“Nothing Comares 2 U” was written by Prince in 1984, but hit superstardom when it was recorded and released by Sinead O’Connor in 1990. Today, however, the Prince estate released the original studio recording of the song for the first time ever in a video comprised of unreleased rehearsal footage with his group the Revolution.
You might be thinking, “wait, I’ve heard Prince perform this song before.” And you’re right. He performed the song a few times in concert, but a studio recording has never been released before. Prince’s version is much different than Sinead’s version, of course.
Sinead’s version is much more produced and heavy with echo effect, whereas Prince’s version is more rock ‘n roll. Both pack a punch of emotion, but you feel the pain and remorse in Prince’s voice with his wails and guitar riffs. He fills the interludes with a saxophone that perfectly sets the song apart from Sinead’s 1990 version. It’s classically Prince. These are the lyrics that follow the saxophone:
In the backyard all died when you went away
Is sometimes hard, sometimes hard
But I’m willing, I’m willing to give it one more try
Please do you know why, do you know why
The rehearsal footage perfectly captures Prince at the height of his career with the Revolution. In most scenes he’s trying out different spins, twirls, and jumps to accent his electric vocals. His influence from James Brown (and maybe Michael Jackson at that point?) is evident in his foot movements. And the mic stand is less his projection object and more his dance partner. The two move so well together.
The song was recorded at the Flying Cloud Drive “Warehouse” in Eden Prairie, Minnesota and the footage was shot at his home studio in Paisley Park, also in Minnesota. The consummate artist, Prince composed, arranged, and performed the entire song, except the backing vocals and saxophone. The backing vocals were performed by Susannah Melvoin and Paul “St. Paul” Peterson and the saxophone was played by Eric Leeds.
“Nothing Compares 2 U” is just the beginning of unreleased Prince recordings. On June 9th Warner Brothers, Prince’s former record label, is slated to release an expanded version of Purple Rain, the soundtrack from his movie in 1984. The album will include four disks with extended tracks, B sides, and DVD of a concert from March 1985 where Prince and the Revolution performed in Syracuse, New York. Prince began writing over a hundred songs for the movie before filming even began, and recorded every rehearsal from his home studio. With this much unreleased material, the album is bound to be something magical.
Although the rest of his estate is caught in a legal battle – an unfortunate occurrence of many deceased artists – they claim he has “thousands upon thousands” of unreleased material at Paisley Park. Time will tell if or ever the world hears those tapes, but for now Paisley Park has been opened as a museum for fans, housing things like the motorcycle from Purple Rain and stage outfits.
Thanks for the memories, then and now, Prince.