Like a Hilma af Klint painting beamed from the past to the future, a new old Prince song has arrived (can you tell I watched Personal Shopper this week?). A studio version of “Electric Intercourse,” a song that previously only circulated via bootlegs, has been released ahead of the deluxe edition of Purple Rain, which is due out June 23.
Via a press release, NPG Records and Warner Bros confirmed the contents of the track list that leaked last week (albeit in a slightly different order than reported by Variety) and announced the package, which will include the 2015 remaster of the nine-song original album, a disc of edits, remixes, and b-sides, and a disc of unreleased outtakes, many of which have never circulated in any form, will come with a concert DVD of Prince and the Revolution’s March 30, 1985, performance filmed at the Carrier Dome in Syracuse, NY. During that concert, Prince and the Revolution played the entire Purple Rain album, as well as previous hits like “Little Red Corvette” and b-sides like “Irresistible Bitch” and “How Come You Don’t Call Me Anymore.”
But that will be then; “Electric Intercourse” is now:
The song was played at Prince’s legendary show at Minneapolis’s First Ave club on August 3, 1983. The performances that night of “Baby I’m a Star,” “I Would Die 4 U,” and “Purple Rain” are basically what you hear on the classic Purple Rain album, albeit amended and with overdubs. It is said that “Electric Intercourse” was intended for the Purple Rain album/movie but was replaced after Prince wrote “The Beautiful Ones.” You can hear why: “The Beautiful Ones” is more aching, it’s conventionally prettier, it works better as the big ballad moment than the weird, psychedelic “Electric Intercourse,” with its woozy keyboard figure responding to the verses and almost creepy melody. It feels more in line with the quasi-pop of Prince’s b-sides (like, say, “Girl”) than a proper mainstream-penetrating effort.
This version is even stranger than the one that circulated—it’s a little brighter in tone and its tempo is higher, making it sort of unclassifiable compared to the slower First Ave performance (you can find that on the internet, but I’m not going to link to it, because every time I link to an unofficial Prince recording, it gets taken down). It’s weird and thrilling and feels more like a gift than virtually any commercially released music in recent memory. A studio version of “Electric Intercourse!” It’s something most diehard Prince fans didn’t even think to dream of.
In the set’s press release, NPG and Warner Bros point out that no one even knew of the existence of a studio version of “Electric Intercourse” until it was discovered at Paisley Park (presumably they mean after Prince’s death). On that and the other previously unheard tracks, the release details:
Six tracks that have never been released or distributed in the collector or bootleg community include: “Possessed” - the ‘83 Prince solo version, never heard before; “Electric Intercourse”- the studio version not known to exist before it was discovered at Paisley Park; “Father’s Song” - a full, five plus minute version that prior to this fans could only find a minute and half snippet of in the movie; “We Can Fuck” - a track that has never circulated as the full, 10 minute version with these lyrics; and “Katrina’s Paper Dolls” - a finished master of the song, which has previously only circulated as a demo. Additionally, all of the material is taken from the source and mastered by Bernie Grundman, the mastering engineer who worked on the original album.
The set list for the March 30, 1985 concert is:
1. Let’s Go Crazy
4. Little Red Corvette
5. Take Me With U
6. Do Me, Baby
7. Irresistible Bitch
9. How Come U Don’t Call Me Anymore?
10. Let’s Pretend We’re Married
11. International Lover
13. Computer Blue
14. Darling Nikki
15. The Beautiful Ones
16. When Doves Cry
17. I Would Die 4 U
18. Baby I’m A Star
19. Purple Rain
It’s gonna be a beautiful summer.