Tuesday, May 31, 2016

Prince and The Revolution - Dream Factory

Prince and The Revolution – Dream Factory
(soniclovenoize reconstruction)


Side A:
1.  Visions
2.  Dream Factory
3.  Train
4.  The Ballad of Dorothy Parker
5.  It

Side B:
6.  Strange Relationship
7.  Slow Love
8.  Starfish and Coffee
9.  Interlude
10.  I Could Never Take The Place of Your Man

Side C:
11.  Sign o’ The Times
12.  Crystal Ball
13.  A Place In Heaven

Side D:
14.  Last Heart
15.  Witness 4 The Prosecution
16.  Movie Star
17.  The Cross
18.  All My Dreams


In honor of the passing of Prince, this is a reconstruction of what would have been his final album with The Revolution, 1986’s Dream Factory, which eventually evolved into Sign o' The Times.  Originally conceived as a double album with a significant amount of creative input from the band (at least compared to previous Prince releases), the album was scrapped after Prince broke up The Revolution in 1986.  Prince then turned his attention to a solo concept album Camille, which was also scrapped and combined with the Dream Factory material to create the unreleased triple album Crystal Ball.  Warner Bros Records then asked Prince to whittle the 3LP down, and the result was the double album Sign o' The Times, which many consider to be Prince’s masterpiece.  This reconstruction attempts to present what Prince originally intended the Dream Factory album to sound like, volume-adjusted and using the best possible masters—EQd to match a virgin vinyl rip of Sign o’ The Times—to  make the most natural-sounding album possible. 

Prince was truly the reigning star of the 1980s.  Armed with both worldwide smash hits,  musical chops and the artistic credibility to back it up, Prince also had the vision and determination to prove himself a modern music legend… But let's not forget he also had the band to back it up.  Even though Prince was a great songwriter, producer and multi-instrumentalist who had the ability to mastermind his own works and retain both commercial and critical success, his output throughout the 1980s grew to allow more collaboration from his backing band he formed in 1979.  The lineup of The Revolution seemed to be in flux at times, but after the transcendent success of Purple Rain in 1984 and their subsequent albums Around The World in a Day and Parade, the classic core of the band coalesced as guitarist Wendy Melvoin, keyboardist Lisa Coleman, keyboardist Matt Fink, bassist Brown Mark and drummer Bobby Z.  In working on the follow-up to Parade before it was even released, Prince invited members of The Revolution—although mostly Melvoin and Coleman—to contribute backing vocals, songwriting, instrumentation and even lead vocals to the material.  Reworking older songs as a starting point—the 1982 recordings of “Teacher, Teacher”, “Strange Relationship” and “I Could Never Take The Place of Your Man”—as well as the project's title track in December 1985, most of the work occurred in Prince’s newly built home studio on Galpin Boulevard.  By April 1986, Prince had created a rough cut of an album called Dream Factory that elevated both Wendy and Lisa as major players (although they later claimed they didn’t receive the credit they thought they deserved!).  At this point in time, Dream Factory was a single-disc album that included: “Visions”, “Dream Factory”, “It’s a Wonderful Day”, “The Ballad of Dorothy Parker”, “Big Tall Wall”, “And That Says What?” “Strange Relationship”, “Teacher, Teacher”, “Starfish and Coffee”, “A Place in Heaven” and “Sexual Suicide”. 

Work on the album continued throughout the summer with Prince often tracking all the instruments himself, although he also continued to work with Windy and Lisa in the studio.  A mountain of tracks began to collect and by June a double album had emerged.  Although songs such as “Big Tall Wall” and “That Says What” fell to the wayside, great and interesting new tracks such as “It”, “In A Large Room With No Light”, “Crystal Ball”, “Power Fantastic”, “Last Heart”, “Witness 4 The Prosecution”, “Movie Star” and “All My Dreams” were added to the running order as well as linking tracks “Wendy’s Interlude” and “nevaeH ni ecalP A”, the later based around “A Place In Heaven” played backwards and meant to introduce the title track.  Now a double-album, this sequence of Dream Factory went through further refinement over the month when more work was done to the songs.  By July, Prince had dropped “Teacher, Teacher”, “In a Large Room With No Light”, “Sexual Suicide” and “Power Fantastic” and replaced them with newly completed tracks “Train”, “Slow Love”, “I Could Never Take The Place of Your Man”, “Sign o' The Times” and “The Cross”.  A master was prepared on July 18th and Prince concentrated on the Hit n Run Tour, which would signal the closing of the Dream Factory. 

