Prince Turns ‘Peach’ Into a Juicy Live Classic: 365 Prince Songs in a Year
To celebrate the incredibly prolific, influential and diverse body of work left behind by Prince, we will be exploring a different song of his each day for an entire year with the series 365 Prince Songs in a Year.
“Peach” was the second in a trilogy of new “P” titled songs (“Pope” and “Pink Cashmere” being the others) Prince contributed to his three-disc The Hits and B-Sides compilation in 1993 at the height of his contractual disputes with Warner Bros. The 12-bar blues track got lost in the weight of classic Prince hits on the set, but was later resurrected as one of the fiercest live cuts of his career.
While Prince recorded most of his music in Minnesota or California, “Peach” was recorded in London during the Diamonds and Pearls tour; according to PrinceVault, the sessions were June 14-25, 1992 at Olympic Studios. Michael B. (drums) and Sonny T. (bass) accompany Prince on the track with Mayte providing backing vocals and Kim Basinger contributing an orgasmic yelp courtesy of a soundbite lifted from The Scandalous Sex Suite maxi-single.
“Peach” was released as the first single from the album in the U.K., where it peaked at No. 14. It didn’t fare as well in the U.S. where it peaked at No. 7 on Billboard’s Bubbling Under chart that tracks the 25 songs lurking below the Hot 100. Prince also holds a record on the chart – “Nasty Girl,” his song with Vanity 6, spent seven weeks at No. 1, making it the song that held the No. 1 spot for the longest period of time without ever breaking through to the Hot 100.
The dismal performance for "Peach" was likely due to the fact that most Prince fans snapped up the CD to get all of the new songs, especially the B-side treasure trove found on the third disc. Also, Warner Bros. didn’t do much to promote the set. In his book, Possessed: The Rise and Fall of Prince, Alex Hahn reports that the label took out an ad in Billboard that made fun of Prince’s name change to an unpronounceable symbol – the ad included Prince’s love sign glyph alongside a variety of smiley faces, dollar signs and other symbols with the headline “Just don’t call him Prince, OK?” Prince struck back with his own ad the following week.
If released today, the lyrics for Prince’s “Peach” would be highly debated – for being simplistic (“She was dark / She was tan / She made me / Glad to be her man”), juvenile (“She was pure / Every ounce / I was sure / When her t------ bounce”) or offensive (“Every way, she’s a winner / Turn a gay preacher to a sinner").
“Peach” fares much better musically; on the studio track, Prince rolled out some of his best guitar work since “Let’s Go Crazy”. Live, it became an unleashed monster. The core band on the song also appears in The Undertaker film – a legendary live performance that anchors a very loose narrative about Vanessa Marcil (General Hospital) having a drug trip at Paisley Park.
The film itself is haunting in light of the location and circumstances of Prince’s tragic passing. “Peach” was originally included in the set list for the film but didn’t make the final cut. One can only hope the full performance (minus Marcil throwing up in the middle of the title track) gets released someday, as it is sonically one of the best live sets of Prince’s career.
Thankfully, “Peach” is the centerpiece of The Sacrifice of Victor, another overseas Warner Bros. home video release, this one capturing a Sept. 8, 1993 aftershow at Bagley’s Warehouse in London. The show leans heavily on Mavis Staples (singing her version of “The Undertaker”), the NPG, and gospel act the Steeles. The version of “Peach” that closes out the set is one of the most intense Prince performances ever caught on film. Prince’s guitar is on fire throughout, his voice shredded to a rasp, the whole mix keeps the audio needles in the red – best of all, Mayte stage-dives. Catch it below at the 9:35 mark.
A longer, less rocking, groovier version of “Peach” was released on Disc 3 of the One Nite Alone… box set. As author Matt Thorne notes in his book, Prince: The Man and His Music, “Sometimes when Prince extends or deconstructs a song, it’s the most thrilling part of his performance; other times (as here) the jamming becomes excruciatingly dull. Chanting ‘It ain’t over’ live is great fun; hearing it at home makes me want to scroll to the end of the track and shout, ‘There. Now it’s over.'”
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