Over the years, a large amount of material from Prince's pre-Warner Bros. debut has surfaced amongst collectors. Prince signed with the label in June of 1977 but his first album "For You" did not see release until April of 1978. Home recordings from 1976-77 circulated long ago, as did material recorded in various studios leading up to the sessions around "For You".
One such session is captured here, recorded in 1977 at the Loring Park office of Prince's first manager, Owen Husney. Prince is joined by Andre Cymone on bass and Bobby Z. on drums for a collection of eight instrumentals that feature Prince mainly on keyboards. There are no known titles for these instrumentals, but they are obviously songs that were worked on and not just loose, free form jamming or rehearsing.
These instrumentals have been circulating for quite some time but, as has been the case in the last couple years, this release brings with it a quality upgrade. Which is not to say the previous sources were bad, they were actually quite good. But Cosmic Records have put forth a release clearly from as lo generation a source as you're likely to find for these sessions. Once again we have a bootleg release that has been upgraded to commercial release quality.
The value of a release like this is all in the eye of the beholder. For sound quality, you can't get any better. For historical purposes, it is important for fans to have this in their collection. But these are not songs I will re-visit much, if ever. I love a lot of instrumental music, but these are fairly average 70's funk and R&B grooves with some jazzy numbers thrown in for good measure. The playing is certainly impressive enough, Bobby Z is given more room to show off his drumming skills than he would be as Prince's drummer in the Revolution, but an hour's worth of these type of instrumentals can be a bit much to get through. Again, for history's sake, this is a must own for collectors. But it is more a curiosity to check out once, then put on the shelf, content knowing you have it in your collection but will rarely play it again.
Still, even if I am lukewarm to the material, the quality here is top notch, from the sounds to the artwork. Cosmic Records have gone with a cartoonish 70's motif and the covers look great. Once again, thanks and much credit goes out to those responsible for sharing this material, and those who take the time to continue to provide high quality, completely free releases to the collecting community.