119: Strange But True

Rave Un2 the Joy Fantastic (1999)
In Matt Thorne’s Prince biography there’s an interview with Hans-Martin Buff, the engineer on Rave Un2 the Joy Fantastic, where he claims responsibility for Strange But True making it onto the album. Prince didn’t want its inclusion but Buff begged and pleaded him. Sir, I salute you. It’s the best track on there by a country mile and my disappointment at it not being on the Rave In2 remix album is only tempered by the knowledge it was replaced with something even better – the ethereal and equally experimental Beautiful Strange. This ditching at the second attempt backs up Buff’s claim that Prince wasn’t feeling Strange But True but quality control was never Prince’s forte. In his engineer’s words, this track is “awesome”. On the final year of the millennium, Prince has the Lin Drum popping like’s it’s 1999. The turntablism (the one element Buff didn’t like) adds a nervous energy and the explosion of keys three minutes in sounds like a birth of a planet. My personal highlight is Prince’s spoken delivery which is as close as he gets to sounding like hip hop’s poet laureate Saul Williams. It marks the perigee of my two biggest idols and sometimes I like to pretend this is a collaboration between them. Strange. But true.