160: Empty Room

Unreleased (1985) / C-Note (2004)
Empty Room is a colossus of brooding loneliness. Written shortly before Prince was due to leave his girlfriend Susannah to film in France, it takes a moment of private inner-turmoil and scales it up to fill the void of an empty concert hall. A soundcheck staple of amplified anguish. It was considered for many projects over the years before finding a home on an otherwise forgettable album of instrumental jazz, proving once again there’s a purple diamond in every rough. Surprisingly this official version, recorded on the One Nite Alone tour, holds its own against the 80’s original. The guitar no longer thrashes around like a downed power-line but there’s no escaping the devastating gamma rays of long-distance relationship pain. His Montreaux performance in 2009 is a different beast and has a guitar solo that sounds like a polar wind has snapped away the tent fabric, exposing us to the icy elements of an unforgiving universe. Not your usual crowd-pleaser but I envy every single person at that concert with an inhuman intensity. That’s one room I’d trade my aura to be in.