Sunday, November 30, 1986

Prince: The Aborted Albums from 1986

First posted 3/9/2021.

The Aborted Albums from 1986


A Brief History: In between the release of Parade in 1986 and Sign ‘O’ the Times in 1987, Prince was incredibly prolific, recording material for three different proposed albums. All were aborted, but songs from all three projects survived to see the light of day on Sign ‘O’ the Times.

The Albums:

These three albums are spotlighted on this page. Appearing after song titles are the songwriters in italicized parentheses, running times in brackets, and when relevant, the date the song was released as a single and its peaks on various charts.

Finally, there are raised number codes indicating what album(s) the songs eventually appeared on.

1 Sign ‘O’ the Times (1987)
2 The Black Album (recorded 1987, released 1994)
3 Graffiti Bridge (soundtrack, 1990)
4 Crystal Ball (1998)
5 1999: Super Deluxe Edition (2019)
6 Sign ‘O’ the Times: Super Deluxe Edition (2020)

Dream Factory


Intended Release Date: mid-1986

Recorded: 1982 – July 1986

Charted: NA

Peak: NA

Sales (in millions): NA

Genre: R&B/funk

Tracks (April 1986 configuration):

Song Title [Time] (Writers)

  1. Visions (Lisa Coleman) 6
  2. Dream Factory 4
  3. Wonderful Day 6
  4. The Ballad of Dorothy Parker 1,6
  5. Big Tall Wall 6
  6. And That Says What? 6
  7. Strange Relationship 1,6
  8. Teacher Teacher 6
  9. Starfish and Coffee (Prince and Susannah Melvoin) 1
  10. A Place in Heaven 6
  11. Sexual Suicide 4

Written by Prince unless noted otherwise.

Tracks (June 3, 1986 configuration):

Song Title [Time] (Writers)

  1. Visions (Lisa Coleman) 6
  2. Dream Factory 4
  3. Wonderful Day 6
  4. The Ballad of Dorothy Parker 1,6
  5. It 1
  6. Strange Relationship 1,6
  7. Teacher Teacher 6
  8. Starfish and Coffee (Prince and Susannah Melvoin) 1
  9. Colors (aka “Wendy”) (Wendy Melvoin) 6
  10. In a Large Room with No Light 6
  11. Nevaeh Ni Ecalp A 6
  12. Sexual Suicide 4
  13. Crystal Ball 6
  14. Power Fantastic 6
  15. Last Heart 4
  16. Witness 4 the Prosecution 6
  17. Movie Star 4
  18. A Place in Heaven 6
  19. All My Dreams 6

Written by Prince unless noted otherwise.

Tracks (July 18, 1986 configuration):

Song Title [Time] (Writers)

  1. Visions (Lisa Coleman) 6
  2. Dream Factory 4
  3. Train 6
  4. The Ballad of Dorothy Parker 1,6
  5. It 1
  6. Strange Relationship 1,6
  7. Slow Love (Prince and Carole Davis) 1
  8. Starfish and Coffee (Prince and Susannah Melvoin) 1
  9. Colors (aka “Wendy”) (Wendy Melvoin) 6
  10. I Could Never Take the Place of Your Man 1,6
  11. Sign ‘O’ the Times 1,6
  12. Crystal Ball 6
  13. A Place in Heaven (Lisa Coleman on vocals) 6
  14. Last Heart 4
  15. Witness 4 the Prosecution 6
  16. Movie Star 4
  17. The Cross 1
  18. All My Dreams 6

Written by Prince unless noted otherwise.

These songs were released in some version or another on the following albums:

The Players:

  • Prince (vocals, all instruments)
  • Lisa Coleman (piano, vocals)
  • Susannah Melvoin (background vocals)
  • Wendy Melvoin (guitar, vocals)
  • Bobby Z (drums)
  • Matt Fink (keyboards)
  • Mark Brown (bass)
  • Eric Leeds (saxophone)
  • Sheila E. (drums, percussion, vocals)
  • Levi Seacer, Jr. (bass)
  • Atlanta Bliss (trumpet)
  • Norbert Satchell (saxophone)
  • Clare Fischer (string arrangements)


2.137 out of 5.00 (average of 3 ratings)

About Dream Factory:

