The 1979 version of “I Could Never Take the Place of Your Man,” which you can hear below, is previously unreleased. It’s also the oldest recording in the new collection.
Prince first tracked “I Could Never Take the Place of Your Man” on May 23, 1979, at Hollywood Sound Recorders, Studio A, with Bob Mockler serving as engineer. But it didn’t make the final cut for Prince, and the song remained in his vault until June 1986.
As you can hear below, the song originally had more of a New Wave arrangement, lacking the familiar descending riff as well as the closing guitar solo. Even though the melody is the same, there are also a few different chords, both in the chorus and leading up to it. There’s also slight variation in the lyrics, especially at the end, when Prince sings, “But I’ll try / I’ll sure as hell try,” a line that was eventually removed.
Arriving Sept. 25, the Sign O’ the Times Super Deluxe Edition adds 63 previously unheard recordings – 45 from studio sessions and an 18-song concert – as well as a live DVD and two CDs of mixes culled from the LP’s singles. The first version of “Witness 4 the Prosecution” was released a few weeks ago.
Archivist Michael Howe revealed that the collection was compiled to take into account all of Prince’s projects at the time, adding that modern technology allows fans to figure out which version suits their tastes.
“The prevailing wisdom was to basically look at the final iteration of what Dream Factory would entail, and that was around mid-July 1986,” he said. “So we basically encompassed everything that would have been, or could have been, on that release and on Camille and the unredacted Sign O’ the Times – basically, Crystal Ball. And the idea was to include everything so that the listener – and this is in the streaming world, obviously – could sequence any of those things in the way that he or she wants.”