Doing exactly what it says on the tin, this album is a live jam of Prince playing his piano in the studio.
Recorded all in one take, he hurtles through nine songs without pause in just over half an hour, mixing up styles, moods and genres. He's freewheelin', playful and trying songs on for size, seemingly playing whatever pops into his mind.
Snippets of what would become classics fleet past as he breezes through material, his own and others, songs well known and previously unheard. When he really gets going he augments the tracks with sung "doof, doof, doof" drum fills in places that he'll later place his recognisable electronic drums when readying them for release.
In many respects, you can liken this to the pages of an artist's sketchbook. The date stamp of the recording proving the songs are works in progress and he's still figuring out what he ultimately wants them to be.
He opens with 17 Days, the song that a year later would surface on the flip of When Doves Cry, making it easily his most famous b-side. Performed on piano it's a far cry from the heavy electro funk most listeners will recognise.
He immediately segues into his epic Purple Rain, then almost immediately segues out again just over a minute later to briefly cover Joni Mitchell's A Case of You before moving on once more, this time into a traditional gospel tune. From there, his medley goes into unreleased material.
Even though he's alone in the studio he gives the performance his all. He is, of course, a badass on the piano, but it's his voice that often stuns you into awe.
While it's an essential listen for fans, it's probably not what was expected from the first release from his famed vault. But it is a respectful one. It really makes you feel like you're right there in the room with him.
It's an intimate performance precisely because it's not meant to be. It's just a genius jamming out by himself one night and recording it for posterity.
His or ours, however, is the question that will never be answered.
Album: Piano & a Microphone 1983
Label: NPG Records/Warner Bros
Verdict: An essential curiosity for Prince fans.