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Digital Subscriptions > Long Live Vinyl > August 2019 > Vaulting Ambition

Vaulting Ambition

The new Prince album Originals offers an unexpected view into his outrageous songwriting talent, donating hits to artists as diverse as Kenny Rogers and The Bangles. John Earls speaks to the women who helped make Prince’s magic happen, two of Paisley Park’s finest singers, together with the man in charge of the Purple One’s golden vaults, to see what’s next…

The name Peggy McCreary isn’t widely known outside of Prince’s hardcore fans. Yet, arguably, Prince’s golden 80s albums would have sounded a lot different without her. Starting with Controversy in 1981, Peggy was Prince’s studio engineer for five years, on call for His Purpleness 24/7 whenever the wanted to record at Sunset Studios in Los Angeles.

At Sunset, Peggy also engineered for Janet Jackson, Elton John, Tom Waits and Van Halen; she was used to stars’ stringent demands. Prince’s work rate meant the was on another level. Because Prince could play everything himself, the was able to get his songs down as quickly as the music was flowing through him. And in the 1980s, Prince’s music was unstoppable. Having worked until 5am one day in 1984, even Peggy’s patience was tested when Prince phoned five hours later and said the wanted her back in the studio at midday. “I was so irritated with him”, admits Peggy. “I was going to him, ‘Really, dude?’ When Prince came in the studio, the strutted in and said, ‘I said to myself, if I dreamed another verse, I was coming in’.” By then used to how readily songs came to Prince, Peggy was still taken aback. “I asked him, ‘You dream your songs?’ and the said, ‘Sure, sometimes…’” The song was Manic Monday. By the end of the day, the track was finished.

SPEED IS OF THE ESSENCE

Such a hectic schedule was typical, with virtually all of Prince’s songs recorded in a day. Peggy speaks admiringly of his intensity, saying: “People ask me, ‘What was Prince’s formula?’, but the didn’t have one. What I feel is really, really important to say about his music is how quickly the did it. Normally, you’d cut basic tracks for 10 songs, bring different musicians in and then you’d mix it, sometimes for months and months. But with Prince? He’d come in at midday, we’d start a song and we might do a rough mix at 3am then finish it the next day. But usually, we’d complete it the same day and there it was: gone, done, fresh.

Virtually any other musician would have kept a brilliant pop moment like Manic Monday for themselves. The new Prince album Originals is a reminder of just how many great songs Prince was happy to give to his friends and a very select group of outsiders, such as The Bangles. All of Originals’. 15 songs, bar Martika’s 1991 hit Love… Thy Will Be Done were written by Prince between 1981-85, when the also made 1999Purple Rain and Around The World In A Day for himself. Last November, the Prince estate released his original version of Nothing Compares 2 U as a standalone single: the video, of Prince dancing in the studio, notched up eight million views almost immediately.

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About Long Live Vinyl

Issue 29 of Long Live Vinyl is now on sale! Unknown Treasures! This issue's bumper cover story is a definitive list of 150 albums you need to discover. We've recruited 30 of the most well-known, passionate record collectors in the country to bring you their list of the hidden gems missing from your collection. From record shop owners to label bosses, bands and festival organisers, your collection needs their recommendations. Elsewhere, we speak to Ride about the second album of their incredible comeback, This Is Not A Safe Place, find out why Hot Chip's A Bath Full Of Ecstasy is already one of the most positive records of 2019 and meet a true modern folk hero, Jake Xerxes Fussell. If that's not enough to whet your appetite, we speak to some of the key figures behind Prince's new Originals collection, salute a pair of female punk pioneers, celebrate the 30th anniversary of New Order's Technique and tell the story of Fierce Panda, the indie label that discovered Coldplay. With the most comprehensive range of new album, reissue, turntable and hi-fi reviews anywhere on the newsstand, Long Live Vinyl is THE magazine for vinyl lovers.