crazy drum solo that happens out of nowhere. And I think when we did Shhh, it was a great song Prince wrote for Tevin and everything, and it was cool, and we wanted to do it, but we wanted to put some edge on it. (…) He wanted to play a guitar solo and all this stuff, but he still wanted to have that broken down smooth part and then bring it up, like that Ohio Players song. We thought, “This is so cool.” Michael Bland did this crazy drum solo (…) and the drums sounded like thunder, and then all of a sudden it just breaks down into this thing, and that was just one of the favorites. I loved playing that song - a very complex song for me to play because of all the parts involved in the vocal samples and things that I had to fly around. (…) It was like a show song that he put on the album that just kind of worked out. Because usually what happens with Prince is he has these songs that he does, and then when we get ready to do it live it turns into this other thing, and it just goes up. (…) We learned it and played it like that, and then recorded it that way.”

The day after, on 14 February 1994, The Most Beautiful Girl In The World was released as the first single by O(+>. He had stumped up $2 million of his own money and put the single out on his own NPG Records label. Warner Bros. stated that they were “accommodating O(+>’s desire to experiment with independent distribution.”

O(+>: The Most Beautiful Girl In The World single (February 1994)
1. The Most Beautiful Girl In The World (Edit) (4:07)
2. Beautiful (Edit) (3:57)

O(+>: The Most Beautiful Girl In The World UK 12” (February 1994)
1. The Most Beautiful Girl In The World (Edit) (4:07)
2. Beautiful (Edit) (3:57)
3. Beautiful (Extended Club Version) (6:25)
4. Beautiful Beats (3:28)

The single became a huge world-wide success. It reached number three on the Billboard Pop Chart and number two on the R&B Chart. O(+> had pulled a hit out of the bag before, of course, but The Most Beautiful Girl In The World was especially satisfying for him. It not only proved to Warner Bros. that he could top the charts; he realized he didn’t need a major label anymore. Now he really had to get out of the contract with Warner Bros.

Revamping the Experiences 
During February, O(+> reworked the untitled album configuration from earlier that month into The Gold Experience and it is most likely that this configuration was the first to feature the NPG Operator segues. Acknowledge Me, Billy Jack Bitch and Eye Hate U were edited for length and Gold likely had the NPG Operator talk added at this point.

This configuration still featured tracks that had previously been intended for the Come album like Space and Pheromone and judging from the tape O(+> sent to radio stations featuring tracks from The Gold Experience, Pheromone featured an intro with spoken lines taken from a revamped version of  the Come track Poem.

O(+>: The Gold Experience (February 1994)
1. Interactive
2. Endorphinmachine
3. Space
4. Now
5. Acknowledge Me
6. Ripopgodazippa
7. The Most Beautiful Girl In The World
8. 319
9. Shy
10. Billy Jack Bitch
11. Pheromone
12. Eye Hate U
13. Gold

The largest TV and radio network in Holland, Radio Veronica, began broadcasting the tape O(+> had put together with tracks from The Gold Experience on 6 March 1994. It included the first appearance of Days Of Wild which was added to The Gold Experience that same month. Days Of Wild had been edited for length.

O(+>: The radio tape (6 March 1994)
1. Interactive (with NPG Operator) (2:25)
2. NPG Operator/Days Of Wild (4:03)
3. The Beautiful Experience Medley (10:32)
4. NPG Operator/Now (4:46)
5. Acknowledge Me (5:28)
6. 319 (3:21)
7. Pheromone (4:36)

The Beautiful Experience Medley was of the remix versions of The Most Beautiful Girl In The World that would be released on The Beautiful Experience EP 17 May 1994. The rest of the tracks were from the Gold Experience album. Subsequent broadcasts of the tape followed in several other European countries.

Meanwhile, a new version of The Most Beautiful Girl In The World was recorded that was co-produced by Ricky Peterson and featured additional guitar by James Behringer. It would become the album version on the August 1994 configuration of The Gold Experience.

O(+> chose to film a live video of Mustang Mix on 22 March intended for airing a month later on BBC’s Top Of The Pops TV show 30 April 1994.

Work continued on The Gold Experience with the Come tracks being removed as O(+> decided to go back to the thought of releasing the Come album after all. Interactive featured the NPG Operator announcing the full version of the song on the Come album of which he submitted a configuration to Warner Bros. in March.

O(+>: The Gold Experience (March 1994)
1. NPG Operator (0:11)
2. Interactive (2:25)
3. NPG Operator (0:05)
4. Days Of Wild (3:46)
5. NPG Operator (0:17)
6. The Most Beautiful Girl In The World (4:37)
7. NPG Operator (0:20)
8. Now (4:30)
9. Acknowledge Me (5:27)
10. Ripopgodazippa (4:39)
11. NPG Operator (0:17)
12. 319 (3:19)
13. NPG Operator (0:09)
14. Shy (5:03)      
15. Billy Jack Bitch (5:31)
16. Eye Hate U (5:53)
17. NPG Operator (0:44)
18. Gold (7:22)

Box Talk 777
O(+>’s dancer, Mayte, and band, The NPG, appeared on the music TV channel The Box in a segment entitled Box Talk 777 advertising The Beautiful Experience TV movie. Mayte said: “This is the future: We’re gonna have a party (a snippet of Now was played) and we’ll invite all the beautiful people. Then we’re gonna introduce three of our new experiences for them (snippets of Interactive, Days Of Wild and Shhh were played). Don’t worry, we WILL jam. (A snippet of The Jam was played). And after we release The Beautiful Experience on 14 different configurations, we’ll rehearse, book and perform the first worldwide interactive tour entitled Gold. Welcome to the dawn.”

