The Undertaker
The Story | The Jam | The Album | The Video | The Lyrics | The Bootlegs | Credits

    

One of the most incredible jam-sessions in modern music history.
Prince - Guitar      Michael B - Drums      Sonny T - Bass
Six live direct to DAT tracks...
















The Story
In the summer of 1993, around the time all that name-changing was going on, Prince did quite a lot of work on tracks for the upcoming release Come, wich turned out to be a pritty slick album. But the idea of working in a trio context with just Sonny Thompson on bass and Michael Bland on the drums (later known as "The New Power Trio") triggered Prince the idea for another kind of record. In the midts of Come, the three of them set up together on the soundstage at Paisley Park, their amps cranked up full, and did some bluesy jamming. The result was an album called The Undertaker.

"Picture this" said Michael B: "A digital audio tape (DAT) machine, a 32 channel board, two techs and three players. It was about three o'clock in the moorning. We got our sounds together and just let the DAT roll. We took about an hour to make that record, from start to finnish, playing straight through with no overdubs. The sequence of songs on the record is exactly the way we played it. The guitar segues from one song to the next, like when we do live stuff". There have been so much talk this last decade about Prince to release a straight-up blues album, but The Undertaker, says Prince, is not that album. "It starts off in a blues vein," he admits, "but then quickly goes to funk, but because of the first songs, people tend to want to put it in that [blues] glass of water.

"He tends to really start opening up and playing a lot of different things when me and Michael do a trio thing with him," says Sonny T. "There's no keyboards there, no nothing. So he can venture out and play what he wants to play." As for Prince, he was really pleased with The Undertaker: "It's real garage, you know? but Warners won't release it..."  Prince's original plan was to distribute The Undertaker as a free giveaway with "Guitar World" Magazine, however, Warner Bros. found out about the project and forced Prince to cancel it. Later that month, Prince tried to convince Warner Bros. that he could release The Undertaker on his own new label, NPG Records, and distribute it trough r&b entrepreneur Al Beller's Bellmark Records. He was allowed to do this once for the single "The Most Beautiful Girl In The World", but not twice... Prince's former bass and guitar-player Levi Seacer Jr. was the head of NPG Records back in 1994, and he said that he didn't  know when The Undertaker would be released. "The thing here is that he's always working on something, but I think this record needs to be heard."
 

The Jam
The now legendary jam was set in one of the smaller soundstage's in Paisley Park. It all starts with an experimental jazz drum-intro, by  Michael B, wich evolves into the first song, the bluesy "The Ride" (later released in 1998 on Crystal Ball, by another live version).
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

The Album 
Following Prince's "private" releases of the one-sided singles "Gett Off" in 1991, and "Sexy MF" in 1992, Prince privately manufactured a picture CD in around 1000 copies some time in 1994, containing the 36-minute jam from the summer of 1993 by the "Paisley Park Power Trio". The silk-screened discs were pressed in Canada, as are all of the Paisley Park in-house releases. When the sleeve cover was at the printer's office, Warner Bros. heard of the record and told Prince to destroy the whole edition. The destroying process was to cover the record with a shellac coating layer so it couldn't be playable. However, some resourceful collectors figured out a way to remove the layer and make the CD playable again. Naturally, some copies of the disc (withut sleeve cover) have appeared on the collector's market and is offcourse highly valued. Both playable and non-playable versions can be found in collector's circles today, and they usually sell in the $200 - $300 range... There are three versions on the CD release, that is different than the official released The Undertaker video, "The Ride", "Poor Goo" and "Dolphin". In The Undertaker video, "The Ride" [10:53] stops abruptly at one point during the song and Vanessa Marcil's character throws up, before the music starts again. This break is not on the alternative version. The Undertaker version of "Poor Goo" [4:26] is missing a part at the beginning of the alternate verison (He says "Poor Goo" a few times over a strumming guitar). The video version of "Dolphin" [3:35] was overdubbed with the studio recording of the song, while the alternate take is the actual live recording of the song from The Undertaker sessions.
 