After the release of 1986’s Parade, Prince recorded a wealth of material. Prior to the double album release Sign ‘O’ the Times in 1987, Prince put together what could have been two more albums with Dream Factory and Camille. The former represented the last hurrah for his backing band, the Revolution, whom had worked with him since the 1999 album in 1982. On October 7, Prince fired Wendy, Lisa, Bobby Z, and Mark Brown. MM-61

Vibe magazine did a feature in March 2009 on “51 Albums That Never Were” and included Dream Factory on its list as a “coulda-been classic.” WK-1

The April Configuration:

He pieced together the first version, an 11-track album, in April 1986. Alternate double-album versions surfaced in June and July. Most of the songs were recorded in 1986, but versions of “Strange Relationship,” “Teacher Teacher,” and “I Could Never Take the Place of Your Man” date back to the summer of 1982. PV-1 The title cut was recorded in December 1985.

In mid-March of 1986, Prince set to work recording in his new home studio in Chanhassen, Minnesota. From then through mid-April, he recorded “The Ballad of Dorothy Parker,” “Power Fantastic,” “A Place in Heaven,” “Movie Star,” and Witness 4 the Prosecution.” PV-1 During this same time, he recorded “And That Says What?” at Washington Avenue Warehouse in Edina, Minnesota. PV-1 In mid-April, Prince recorded “Crystal Ball,” “Starfish and Coffee,” “Big Tall Wall,” and “Visions.” PV-1

The June Configuration:

After putting together the tentative 11-track listing for Dream Factory in late April, Prince went on recording, laying down “In a Large Room with No Light” and “It.” This led to the second configuration of the album in June. It was even mastered, but Prince didn’t consider it final. PV-1

The July Configuration:

In mid-June and early July, Prince recorded “Slow Love,” “The Cross,” and “Sign ‘O’ the Times.” He also reworked “I Could Never Take the Place of Your Man.” The third and final track listing for Dream Factory was put out on July 18, but the project never surfaced.


The songs from all three configurations of Dream Factory eventually surfaced on Sign ‘O’ the Times in 1987, the archival box set Crystal Ball in 1998, or the super deluxe edition of Sign ‘O’ the Times in 2020. “Train” was also released in 1989 by Mavis Staples on her Time Waits for No One album. Wendy & Lisa released “Visions” on a limited edition bonus CD with their album Eroica. An edited version of “Power Fantastic” showed up on Prince’s The B-Sides compilation in 1993. The 1982 version of “Teacher Teacher” was released on the deluxe edition of 1999 in 1982. PV-1

“Witness 4 the Prosecution” was released as a promo single for the super deluxe edition of Sign ‘O’ the Times on August 14, 2020.

Art Work:

While it was long believed that no work was done on the packaging, in 2017 Susannah Melvoin showed some color pencil sketches she made in 1986 for an album cover idea. It depicted “sort of a time-warp flash surrounded by a an array of flowers and a border of little hearts.” PV-1 There’s a rainbow at the bottom of the flash and Susannah is holding open the door to the “Dream Factory.” PV



Intended Release Date: January 1987

Track Listing Announced: November 5, 1986

Recorded: 1981 – October 1986

Charted: NA

Peak: NA

Sales (in millions): NA

Genre: R&B/funk


Song Title [Time] (Writers)

  1. Rebirth of the Flesh [4:54] 6
  2. Housequake [4:34] 1
  3. Strange Relationship [4:04] 1
  4. Feel U Up [6:27] 5
  5. Shockadelica [6:12] 6
  6. Good Love [5:11] 4
  7. If I Was Your Girlfriend [4:47] 1
  8. Rock Hard in a Funky Place [4:30] (Prince/Eric Leeds) 2

All songs by Prince (credited as Camille) unless noted otherwise.