Supposedly this meant that O(+> wanted to release The Most Beautiful Girl In The World in 14 different languages all at the same time. The French singer Ophelie Winter recorded a French version, Le plus beau garcon de tout l’univers, that remains unreleased, Kahoru Kohiruimaki recorded a Japanese version and Mayte’s Spanish ?Quieres ser el mas bello de este mundo? was the B-side of her The Most Beautiful Boy In The World single in the spring of 1994. The number of planned covers may have been reduced to 12, but any other versions that may have been recorded remain unreleased.

Ophelie Winter also participated in a photo shoot with O(+>. The pictures may have been intended for inclusion in a booklet for The Gold Experience CD cover.

Ripped off at The Dawn
The Beautiful Experience TV movie premiered on the British Sky One TV channel on 3 April 1994 followed by broadcasts in many other countries. Nona Gaye starred as a woman who decides to spend a Saturday night on O(+>’s website, The Dawn, where she is ripped off: Only one song, Interactive (with NPG Operator), for $19.99!

Then she falls asleep and in her dreams she gets to interact with the website and hear Days Of Wild, The Jam, Shhh and Now from the 13 February 1994 concert at Paisley Park. She is also treated to the previously unreleased song Acknowledge Me (Video Edit) and the video for The Most Beautiful Girl In The World.

The Jam was the kind of song where, if you had to go to the bathroom or order a pizza like the character in the movie, this was the time to do it, but the rest of the songs were first rate, particularly Acknowlegde Me. It had a cool dance video starring Mayte and hot choreographer Jamie King and was slated to be the follow-up single to The Most Beautiful Girl In The World, if such a thing had been possible.

Meanwhile, O(+> had been busy in the studio, recording Love Sign with co-lead vocal by Nona Gaye and co-production by Ricky Peterson, whose brother Paul Peterson played bass on the track. O(+> also recorded What It Is…, Strength and a 19 minutes cover of Angie by The Rolling Stones.

The lyrics for What It Is… were printed in Uptown #13:

What It Is…
To know the Way,
We go the Way
We do the Way
The way we do
The things we do.
It’s all there in front of you,
But if you try too hard to see it,
You’ll only become Confused

I am me,
And you are you,
As you can see;
But when you do
The things that you can do,
You will find the Way,
And the Way will follow you.

The one and only Gold review
On 9 April 1994, O(+> previewed four of his new experiences on Soul Train, lip-synching to The Most Beautiful Girl In The World (Mustang Mix), Now and Acknowledge Me, plus Love Sign guest-starring Nona Gaye.

Then, later in April, when Warner Bros. had refused to release the March 1994 configuration of Come, O(+> made a new album configuration including tracks from both Come and The Gold Experience. It was called The Gold Album and was pressed on CD with hand-drawn cover art.

O(+>: The Gold Album (April 1994)
1. Strength
2. Ripopgodazippa
3. Interactive
4. Space
5. Endorphin Machine
6. Days Of Wild
7. Now
8. Angie (The Rolling Stones)
9. 319
10. The Jam (Graham Central Station)
11. Gold

This configuration included segues, like the tagline “all respect to Larry Graham” before The Jam and a bit of the Coca Cola theme before Gold. Space may have featured an introduction by the NPG Operator, because when the song was subsequently performed live in Monaco, the NPG Operator said, "welcome to the Dawn. You have just accessed the Space experience. Please enjoy," at the beginning of the song. Later in April, Prince went back to having Come be a separate album from The Gold Experience.

O(+> brought a copy of The Gold Album and a copy of Come with him to Monaco, where he played some of the tracks to journalist Alan Light from Vibe on 2 May 1994. Alan Light had this to say about The Gold Album: “The songs are stripped-down, taut, funky as hell, full of sex and bite. Days of Wild is a dense, Atomic Dog-style jam with multiple, interlocking bass lines. Now is a bouncing party romp; 319 is rocking, roaring, and dirty; and Ripopgodazippa is just dirty. This album is more experimental, more surprising structurally and sonically (than Come). Hearing the two albums back-to-back, it's clear that the Prince album may be more commercial than O(+>'s, but it's also more conventional - as conventional as he gets, anyway.”

Alan Light continued: “His album covers used to include the phrase “May U live 2 see the dawn.” This album opens with the words “Welcome 2 the dawn.” (…) “We talked earlier about the title track to The Gold Album, which members of his entourage were raving about but he didn't play for me. He said then that he's worried about playing some of the new songs because the bootleggers will have them out on the market before he will.”

Despite this reservation, O(+> played Gold anyway during one of the concerts he played in Monaco and Paris while in Europe. He also played Interactive, Days Of Wild/Hair by Graham Central Station and Now/Babies Makin’ Babies by Sly And The Family Stone in a row – all three tracks including the NPG Operator, as well as Acknowledge Me and The Jam.

On 4 May 1994, O(+> appeared at the TV transmitted World Music Awards in Monaco, lip-synching to the version of The Most Beautiful Girl In The World that would become the album version on the August configuration of The Gold Experience.

