A while back, I started buying up all the old Prince remix singles I could find with the club 12″ dance edits. I remember getting the I Would Die 4 U single (b/w Another Lonely Christmas [extended] – which is a contender for my Top 10 Prince Song Of All Time) which clocked in at 10:15. Not too bad for a dance remix. In fact it was pretty hefty. Especially before the onverwhelming popularity of electronic dance music.
Regardless. I thought this was it. 10:15 was the complete version. I mean, seriously, how could there be anything resonably longer? I kept reminding myself about Cloreen Baconskin which was just about 15 minutes long.
Then I acquired the beloved The Work. If you are unfamiliar with this bootleg compilation it’s about 20 discs (just about 24 hours) worth of Prince unreleased demos and outtakes and some remixes, ranging from 1976 to 2001. The discs, of course are in chronological order, span only a fraction of his elusive ‘vault’. But it’s a good dent and it’s quality is like no other Prince bootleg of outtakes, a lot of which I had never heard before. What blew my mind away (next to hearing his version of Manic Monday as a duet with Apollonia and the demo of the song, Chocolate, that was eventually given to The Time.) was the I Would Die 4 U uncut edit that came in at 30:41. Yes, just over 30 minutes! I shit you not. I first started this cut when I left my house for the Metro this morning and it only had clocked it at 25 minutes when I got to work. My god.
What’s most interesting is that the version of I Would Die 4 U that appears on the LP Purple Rain was recorded live (as was Baby I’m A Star and Purple Rain). This would beg the question: Is this 30 minute version from that live version? I am not sure. I have the bootleg video of the Aug ’83 First Ave show. But I just can’t remember. I have a hunch this was simply recored at The Warehouse. What’s interesting is how great an editor Prince was. Taking a 30 minute “jam” and crunching it down to 2:51. That’s editing pop genius.
And what’s crazy to me is that I Would Die 4 U only hit #8 on the US charts. But I am sure he wasn’t hurting with his 2 #1’s, When Doves Cry and Let’s Go Crazy and the title track, Purple Rain at #2. Not bad for the then 26 year old.