If you thought it was difficult keeping up with Prince now as he approaches 60, imagine what it was like during his commercial heyday of the ’80s. New fans got their first official opportunity to catch up with Prince starting with The Hits 1, 2 and the B-Sides. Other greatest hits albums followed, each spanning slightly different collections of his most recognizable material.
With official greatest hits albums floating around, it had become easier to keep up with Prince solo material. His many side projects however was another matter.
There was no real compilation for these recordings, forcing fans to seek them out on their own. That sorta changed with the soundtrack for the film Girl Six.
Girl Six was by no means a definitive collection of Prince side projects, but did feature groups from the Purple Rain era and beyond. The collection also drew heavily from Sign O the Times, with nearly half it’s content.
Its easy to assume the Spike Lee directed film was another one of Prince’s post Purple Rain cinematic flops. The Prince connection was played up heavily in the films marketing, despite his last film not linked to a concert flopping badly. Prince only supplied the music for the film that was at best average from an otherwise top director.
That music unlike his previous compilations featured material from related artists as far back as Vanity 6 and The Family to his new backing band (the obnoxious) New Power Generation. The few songs not directly attributed to Prince (jam sessions), were credited to either The Revolution or New Power Generation.
Interestingly enough, Madonna makes a cameo in the film but is not part of the soundtrack. The Prince penned “Love Song” from her Like a Prayer album could have fit well with the material here.
The Revolution, however hits the sweet spot for those longing for the Prince sound of the late ’80s. Raunchy B sides like “Erotic City” worked well with Vanity 6’s “Nasty Girl” and the slow funk of the Family’s “Screams of Passion”. “Nasty Girl” was a flip side single for the title track and for a moment was re-introduced on the charts. I had hoped the same would happen for the wonderfully odd “The Screams of Passion”, but Prince was already prepping his next project before Girl 6 could saturate the airwaves.
A number of tracks from the excellent Sign O the Times album gave the compilation it’s heavy focus on the later half of Prince’s most commercially successful ’80s material. Though the new songs like “She Spoke to Me” and “Girl 6” are good, they lack the melodic charm of the older material (I blame this on The New Power Generation of course).
Still, this collection of songs is a great introduction to the Purple Dynasty towards the end of it’s most commercial and critically successful period. Many compilations would follow but none that I can recall that collects a few of related side projects on one album. It’s my hope that someday there will be an extensive collection of all Prince’s side projects on one album. Until that time comes Girl 6 will just have to do for now.