A rehearsal at the Canal+ studios in Paris, 6 May 1994, included instrumental performances of 319, Shy, Billy Jack Bitch and Acknowledge Me by The NPG before O(+> himself joined them on Acknowledge Me and an instrumental version of Ripopgodazippa.

The Gold Album becomes The Gold Experience again
O(+> received the Living Legend Award at the fourth annual Celebrate The Soul Of American Music Awards in Los Angeles, 7 May 1994. In his thank you speech, O(+> said: “One child got free (The Most Beautiful Girl In The World) and it was truly a beautiful experience. I’m very grateful to Mo Ostin and Lenny Waronker at Warner Brothers for that opportunity. Perhaps one day all the powers that are will realize that it’s better to let a man be all that he can be than to try to limit his output to just what they can handle. “Our sources tell us that there’s just too much music.” Well, my sources, all of you, tell me to be all I can be. For this I am eternally grateful.”

While finalizing work on the Come album, O(+> pulled the March configuration of The Gold Experience out of his vault and prepared it for a simultaneous release. Interactive didn't make the Come album, so The Gold Experience now featured the full version. The cover was printed in Uptown #21.

O(+>: The Gold Experience (May 1994)
1. NPG Operator (0:11)
2. Interactive (3:03)
3. NPG Operator (0:05)
4. Days Of Wild (3:46)
5. NPG Operator (0:17)
6. The Most Beautiful Girl In The World (4:37)
7. NPG Operator (0:20)
8. Now (4:30)
9. Acknowledge Me (5:27)
10. Ripopgodazippa (4:39)
11. NPG Operator (0:17)
12. 319 (3:19)
13. NPG Operator (0:09)
14. Shy (5:03)      
15. Billy Jack Bitch (5:31)
16. Eye Hate U (5:53)
17. NPG Operator (0:44)
18. Gold (7:22)

On 17 May 1994, The Beautiful Experience EP was released. It peaked at number 92 on the Pop Chart and number 29 on the R&B Chart. "Welcome 2 the Dawn, U have just accessed the Beautiful Experience" it said in the booklet, which also proclaimed: "This is the dawning of a New spiritual Revolution" as previously stated in the song Come. It also said "The Exodus Has Begun" - the title of a new song about O(+>'s struggles with Warner Bros. and also the title of an album with The NPG which he was working on at the time.

O(+>: The Beautiful Experience EP (May 1994)
1. Beautiful (5:55)
2. Staxowax (5:14)
3. Mustang Mix (6:19)
4. Flutestramental (3:35)
5. Sexy Staxophone And Guitar (3:54)
6. Mustang Instrumental (3:23)
7. The Most Beautiful Girl In The World (4:37)

In the US, a couple of singles from The Beautiful Experience were released.

O(+>: The Most Beautiful Girl In The World Staxowax US single (1994)
1. Staxowax (5:01)
2. Sexy Staxophone And Guitar (3:37)

O(+>: The Most Beautiful Girl In The World Mustang Mix US single (1994)
1. Mustang Mix (6:19)
2. Mustang Instrumental (3:19)

Also in the US, two rarities were produced that contained an instrumental version with saxophone performed by Brian Gallagher of The NPG Hornz. It was titled Brian's Mix on the 12" vinyl promo single and Saxophone Version on the cassette single.

O(+>: The Most Beautiful Girl In The World US 12" promo (1994)
1. Staxowax (5:00)
2. Mustang Mix (6:22)
3. Brian’s Mix (3:30)
4. Beautiful (5:55)
5. Original Mix (4:37)

O(+>: The Most Beautiful Girl In The World Played By Brian Gallagher US cassette single (1994)
1. The Most Beautiful Girl In The World (Saxophone Version) (4:30)
2. The Most Beautiful Girl In The World (Vocal Version) (4:30)

The Love Experience
O(+> delivered The Gold Experience to Warner Bros. around the same time as Come, 19 May 1994. 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 and they would be happy to release The Gold Experience, but at the appropriate time. (Ironically, twenty years later in 2014 Warner Bros. would have no problem releasing the Prince: Art Official Age and Prince & 3rdeyegirl: Plectrumelectrum albums simultaneously.)

O(+> then embarked upon a summer tour of clubs in Minneapolis, Miami, Los Angeles and New York dubbed The Love Experience. The tour lasted from 28 May to 26 July 1994 and included performances of Interactive (short), Days Of Wild/Hair, The Most Beautiful Girl In The World, Hide The Bone, Now/Babies Makin’ Babies, Acknowledge Me, Ripopgodazippa, 319 (extended), Billy Jack Bitch, Gold, Mustang Mix, The Jam, Shhh and Love Sign with Nona Gaye. During the final show O(+> played the newly recorded Pussy Control from record. In a 1996 interview with The Globe And Mail, he said the song was “about women taking charge of their sexuality.”

In July 2016 a bootleg DVD of the three shows at Glam Slam Miami 8-10 June 1994 appeared. It was horrible filmed - it seemed more interested in showing close-ups of the female go-go dancers' grinding crotches than what O(+> and the NPG were doing on stage. But the soundtrack for the DVDs became available on iTunes and sounded great.

The Love Sign war
While O(+> was on tour, promotional copies of Love Sign were delivered to US radio stations in June 1994. Warner Bros. was very unhappy about it, since the record company felt they had an agreement with O(+> that he would not release the song separately from the 1-800-NEW-FUNK compilation album in any configuration. It would be in conflict with their single release from Come, Letitgo, which he had refused to shoot a video for. Instead, O(+> had shot a video for Love Sign and had also produced a maxi single containing seven remixes of the song by Teddy Riley, Mack and Shock G.

