PART V: THE SYMBOL 1994-2003
Come (1994) Era
Earlier I mentioned how 1993 was the end of Prince career as a popular career. In fact, on that year he entered into a public war against his Warner label. From there, both parts hardly got all their influx concentrated into promoting Prince new albums, released mostly due to contract obligations rather than anything else. The artist went on to enjoy his freeness releasing various low-profile albums as a result of many projects.
The Most Beautiful Girl In The World was a huge hit for Prince, hitting #1 in UK, Australia, New-Zealand, Netherlands, Switzerland, #3 in the US and #5 in France. The problem is that the song was released by Prince own RPG Records label under the stage name Symbol – well, under the symbol itself, represented on previous picture, that had no specific name. Thus, this song as big as a hit it was, wasn’t part of Come album published by Warner.
Letitgo, lead single from Come album was nowhere near as successful, peaking at #46 in France. Come still peaked at #2 thanks to Prince fan base and the lack of competition considering the August release date. After a few months of sales, in February 1995, the album reached gold status, selling 110,000 units by the end of 1995.
Just a few weeks prior this album release, Prince released an other album on his own threw call service titled 1-800 New Funk. Impressively, the album charted in France at #47, selling some 10,000 copies.
The Black Album (1994) Era
The long awaited legendary bootleg first recorded in 1987 finally came into light with a 1994. After 1-800 New Funk, Come and The Beautiful Experience EP, that went #10 in French album chart, this album was the fourth Prince album released in less than six months.
Number of copies issued were limited and the album was voluntarily deleted by January 1995. In the meantime, it still went to #11 in France and remained a decent seller during the Holyday season, selling some 60,000 units.
Exodus (1995) Era
This album was credited to New Power Generation rather than Prince himself and was released in March 1995. The set failed to chart almost everywhere but went #37 in France, selling some 20,000 copies.
The Gold Experience (1995) Era
More than a year after the smash of The Most Beautiful Girl In The World and accompanying EP The Beautiful Experience, a first proper Warner studio album containing the track was released, The Gold Experience. Interestingly, the album was the first Prince album to fail charting since Around The World In A Day, despite it being a much higher profile release than the few previous ones.
In March 1996, Girl 6 soundtrack was released and consisted of previously released tracks by Prince. It failed to chart too.
Chaos And Disorder (1996) Era
By 1996 the relation between Prince and Warner had reached a end point. For this album, no promotion at all was done from both parts, there wasn’t even a single released in the US or in France. The album went #25 in France with 20,000 copies sold. More than anything, the album was the last one needed to fulfil the contract obligations of the artist with the major.
Emancipation (1996) Era
Now completely free to record and release whatever he wanted, Prince started to issue a run of albums with one-off contracts. Both the title and the cover of Emancipation album refer to this situation. So does the credit of the record which tells us the artist recording this album is The Artist Formerly Known As Prince.
Although hey days of the singer were long gone, this triple album enabled him to recover some of his past glory. The lead single Betcha by Golly Wow! had decent results, just like the album which peaked at #9 in France, selling some 50,000 copies.
From that point, the artist kept releasing an heavy amount of albums with low to no promotion. Various of them were only released online on Prince own label NPG Music Club website, which is why there is no sales figure mentioned. Release dates, album name, chart peak in France and sales are listed below.
1998 Chrystal Ball – Not Charted – 5,000
1998 Newpower Soul – #45 – 20,000
1999 The Vault … Old Friends For Sale – #64 – 10,000
1999 Rave Un2 the Joy Fantastic – #37 – 20,000
2001 The Rainbow Children – #78 – 20,000
2001 Rave In2 the Joy Fantastic – NC – 0
2002 One Nite Alone… – NC – 0
2002 One Nite Alone… Live! – NC – 0
2003 Xpectation – NC – 0
2003 C-Note – NC – 0
2003 N.E.W.S – NC – 0
The Very Best Of (2001) Era
While Prince was busy recording and issuing new music, Warner label issued a one disc best of in 2001, The Very Best Of, covering his biggest hits from 1979 to 1991 minus Batdance. The compilation shifted 40,000 units for the year, peaking at #6 in the compilation chart.
Over years, the artist back catalog continued to sell well. In late October 2001, Warner certified various past albums, including all 1986-1989 Prince records. Thus, both Lovesexy and Sign ‘O’ The Times were certified 2xGold while Batman and Parade went Platinum. This latter album proves its enduring appeal as it barely sold half that amount in its first year, which isn’t surprising considering it contains the cult Kiss track. Estimations up to late 2001 of Prince pre-94 are listed below.
1978 For You – 35,000
1979 Prince – 60,000
1980 Dirty Mind – 60,000
1981 Controversy – 60,000
1982 1999 – 95,000
1984 Purple Rain Soundtrack – 425,000
1985 Around The World In A Day – 95,000
1986 Parade – 305,000
1987 Sign ‘O’ The Times – 285,000
1988 Lovesexy – 220,000
1989 Batman Soundtrack – 560,000
1990 Graffiti Bridge – 110,000
1991 Diamonds & Pearls – 545,000
1992 Love Symbol – 185,000
1993 The Hits/The B-Sides – 90,000
1993 The Hits 1 – 160,000
1993 The Hits 2 – 180,000