The Video 
On October 8th 1993, the NPG store invited visitors to view a new concert film, directed by Parris Patton. Less than 50 fans got the chance to see the film (presented by "Bootleg Videos") wich features General Hospital (US TV series) actress Vanessa Marcill, "The Paisley Park Power Trio" (Prince, Michael B and Sonny T), and Steve, as the receptionist. After the showing, questionares were given out and the attendants were asked of their opinions and if they would buy it if it was released as a video. Obvious a success, on December 6th, the NPG store began taking orders for Prince's home video The Undertaker,. The video was a limited edition of 1000 copies at $50 each. Word about this spread very quickly with no promotion at all and the videos sold out at once. More and more demands came by the fans, so The Undertaker were officially released by Warner Music Vision in the UK on March 6th 1994 and later in March in the rest of Europe and Japan, on both VHS and Laser Disc, with art direction and design by B, J.C. Munson and C. Hermes. The film starts with Vanessa walking to Paisley Park. After entering the first set of doors, she picks up a security phone. Steve, the receptionist comes out, "Can I help you?" he says. Vanessa says she really needs to use the phone. The receptionist lets her in and tell her to use a phone in the back, "but don't go way back there, because there's a rehearsal going on." She makes her call and says, "Victor, it's me. I missed you. I've changed, now I wan't to be with you, don't hang up Victor." She removes a bottle of pills from her purse and takes them. While playing with a porcelain doll, Vanessa enters the rehearsal area, and then it's time for the entire jam session, with no dialog what so ever. While the last song ("Dolphin") is played, we can see Vanessa running back to the phone and it all ends with jazzy groove from "The Paisley Park Power Trio", later known as the "New Power Trio".
 

The Bootlegs
Since The Undertaker has never been, and never will be released officially on CD, it was  pritty obvious that the bootlegger's saw the market in releasing this album thru other sources. Truly a huge success, it became as interesting as the "Black Album" bootleg in its days. Now available in over 9 different unofficial releases, and 2 different versions (the original CD version and the video version), here are some  of the different CD and CD-R bootleg's that includes the entire jam session:

.     . .

                         The Undertaker #1           The Undertaker #2             The Undertaker #3            The Undertaker #4

   .

                                                Pseudo Gold              Past, Present & Future           I'll Do Anything
 

The Lyrics

The Ride
Composed by Prince © 1993 Controversy Music
Admin. by W.B. Music Corp. ASCAP

Poor Goo
Composed by Prince © 1993 Controversy Music
Admin. by W.B. Music Corp. ASCAP

Honky Tonk Woman
Composed by Mick Jagger & Keith Richards
Published by ABCKO Music Inc.

Bambi
Composed by Prince © 1979 Controversy Music
Admin. by W.B. Music Corp. ASCAP

Zannalee (Prelude)
Composed by Prince © 1993 Controversy Music
Admin. by W.B. Music Corp. ASCAP

The Undertaker
Composed by Prince, Levi Seacer Jr, Tommy Elm, Lloyd Thompson & Michael Bland
© 1992 NPG Publishing Michael Anthony Music ASCAP

Dolphin
Composed by Prince © 1993 Controversy Music
Admin. by W.B. Music Corp. ASCAP


The Ride

If U got the time, baby
I got the ride
If U got the time, baby
I got the ride
Where I wanna go
Will keep U satisfied

If U like it real slow, baby
I got days
If U like it real slow
I got days
But if U wanna take the short cut
I know the way

If U like 2 be alone
I like 2 watch
If U like 2 be alone, baby
I like 2 watch
But if U want some good lovin', baby
I'll give U all I got
All I got

If U got the time, baby
I got the ride
If U got the time, baby
I got the ride
Where I wanna go, girl
Keep U satisfied

If U got the time, baby
I got the ride (Vegas)


Honky Tonk Women

Met a freaky bar-room queen in Memphis
Tried 2 pull me upstairs 4 a ride
She covered her nigga with 20 roses
Blew my nose, yeah baby, blew my mind

Cuz my honky tonk woman
Give me, give me, give me the honky tonk love

Cuz my honky tonk woman
Give me, give me, give me the honky tonk love

Honky tonk woman
Give me, give me, give me the honky tonk love


Bambi

I knew from the start
That I loved U with all my heart
But U were untrue
U had another lover and she looked just like U

Bambi, can't U understand?
Bambi, it's better with a man

It's so hard 2 believe
Maybe it's because U're so young
Or maybe I'm just 2 naive
Who's 2 say, maybe U're really having fun

Bambi, can't U understand?
Bambi, it's better with a man ... ow!

