Prince Summer: “17 Days” (1984)

Prince was a very busy man in 1983. He was getting things together for his first major motion picture. It was originally for a script called Dreams. And of course this script evolved into the movie Purple Rain. During this period he recorded material for this films soundtrack,a second Vanity 6 album (which eventually became the Apollonia 6),Sheila E’s solo debut and a third album for The Time. Prince also recorded a number of songs on his own during these sessions that,while a bit off the cuff for album tracks,became some of the best known 45 RPM single B-sides of his career.

One of these B-sides is a song referred to in it’s entirety  as “17 Days (The rain will come down, then U will have 2 choose. If U believe, look 2 the dawn and U shall never lose)”. My mother first brought Prince into the family’s home with a 45 single of “When Doves Cry”. Like many kids who love turning over rocks and logs,I insisted on hearing what was on the side. From the first moment I heard “17 Days” as this songs B-side,it showed me there was a lot more to Prince musically that I didn’t know. After all these years of my exploration of the song,may I present to you my full overview of “17 Days”.

An complexly chorded filtered psychedelic guitar opens the song. Then the rhythm gets going. It’s a slow drag of a drum beat accentuated with some clanging,shuffling percussion. Throughout this,an equally filtered bass line seems to have been slowed right down in the mix as it slowly scales up and down. First a hard 2 note rhythm guitar assists this groove-followed by a high pitched synthesizer that continually accents the melody of the song. After the Vanity/Apollonia 6’s Brenda Bennet provides backup choral vocals to Prince’s,the groove intensifies on the bridge before fading out back on it’s main theme.

In all honesty,this might be one of the most amazing funk numbers Prince recorded during his 1983 Purple Rain production. I’m not 100% certain of this. But a lot of the instrumentation on the song sounds as if it comes from a slowed down tape. And of course the drums and percussion are slow on their own. Because it is a bluesy jazzy chorded type of heartbreak oriented groove and lyric,it really brings out how a lot of the most powerful funk is on the slow side rhythmically. So to me,this song stands with “Erotic City”(from the same vintage) as among the very funkiest B-sides Prince had recorded.

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5 Comments

Filed under 1980's, blues funk, Brenda Bennett, drums, Funk Bass, guitar, Minneapolis, Minneapolis Sound, percussion, Prince, Prince & The Revolution, Psychedelia, Purple Rain, slow funk, synthesizers

5 responses to “Prince Summer: “17 Days” (1984)

  1. Gun to my head, this might be my favorite song by Prince (/anyone). Incredible, incredible track.

    • Prince played this song during the Parade tour brilliantly too. In that case in more of a live band approach with the Revolution. Something about the way the original is structured though just amazes me instrumentally.

      • Yeah, it’s almost psychedelic pop, but–as you noted in your post–very funky at the same time. I can’t remember if I’ve heard the Parade tour arrangement…I’ll have to look it up, I love that incarnation of the Revolution.

  2. I Remember playing this song at the basement parties I threw, people keep requesting it over and over and cheering, I never saw anything like it!

    • Always wondered if this song was originally intended for the soundtrack. But the part it was used for was deleted. I wonder if it was the B-side to “When Doves Cry” for a reason. Maybe it was meant to be played in that montage where Prince was looking back on his relationship with Apollonia. The part where “When Doves Cry” was played. But Prince changed his mind.

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