Over the past six weeks I’ve been working on a spreadsheet and it’s got to a stage where I thought it would be worth sharing. It’s a work in progress. At this stage it covers 1973-1989, but I intend on continuing with it until it covers Prince’s entire recording career. I figured it would be a good idea to begin sharing it now while, (a) it’s got to the stage where there is some substance to it, and (b) it would be great to get feedback and suggestions now before I’ve reached the end of the timeline.
For anyone who just wants to download it, here is a link…
UPDATE: Google Sheet Version
For anyone who wants to know more, here are further details...
There were two incidents that have happened within the last few months that have prompted me to begin this.
The first thing was a chat I was having with a fan on another forum. He’d asked whether or not a complete list of leaked Prince songs exists, along with details on the best sounding sources. I replied that I didn’t know of such a list, but it would make a worthwhile fan project. I offered to help him create one, put it on my ‘to do’ list and it languished there for a while without going anywhere.
The second was the release of ‘Prince and the Parade and Sign O' The Times Era Studio Sessions’ by Duane Tudahl. As I read the book I made notes and began a list of every newly recorded song (I wasn’t including revisions of existing songs at the time). I was curious to know what the ratio was between songs that were either released or unreleased. Of the unreleased songs I also wanted to see how many had leaked / remained unheard.
I shared my findings with a few other fans and decided to take it further by adding the songs mentioned in Duane’s previous book, ‘Purple Rain Era’. At this point my list covered 1983 – 1986. After that I simply carried on adding songs. I went to PrinceVault and started adding as many songs as I could find, as well as adding additional details. Which studios the songs were recorded in. Were any mixes or edits made. The biggest endeavour was going through all the leaked songs in my bootleg collection to try and work out which versions I thought sounded the best.
Once I copied over all the details I wanted, I compared my list with Scififilmnerd’s blog as a method of verification. Our lists were about 90-95% synced at the beginning, but he also had some more accurate recording dates and details that my list lacked. By using Duane’s books, PrinceVault and Scififilmnerd’s blog as sources, I think this spreadsheet is beginning to get pretty refined.
That’s basically where I’m up to at this point. I have a lot more to do, but my hope is that this sheet will become a really useful resource for fans in the future.
The sheet is split into the following columns. ID, Track Title, Artist, Key, Date, Studio, Status, Release Title / Bootleg, Notes.
A track’s status is broadly split between one of three categories…
Released: A track that has been released physically or digitally.
Leaked: An unreleased track which has leaked either via trade tapes, on bootlegs or online.
Unreleased: Not only is the song unreleased, but it’s also not circulating publically. It’s an unheard Prince track.
There are a few other minor statuses such as ‘Partial leak’ where only a sample of a track is circulating, ‘Promo’ if a track was distributed on promotional records / CDs but was never sold in stores, or ‘Unknown’ in situations where a song is rumoured to exist but it’s unknown for sure if it was recorded in a studio.
The Key is useful for diving tracks up into categorises. All of the ‘Main Versions’ (usually the album version, or the full length version when it comes to unreleased tracks) are listed in black without a key code. However there are codes that are applied to alternate versions of songs…
SUM: Significantly Updated Mix.
This is used in cases where an existing recording has been significantly revamped. An example of this would be when a song has been pulled out the vault to have somebody else record a lead vocal for it. Another example would be if a track has had noteworthy work done to it, like when Wendy and Lisa did additional work on ‘Strange Relationship'.
Usually reserved for 7” single edits, although there are other occasions where a song would have a short edit created (promo mixes etc).
FV: Full Length Version
Used in cases where the album version has been edited. FV would be applied to leaked, uncut versions of tracks, such is the case with ‘The Beautiful Ones’.
LPS: LP Segue
Noted on tracks that segue into other tracks.
Mix: Alternate mixes
12” extended mixes, early unused mixes. Any type of alternate version with minor differences from the album version.
PGV: Prince Guide Vocal
Applied to versions of songs where Prince is singing, although the intention was always to give the song to somebody else.
Recording of codas and segues.
WIP: Work In Progress
Tracks in states where they are not intended for release / where more work is needed before they can be considered finished. An example of this would be the leak of ‘Witness For The Prosecution’ that lacks backing vocals and horn overdubs, or ‘Crystal Ball’ before strings were added.
For each track a recording date is provided which in most cases is the basic tracking date (even in cases where overdubs were made over the following few days after the initial recording). The basic tracking date is also usually used in the case of edited or extended versions, even if these were created later on. I think this just helps to keep things tidy and easier to read, rather than having multiple entries for the same song scattered all over the timeline.
The only time the basic tracking date is not used is with ‘Significantly Updated Mixes’ where (although it may not be a new recording), the track is updated enough to stand out on its own. In these cases the listed date will reflect when the track was updated.
The element that helps keep this all organised is the use of ID numbers. Each track is given a unique ID number which is loosely based on the recording date.