Nona Gaye & O(+>: Love Sign promo single (June 1994)
1. Love Sign (Radio Edit) (3:24)
2. Love Sign (The 1-800 New Funk Version) (4:33)
3. Love Sign (The Storyboard Video Mix) (5:36)

Nona Gaye & O(+>: Love Sign – The Remixes EP (June 1994)
1. Ted’s Get ‘Em Up Mix (6:30)
2. Shock’s Silky Smooth Mix (3:52)
3. Ted’s Funky Chariot Mix (6:57)
4. Mack Attack Message Mix (4:35)
5. Ted’s Double Trouble Mix (6:57)
6. Ted’s Love Sign Radio Mix (6:22)
7. Shock’s Silky Smooth INT’s (4:23)

“I said, OK, listen, there are people shooting and killing each other in the ‘hood,” O(+> told Q in 1995, “and I think I can do something about it, and put some money in, and maybe that would be more important than what’s in your Billboard chart this week. They (Warner Bros.) said no.”

So the Love Sign remixes EP remained unreleased, although the EP got bootlegged, but Shock’s Silky Smooth Mix was officially released as Lovesign (Remix by Shock G.) on Crystal Ball in 1998.

Regardless of Warner's antipathy towards the song, the Love Sign video premiered on BET 27 June 1994, and 12 July 1994 O(+> performed the song with Nona Gaye on NBC-TV’s The Today Show. The single wasn’t allowed release, though, so the only place to get the song was on the 1-800-NEW-FUNK album, which was released on NPG Records 12 August 1994. Love Sign was the only song on the album that was attributed to O(+> (as a duet with Nona Gaye). The rest of the tracks were performed by associated artists.

O(+> gave the album his full support and placed an advertisement in Billboard. Still, the album failed to enter Billboard’s Pop Chart, although it got to number 45 on the R&B Chart. Despite the moderate chart success, O(+>’s organization claimed that 1-800-NEW-FUNK sold gold (500.000 copies). But O(+>’s lack of commitment to the Come album, released 16 August 1994, in favor of the 1-800-NEW-FUNK project had infuriated many Warner Bros. top-level executives.

Revamping the experience
O(+> made some changes to The Gold Experience in the summer of 1994. Apparently, he was very pleased with the second half of the album, which he kept as it was, so the changes were at the beginning of the album. He replaced the opening tracks Interactive and Days Of Wild with three tracks that had previously been included on the first February 1994 configuration, Chaos And Disorder, Listen 2 The Rhythm and Right The Wrong. He also moved The Most Beautiful Girl In The World from before Now till after Ripopgodazippa.

O(+>: The Gold Experience (summer 1994)
1. Chaos And Disorder
2. Listen 2 The Rhythm
3. Now
4. Right The Wrong
5. Acknowledge Me
6. Ripopgodazippa
7. The Most Beautiful Girl In The World (4:37)
8. 319
9. Shy
10. Billy Jack Bitch
11. Eye Hate U
12. Gold

With no release in sight, O(+> continued work on The Gold Experience. He decided to let Chaos And Disorder be the title track of its own album and instead made an edit of Pussy Control the opening track on the album. Right The Wrong also went to the Chaos And Disorder album, while Listen 2 The Rhythm was rerecorded as The Rhythm Of Your Heart for Mayte's 1995 Child Of The Sun album.

O(+> also removed Ripopgodazippa in order to make room for the newly recorded We March, which featured co-lead vocals by Nona Gaye and Sonny Thompson. O(+>’s keyboard player Morris Hayes recalled the song in a 2018 interview with The Current: “Nona Gaye was a great friend of ours, and she was really just a wonderful person and when we did that song, it's crazy because it kind of went through a few different kind of evolutions, and it really ended up being this real funky thing that we really enjoyed playing because of the funk that was kind of in it.”

It is unknown if additional work was done on Acknowledge Me, but both the Come outtakes, Endorphinmachine and Dolphin, were updated before inclusion. O(+> said in the 1998 Crystal Ball booklet that Interactive "was replaced by the Endorphin Machine on The Gold Experience" because he "didn't think they worked back 2 back" like they had been on the March 1994 configuration of Come.

Finally, the version of The Most Beautiful Girl In The World that O(+> had lip-synched to at the World Music Awards in Monaco on 4 May became the album version instead of the single version.

O(+>: The Gold Experience (August 1994)
1. Pussy Control (5:59)
2. NPG Operator (0:12)
3. Endorphinmachine (4:07)
4. Acknowledge Me (?)
5. We March (?)
6. NPG Operator (0:05)
7. Days Of Wild (3:46)
8. NPG Operator (0:18)
9. The Most Beautiful Girl In The World (4:25)
10. Dolphin (4:59)
11. NPG Operator (0:20)
12. Now (4:30)
13. NPG Operator (0:14)
14. 319 (3:19)
15. NPG Operator (0:10)
16. Shy (5:04)
17. Billy Jack Bitch (5:32)
18. Eye Hate U (5:54)
19. NPG Operator (0:45)
20. Gold (7:23)

Release date: Never!
In September 1994, O(+> and Warner Bros. tentatively agreed that The Gold Experience was going to be released about a week before Christmas 1994. The plan was to release it on the Tommy Boy label in the US and East West in other territories. Both labels were wholly owned by Warner Bros. The arrangement would allow O(+> to work with a smaller label and enable him to get the album out without letting Warner Bros. handle the marketing and promotion.