For the summer’s Parade/Hit n Run Tour, The Revolution was expanded to include former members of The Time as well as The Family—jokingly dubbed The Counter-Revolution.   This would include a full horn section, Melvoin’s twin sister Susannah (who was romantically involved with Prince) and a set of former-bodyguards-turned-dancers.   This created a strain in the relationship between Prince and his band members, who were questioning Prince’s artistic direction—why did the band nearly double in size?  Why are on-stage dancers getting more attention than the musicians proper?  Wendy was especially annoyed at the addition of her sister as an official member of the band and most of the core members of The Revolution attempted to quit, only for Prince to convince Wendy, Lisa and Mark to stay until at least the remainder of the tour in October. 

As fate would have it, the growing animosity between Prince and his Revolution was at least reciprocated.  At the end of the tour, Prince called in Wendy and Lisa to Paisley Park and fired them.  Bobby Z was replaced by Sheila E.  Allegedly out of loyalty to the rest of his band members, Mark quit.  With The Revolution over, the collaborative Dream Factory was shelved and Prince went back to his roots—being the sole maestro.  Prince promptly began work on a concept album called Camille, in which a vocally-manipulated Prince would perform as the character Camille.  Intending to fool the public, the album was never to be credited directly as Prince and the cover art was to be blank!  A master to Camille was prepared in October but that album too was scrapped and Prince rethought his strategy.  In a bold move, Prince combined the best of both the scrapped Dream Factory and Camille albums into one triple-album entitled Crystal Ball (not to be confused with the 1998 rarities boxset of the same name).  With The Revolution no longer existing, Prince generally mixed-out Wendy and Lisa’s contributions  from the Dream Factory tracks destined for Crystal Ball: “The Ballad of Dorothy Parker”, “It”, “Starfish and Coffee”, “Slow Love”, “Crystal Ball”, “I Could Never Take The Place of Your Man”, "The Cross" and “Sign o' The Times”.

In a final turn of events that makes the Dream Factory mythos even more complex, this 3-LP Crystal Ball album was ultimately rejected by Warner Brothers Records, and in December Prince was tasked to pair the album down to at least a more marketable double album.  After adding a more commercial single “U Got The Look”, the result was retitled into Sign o’ the Times and released as a Prince solo album in 1987.  Although not quite hitting the commercial peak that Purple Rain had three years earlier, Sign o’ The Times was universally critically acclaimed and recent revaluations fairly state it as his masterpiece. But to be fair, the album was the culmination of three other scrapped albums—Dream Factory, Camille and Crystal Ball—so it’s glory should come as no surprise.  But to truly see how Sign o’ the Times was manufactured, we must first see what it’s like in the Dream Factory.

While there were three different masters of Dream Factory prepared throughout the summer of 1986, my reconstruction will focus on its final iteration, using those specific mixes and track sequence; luckily all the tracks are available on both official and high-quality bootlegs.  In the name of creating the most natural-sounding reconstruction, I choose to use a pristine needledrop of an unplayed virgin vinyl copy of Sign o’ The Times (by thesnodger) for the songs also found on that release.  Furthermore, all of the tracks taken from bootlegs were EQd to match the mastering and EQ parameters of that unplayed copy of Sign o’ The Times.  The result is an attempt to preserve the sound originally intended by Prince in 1986 and to avoid the temptation for anachronistically maximizing specific frequencies (such as a certain, unnamed Dream Factory remaster with exaggerated bass frequencies). 

