Prince continues his streak of exceptional 12″ remixes and B-sides for the Around the World In a Day era. For the first time, all of the North American singles not only received previously unreleased B-sides but extended versions of both A and B-sides for the 12″ singles. The Purple Rain era may have had superb B-sides, but only “Let’s Go Crazy” added anything unavailable elsewhere for the A-sides. This makes each side of the ATWIAD 12″ singles a mandatory listen.
Raspberry Beret (New Mix) – “Raspberry Beret” gets the first extended version treatment as the album’s opening single in North America, while Europe got “Paisley Park.” It keeps the opening guitar riff and Prince’s infamously out of nowhere cough that could also be heard in the music video. The song’s primary structure remains similar to the LP/7″ single until it finishes with a couple of additional instrumental minutes. It’s a nice version to have if you’re nostalgic for the music video aspects, but otherwise, it’s not significantly better. This version can also be found on His Majesty’s Pop Life compilation from the mid-80s.
She’s Always In My Hair (7” and 12”) – A sometimes sweet, sometimes offensive apology song from Prince to Jill Jones. Jill was Prince’s protégé/confidante/lover throughout the ‘80s who had a killer set of pipes and a strong personality. Prince counters nice sentiments (“Whenever my hopes and dreams are aimed in the wrong direction. She’s always there. Tellin’ me how much she cares.”) with head scratchingly tone-deaf musings about their relationship (“Maybe I’ll marry her. Maybe I won’t. Maybe I will not”). Music-wise, the song is a mid-tempo, guitar and synth-funk banger initially written back in 1983. It’s a fan favorite for a good reason. The extended 12” version just keeps the vibe going a few additional minutes, not unlike the “Raspberry Beret (New Mix)”.
Pop Life (Extended Version) and (Fresh Dance Mix) – The 9 minute extended version was be found on His Majesty’s Pop Life compilation, while the Sheila E. produced Fresh Dance Mix was included on the 12” “Pop Life” single. The extended version takes cues from previously mentioned extended versions by keeping the primary musical elements and structure the same, and extending the music. Prince adds new lyrics (“what’s the matter with your sex? Is 15 minutes your best?”) that expand on the themes of the song. Sheila’s Fresh Dance Mix doesn’t stray too far from this formula either, but it’s notable for including the Frère Jacques nursery rhyme melody about ⅔ of the way through.
Hello (7” and 12” Fresh Dance Mix) – Also known as the let me set the record straight about the “We Are the World” incident, this track is musically bouncy while diving into some serious and seriously defensive subject matter. Prince tries to justify declining participation in “We Are the World” by offering an entirely new composition for the USA for Africa project (“4 the Tears In Your Eyes”). He also discusses his issues with the press and paparazzi, as well as railing against the culture of fame. Keep in mind; the celebrity news cycle has advanced tremendously since 1985 with the internet and cell phone cameras, so this still feels like a relevant topic in the 21st century. The 12” Fresh Dance Mix has a funky guitar intro before diving into the song as it is most commonly heard on the 7” and B-sides collection that Prince released in 1993. This extended guitar work continues later in the music as well, right before Prince adds new lyrics, sung in a stilted, odd cadence (“Because I am not like others. I’m unique in the respect I’m not U”). Highly recommended for these added musical elements and new lyrics alone.
America (Extended Version) – Play until the tape ran out! That’s the mantra of this extended version of the funky band jam recorded at the Flying Cloud Drive Warehouse in 1984. The best part of “America” is the music, and this 21+ minute version keeps the party going for the length of an EP by expanding on the musical elements. For context, this version of “America” is only 10 minutes shorter than the entire Dirty Mind album! I would easily place this as my favorite Prince 12” A-side, but you need to set aside time to take it all in. It’s not the kind of song you listen to in the shower unless you want to empty your hot water tank.
Girl (7” and 12” Extended Version) – This North American B-side to “America” is poppy, woozy, and trippy with it’s perpetually thumping synth beat, backward singing courtesy of Vanity, and what sounds to me like Prince performing oral sex. Prince gets all sexy-flirty and blunt with the lyrics (“All I have to do is think about you and I have an orgasm”), while selling himself as a lover to the titular girl. Prince sells his charms hard (“I’m a good listener.” “I’m a good kisser”), and we assume it works if you believe what I said about the oral sex part. The added lyrics, sound effects courtesy of Prince’s mouth, and additional and more clearly heard backmasked Vanity voice turn what is a fairly standard 7” into a weirdly erotic 12”.
In summary, I believe that the 12” versions of the various B-sides from this era are the definitive versions, but this is made even more apparent with the extended versions of “Hello” and “Girl.” Both are excellent songs as 7” edits. Still, the 12” mixes make them more interesting and fleshed out as overall songs. I didn’t even touch on the extended version of “Paisley Park,” a single elsewhere in the country, but not in the U.S. This version can be found on His Majesty’s Pop Life as well, so check that out if you haven’t already. Several of these tracks have never seen an official digital release, which is a crime. I assume someday, Around the World In a Day will receive some sort of deluxe edition treatment and all of these versions will be on it, but until then, ask around if you’d like to hear them. I’m sure someone has a copy for you to hear for yourself.