The verbal agreement was never formalized into writing, however, and in the end, O(+> decided that he didn’t want to go ahead with the plans. One reason being that the record would not count towards the four albums he still owed Warner Bros.

In October 1994 O(+> once again changed The Gold Experience. He replaced Acknowledge Me with Shhh. Warner Bros. had asked for the song for Come in May, but now O(+> put it on The Gold Experience instead. 

O(+>: The Gold Experience (13 October 1994)
1. P. Control (5:59)
2. NPG Operator (0:12)
3. Endorphinmachine (4:07)
4. Shhh! (7:18)
5. We March (?)
6. NPG Operator (0:05)
7. Days Of Wild (3:46)
8. NPG Operator (0:18)
9. The Most Beautiful Girl In The World (4:25)
10. Dolphin (4:59)
11. NPG Operator (0:20)
12. Now (4:30)
13. NPG Operator (0:14)
14. 319 (3:19)
15. NPG Operator (0:10)
16. Shy (5:04)
17. Billy Jack Bitch (5:32)
18. Eye Hate U (5:54)
19. NPG Operator (0:45)
20. Gold (7:23)

Also on 13 October 1994, a press release by O(+>’s PR company stated that O(+> had reached the point of no return with Warner Bros. and that due to the conflict the fans may never get to hear The Gold Experience. “He now feels that his much publicized $100 million deal may have just been a way to lock him into institutionalized slavery.”

O(+> was “anxious to turn in the four albums left on his contract and walk away from a situation which is causing him considerable stress, both creatively and emotionally.” Soon after the press release, NPG Records began passing out flyers and posting messages on the Internet with the release date of “never” for The Gold Experience, asking fans to continue to petition Warner Bros. to release the album.

The flyers included the new track listing for The Gold Experience.

Black instead of Gold
Less than two weeks later, on 25 October 1994, O(+> signed an agreement with Warner Bros. to release the Black Album, which had originally been recalled from release in December 1987. The release was instigated by the record label, whose publicist Bob Merlis said that they had wanted to put it out for years. The initial deal proposed to O(+> provided for Warner Bros. to pay him $4 million upfront for the release of the Black Album in November 1994 and The Gold Experience in early 1995. The deal further stipulated that O(+> would record a soundtrack to a to-be-determined Warner Bros. film. The three album deal would count as two albums toward the remaining four albums of O(+>’s contract. O(+>’s attorney was en route to the record company to pick up the cheque and sign off on the papers when O(+> had a last-minute change of mind about the deal, ostensibly about wanting more money. The attorney advised him that it was a very good deal and that he would not be able to get more money from the label. The deal was subsequently cancelled and O(+>’s attorney quit a week later.

The discussions coincided with a turnover in Warner Bros.’ top management, with Lenny Waronker and Mo Ostin leaving the record company, which restricted their power to make deals. Still, they were able to rescue the Black Album from the original three-album deal. O(+> received approximately $1 million. However, discussions about the release of The Gold Experience had to be postponed until early 1995 when the new Warner Bros. regime had moved in.

The Black Album was released 22 November 1994. O(+>’s publicist, Karen Lee, said that he was “spiritually against” the album and that he had been forced to sign the agreement. It reached number 47 on the Pop Chart and number 18 on the R&B Chart.

Warner Bros.’ slave
At some point in 1994, O(+> was introduced to singer Ashley Davis by NPG keyboard player Morris Hayes, and O(+> recorded the song On Your Own with Ashley on lead vocal. The song remains unreleased. In 2005, Ashley would work with the then renamed Prince again under the name Támar for an entire album that also remains unreleased, although her duet with Prince, Beautiful, Loved And Blessed, got released on his 3121 album in 2006.

Back in 1994, O(+> released a promo video for Dolphin and on 13 December, he performed the song on CBS’ The Late Show With David Letterman. Like in the video, O(+> had “slave” written on his cheek. When David Letterman presented the performance, he said: “The song he will be doing for us tonight is from this CD right here, which is entitled The Gold Experience, and I’m told this particular CD will never be released. So it makes perfect sense that he is here promoting it tonight.”

Meanwhile, Danny Goldberg, former manager of Nirvana, was appointed chairman of Warner Bros. Records. While there was little basis for assuming that Goldberg would be easier to deal with, the shift in regimes offered the potential of a fresh start.

In early 1995, O(+> offered the new board on Warner Bros. a live-set that along with the release of The Gold Experience would fulfill his contract, after which he would release an acoustic set called Heart on NPG Records. However, O(+> would not allow Warner Bros. to keep the master tapes for The Gold Experience, so no deal was made.

O(+> was in Los Angeles on 30 January 1995 to accept an American Music Award Of Merit for his body of work as Prince. Carmen Electra and the ErotiCity dancers from O(+>’s Glam Slam club in L. A. performed while a video of his upcoming Purple Medley single was shown. O(+> himself lip-synched to abbreviated versions of three songs from the then unreleased Gold Experience album, Billy Jack Bitch, Eye Hate U and 319, before Nona Gaye presented him with the award.