Side A begins with “Visions” taken from the collector's edition of Wendy & Lisa’s Eroica album, which hard edits into the unlisted “nevaeH ni ecalP A” taken from the Work It bootleg.  The original mix of “Dream Factory” appears here taken from the Work It bootleg but EQd to match the released version from the 1998 compilation Crystal Ball.  Following is the fantastic “Train” taken from the Work It bootleg but EQd to match the aforementioned vinyl Sign o’ The Times parameters.  Concluding the side are “The Ballad of Dorothy Parker” and “It”, both taken from thesnodger’s needledrop of Sign o’ The Times since the Dream Factory mixes are identical to the official Sign mixes.  Side B begins with the superior original mix of “Strange Relationship” that features Wendy & Lisa’s overdubs that Prince exorcised for the Sign album, here taken from the Work It bootleg.  “Slow Love” and “Starfish and Coffee” follow, mixes identical as heard on Sign so again taken from the needledrop (but with “Starfish”’s alarm removed, as per what is heard on Dream Factory).  “Interlude” follows, taken from the Work It bootleg and Side B concludes with “I Could Never Replace Your Man” a longer mix than on Sign, taken from the Work It bootleg but EQd to match the shorter Sign version.

Side B opens with the single version of “Sign o’ the Times”, taken from The Hits/The B-Sides compilation.  The closing drumbeat is hard edited into the opening beat of the jaw-dropping “Crystal Ball”.  The Dream Factory version is unfortunately an early mix that lacked Clare Fisher’s extraordinary orchestration.  Regardless, this mix taken from the Work It bootleg, is EQd to match the final version from the Crystal Ball rarities compilation.  The side closes with the original mix of “A Place in Heaven” from the Work It bootleg featuring Lisa on lead vocals.  Side D opens with the original mix of “Last Heart” from the Work It bootleg, EQd to match the final mix on Crystal Ball.  The admittedly less-than-stellar “Witness 4 The Prosecution” and “Movie Star” follow, both taken from the Work It bootleg and re-EQd.  The album closes with the double-punch of the fantastic "The Cross" from Sign and the legendary unreleased track many claim could have been a hit—“All My Dreams”, here taken from the Dream Factory bootleg on Sabotage Records, but EQd to match my own reconstruction. 


Lossless FLAC (part1, part 2, part 3)


Sources used:
Prince – Dream Factory (2003 bootleg CD, Sabotage Records)
Prince – The Hits/The B-Sides (original 1993 CD pressing)
Prince – Sign o’ The Times (1987 thesnodger vinyl rip)
Prince – Work It – Volumes 2 & 3 (2008 bootleg, GetBlue Records)
Wendy & Lisa – Erioca (1990 collector’s edition CD pressing)


flac --> wav --> SONAR and Goldwave --> flac encoding via TLH lv8
* md5 files, track notes and artwork included

56 comments:

  1. Amazing! I was not expecting this at all, but am extremely pleased to see it. Thank you so much!

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  2. What a great surprise to open a new month. Thanks!

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  3. Thank you for the big work. Better mix than in the castrated albums. Movie Star looks better and the iconic Sign of the Times lower, but I'm too lazy to compare. Funny thing, that Prince decided that his sister "will be a member of the band whenever they want it or not" (quote from a Zappa's composition where a musician wants to enforce a line-up). I have a low tolerance about the slow Prince songs and some producing choices (some are regular mainstream and he made nice-to-hear statements about this pressure, but even his "emancipation" free-wheeling is sometimes even worse), but his (and band member's, you're right to mention this) funk is really great, not only "like in the old James Brown albums" (as he sing in one song, in despite of the fact that his music his more related to George Clinton's bands), but truly original (meow voice, and that incredible funk power of a single knock on a drum stick in a loop, for exemple). Few compositions are really enjoyable for their freak-outness, too. Well, that's the way I see it, sorry for the hardcore fans. I can understand the pain cause I'm that sort of listener about Zappa. Anyway, I will not like an album written by Ahmet, sung by Moon Unit, even with Dweezil's guitar, Frank producing and Gail's fake sex noises.