The Players:

  • Prince (vocals, all instruments)
  • Eric Leeds (saxophone)
  • Atlanta Bliss (trumpet)
  • Wendy Melvoin (tambourine, congas)
  • Lisa Coleman (sitar, wooden flute, Fairlight sample)
  • Susannah Melvoin (background vocals)
  • Jill Jones (background vocals)


1.304 out of 5.00 (average of 3 ratings)

About Camille:

After Prince released Parade in 1986, he and his band The Revolution went to work on the potential follow-up, Dream Factory. By October, Prince had sacked the band and went to work on a new project, Camille, which was marked by his use of distorted pitched-up vocals that gave him a more androgynous sound. Prince intended to release the album under the pseudonym “Camille” and not acknowledge his identity. WK-2

While most of the songs were recorded in late 1986, “Feel U Up” dated back to 1981 and “Strange Relationship” to 1983. PV-2 Wendy and Lisa, from the Revolution, appear on the latter track but Prince buried their contributions in the mix. PV-2 Two other songs were recorded during this era, but were not planned for inclusion on the Camille album. “U Got the Look” ended up on Sign ‘O’ the Times and “Scarlet Pussy” was released as the B-side of the 1988 single “I Wish U Heaven.” WK-2

Prince compiled a track listing for the proposed album on November 5, 1986 and set for released in January 1987. It was to be proceeded by the single “Shockadelica.” PV-2 This project was also aborted, possibly because Prince’s record company wasn’t sold on the idea of releasing a Prince album without attributing it to him. WK-2

All the tracks except “Feel U Up” were then slated to appear on his next proposed project, a three-disc album called Crystal Ball. When the record company vetoed a three-disc set, he whittled it down to the two-disc Sign ‘O’ the Times, released in March 1987.

Of the eight cuts from Camille, three (“Housequake,” “Strange Relationship,” “If I Was Your Girlfriend”) survived to Sign. “Shockadelica” was released as a B-Side for “If I Was Your Girlfriend.” “Good Love” emerged as a cut from the Bright Lights Big City soundtrack in 1988 and “Feel U Up” surfaced as a B-side to Prince’s 1989 single “Party Man.” “Rock Hard in a Funky Place” was slated for The Black Album, which was intended for release in late 1987, but didn’t surface until 1994. “Rebirth of the Flesh” was released as a live rehearsal in 2001, but didn’t see a studio release until the 2020 release of the Sign ‘O’ the Times super deluxe edition.

“The album cover has been described as having a stick figure with X’s for eyes. However, rather than a fully developed design this is believed to have been only in the stage of Prince drawing on the white unmarked sleeve of a test-pressing, much like the 12" to Gett Off. The labels of the vinyl would have been the first with the new Paisley Park design and featured the song titles in Prince’s own writing, as well as the name Camille with the C as a crescent moon. And an x instead of the dot on the i. The name Prince would not have been on the record.” PV-2

Crystal Ball


Intended Release Date: early 1987

Track Listing Announced: November 30, 1986

Recorded: date

Charted: NA

Peak: NA

Sales (in millions): NA

Genre: R&B/funk


Song Title [Time] (Writers)

  1. Rebirth of the Flesh [4:54] 5
  2. Play in the Sunshine [5:05] 1
  3. Housequake [4:34] 1
  4. The Ballad of Dorothy Parker [4:04] 1
  5. It [5:10] 1
  6. Starfish and Coffee [2:51] 1
  7. Slow Love [4:18] 1
  8. Hot Thing [5:39] 1
  9. Crystal Ball [10:22] 4,6
  10. If I Was Your Girlfriend [4:47] 1
  11. Rock Hard in a Funky Place [4:30] (Prince/Eric Leeds) 2
  12. The Ball [4:22] 6
  13. Joy in Repetition [4:59] 3
  14. Strange Relationship [4:04] 1
  15. I Could Never Take the Place of Your Man [6:21] 1
  16. Shockadelica [6:12] 6
  17. Good Love [5:11] 4
  18. Forever in My Life [3:38] 1
  19. Sign ‘O’ the Times [4:51] 1
  20. The Cross [4:46] 1
  21. Adore [6:29] 1
  22. It’s Gonna Be a Beautiful Night [8:59] 1

The Players:

  • Prince (vocals, all instruments)
  • Eric Leeds (saxophone)
  • Atlanta Bliss (trumpet)
  • Wendy Melvoin (tambourine, congas)
  • Lisa Coleman (sitar, wooden flute, Fairlight sample)
  • Susannah Melvoin (background vocals)
  • Jill Jones (background vocals)
  • Sheila E. (drums, background vocals)


2.062 out of 5.00 (average of 3 ratings)

About Crystal Ball:

After aborting Dream Factory and Camille, Prince prepared a three-disc collection which incorporated songs from both projects. Of the cuts from Camille, only “Feel U Up” didn’t make it to Crystal Ball. Nine songs from Dream Factory made the cut. Six more songs were brand new to this album – “Joy in Repetition,” “The Ball,” “Forever in My Life,” “It’s Gonna Be a Beautiful Night,” “Adore,” and “Play in the Sunshine.”

