Prince and the Revolution have rejoined forces.
That's according to The Artist, at least, the man formerly known as Prince and the leader
of the seminal Minneapolis funk-pop group that, in no uncertain terms, changed the face
of rock in the '80s and hence.
Although fans of The Artist have long been accustomed to his habit of unleashing
surprising batches of work at a moment's notice, few were prepared for the
announcement the Purple One made Wednesday that he is gearing up to release a new
album of material with his 1980s backing band, the Revolution.
The Artist revealed the news about the forthcoming release, tentatively titled
Roadhouse Garden, in a nonchalant posting to his official "Love 4 One Another"
"Prince and the Revolution R releasing a new album on NPG [Records]," the notice read,
referring to his record label. "Songs include things left unfinished when the band broke
up in the '80s and several new cuts that The Artist is putting 2gether using parts from
Word of fresh tracks from the band with which Prince recorded his seminal Purple
Rain (1984) -- the album that included songs from The Artist's first movie -- surprised even those who at times have been close to the reclusive musician.
"That's news to me," said Alan Leeds, Prince's tour manager for the 1999 (1982)
through Lovesexy (1988) albums and the manager of Paisley Park Records, the
label Prince founded in the mid-'80s, through 1992. "As legend has it, he's got a vault full
of wonderful old material," Leeds said Thursday (Oct. 1), "and any classic-era Prince
material is interesting to hear."
"Roadhouse Garden," the proposed title track of the album, is just one of scores of tracks
that never made it out, Leeds said.
The Revolution -- Wendy and Lisa (Wendy Melvoin and Lisa Coleman, guitar and
keyboards, respectively), Bobby Z (percussion), Brown Mark (bass) and Matt Fink
(keyboards), plus occasional collaborators Sheila E. on drums and Eric Leeds (Alan's
brother) on sax -- accompanied Prince during the peak of the Minneapolis musician's
fame and appear on Purple Rain, Around the World in a Day (1985), which
(RealAudio excerpt), and Parade (1986). The group split up in '86 as Prince went
on to experiment with sounds other than the funk-rock mix he took to the top of the charts.
"I know there was a lot of material that he recorded with them that has never seen the
light of day," said Sam Jennings, the 27-year-old operator of the "Chicago Prince Nation"
website. "The idea of being able to hear that finally is pretty exciting."
Among the most popular Revolution-era songs that have circulated as bootlegs are
tracks such as "In All My Dreams," "Old Friends For Sale" and "Large Room With No
In recent years, The Artist has often hit fans with heavy doses of new and unreleased
tracks. His latest album, Newpower Soul (recorded with his current backing band,
the New Power Generation), was released only months after The Artist issued Crystal
Ball, a three-CD set of material from his fabled vaults. Two songs on that collection,
"Movie Star" and
Suicide"(RealAudio excerpt), were taken from the Revolution's unreleased
Of course, the Prince of 12 years ago is a different musician than today's Artist, Leeds
said. During his time with the Revolution, the prolific singer born Prince Rogers Nelson
was a young creator, soaking up musical knowledge and influences at every turn, he
"In the course of a jam, someone might play a lick, and he would turn around and say,
'Hey, where did that idea come from?' and Eric or Sheila or Wendy would say, 'Oh, that's
a line from an old Joni Mitchell song, or an old Tito Puente song,' " Leeds recalled. "That
was the atmosphere that existed back in those days. I'm not so sure that same
atmosphere exists today. This is a grown man now who has had the benefit of playing
and listening to many kinds of music. He's not as unspoiled as [he was] back then."
The Artist, who recently canceled several tour dates due to an injured ankle, included in
his announcement-post an open call for members of the Revolution to accompany him
on upcoming tours with the New Power Generation.
It also mentioned an invitation to Wendy and Lisa to help produce Roadhouse
Garden. On Thursday, publicists for the duo -- which is preparing for a self-titled
release as the Girl Bros. later this month -- said they had no knowledge of Wendy and
Lisa's involvement in a Revolution album.
Matthew Peterson, a 23-year-old Prince fan from Chicago, said that he hopes any
release will include contributions from Wendy and Lisa, who were widely known to have
split from his Purple Highness on unfriendly terms. "If they weren't involved, it wouldn't sit
well with me, but I would probably check it out," Peterson said.
Although no release date or tour plans have been scheduled, an album by the ex-Prince
and the Revolution would undoubtedly spark wide interest, according to 30-year-old
Pierre Igot of Nova Scotia, Canada. "There are still a lot of people who go to see him in
concert because of the Revolution period, people who don't necessarily buy the latest
album," said Igot, who maintains the "Le Grind" Artist fan-site.
"It will be interesting to see whether he's gonna release this 'new' old material through
his own independent channels or [if] he's going to try to reach a wider audience," he
said. "Obviously a lot of people are still in love with that Prince and the Revolution