ST. PAUL—Nine previously unreleased tracks recorded by Prince in 1983 will be released as "Piano and a Microphone 1983" on Sept. 21.
Warner Bros. Records, which had said a new Prince album was on the way, announced the details Thursday, June 7, the day that Prince would have turned 60.
Prince recorded the songs in the fall of 1983 at a studio in Chanhassen, later the home to Paisley Park. Accompanied only by himself on piano, four of the songs have never been issued in any form. Little is known about the tracks "Why the Butterflies" and "Cold Coffee and Cocaine," although Prince later recorded a full version of "Wednesday," which showed up on an early configuration of the "Purple Rain" soundtrack but was ultimately dropped from both the album and film.
"Mary Don't You Weep" is a cover of a Civil War-era spiritual that Warner Bros. released to streaming services on Thursday. The song will also be featured during the end credits of Spike Lee's "BlacKkKlansman," which is due in theaters in August.
The other five songs are more familiar to Prince fans. At the time of the recording, he had already issued a full take of "International Lover" on the previous year's "1999." Prince released fleshed-out versions of "Purple Rain" and "17 Days" the following year, with "17 Days" acting as the b-side to "When Doves Cry." A heavily reworked take on "Strange Relationship" landed on 1987's "Sign o' the Times."
An avowed fan of Joni Mitchell, Prince not only recorded a piano version of her song "A Case of You," he performed it in concert throughout his career, including in Atlanta during his second-to-last show seven days before his death. Prince's final tour was also a solo piano outing, a fact estate adviser Troy Carter noted in a news release: "This raw, intimate recording, which took place at the start of Prince's career right before he achieved international stardom ... (gives) fans a glimpse of his evolution and (shows) how his career ultimately came full circle with just him and his piano."
The cover of "Piano and a Microphone 1983" features an image of Prince backstage on his "1999" tour captured by Allen Beaulieu, who worked closely with the Purple One from 1979 to 1984. Beaulieu also shot the covers for "Dirty Mind" and "Controversy."