Posthumously released work rarely lives up to its potential. Thankfully, Prince left fans with more than just a series of undercooked one-offs. The second LP released since his death in 2016, Originals is made up of demos of songs the Purple One wrote for other artists — from the glossy upscale dream of “The Glamorous Life” (famously sung by Sheila E.) to the call-and-response funk of “Jungle Love” (the Time) to the poppy workweek blues of “Manic Monday” (the Bangles).
There are several versions of the late artist on display: Rock Star Prince, Sexed-Up Prince, Falsetto Prince. But it’s Songwriting Prince who takes precedent, revealing (with a few outliers) how little the artists strayed from the actual blueprints. The gospel outro of “Love… Thy Will Be Done” (Martika) and the slow-burn groove of “Baby, You’re a Trip” (Jill Jones) remain intact, save for the vocals. That makes Originals‘ exceptions all the more potent. Prince’s deep voice on “You’re My Love” and the pumped-up groove of “Wouldn’t You Love to Love Me?” help surpass the songs’ future selves by Kenny Rogers and Taja Sevelle, respectively. Same goes for “Nothing Compares 2 U” (the Family/Sinéad O’Connor), with its charging guitar riffs and syrupy saxophone. It all makes for a powerful listen and further proof that if there’s bad music inside the Paisley Park vault, we’ve yet to hear it. A-