From time to time, I post to Facebook the cover art or track list of a bootleg I’m listening to. Today, here’s a single track from one of the shows. It’s “I Like It There,” from a show in Seattle in 2013 with his band Third Eye Girl. The track was on the studio release Chaos and Disorder, from 1994, a release that, I believe, served to fulfill his contractual obligation with Warner Bros. records. He put it out but did not promote or tour around it. The album yielded no hits, and seemed to channel anger and disdain in some lyrics, though it was also at times hilarious (“Dinner with Delores” and “Zannalee”), the guitar playing was aggressive, and of course, though hardly mainstream, the music was brilliant.
That is to say, “I Like It There” is an obscure track, to say the least. And this is part of what is sustaining about mining the treasure trove of Prince’s many, many live performances. Not so much hearing “Purple Rain” for the thousandth time, but the Country Western take on “Alphabet St.” or the mixing of Janet Jackson’s “What Have You Done For Me Lately?” into his own house-shaking “Partyman” or the out-of-nowhere instrumental cover of Pearl Jam’s “Even Flow” in 2007.
He was always growing, always exploring. He’d already been proclaimed the best, but he just kept doing it because he loved it. He gave so much to every performance. You heard it in every note.
I’m sharing this one because in it, he does something that I don’t recall ever hearing before or after in all the hundreds of shows I’ve listened to across the decades: he scat sings and plays guitar simultaneously. Kind of a musical parlor trick, and maybe more of a jazz staple. It goes it without saying that he does it damn good. And then he takes it up into the heights of his falsetto range. Reminds me of some of my sillier musical friends in high school, back in the days when we drove to Northern Lights on 7th Street, downtown Minneapolis, looking for Prince boots on vinyl. Singing like that, and hearing others do it, gives you a kind of euphoric feeling. Enjoy.