On 12 February 1995, it was confirmed that there would be O(+> songs in the Paul Verhoeven-directed film Showgirls, due for release by MGM/United Artists in September 1995. It was reported that O(+> had contributed four songs to the project, but in the end only two, 319 and Ripopgodazippa, appeared in the film. Warner Bros. only granted a licence to use the songs in the film, not on the soundtrack album.

O(+>, who now never appeared in public without “slave” written on his cheek, received the award for Best International Artist at the Brit Awards, 20 February 1995. In his thank you speech, he said: “Prince: Best? The Gold Experience: Better. In concert: Perfectly free. On record: Slave.”

“They put this on my face,” he stated afterwards in an interview with Echoes. “I’m a slave to Warners until they set me free.”

The Ultimate Live Experience?
On 1 March 1995, O(+> gave several interviews to newspapers and music and entertainment publications while in London. “I could give Warners four albums tomorrow but they don’t want that,” he told New Musical Express. “I’m going to stay on the road until the contract ends. I’ve already booked a show for Madison Square Garden in 1998. I can keep touring until then. I love being on stage, I love playing and I’m strong enough. I never get tired.”

On BBC TV’s The Sunday Show, 5 March 1995, there was a transmission of O(+> performing Billy Jack Bitch live from Wembley Arena, where the European Gold Experience tour had started 3 March 1995. It was advertised as The Ultimate Live Experience and lasted until 31 March 1995. The set-list included Endorphinmachine, The Jam, Shhh, Days Of Wild/Hair, Now/Babies Makin’ Babies, The Most Beautiful Girl In The World, Pussy Control, Gold and at most shows a medley of Billy Jack Bitch, Eye Hate U and 319. Dolphin made a rare appearance. At aftershows, O(+> also played Beautiful Girl - a new version of Brian's Mix featuring saxophone by Eric Leeds instead. It was released on the The NPG: Get Wild single in Europe.

Some critics bemoaned the lack of hits being played at the shows and O(+> focusing on the unheard and unknown The Gold Experience instead, while hardcore fans cherished the opportunity to hear O(+>’s new music.

At the first show in London, 3 March 1995, O(+> gave a speech. He said: “I’m gonna start this motherfucker like I intend to finish – in London, 1999!”

“Since the last time I’ve seen you,” he continued, “I made seven albums, what do you think about that? Contrary to rumor it’s all good.”

Those seven albums were probably Come, The Gold Experience, The New Power Generation: Exodus, Madhouse: 24, The NPG Orchestra: Kamasutra, Heart and Chaos And Disorder.

Back home at Paisley Park, O(+> assembled a new configuration of the Mayte album Latino Barbie Doll, now titled Child Of The Sun, on 5 May 1995. It included a new version of Listen 2 The Rhythm, now retitled The Rhythm Of Your Heart and featuring a rap by O(+>. An edit without the rap appeared on the final configuration that was released on 27 November 1995.

The Remix Experiences
On 12 May 1995, O(+> met with Warner Bros.’ new top management. The meeting led O(+> and Warner Bros. to settle their differences, at least for the time being. Danny Goldberg agreed to release The Gold Experience, plus The NPG: Exodus in the US. In turn, Goldberg believed he had extracted from O(+> a commitment to stop bashing the label in public.

Although Goldberg had not committed to any specific timetable for releasing the albums, O(+> assumed they would be rushed out almost immediately. When this failed to happen, he believed he had been misled. He felt that Goldberg did not understand him or his music and “slave” remained emblazoned on his face.

Before turning The Gold Experience over to Warner Bros., O(+> removed Days Of Wild from the album and updated the Ricky Peterson co-produced We March with additional programming and production by Kirk A. Johnson, also known as Kirky J., but otherwise the album remained the same as the September/October 1994 configuration.

O(+>: The Gold Experience (May 1995)
1. P. Control (5:59)
2. NPG Operator (0:12)
3. Endorphinmachine (4:07)
4. Shhh! (7:18)
5. We March (4:49)
6. NPG Operator (0:18)
7. The Most Beautiful Girl In The World (4:25)
8. Dolphin (4:59)
9. NPG Operator (0:20)
10. Now (4:30)
11. NPG Operator (0:31)
12. 319 (3:05)
13. NPG Operator (0:10)
14. Shy (5:04)
15. Billy Jack Bitch (5:32)
16. Eye Hate U (5:54)
17. NPG Operator (0:45)
18. Gold (7:23)

While Eric Leeds had done a Quiet Night Mix of Eye Hate U, O(+> had recorded Eye Hate U (Extended Remix), Pussy Control (House Mix) and Pussy Control (Club Mix) by 13 June 1995, intended for a The Hate Experience EP.

O(+>: The Hate Experience EP (1995)
Track list unknown, but includes remixes of Eye Hate U and Pussy Control

O(+> celebrated his 2nd birthday by giving a couple of concerts at Glam Slam Miami 7-8 June 1995. He played the same Gold tracks as on the European tour, but now Days Of Wild no longer included Hair and Now no longer included Babies Makin’ Babies. Supposedly, the birthday show was recorded for a possible live release.

O(+>: The Live Experience (June 1995)
Track list unknown, but recorded live at Glam Slam Miami, Florida, 7 June 1995

Prior to 8 July 1995 O(+> also worked on remixes and edits of The Gold Experience songs for a “soundtrack” to a Versace fashion show during Paris Fashion Days 8-10 July 1995.

