133: Desire

Unreleased (1984) / The Family (1985)
Prince often used his satellite projects to experiment with new ideas and directions before incorporating them into his own work. Saxophonist Eric Leeds and composer Clare Fischer made sizeable contributions to the purple catalogue over the years but both debuted on The Family album where they (Fischer especially) are played with like a new toy. A year later with Parade Prince would practise more restraint, leaving the majority of the orchestral overdubs on the cutting room floor – a ruthless fate that should have befallen The Family’s Desire. Their album closer is a beautiful, jazzy, late-night seduction of a soldier’s wife. Dreamlike and highly polished but lacks the fire and rough-cut robustness of the unreleased demo. Prince’s early take is less a song and more a container for Leeds’ saxophone that squeals and claws at the walls like caged desire. There’s a fight in there which gets refined away into coloured sand when later subdued by strings and good taste. It’s raw and messy but so’s life. The fact Prince provides the vocals only helps to enshrine it in my eyes as the definitive version.