The IDs are formatted as follows…
T: Track (assuming more than one has been recorded that day)
So in the case of ‘Feel U Up (Short Stroke)’ the ID is 19861026AB. This is because it was recorded on 26th October 1986, the ‘A’ indicates that it was the first song recorded that day, and ‘B’ implies it’s the second version of the song (the first being the unedited version).
By organising the list by ID number, it will automatically arrange the entries for newly tracked songs chronologically.
The reason I chose to use IDs to organise this list rather than dates is because we do not have accurate dates for significant numbers of these entries. We have a lot of assumed dates, or times when a track’s recording can only be pinned down to a month, or even a season. That’s why I say the ID is only loosely based on recording dates. Many of the dates included in the IDs are estimations to help keep everything in order. Therefore never assume that a song’s ID reflects an accurate date. I’ll always include the full dates to the best of our knowledge in the ‘Date’ column.
Questions you may have
Why does the link contain two files?
It’s the same spreadsheet, just in two different formats. One is for Excel, the other is Open Office. If you would like to use my spreadsheet and don’t have either then you can download LibreOffice for free. This is compatible with the Open Office file.
Why bother making this when we have PrinceVault?
I love Prince Vault. It’s one of my favourite websites. However, when I want to make compilations or keep my collection organised by period / project, I really need something listed in chronological order.
Then why don’t you just use Scififilmnerd’s blog?
I’ve asked myself that question many times this last month. I still don’t have a good answer.
What can I use this spreadsheet for?
Anything you like. You can use it for research, to help you keep your digital files organised, you can add your own notes or details to it, you can use it as a check list. Or you can simply browse it for your pleasure.
Why does it only go up to 1989?
It’s just as far as I’ve got. It seemed like a significant milestone so I figured I’d upload it somewhere now and continue to update it as time goes on.
When will it be finished?
One of the reasons I wanted to upload it today is because I’ve got a really hectic work schedule coming up for the next three weeks. Since I probably won’t have much time to work on it I thought now would be a good time to start collecting feedback. Once I come back to it I’ll re-upload the sheet every time a couple of years worth of new entries are added.
Where can I find the updated sheets in the future?
The link I’ve provided is to a Mega cloud folder. I’m not overly familiar with Mega, but I believe I can keep this link live and just overwrite the existing file, even after this thread has locked. If the link isn’t working in future than please send me a private message or DM me on Twitter (@VaultCurator).
What else would you like to add to the list in future?
One thing I regret not doing from the beginning is including citations for the information contained within. Since a lot of information between sources contradicts each other (and I have to make a judgement call as to what I believe is the correct data) it would be really useful if there was a column where I could add a link or the title of a book along with a page number.
On reflection, this is something I intend on adding going forward and I will go back through the previous entries and add citations at some point in the future (maybe after I’ve added all the known songs).
Also, in the Bootleg column I list which boot I think a leaked song sounds best on. I may include a separate column for the earliest known bootleg a song began circulating on. I just think that sort of history is interesting.
Why is the spreadsheet full of mistakes / missing details?
I wouldn’t be the least bit surprised if it was. If you notice any errors please send me over a list. I’ll make any correction I need to make as I go along.
Why have you listed the names of bootlegs that tracks have appeared on when they were originally just online leaks?
The same reason I haven’t just put ‘Trade tape’ for the majority of the songs from the pre-internet era. I know public opinion on bootlegs has soured over the years, but listing bootlegs is a really handy reference and is still how most people are able to track down particular songs.
Why have you listed ‘Love and Sex’ as the bootleg that a lot of the Blast 4.0 tracks are from?
I prefer how they are tweaked on ‘Love and Sex’. It’s just my personal preference. Actually a lot of the boots I’ve listed will be down to personal preference in terms of sound quality. Some people prefer the raw, untampered cassette transfers, some people prefer how leaks sound after they’ve been cleaned up a little. If you disagree with any of my choices then please update your own copy however you see fit.
Why is the numbering system different in 1989?
Unfortunately by 1989 we have very few accurate recording dates. I’m guessing this will become a trend going forward. As such I divided these tracks up by project to keep them organised, so the IDs reflect projects in the order they were worked on, rather than going by recording dates. It will help keep the data tidy until we have more accurate information.
I’m probably forgetting a lot of other points that I wanted to make, but this is already long enough.
I hope there are fans out there who will find this useful. Like I say, please give me any feedback for what you’d like to see added or changed in future revisions.
Most importantly, I’d just like to say a huge thank you to all the researchers and contributors from over the years that went out and sourced / published all this information in the first place. I couldn’t name everyone, but people like Per Nilsen, Duane Tudahl, jooZt Mattheij, Scififilmnerd, all the staff from Uptown and Controversy magazine, Eric Leeds for his journals, the staff at Sunset Sounds who kept and shared all their records, any former band / staff members who have shared this info. I thank each and every one of you. Also, big thanks to all the fans who were kind enough to share bootlegs with me in recent months to plug some of the holes in my collection and help make this list more informed.
Have a great week everyone.
Edit: Google Sheet Version now included
[Edited 7/27/21 14:59pm]