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  4. Thanks for this man, I'm a huge Prince fan and I've got a few different versions of this already but I really appreciate the work that you've done with other albums and am looking forward to see how this compares.

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  5. I've not listened to Prince for a while. Your previous work has been great, so I'm sure this will be great too.

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  6. Always a treat to visit this blog. Interested to see your take on this album that never was from an artist who created so much amazing music. Thanks!

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  7. Great reconstruction as always! Hopefully Lifehouse will be next

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    1. Dude, he did Lifehouse a LONG time ago.

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    2. I think he remade it with a new tracklist actually

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  8. Stellar work as usual, mister. Do you consider making a version of "Stampede" by the Buffalo Springfield?

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    1. would like to see that one, please

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    2. Me too! Wow, you mean you have more up your sleeve? Many thanks for this one, too.

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  9. Hi, I read your blog on the reconstruction on Machina and the Machines of God, and I'm wondering exactly how you were able to get the 1999 Premaster, because I can't find it anywhere

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    1. you can find it on some famous russian tracker

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  10. Welcome back soniclovenoize, an awesome return!!

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  11. Well, thanks, I'll have to get together with my other sad friends who aren't ready to do this yet. Just listened to Bowie last night, things I didn't know. My Dad & I listened to Blackstar the weekend it came out, at least once before we heard the news. All this mournful reminiscing of lost days when our favorite sounds were new seems like the new aging process, focusing on the latest obit. Daddy says his personal loss at the start of this series was Allen Toussaint (or B.B.),then there were too many to pay tribute to. The Grammys would better devote their time to honoring lifetime achievement rather than the latest thing. Next year's award shows can't help but ignore too many lost ones of all ages, how much time can they give Frank Jr or Lonnie Mack or Maurice White when you have champions like Haggard & George Martin leaving us as well? The year's not yet halfway gone, and so many of our lifelong soundtrack composers are like grandparents we need to cherish while they're with us. My Daddy, Madonna, Michael Jackson & Prince were the same age! He has friends who went to Graceland to mourn Elvis. Just about everybody who made a record since the fifties is worthy of respect while we have them to honor. Sorry, this was just too close to home, Cheers, All!

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  12. Welcome back - what an awesome share.

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  13. Thank you! I love the bootleg version of Dream Factory that I have now and can't wait to compare with yours!

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  14. Excellent choice for your return! Can't wait to hear it. Now, how about that version of "1862" by Small Faces you mentioned?

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    1. Well, it definitely sounds like a summer album...

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  15. Where have you been all my life?! Just discovered your blog today and have a ton of catching up to do. Keep it up!

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  16. This is really fantastic, particularly your meticulous work EQing everything. But the orchestrated Crystal Ball is where it's at!

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    1. Agreed!

      I've also always doubted that Movie Star would have made the final cut.

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  17. How about the Warner Bros. rejected version of George Harrison's Somewhere in England?

    As always, your work is appreciated and loads of fun to hear.

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    1. that's out there on many download sites

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  18. Wow. The care, precision & respect you extend to prepare such an endeavor. Amazing. I was exhausted just trying to follow the narrative! Ha! WoNdErFuL stuff man. Love me some Prince. Thank you so much! Truly.

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  19. Amazing work as always, Sonic. I was wondering if you'd wanna take a crack at a Hip Hop album that never was, the double album version of "I Am..." by Nas.
    http://genius.com/discussions/18556-What-if-nas-3rd-album-came-out-as-the-original-double-disc-cd-he-intended-it-to-be

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    1. I'm not a huge Nas fan specifically, but doing some Hip-Hop albums that never were would be great! I will say though that I only do albums where the material is available in a lossless format... So if the leaked tracks exist only on Youtube or as mp3s, I can't really do it. I'll look into the Nas album though.