Prince submitted the album to Warner Bros. in late 1986, but they rejected it, wanting it to be reduced to a double album. 15 of the 22 songs from Crystal Ball eventually ended up on Sign ‘O’ the Times alongside “U Got the Look,” which was recorded in December 1986. This included four of the six songs specifically recorded for Crystal Ball. “Joy in Repetition” was eventually released on the 1990 soundtrack for Graffiti Bridge and “The Ball” was released on the super deluxe edition of Sign ‘O’ the Times in 2020. The latter song first appeared as “ No” on Lovesexy in 1988 in a reworked version.

It is unlikely there was any proposed artwork for the album cover as the project didn’t get to that stage when Warner Bros. declined to release Crystal Ball. PV-3 The artwork featured on this page is from the 1998 box set Crystal Ball, which features a vastly different track listing of archival material.

Resources and Related Links:

Saturday, November 29, 1986

Bruce Springsteen live box set debuted at #1

First posted 2/14/2011; updated 11/16/2020.

Live 1975/1985

Bruce Springsteen & the E Street Band

Released: November 10, 1986

Recorded: October 18, 1975 to September 30, 1985

Peak: 17 US, 4 UK, 17 CN, 3 AU

Sales (in millions): 4.0 US, 0.1 UK, 12.3 world (includes US and UK)

Genre: classic heartland rock


Song Title (date of single release, chart peaks) Click for codes to singles charts. Chart information is for original studio releases for pre-1986 songs. The raised numbers indicate the studio album on which the song was originally featured.

Disc 1:

  1. Thunder Road (1975, 1 CL) 3
  2. Adam Raised a Cain (1978, 42 CL) 4
  3. Spirit in the Night (5/73, 9 CL) 1
  4. 4th of July, Asbury Park (Sandy) (1973, 9 CL) 2
  5. Paradise by the “C”
  6. Fire (11/22/86, 46 US, 54 UK, 14 AR)
  7. Growin’ Up (1973, 19 CL) 1
  8. It’s Hard to Be a Saint in the City (1973, 23 CL) 1
  9. Backstreets (1975, 12 CL) 3
  10. Rosalita (Come Out Tonight) (1973, 4 CL) 2
  11. Raise Your Hand (12/20/86, 44 AR)
  12. Hungry Heart (10/21/80, 5 US, 6 CB, 3 CL, 28 UK, 5 CN, 33 AU) 5
  13. Two Hearts 5

Disc 2:

  1. Cadillac Ranch (3/28/81, 48 AR, 11 CL) 5
  2. You Can Look But You Better Not Touch 5
  3. Independence Day 5
  4. Badlands (8/78, 42 US, 52 CB, 6 CL, 44 CN) 4
  5. Because the Night (12/6/86, 22 AR)
  6. Candy’s Room (1978, 11 CL) 4
  7. Darkness on the Edge of Town (1978, 17 CL) 4
  8. Racing in the Street (1978, 11 CL) 4
  9. This Land Is Your Land
  10. Nebraska 6
  11. Johnny 99 (10/9/82, 50 AR) 6
  12. Reason to Believe 6
  13. Born in the U.S.A. (6/23/84, 9 US, 6 CB, 8 AR, 5 UK, 11 CN, 2 AU, gold single) 7
  14. Seeds

Disc 3:

  1. The River (6/13/81, 19 CL, 35 UK) 5
  2. War (11/22/86, 8 US, 18 UK, 4 AR)
  3. Darlington County 7
  4. Working on the Highway 7
  5. The Promised Land (10/78, 21 CL) 4
  6. Cover Me (6/23/84, 7 US, 16 UK, 2 AR, gold single) 7
  7. I’m on Fire (2/16/85, 5a US, 5 UK, 6 AC, 4 AR) 7
  8. Bobby Jean (6/23/84, 36 AR) 7
  9. My Hometown (11/21/85, 6 US, 7 CB, 11 AC, 6 AR, 9 UK, 16 CN, 47 AU, gold single) 7
  10. Born to Run (8/25/75, 23 US, 1 CL, 16 UK, 53 CN, 38 AU) 3
  11. No Surrender (6/16/84, 29 AR) 7
  12. Tenth Avenue Freeze-Out (1/10/76, 83 US, 5 CL, 82 CN) 3
  13. Jersey Girl