O(+>: The Versace Experience (Prelude 2 Gold) cassette (8 July 1995)
1. P. Control (Club Mix) (Edit) (3:04)
2. Shhh! (Edit) (3:54)
3. N.P.G.: Get Wild (In The House Mix) (Edit) (2:14)
4. Eye Hate U (Remix) (3:28) - combines Eye Hate U (Quiet Night Mix) & Eye Hate U (Extended Remix)
5. 319 (Edit) (1:28)
6. Shy (Edit) (2:22)
7. Billy Jack Bitch (Remix Edit) (2:31)
8. Madhouse: Sonny T. Segue (Edit) (0:28)
9. Madhouse: Rootie Kazootie (Edit) (2:37)
10. Chatounette Controle (2:24)
11. P. Control (Control Tempo Edit) (1:23) - the outro of P. Control (House Mix)
12. The NPG Orchestra: Kamasutra Overture #5 (0:43) – later renamed Serotonin
13. N.P.G.: Free The Music (Edit) (1:44)
14. Segue (0:49) – remix of NPG Operator preceding TMBGITW on The Gold Experience
15. Gold (Edit) (3:39)

The Versace Experience got released officially in 2019 on all formats, including CD.

What happened to Days Of Wild?
In mid-July 1995 O(+>’s dancer Mayte was interviewed by Uptown and was asked about why Days Of Wild was no longer on The Gold Experience. “That was taken out, because we have other plans for this song,” she answered. “The flow of the album is really good (now).”

She revealed that O(+> had also re-done We March: “He changed the music. It sounds much better (now).”

During the rest of 1995, O(+> gave a series of Love 4 One Another concerts at Paisley Park. Besides the usual Gold tracks, he occasionally played Dolphin and added We March to his live repertoire.

In their Autumn 1995 issue, Esquire Gentleman printed an interview with O(+>. It was revealed that he had been working on an Emancipation album of maybe fifty new songs, which would now be his first album when he was free. He said that his heart and perhaps his best work were in Emancipation.

This came as a big surprise to people at Warner Bros. No one knew about it and O(+>’s statements in the interview regarding his “slavery” were seen as a breach of his agreement to stop attacking the label. Warner Bros. officials cancelled the US release of Exodus in retaliation, but the first single from The Gold Experience, Eye Hate U, was released as planned 12 September 1995. It peaked at number 12 on the Billboard Pop Chart and number 3 on the R&B Chart despite there being no video to support the single. A maxi-single was released the following week, 19 September 1995.

O(+>: Eye Hate U - The Hate Experience single (September 1995)
1. Eye Hate U (7” Edit w/o Guitar) (3:50)
2. Eye Hate U (Album Edit) (4:26)
3. Eye Hate U (Quiet Night Mix By Eric Leeds) (3:55)
4. Eye Hate U (Extended Remix) (6:17)
5. Eye Hate U (Album Version) (5:58) – without NPG Operator

On the day of the Eye Hate U single release, 12 September 1995, O(+> recorded Rock And Roll Is Alive! (And It Lives In Minneapolis), which would become the B-side of the next single, Gold.

Release of The Gold Experience
Warner Bros. claimed that the release of The Gold Experience had been rescheduled twice because O(+> failed to deliver the master tapes, but on 26 September 1995 it finally saw the light of day. It has since been speculated that O(+> was actually allowed to keep the masters for the album because of its failure to stay in print like his other Warner Bros. albums.

Although the May 1994 configuration with Interactive, Acknowledge Me and Ripopgodazippa would have been preferable, The Gold Experience was still a pretty good release despite its impact being diluted by its much delayed release. With O(+> already having promoted and toured in support of the album, many fans already knew most of the songs on the album by heart.

The title of Pussy Control had been changed to P. Control to avoid controversy from retailers who may have refused to sell the album with the word “pussy” printed on the packaging, but the record’s commercial performance still ended up being considered disastrous: Only 530.000 units were sold in the United States, with the album reaching number 6 on the Pop Chart and number 2 on the R&B chart.

Critics generally approved of The Gold Experience, calling it O(+>’s best album since Sign ‘O’ The Times. “The Gold Experience may not be the deepest collection of songs Prince has offered, but it's certainly the loosest - and the most accessible - in quite some time,” wrote Tom Moon in Philadelphia Enquirer. “The Gold Experience is a Prince experience par excellence,” concluded Vibe Magazine. “The Gold Experience fully redeems O(+> as the ruler of his wildly imaginative, funky, sexy kingdom” said Vickie Gilmer in St. Paul Pioneer Press.

Danny Kelly of Q was a little less enthusiastic: “After a succession of breathtaking albums in the '80s, his output has been characterized by aimlessness.” He concluded that The Gold Experience “is still no Purple Rain, Around The World In A Day or Sign ‘O’ The Times, but the gem-to-lint ratio is altogether healthier.”

The final Gold tracks
On 25 November 1995, O(+> revealed at a Paisley Park party that he had actually made a video for Eye Hate U, but for some strange reason he had decided not to release it to the general public. A promo video was released for his next single, though. Gold was released 30 November 1995, but it only reached number 88 on the Pop Chart and number 92 on the R&B Chart.

