Prince: His Protégées, Side-projects and Their Influence (Part One 1978–84)
There are four main strands to Prince’s music – first, the official releases from his 1978 debut For You to 2009’s Lotusflow3r/MPLSoUND, including the studio albums and singles but also myriad remixes and maxi-albums, often with as many as six or seven variations on the original track; second, the unreleased songs which have kept several bootleg labels afloat for decades, now so multitudinous that labels can put out twenty CD sets, or 43-hour MP3 collections and still not exhaust the circulating material; third, the live recordings: two official releases – the One Nite Alone box set and 2008’s Indigo Nights – and literally thousands of bootleg recordings, including several versions of the same show in differing fidelity; and fourth, the songs he has given to other artists and protégées, from Sue Ann Carwell in 1978 to Bria Valente’s Elixer earlier this year.
As with Prince’s own releases, the records that his protégées and friends (and in Mayte’s case, wife) have put out over the last thirty years have been of variable quality: some are considered classics of their kind (much of the output of The Time, Madhouse, The Family, Jill Jones and Sheila E), others have split opinion (Mayte’s very ’90s Child of the Sun or Ingrid Chavez’s poetic May 19 1992) and a few (such as Carmen Electra’s debut) are regarded as complete disasters. But just as almost every Prince track, even the bad ones, has something of interest, so any album or song that he has major involvement with is worth seeking out. It also seems significant to a deeper understanding of Prince’s creative nature that he’s continued to pursue this side of his career in the face of record company doubts and mass public indifference.