The 1999-era (1982) was extremely creative and fruitful for Prince in terms of musical output. There was the Vanity 6 project, the Time’s second album, the massive double 1999 album. It was all very impressive no matter how you looked at it. Prince had so much creative output that he couldn’t find a home for all of it. Thankfully the Prince Estate found enough gems in the vault to fill 2 discs worth of bonus material on 2019’s 1999 Super Deluxe Edition release.
Included on that release was an extra disc of single edits, 12″ edits and most importantly, B-sides and 12″ remixes. Granted, all 3 unreleased B-sides released for 1999 singles in the U.S. could be found on 1993’s The Hits/The B-Sides collection and the 12″ Dance Mix of “Little Red Corvette” could be found on the 2006 greatest hits collection, Ultimate Prince. However, having them all together in one comprehensive 1999 collection, is where they belong. So how amazing are these songs anyway?
How Come U Don’t Call Me Anymore – Arguably the very first bonafide classic B-side Prince ever issued was in support of the release of the 1999 single in September of 1982. Bluesy piano and Prince’s falsetto (the very first glimpse we got of his piano and a microphone aesthetic), is really all we get in this song about heartbreak and longing. Its a very intimate sounding track thanks to the vulnerable performance Prince gives. He pleads and begs for his girl to call him sometime…it’s just one lousy dime after all, but she won’t give him the time of day. Heartbreaking. The 7″ version of this song is where I first heard it back in 1983 and the snap and crackle of the vinyl as the piano and voice echo throughout my house, give this song an even more retro 60’s Detroit soul sound.
Overall Score: 5/5
Little Red Corvette 12″ Dance Mix – I hate admitting that I first heard this version of “Little Red Corvette” when I purchased a copy of His Majesty’s Pop Life collection that was re-released for Record Store Day. Yeah….what can I say. I never bought a copy of the 12″ “Little Red Corvette” promo that this version was originally found on nor did I buy the Ultimate Prince collection. Like “1999” and “Delirious”, “Little Red Corvette” also never received a proper commercial 12″ release, only a promo release. But I have this version now and it’s so, so good. Over 8 glorious minutes of Linn-Drum machine, Dez Dickerson guitar, peak ’80s synthesizers and Prince’s cautionary tale of sexual voracity in the face of real feelings. There are even bonus lyrics to this version of the song, proving that it wasn’t just an extended music break that gives “Little Red Corvette Dance Mix” its extra special status.
There are some things you do to me
That leave me in a velvet sweat
Darling, there are some things that I want to do to you
SO YOU’LL NEVER FORGET!
The way Prince screams that last line gives me goose bumps. He’s so desperate to show her a good time that he almost seems like he’s yelling this line to either shock her or hype himself up before the BIG EVENT. He needs to stand out among the other jockeys that were there before him. This is his grand plan. I hope it worked.
Overall Score: 5/5
Horny Toad – The drum machine fades in like a slowly approaching piston engine stuck on a perpetual loop. We’re snapped out of hypnosis by a patented Prince scream and then we’re off on another Rockabilly-synth adventure complete with reptile metaphors, sexual threats, and a no apologies lyrical approach where Prince takes on the role of a…you guessed it, a horny toad! Jump on his lily pad before it’s too late!
The song is basically a slightly lesser companion piece to it’s A-side counterpart, “Delirious”. This is not a bad thing, as “Delirious” is a great song, however, Prince made the right call by including that song on the 1999 album and relegating “Horny Toad” to the B-side. It’s fun, it’s bawdy, it’s easy going down. It’s also not quite as memorable.
Overall Score: 4/5
Irresistible Bitch – The final U.S. single released from 1999, “Let’s Pretend We’re Married”, did not fare well on the pop charts. There weren’t nearly as many 7″ copies of that song floating around as there were of the previous 3 hit singles from the album. Besides a missed opportunity for Prince to score a 4th top 40 hit from a single album (it wouldn’t take much longer before he did that and more on Purple Rain), it was a missed opportunity for the B-side, “Irresistible Bitch” to become a much more well-known track at the time of release.
Those iconic bells, the odd, haunting backwards synth loop, the eerie female backing vocals. Not to mention the down on his luck because he picks the wrong women lyrics. It’s all here in one of the coolest, funkiest tracks in the early pantheon of Prince tracks. Criminally underrated in its time, “Irresistible Bitch” has earned its place as not just a stellar B-side, but a stellar song. Period.
Overall Score: 5/5
All photos of Prince copyright Allen Beaulieu.