As the result of a distribution deal with Sony, 23 Prince albums originally released from 1995 to 2010 are now available on major streaming services. Some were previously available on Tidal, but the widespread availability of these albums — some of which were originally released only to members of Prince’s NPG Music Club — will open a whole new world to millions of fans who have never or rarely heard this music. To help newbies navigate the re-released music, a 37-track Anthology: 1995-2010 compilation is also now online.
The albums, starting with 1995’s The Gold Experience and continuing to 2010’s 20Ten, date from a period of Prince’s career when he’d broken off from a relationship with Warner Bros. that he’d come to find hugely limiting. Working with a range of distributors and sometimes acting as his own distributor, Prince followed his own muse in these years and released music that varied wildly in sound and scope.
His 1997 album Crystal Ball, for example, made him the first major artist to sell an album directly to fans over the internet. His NPG Music Club became the venue for the direct release of albums like One Nite Alone (2002), which resulting from their limited distribution have been very rare.
Albums like the instrumental N.E.W.S (2003) challenged even hard-core fans, while releases like Musicology saw Prince reaching for a popular audience. Planet Earth (2007) was released in the U.K. via a strategy other artists would later emulate: copies were attached to the cover of an issue of The Mail on Sunday.
Ironically, what may be Prince’s best-known track from this period is not part of the digital release: “The Most Beautiful Girl in the World” (from The Gold Experience) is at least temporarily on hold due to a pending legal tussle, in Europe, over the song’s authorship.
Not sure where to begin with this cornucopia of funk? We’ve created a flowchart to get you started. You can also tune in to our Purple Current stream at noon CDT each day the week of August 20 to hear the best of this era.
- Essential Guitar Solos
- Essential Ballads and Love Songs
- Essential Rap moments
- Essential Instrumentals
- Essential Funk Jams
Local music coverage is made possible in part by the Minnesota Legacy Amendment’s Arts and Cultural Heritage Fund.