Prince Piano & A Microphone 1983
By Emma Chekroun
Prince’s “Piano & A Microphone” is the cathartic release Minnesotans have been waiting for since the untimely passing of the Twin Cities’ own. Rambling, jazz-tinged, and consistently evocative, this album gives back a small piece of that connection lost with Prince’s departure. The pieces in this album return an intimate edge that listeners lose with the high production pop songs Prince produced in the ‘80s. He allows himself to move around and be chaotic for this jazz album, with new renditions of old songs.
Each song lingers through time, as Prince hangs on to each passionate syllable, climbing mountains as he reaches to the top of his range before dramatically dropping to a low rumble. In the opening track, “17 Days,” Prince mourns the end of a relationship, making it clear he will win the listener over no matter how much musical vibrato it takes. His remastering of “Purple Rain” is like learning to fall in love again; it’s like the ex you never got over, returning and reeling you in with every honeyed note.
Aside from the emotional release of hearing Prince sing one more time, this album offers a completely different face of Prince; it feels more emotional and personal than other post-mortem or live albums. In life, Prince developed his career in an incredibly precise manner, taking control of production on numerous levels—this album departs from that precedence and lets go.