Rolling Stone reports today that pristine copies of Prince’s mythical Warner Bros. Records release known as The Black Album, sourced from deep inside an unnamed former record company employee’s closet, are now up for sale on the music memorabilia website Recordmecca. The asking price: $15,000.
The records, five in total, were discovered when the mystery employee was pulling records for his daughter, who had recently purchased a turntable. Three of the five were given to Recordmecca. As for the other two? The employee is keeping one and considering selling the final copy at auction sometime in the future.
The Black Album was originally slated for release in late 1987. Before the record hit the shelves, however, Prince ordered the destruction of the LP’s entire pressing—approximately 500,000 copies—after deeming it “evil.” Warner Bros. did a thorough job with the artist’s request, and over the past 30 years, only three vinyl copies have surfaced. (The label released a brief run of CDs and cassettes in 1994).
As for the music? In his essential breakdown of Prince’s catalog, the drummer and Prince scholar Questlove had the following to say:
Technically this got a 94 contractual release, but even when he destroyed all copies there were bootlegs in our walkman by early 88. i actually like the cassette hiss version [better] than the “oh this is what it sounds like” version—this is Prince at his most —-abandonment? threw song songs together to press up and play at a party. when you think of it, that’s kinda cool. like “imma create some songs I wanna dance to at my babe’s bday party (sheila). legend is the album was ready to go in a week to stores and on a RARE ecstasy trip regret (thanks Ing Obama) he felt guilty for the first time about the effects of being a rude boy.—-he calls WB prez Mo Ostin and demands they destroy album entirely. Mo says “too late”. Prince throws a fit. Mo complies. it was a bitter defensive album: black fans felt slighted since he became a rockstar and were giving him the “are you still down?!?!?!” treatment. he was like “bitch i made “Adore” for black radio!!!!!!!” but to no avail, the new danger in black music was hip hop and prince didn’t get it: i play my ass off, write my ass off, I’m more talented, why would you settle for less? answer: RunDMC looked like your next door neighbors (the same way Nirvana pulled the plug on glam rock) America too wanted the relatable spotlight—not just to worship others—hence reality shows and their “you can be a star too” element. Prince’s one embarrassing moment during the glory period was “Dead On It” sounding like that old man in New Jack City trine tell the kids this is poison you listening to. its a comic mess. the rest of the album was indeed great mindless just messing round funk. when it came out: @@@@@ (the folklore of it made it instant classic and people only heard snippets) when it came out in 94: @@@1/2 under the bitter circumstances i just felt like he shoulda just let the folklore continue. it was ruined. how does it hold up some 27 years later? @@@@.