All your lovers, they look just like U
But they can only do the things that U do
Come on baby and take me by the hand
I'm gonna show U what it's like 2 be loved by a man

Bambi, I know what U need
Bambi, maybe U need 2 bleed

Yeah!


Zannalee

(Instrumental)



The undertaker

Put away the guns 4 future's sake
Don't U be another number 4 the undertaker
Put away the guns 4 future's sake
Don't U be another number 4 the undertaker

Mercy
Calling mercy

Turn off the violence, there's children watching
Listen 2 the silence, it's a better box 2 be in
Turn off the violence, there's children watching
Listen 2 the silence, it's a better box 2 be in

Mercy (Mercy)
Calling mercy

Don't go with the crack (No)
U might never come back
I believe I'll say that again
Don't go with the crack (Don't go with the crack)
U might never come back (Might never come back)

(Mercy) Hey mercy
(Mercy, mercy)
Mercy now (Mercy)
Mercy (Oh Lord, have mercy)

Don't matter (Don't matter, don't matter)
The color of your face (The color of your face)
The undertaker (The undertaker)
Don't care about race (Don't care about race)
on't matter (Don't matter, don't matter)
The color of your face (The color of your face)
The undertaker (The undertaker)
He don't care about race (Don't care about race)

Mercy (Mercy)
Calling mercy (Mercy)
Hey mercy

(Calling mercy) {x2}
Mercy, mercy, mercy

Don't let the devil make U
Dance with the undertaker

Put away the guns 4 future's sake
(Put away the guns 4 future's sake)
Don't U be another number 4 the undertaker
(Don't be another number 4 the undertaker)
Put away the guns 4 future's sake
(Put away the guns 4 future's sake)
Don't U be another number 4 the undertaker
(Don't be another number 4 the undertaker)
4 the undertaker (4 the undertaker)
4 the undertaker (4 the undertaker)
Undertaker (Undertaker)
I'm talkin' 'bout the undertaker (Talkin' 'bout the undertaker)

Only the brave can cope
Don't U give up hope (Don't give up hope)
The undertaker
Here come the undertaker

Mercy
I'm calling mercy
Hey mercy
Mercy
Mercy early in the morning
Sho'nuff (Mercy)
Yeah, yeah, yeah, mercy
Mercy in the morning
Mercy in the noon day hour
In the evening

Don't let the devil make U (Don't let the devil make U)
Dance with the undertaker (Dance with the undertaker)
Don't do it (Don't do it)
No no (Don't do it)
Don't do that y'all
Uh-huh

Only the brave can cope
U see here, U can't give up hope
(Don't give up, don't give up hope)
No, mercy (Mercy)
Mercy, mercy, mercy (Mercy, yeah) {fade out}
No

Put away the guns 4 future's sake
Mercy (Mercy)


Dolphin

How beautiful do the words have 2 be
Before they conquer every heart?
How will U know if I'm even in the right key
If U make me stop before I start?

CHORUS:
If I came back as a dolphin
Would U listen 2 me then?
Would U let me be your friend?
Would U let me in?
U can cut off all my fins
But 2 your ways I will not bend
I'll die before I let U tell me how 2 swim
And I'll come back again as a dolphin

The Undertaker opens with the words "If you've got the time...I've
got the ride." It ends with the refrain "I'll come back again." An
album recorded at four in the morning in the form of a rehearsal
should serve as a warning not to read too much into its structure -
roughly, "something old, something new, something borrowed, something
blue" - yet the fact that it became emblematic of the entire O(+> Vs.
Warners debate (he wanted to prove his garage credentials, they
preferred to release it as a video two years later) is temptation
enough to treat it as a microcosm of the ensuing journey. These are
songs of frustration - Poor Goo sees his honky tonk women turn into
bambis before his eyes - resolved only through a rebirth. How
beautiful do the words have to be?


Credits
Many thanks goes to:   

 

 

 

Funky 4 You - Entertainment 2003
Petter Aagaard, Oslo, Norway. 
All rights reserved