The latest album to escape out of Prince's fortress-like vault is a collection of greatest hits. The quirk is that none of these songs were hits for him. No.
Instead, this compilation consists of the demos or guide tracks Prince recorded of songs he wrote for other artists to top the charts with.
Titled Originals, an acceptable alternative title would have been Classics, this sees Prince performing 15 hits, including Jungle Love, Manic Monday and the world-conquering Nothing Compares 2 U.
Don't' be fooled by the term "demo" either, which suggests a shaky recording of dubious quality with stripped-back instrumentation because that's not what's going on here. These are full-blooded productions with all the trappings of an officially released song.
I'm talking funked-out synths, a full quota of backing vocalists, flying electric guitars, honking brass, reflective pianos, sultry saxophones, a choir at one point, and all topped off with Prince's incredible vocals.
The songs here amply display the depth of his range as he swaps effortlessly from bedroom-eyed sleaze (The Time's Gigolos Get Lonely Too) to full-blown, maximum soul Prince histrionics (Jill Jones' Baby, You're a Trip) to party mode (Sheila E's Holly Rock) and through to his sensitive and angelic falsetto (Martika's 1991 hit Love... Thy Will Be Done).
As these were never intended to be heard outside of the vault it's not surprising to learn that they don't differ greatly from the famous versions. Kenny Rogers' take on You're My Love is near identical to Prince's guide track, for example. The biggest exception being Prince's take on Nothing Compares 2 U, which is more bombastic then Sinead O' Connor's brutally heart-wrenching spin.
Hearing how his royal badness envisioned these familiar songs is certainly a treat for Prince fans, but ultimately it's more a curiosity than a must-have. Where last year's first posthumous release Piano & a Microphone 1983 was an intimate invitation to glimpse genius at work as Prince freewheeled it alone in the studio one night with a performance that more than warranted return visits, Originals just doesn't have that same pull.
It's an undeniable thrill the first couple of times but the hit of hearing Prince sing other people's hits soon wears off. Even if deep down they are really his.
A must-listen but Originals is a quick hit that soon wears off.