Tuesday, December 1, 2020

Prince 15: The Hits

It shouldn’t be surprising that Prince would resist a hits collection while he was still busy writing and creating new music. It also shouldn’t be surprising that when he did allow such a compilation to happen, it wouldn’t be anything simple or straightforward.
The Hits was released as two separate volumes, neither of which was sequenced with more than a slight concession to chronological order, both stacked with actual hits—along with some odd choices—and each with a pair of “new” songs. The Hits 1 offered the laid-back single “Pink Cashmere” and a live version of “Nothing Compares 2 U”. In addition to “When You Were Mine” and “I Feel For U”, this would suggest that the first volume was intended to showcase tunes that were hits for others. The Hits 2 could be seen as the raunchier of the two, leaning on his more suggestive lyrics, and included the rocking “Peach” (featuring Kim Basinger on sampled moan of ecstasy) and “Pope”, which samples comedian Bernie Mac and seems to be highly influenced by Digital Underground.
As long as you were going to buy both anyway, The Hits/The B-Sides boasted a third disc of tracks collected on CD for the first time. While not all-inclusive, it did spotlight many of the gems hidden on 45s and 12-inches throughout the ‘80s, including “Erotic City”, “God”, “How Come U Don’t Call Me Anymore?”, and the standalone single “Gotta Stop (Messin’ About)”. Granted, that means there are cast-offs like “La, La, La, He, He, Hee”, but who else was loading up quality B-sides like these? Two unreleased nuggets cap the disc—the alternate “video mix” of “4 The Tears In Your Eyes” aired during Live Aid after being donated to the USA For Africa, and the majestic “Power Fantastic”, recorded during the last days of the Revolution.
Those looking for just the hits in a simple package only had to wait until 2001’s The Very Best Of Prince, which presented the more obvious choices from the same period on a single disc. Five years later, Ultimate Prince offered a different smattering with a disc of extended mixes, and ten years after that, the posthumous double CD 4ever was mildly streamlined around the contents of The Hits 1 and The Hits 2, including “Peach” and the live “Nothing Compares 2 U”, with the added bonus of the 1999-era outtake “Moonbeam Levels”.
At any rate, The Hits effectively closed a chapter in Prince’s career, drawing a definite line between what happened before, and what would come after. He would continue to intrigue, certainly, but he would also confound.

Prince The Hits 1 (1993)—3
Prince
The Hits 2 (1993)—3
Prince
The Hits/The B-Sides (1993)—

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