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    2. Awesome, hopefully enough lossless source material is available. I know that most of the material intended for the double album ended up on the retail "I Am...", "Nastradamus", "The Lost Tapes", and a few other compilations. The rest (or most of it) was from an advance version of "I Am..." that was leaked to the internet months before the album's planned release. It's actually one of the first major label releases to fall victim to internet piracy. I'll look around for sources, though I think a few songs will be harder to find, like the original versions of "Fetus" and "Project Windows" with uncleared samples.

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  20. Great to see you back, and another great post

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  21. Just wanted to thank you for what may be your best work yet. I was blown away by your reconstruction of the Smashing Pumpkins' "Machina", but this effort is even better. I don't think the actual Warner Bros. releases sound as good as your remixing and EQ'ing work does. Awesome, awesome stuff. Oh, and your "liner notes" are excellent reading as well. You know your stuff!

    Prince is one of my favorite artists ever, so discovering this gem helps ease the pain of his incredibly untimely passing. Keep up the good work. I can't wait to see what you've got for us next!

    Don

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  22. Proud of you, ol' Sonic. I've finally been converted.

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  23. As a big Prince fan, this is my favorite reconstruction of yours since The Beatles Get Back reconstruction (I'm also a huge Beatles fan). Thanks a ton for this. It is the perfect return!

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  24. soniclovenoize! This is amazing. Unbelievable.

    I also listened to some of your Beatles albums tonight. I'm shocked to be shocked by something with the Beatles. I really heard those years in a different way. Thank you.

    There's one mix with the link down. Would you be so kind as to re-up the "Living in the Material World" mix? I'm sitting on the edge of my seat.

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  25. Fantastic work. How about the original Crystal Ball as a follow-up?

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  26. I still have my attempts at `Stampede` and `1862` ready to go if Sonic doesn`t mind me posting them to tide people over until he finalises the ones that he is doing. Sonic, let me know if this is OK with you as I don`t to tread on your toes.



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  27. You've done it again! Many thanks for all your fine work.

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  28. This is really great. Thanks for doing it.

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  29. Your work on this blog is not only incredible but enviable. Thank you VERY much.

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  30. I hope the spam will be quickly dealt with. You can dump this comment too when you get rid of what's posted above mine. We don't need this blog contaminated. :)

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  31. Any chance you could do a single disc Stadium Arcadium by Red Hot Chili Peppers that never was? Im always intrigued by the way you work with stuff like this.

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    1. I don't believe "Stadium Arcadium" was ever intended as a single disc album. If anything, it was intended as three separate discs including all 38 songs from the sessions, which they eventually cut down to a 28-track double album.

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  32. This is some of my favorite work of yours! This was one of the few "lost albums" I'd heard of before discovering your blog, and The Revolution is my favorite incarnation of Prince; I was so excited when you posted this! Thanks a bunch!!

    And as a request- would you be interested in taking a stab at Steely Dan's "Gaucho"? You do fantastic work and I'm sure it'd sound fabulous :D

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  33. Great Work. Best Version I've ever heard. How about doing the Camille Album or maybe putting together an album of tracks from this era that didn't make Sign O The times including songs like It's a Wonderful Day, Teacher Teacher, Adonis and Bathsheba, Empty Room, Splash etc. There all available in great quality in Flac. Would be nice to get them together on one album all nicely eq'd.

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  34. Totally OT: is there enough known about Neil Young's concept for the Homegrown album to do a reconstruction? I don't know all there is to know about the guy, just that the title track wound up on another release.

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    1. There is enough known, but the material is not out there. There is enough material from the Homegrown sessions out there (although it might not have been destined to be on the actual album) to make an album. It wouldn't be THE Homegrown album, but just what we have available.

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  35. Awesome, thanks. I'm a little late to the game, but I'd like to second koko up above with the Camille request.

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  36. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

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  37. might be asking a bit much, but could you point me the way to thesnodger's sign rip? the tracks from it sound fantastic, better than the version i've been listening to for sure

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