A Record Store Story About Prince's "Black Album"

A Record Store Story About Prince's "Black Album"

I love a record store story just as much as the next guy. Yesterday, at Laurie’s Planet of Sound, I heard a tale that I had previously not been told.

It’s one involving an album I never knew existed. That album is called The Black Album, by none other than, Prince.

Me: Is that Prince playing in the background right now?

Clerk: Yep.

Me: What album is this? I’ve never heard it.

Clerk: It’s The Black Album.

Me: Wow! It’s really interesting, Prince is rapping?

Clerk: “Yes, he recorded this album to regain his cult following, supposedly, but never officially released it. After he finished it, he ate a bunch of ecstasy, and thought it sounded “evil.” So, he didn’t want to put it out. You can find it on a bootleg, though. There are several different versions available, and we should have one back in stock soon.”

The Black Album is the sixteenth studio album by American recording artist Prince. It was released on November 22, 1994, by Warner Bros. Records. It was originally planned for release on December 8, 1987, as the follow-up to Sign o’ the Times and was to appear in an entirely black sleeve with no title or even a credit to Prince; hence it was referred to as The Black Album. Dubbed The Funk Bible by preceding press releases, and in a hidden message within the album itself, the work seemed to be a reaction to criticism that Prince had become too pop-oriented. It was his attempt to regain his black audience. -Wiki

There you have it, the real story is right there above, highlighted in purple! Not sure if the record store guy had it exactly right, but it does exist, and some of his facts check out. You can search eBay, Amazon, Discogs, or any other site, to see the many different versions. Colored vinyl, double vinyl, and some so rare that they are charging $38,000 for 1 of 8 known copies.


The album was abandoned shortly before its intended release after Prince experienced a spiritual epiphany and became convinced it was “evil”; he later blamed the album on an entity named Spooky Electric, described as a demonic, low-voiced alter-ego induced by Camille. The decision may have been influenced by Prince’s having a bad experience on MDMA. Prince recalled all copies and abandoned the entire project, leaving roughly 100 European promotional copies in circulation, and several American copies that would be widely bootlegged in the coming years.

Immediately after the decision to pull The Black Album from stores, the album emerged on the streets in bootleg form, arguably becoming popular music’s most legendary bootleg since the Beach Boys‘ aborted 1967 album Smile. -Wiki

What an interesting story, huh? So much so, that I had to share. I’ve hung out in a lot of record stores, and some of the shit that flies around in there will make your head spin. But this tall tale holds water. I’m in the market for a copy of The Black Album on colored vinyl. “Who’s my Huckleberry?”

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