1 Greetings from Asbury Park, NJ (1973)
2 The Wild, the Innocent, & the Street Shuffle (1973)
3 Born to Run (1975)
4 Darkness on the Edge of Town (1978)
5 The River (1980)
6 Nebraska (1982)
7 Born in the U.S.A. (1984)

Total Running Time: 216:13

The Players:

  • Bruce Springsteen (vocals, guitar, harmonica)
  • Roy Bittan (piano, synthesizer, backing vocals)
  • Clarence Clemons (saxophone, percussion, backing vocals)
  • Danny Federici (organ, accordian, glockenspiel, piano, synthesizer, backing vocals)
  • Nils Lofgren (guitar, backing vocals)
  • Patti Scialfa (backing vocals, synthesizer)
  • Garry Tallent (bass, backing vocals)
  • Steve Van Zandt (guitar, backing vocals)
  • Max Weinberg (drums)


4.084 out of 5.00 (average of 17 ratings)

Quotable: --


About the Album:

“Long before he sold substantial numbers of records, Bruce Springsteen began to earn a reputation as the best live act in rock & roll. Fans had been clamoring for a live album for a long time, and with Live/1975-85 they got what they wanted, at least in terms of bulk. His concerts were marathons, and this box set, including 40 tracks and running over three and a half hours, was about the average length of a show.” AMG

Anticipation was so high, the album generated over 1.5 million advance orders, the largest dollar-volume pre-order in record business history at that time. WK The album debuted at #1, a feat last seen a decade earlier with Stevie Wonder’s Songs in the Key of Life. It was the first five-record set to reach the top 10 and the first to sell more than a million copies. WK The album was certified for sales of 12 million; U.S. sales were actually 4 million, but the RIAA multiplies that figure by the number of discs in the collection. The only live album certified for more was Garth Brooks’ Double Live at 13 times platinum. WK

“In his brief liner notes, Springsteen spoke of the emergence of the album’s ‘story’ as he reviewed live tapes, and that story seems nothing less than a history of his life, his concerns, and his career. The first cuts present the Springsteen of the early to mid-‘70s; these performances, most of them drawn from a July 1978 show at the Roxy in Los Angeles, present the romantic, hopeful, earnest Springsteen.” AMG

“The second section begins with his first Top Ten hit, Hungry Heart – this is the Springsteen of the late ‘70s and early ‘80s, an arena rock star with working-class concerns. After an acoustic mini set given largely to material from Nebraska – songs of economic desperation and crime – comes a reshuffling of Born in the U.S.A., songs in which the artist and his characters start to fight back and rock out.” AMG Surprisingly, ‘Dancing in the Dark,” his #2 hit from that album and highest-charting song of his career, doesn’t make the cut. He does, of course, include his most iconic song, Born to Run, the “unofficial state anthem” AMG of New Jersey.

Reviews were “overwhelmingly positive,” WK but some critics cited the omission of concert highlights such as “Prove It All Night,” “The Fever,” and his cover of Creedence Clearwater Revival’s “Who’ll Stop the Rain.” WK “Fans could rejoice in the seven previously unreleased songs,” AMG which included a cover of Edwin Starr’s War and Fire, a song written by Springsteen and a top-ten hit for the Pointer Sisters in 1979.

Resources and Related Links:

Saturday, November 15, 1986

Nov. 15, 1986: Robert Cray's Strong Persuader hit the charts

First posted May 29, 2008. Last updated September 9, 2018.

Strong Persuader

Robert Cray

Charted: Nov. 15, 1986

Sales (in millions):
US: 2.0
UK: --
IFPI: --
World (estimated): 2.0

US: 13
UK: 34
Canada: 34
Australia: --

Quotable: --

Genre: blues

Album Tracks:

  1. Smoking Gun (11/29/86, #22 US, #2 AR)
  2. I Guess I Showed Her (3/28/87, #28 AR)
  3. Right Next Door (Because of Me) (5/9/87, #80 US, #50 UK, #27 AR)
  4. Nothin’ But a Woman
  5. Still Around
  6. More Than I Can Stand
  7. Foul Play
  8. I Wonder
  9. Fantasized
  10. New Blood

Notes: A 1995 reissue added a bonus live disc.

