Prince & the Revolution
(Superhero SBS06)

Prince fans rarely seem to agree on which of the Artist Formerly Known as the Artist Formerly Known as Prince's bottomless vault of bootlegs are the truly crucial ones, and even when they do agree, there are probably four different versions of each release, just so there's no need to stop quibbling over minutae.

I wouldn't recommend Prince completism to anyone, as it's a disease arguably more terrifying than Harlequin Fetal Syndrome. If you find yourself listening to more than two or three of his virtually-identical 2004 live shows, for example, it may already be too late for you.

And given Prince's Miles Davis-like penchant for "not looking back," we may not actually see official releases of his legendary shows until well after he's buried in his purple coffin. Along those same lines, we shall probably never see a Prince tour as wholly smokin' as the one for Parade.

Stockholm was originally from a box of live stuff called City Lights, which I believe devoted one volume to each tour, so you'd get one slammin' show to represent each phase of Prince's career. To me, the clear gem of the set is Stockholm (easily findable as a standalone) – two discs of '86-era Revolution, with a surprisingly low Purple Rain quotient in favor of stuff from his two art-poppiest records, Around the World in a Day and Parade.

Aside from the singles ("Raspberry Beret," "Kiss"), Prince hasn't performed most of these songs since, so it's almost good enough just to have a boot with this track listing. Fortunately, the performance is just fantastic (slightly cheeseball-synth heavy, but nowhere near the slick cartoonery of the NPG-era), and the sound is perfect. It could have been – and should still be – a legit live album.

Opening with a frantic, piercing howl (one of several throughout the show), Prince launches into "Around the World in a Day," into "Christopher Tracy's Parade," and "New Position" – hard to imagine those choices in a set at all these days, much less starting the show. So good. A great funky interlude in the middle of the first disc bounces from "Delirious" to "Controversy" to "A Love Bizarre" (performed in full, not the ten-second riff of more recent shows), "Do Me Baby" into a weirdo "How Much is That Dog in the Window," an amazing "Automatic" into a "D.M.S.R." in which Prince cracks himself up a few times. A stompin' "When Doves Cry" is followed by two more Parade tracks ("Under the Cherry Moon" and a hard-partyin' "Anotherloverholenyohead."

Then things really start getting good.

Disc Two has so many great moments it's just silly. "17 Days" (the b-side to "When Doves Cry" kicks ass, and a 13-minute "Head" is arguably the single best Prince live track ever. Dammmmmmnnn. "Pop Life" and "Girls & Boys" are a perfect pair, and the housequake continues up through a simply awesome "Purple Rain," back when it was still performed with passion instead of being given the fake solemnity of Paul McCartney's 90s-era "Let it Be's."

Despite the unfortunate exclusion of "Sometimes it Snows in April" (simply because this was the time to do it, not now), this disc is just terrific all around. I can't say with certainty that this is the one live Prince boot to own (seriously, you probably genuinely need at least five of 'em), but the case could be made. Fortunately, in the era of the "liberated bootleg," you don't have to choose. I'm far more for this crusade than I ever was for "women's lib."

Tracklist: Around the World in a Day · Christopher Tracy's Parade · New Position · I Wonder U · Raspberry Beret · Delirious · Controversy · A Love Bizarre · Do Me, Baby · How Much is That Dog in the Window? · Automatic · D.M.S.R. · When Doves Cry · Under the Cherry Moon · Anotherloverholenyohead · 17 Days · Head · Pop Life · Girls & Boys · Life Can Be So Nice · 1999 · Mountains · Kiss · Purple Rain

Review by La Fée