Can someone please translate the article in English!!!
I'll give it my best shot. I'll put my interpretation of things in square brackets :
This Friday, the 21st of September, the first posthumous disc of unreleased Prince music was released, a collection of private recordings that the singer made in the studio in 1983, among them his big hit "Purple Rain" which he would release the following year, transforming Prince into a global superstar. It is a fascinating document for many reasons, and Michael Howe, vice president of Warner Brothers and the one responsble for A&R for the company, who discovered these recordings and worked with Prince during the last years of his life, also thinks so. With the help of our reader and Prince expert, Cateto, we have been able to chat with him [Howe] about this disc and his involvement with it and also about the famous "vault" of unreleased material that Prince kept, and which now is in the hands of his family. "In the near future", he says, more reissues of his classic albums will be released.
Tell me when and how you discovered these recordings.
We knew that these recordings existed, having survived as "bootlegs", although in bad quality, so we proposed to find the original recordings. We found some cassettes with Prince's handwriting on side B, with songs like "Cold Coffee and Cocaine" and "Why the Butterflies", put the cassette in the player and by luck they were in good condition.
The disc presents the recordings as they are and how you found them, they have not been manipulated?
Exactly, there has not been any manipulation of any kind, nor corrections or "crossfades". The disc is basically the complete original recording from start to finish, with the side changes included.
What do you think these recordings communicate about Prince? They are very intimate.
A few things. First, these recordings demonstrate the incredible musician and composer that Prince was during a very early era of his career, above all about his talent on the piano, which was not his primary instrument. Also, it is marvelous to be able to hear these songs in this context given that the last tour Prince perfromed was "Piano and a Microphone". For many people, this is the last memory of Prince. The disc is a good way to pay tribute to that.
It's fascinating to hear such a primal version of "Purple Rain". Was Prince already sure of what this song would become when he recorded it?
I suspect so. At this point, Prince found himself at an extraordinary point in his career on various levels. Knowing the way in which he worked and knowing the people that were in his orbit at that moment, I suspect that he was very conscious that the material he was preparing at the time was very special. It is a fascinating inflection point in his career, that the next year these songs would turn him into a global superstar.
"A Case of You" is a Joni Mitchell cover. Both artists had a mutual respect, although they never collaborated together. Did Prince ever mention her to you? One of the discs he bought just before his death was Hejira...
Prince never spoke to me directly about Joni but I knew he was a fan. Hejira happens to be my favorite album of hers and of all time. I didn't know that [that Prince had bought Hejira just prior to dying]. How did you find that out?
The record store that Prince went to published a list of the last records he bought before dying...
Wow! It's incredible to know this. You just made my day!
What's your favorite song on this release?
"Why the Butterflies" is my favorite because it is the only recording of this song that I am aware of. It is very emotional and special. But I like the whole album. I have listened to it may times now and, as often happens with Prince, the album doesn't lose its impact. My second favorite would be "17 Days". But it can change.
It is true that you can hear this disc and never get bored because Prince's interpretations are very dynamic and they express many types of different emotions.
Prince was totally committed to his art even when there was no one around. It's admirable.
What is the actual state of Prince's famous "vault"? Is it totally catalogued? What percentage of it is digitized? <Cateto>
I can't provide details because I have signed a confidentiality agreement with the Prince estate that prohibits me from sharing with you numbers or specific titles, or other juicy details about the vault. It's not that I don't want to tell you, it's that if I did I would violate this agreement. But we are working very diligently to preserve all of the material in the vault. It's something I take very seriously. I want to complete the digital archive with the integrity that such a huge amount of material deserves. I am very happy to do it and I don't take it lightly.
It's been some days [recently] that 23 Prince albums appeared on streaming platforms that were previously absent. What is the process of bringing all of this material to streaming services?
Normally, the Prince estate has an agreement with one of the business partners [record companies?], which in this case is Sony, for the material they they will release via streaming. We have many business partners at the moment. In reality it depends on what albums we are talking about. With this in particular, I was the one who delivered the audio to Sony, who then released it on streaming services as part of an agreement we have reached with them.
For someone like you, who has firsthand knowledge of the material found in the vault, what has been the most impressive find? <Cateto>
Every day I find myself with things that are special, surprising, and marvellous. For me, it is difficult to choose one. As you know, Prince was a very profilic artist and the things he didn't release himself but gave to other artists, which as it turns out, in many cases were the best things these artists had done. As a Prince fan it is marvellous to be able to immerse myself in this level of exceptional creativity. I can't tell you more due to the agreement. But the material is amazing.
The most recent Prince albums seem to be undervalued in comparison with the classics. What are your favorites?
If I had to choose one, it would be The Rainbow Children. But the album [favorite album] changes every day. There are some live performances in that last part of his career which were exceptional. In the last part of Prince's career, there are many gems that are often overshadowed by the giant hits he had in the 80s and early 90s.
Can you give us any details about the team entrusted with Prince's vault recordings? Are any engineers who worked with him in the past involved, like Susan Rogers? <Cateto>
For this project I tried to involve, to the best of my ability, people who formed part of Prince's life and were present during his creative evolution. I spoke with Susan (Rogers, sound engineer), Peggy (McReary, sound engineer) and David Leonard (sound engineer), for example. Although not everyone has been equally involved with Prince and certainly these people don't make specific decisions in relation to the material that will or will not be released.
There have been rumors that some of the material in the vault has been preserved in bad quality. Is there truth to them?
Only a few recordings in the whole collection are damaged or aren't suitable for release and should be repaired with forensic precision. We have had to bake some tapes, which is a very common practice in cases where the magenetic particles have been detached from the tapes (called "sticky-shed syndrome"). But I think that until today we haven't found any recording the we haven't been able to save or whose damage is irreparable. But I can't give you a concrete example...
In terms of the videos present in the vault, what is being considered for release? There are entire movies that Prince made that never came out, like the movie '3121'. <Cateto>
All of the material is being considered. As I have told you, I can't give details about titles which may or may not be released due to the confidentiality agreement that I have signed, but in the team we talk, if not every day, then every week about which material is the most sought after by fans and which are the most important pieces of the whole creative complex of the vault.
From your point of view, which era would you like to see emphasised in the next release of unreleased material?
I'm fascinated by the first years of Prince's career, the Controversy era... but in every one of the periods in Prince's creative evolution I find an attractive element. All the material he made for Parade and Sign o' the Times is fascinating, Lovesexy is an overlooked album that belongs to his golden era.
The general public and the diehard fans would welcome with open arms the remastering and reissuing of Prince's key albums like Sign o' the Times or Parade just like what was done with Purple Rain. Are there plans to release such reissues in the future? <Cateto>
I suspect that some of these albums will be reissued in the very near future. Which ones I don't know, and even if I did know, I could not tell you. But they are talking about it.