Rock

Prince Estate Unveils Previously Unreleased Original 'Nothing Compares 2 U' Recording: Listen

Prince
Graham Wiltshire/Hulton Archive/Getty Images

Prince performing at Wembley in London on Aug. 22, 1990.

The previously unreleased original version of Prince's iconic hit "Nothing Compares 2 U" was issued for the first time on Thursday (Apr. 19) by the Prince estate in collaboration with Warner Bros. Records.

The original take on the heartbreak anthem that became a breakout Billboard Hot 100 No. 1 hit for Irish singer Sinead O'Connor in 1990 was recorded at the Flying Cloud Drive "Warehouse" in Eden Prairie, Minnesota, by Prince's longtime engineer Susan Rogers and was originally composed, arranged and performed entirely by Prince (with backing vocals by Susannah Melvoin and Paul "St. Paul" Peterson and saxophone by Eric Leeds on the original track).

“I spotted the 2" multitrack reel in the Vault some weeks back while doing a 1984-era inventory," said Michael Howe, Prince expert and official vault archivist for the Prince estate, in a press release announcing the single. "After retrieving my jaw from the floor, we took the reel upstairs, analyzed it, put it up on the Studer 24 track machine, and digitized it to 24/192. Even our 'faders up' rough mix was compelling enough to indicate that this was something very special indeed... No Prince-penned song performed by another artist has enjoyed more chart success (#1 in over a dozen countries) and overall cultural impact than Sinead O'Connor's 1990 recording, so hearing the song in its original context performed in its entirety by the author makes it particularly noteworthy.”

In addition to the saxophone breaks, the Prince version presents a more sensual take on the song that was famously accompanied by a stark, close-up shot of O'Connor's face in her legendary video for her more fragile, icy cover. O'Connor's take appeared on her second album, 1990's I Do Not Want What I Haven't Got; "Nothing" also appeared on a 1985 album by the Prince-affiliated group The Family, and was included on two different Prince hits compilations.

The release comes two days before the second anniversary of Prince's death -- the singer died at age 57 from an accidental opioid overdose on April 21, 2016. A tribute fence will be installed at the singer's famed music studio and home in Minnesota as officials prepare for fans returning on the second anniversary. Earlier this week, Paisley Park also announced new details about Celebration 2018, the second annual gathering for Prince fans from April 19-22. Ten more guest speakers have been added, including The Revolution members Bobby Z, Dez Dickerson and Matt Fink.

Along with the Prince version of the song -- which can be streamed here -- a video with never-before-seen rehearsal footage of Prince & the Revolution practicing their choreography around that time in the Eden Prairie warehouse has also been released. The "Nothing" release is the first new music from the estate since last June's deluxe edition of of Purple Rain.

Check out the video below.

The late singer's estate is also bringing back the HitNRun online pop-up store concept first launch in November, which will offer fans a limited-edition black picture disk vinyl and a variety of other Prince merchandise; the vinyl will be released on May 25 and will be available for pre-order form major physical retailers. In a further celebration of the Rock Hall of Famer's legacy, the estate has launched a new interactive site called Prince2Me, where fans can share what Prince meant to them.