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Crystal Ball

NPG Records

They’ll say that I’m not capable of distributing my own materials.

Released as a 5-CD package with The Truth and Kamasutra, the triple-disk album Crystal Ball was originally posted to fanclub members through Prince’s official retail website 1800newfunk.com, from 29 January 1998. It was to become Prince’s first album released as an independent artist and without the assistance of a major label.

Prince (then under the name of Prince love symbol) was proud that Crystal Ball had sold some 250,000 unites, without a single cent spent on advertising – generating him an impressive $11m. This success as an independent distributor gave him the confidence and model to distribute his future works independently also. Crystal Ball peaked at a respectable 62 on Billboard’s charts.

The concept of Crystal Ball originated from a triple LP set for release in 1986, which later evolved into Sign O’ The Times. Containing several songs from this period, the eventual configuration received its commercial release on 21 March 1998 (sans Kamasutra disc). The only previously released song on the whole set was Good Love, written for and included in the Warner Brothers movie soundtrack for Bright Lights, Big City on 8 March 1988.

Crystal Ball was released bearing the strapline “Previously bootlegged material” and the packaging and CD pressing is made to mimic an unofficial release, so to play on the fact its contents formed some of Prince’s most pirated songs prior to their eventual official release in this set.

Crystal Ball Volume II

A 2-CD follow-up volume to Crystal Ball was intended for release in the latter half of 2000, with the tracklisting this time voted for by fans during the June 2000 Prince: A Celebration open-house week at Paisley Park Studios. 17 songs were chosen out of a shortlist of 22. The release, however, failed to materialise and the project was shelved.

Performers

All Instruments
The Artist Formally Known As Prince

Data

Producer
The Artist Formally Known As Prince
Label
NPG Records
Distribution
NPG Records
Cover Art/Photo
Steven Parke, Steffen Bieker and Alice Männl
Released
21 years ago, 21 March 1998
Running Time
2:29:10
US Chart Peak
62
UK Chart Peak
-
Prince Album
#20

Track list

Disk 1

  1. Crystal Ball (10:26)
  2. Dream Factory (3:06)
  3. Acknowledge Me (5:26)
  4. Ripopgodazippa (4:38)
  5. Lovesign [Shock G's Silky Remix] [duet with Nona Gaye] (3:52)
  6. Hide The Bone (5:03)
  7. 2morrow (4:13)
  8. So Dark (5:13)
  9. Movie Star (4:25)
  10. Tell Me How U Wanna B Done [feat. Carmen Electra] (3:14)
Running Time
49:43

Disk 2

  1. Interactive (3:01)
  2. Da Bang (3:19)
  3. Calhoun Square (4:46)
  4. What's My Name (3:03)
  5. Crucial (5:05)
  6. An Honest Man (1:12)
  7. Sexual Suicide (3:39)
  8. Cloreen Bacon Skin (15:36)
  9. Good Love (4:55)
  10. Strays Of The World (5:06)
Running Time
49:48

Disk 3

  1. Days Of Wild [Live] (9:18)
  2. Last Heart (3:00)
  3. Poom Poom (3:42)
  4. She Gave Her Angles (3:51)
  5. 18 & Over (5:40)
  6. The Ride (5:12)
  7. Get Loose! (3:30)
  8. P. Control [Remix] (5:59)
  9. Make Your Mamma Happy (4:00)
  10. Goodbye (4:34)
Running Time
49:41

Singles from Crystal Ball

Crystal Ball produced no singles.

Related releases

The Truth
Kamasutra

Kamasutra

NPG Records (1997)

About this release

Crystal Ball – review

After clearing out his new stuff for Emancipation Prince began returned into the vault for the less commercial material he could put on his newly launched NPG Music Club website. Rather than look for B-sides and music owned by Warner Brothers, Prince cobbled together a triple album chock full of unreleased tracks, versions and demos, known only to bootleggers. Everything is out of vault, even the album’s title Crystal Ball is the original name earmarked for the Sign O’ The Times album. The best here is what was snipped from Come: Interactive, Days Of Wild and Acknowledge Me. There is reworked stuff too in the form of Love Sign and So Dark. But there is more to keep interest up across three disks – Dream Factory, Hide The Bone and The Ride. Great bass lines of 18 And Over and Poom Poom give this album a great mix. It all makes enviable hearing for most bands, if they had outtakes half as good as these at their disposal they would be delighted. If anything Crystal Ball demonstrates how good even Prince’s second rate music is. More releases like these will put the bootleggers out of business – let’s hope he will take note.

Crystal Ball

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