Singles/Hit Songs:

Click here for the chart codes for singles/hit songs.


Strong Persuader, Cray’s fifth studio album, was his mainstream breakthrough, opening up blues to a wider audience than it had received in decades. The Village Voice, Robert Christgau called it “the first album to break out of the genre’s sales ghetto since B.B. King was a hot item” WK and “the best blues record in many, many years.” WK

It was Cray’s “innovative expansion of the genre itself that makes this album a genuine 1980s classic.” BD In his Rolling Stone review, Jon Pareles called it “a version of blues and soul that doesn't come from any one region, building an idiom for songs that tell with conversational directness the stories of ordinary folks.” WK

The album was heavily praised by Christgau for the “fervently crafted” WK “songwriting of his supporting studio team.” WK Pareles gave it props for “intriguing stories about sex and infidelity with disciplined singing, songwriting.” WK

“Cray’s smoldering stance on Smoking Gun and Right Next Door rendered him the first sex symbol to emerge from the blues field in decades.” BDNothing but a Woman boasts an irresistible groove pushed by the Memphis Horns and some metaphorically inspired lyrics, while I Wonder and Guess I Showed Her sizzle with sensuality.” BD

The Village Voice called it the third best album of the year WK and Rolling Stone named it the 42nd best album of the ‘80s. WK

Review Source(s):


Related DMDB Link(s):

Saturday, November 1, 1986

Boston hit #1 with Third Stage

Third Stage


Charted: October 18, 1986

Peak: 14 US, 37 UK, 11 CN, 35 AU

Sales (in millions): 4.0 US, -- UK, 8.5 world (includes US and UK)

Genre: classic rock


Song Title (Writers) [time] (date of single release, chart peaks) Click for codes to singles charts.

  1. Amanda [4:16] (9/19/86, 1 US, 1 CB, 1 RR, 13 AC, 1 AR, 1 CN, 25 AU)
  2. We’re Ready [3:58] (10/11/86, 9 US, 12 CB, 7 RR, 2 AR, 25 CN)
  3. The Launch [2:55]
  4. Cool the Engines (Scholz, Sheehan, Delp) [4:23] (10/18/86, 4 AR)
  5. My Destination [2:19]
  6. A New World (Masdea) [0:36]
  7. To Be a Man [3:30]
  8. I Think I Like It (Scholz, Jon DeBrigard credited as John English) [4:06]
  9. Can’tcha Say/ Still in Love [5:13] (1/31/87, 20 US, 27 CB, 21 RR, 7 AR, 88 CN)
  10. Hollyann [5:11]

All songs written by Tom Scholz unless noted otherwise.

Total Running Time: 36:27

The Players:

  • Tom Scholz (guitars, organs, piano, bass, drums, percussion)
  • Brad Delp (vocals)
  • Sib Hashian, Jim Masdea (drums, percussion)
  • Gary Pihl (guitar on “I Think I Like It”)


3.594 out of 5.00 (average of 14 ratings)

About the Album:

“After rushing their second album Don’t Look Back, Boston took eight years to complete the album Third Stage…Only songwriter/guitarist Tom Scholz and vocalist Brad Delp remained from the original lineup, [but] they were the ones responsible for Boston’s sound.” AMG

“As such, it is difficult to avoid comparisons with their landmark debut. Third Stage has some strong moments, especially the number one hit Amanda where the band blends acoustic and electric guitars to complement the layered vocals.” AMG

“However, the songs are not as strong as those on their debut, and the album is marred by the presence of instrumental fillers and an attempt to cling to a theme of ‘journey through life’s third stage.’ Thus, rather than focusing on universal topics such as the exuberance and uncertainties associated with youth, the mature lyrics are lost on most of their young rock audience.” AMG

“Given the time between albums and the changes in the pop landscape, it was a little disappointing to find Boston stuck in the same sound. The album still sounds great when it works on all cylinders (We’re Ready, Cool the Engines), but the album is not filled with enough satisfying moments. This may be nostalgic pop rock of the '80s, but casual listeners should start with their debut.” AMG

Resources and Related Links:

Other Related DMDB Pages:

First posted 2/19/2008; last updated 8/28/2021.