O(+>: Gold single (November 1995)
1. Gold (Edit) (4:43)
2. Rock And Roll Is Alive! (And It Lives In Minneapolis) (4:34)
3. Eye Hate U (Extended Remix) (6:17)

O(+>: Gold US promo single (November 1995)
1. Gold (Radio Edit with Guitar Solo) (4:23)
2. Gold (Alternate Radio Edit with Guitar Solo) (4:37)
3. Gold (Radio Edit without Guitar Solo) (4:43)
5. Gold (Album Version) (7:23)
6. Rock And Roll Is Alive! (And It Lives In Minneapolis) (4:34)

On 3 December 1995, O(+> lip-synched P. Control (House Mix) on VH-1’s Fashion And Music Awards. A cassette with the remixes of P. Control was handed out for free to the VIPs. A version of P. Control (Club Mix) with a different beginning than the version on the cassette was released on the 1998 Crystal Ball collection.

O(+>: P. Control cassette (December 1995)
1. House Mix (5:47)
2. Club Mix (6:02)

Around November 1995, O(+> produced a new remix of Mustang Mix by Tom Tucker entitled Mustang Mix ’96. A single was made up intended for a Valentine’s Day 1996 release, but that ended up not happening.

O(+>: The Most Beautiful Girl In The World ’96 Mix single (late 1995)
1. Mustang Mix ´96 (4:25)
2. The Most Beautiful Girl In The World (4:37)

In early 1996, O(+> resumed The Gold Experience tour, this time in Japan 8 – 20 January 1996 and on Hawaii 17 – 19 February 1996. Endorphinmachine and Shhh were now played as a brief medley and P. Control was played in a short medley with the NPG track Get Wild like in P. Control (House Mix).

On 27 January 1996, VH-1 broadcast the premiere of Love 4 One Another, a TV movie resembling The Beautiful Experience TV film with dramatic scenes interspersed between live performances and videos. Love 4 One Another included videos for Gold and Rock ‘n’ Roll Is Alive! (And It Lives In Minneapolis), as well as live performances of Days Of Wild and The Jam filmed at a concert at Paisley Park 28 October 1995.

The film caused quite a stir amongst O(+>’s fans because he stated that “fan” was short for “fanatic” upon looking it up in a dictionary. It wasn’t until 1998 that O(+> redeemed himself a little by releasing Acknowledge Me, Ripopgodazippa and Hide The Bone on the Crystal Ball collection, which also included a live version of Days Of Wild. It was an edit of a 9 December 1995 performance at Paisley Park.

In 2002, Prince recorded a new live version of Days Of Wild at a concert in Montreal. It was released as a single.

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

14 kommentarer:

  1. Was reading the thread where (I presume) you got proof that the May 1994 Gold Experience had the full "Interactive", and someone mentioned a config from August 1994 (as stated on the US WB promo) that was the same as the October 1994 one listed, but with Acknowledge Me rather than Shhh. There was also a mention that Prince once put up the album on a FTP server during the "Release Date: Never" thing.

    Plus, the May 1994 cover is actually of the booklet back cover. The main cover was in the same magazine (it's near-identical to the final cover but with higher (and larger) potions for the O(+> logo and "The Gold Experience".

    1. Thankyou for your comment. It is Prince Vault that says the May 1994 configuration has the full version of Interactive and I just took their word for it because it makes sense to me. :-) I have not heard of the August 1994 configuration before you just mentioned it now, but it would not surprise me if it was true because Acknowledge Me was considered worthy of a single at the time. :-) Still, it would be nice if we could narrow the source down to something more specific than "someone mentioned" before I start adding it as fact. ;-) I'm sure you're right about the cover picture - I just used the illustration available to me. I don't have the actual magazine. :-)

    2. Better late than never....

      Info source: https://prince.org/msg/7/14959

    3. Thank you very much, Aaron. I consider Neversin a reliable source and I have now updated the Gold chapter with this information - from Revamping the Experience to Black instead of Gold, as well as Acknowledgements. ;-)

    4. I, too, have stumbled upon the configuration that hasn’t been quite mentioned on the website; it’s supposedly from January/February 1994:

      (via Neversin.)

    5. Thank you very much. That track list gives sense to the radio tape. I'll add it to the feature as soon as possible. :-)

    6. The Gold chapter has now been updated from Revamping the Experience to Box Talk 777 with the new information as well as Acknowledgements. ;-)

    7. Thank you very much, and you’re most welcome!

      With all due respect,
      The_Ride x

  2. Hello. Would you be able to republish the chronological recordings of Prince list— at least, from 1993 to early 1994 ("The Dawn" era?). With that being said, thank you indescribably much in advance; excellent work, all in all! Frankly magnificent...
    With all due respect,
    The_Ride – the longtime reader of yours

    1. Thank you for your comments and suggestions. I'm considering making a separate blog for the list of chronological recordings in the not too far future. ;-)

    2. Wow, that would be indeed wondrous; thank you immensely much for what you’ll have done!
      And—as always—with all due respect…

    3. AND... Here it is: https://chronologicalprincerecordingsindex.blogspot.com/

  3. The cover art to May 1994 The Gold Experience is incorrect. Uptown #21 said it was the booklet's back cover, not the front cover. The booklet front cover was still the same and appears to look a bit like this, if making the logo alignment the same as the B&W image is to go-by: https://i.redd.it/0kloe02j33n51.png

    1. I'm sure you're right about the cover picture - I just used the illustration available to me. I don't have the actual magazine. :-)