Entertainment Weekly - 9/10/99, p.152
"...sounds more committed than a lot of his indie releases of recent vintage....Prince teases out leisurely, unforced grooves that shimmer with horny horns, cascading keyboard waterfalls, and the on-the-one grit. It's a welcome stopgap..." - Rating: B+
Mojo (Publisher) - 10/99, p.104
"...it is redolent of the musical energy and imagination which drives him to write and play as regularly as he breathes....Pleasing though predictable..."
Personnel: Prince (vocals, various instruments); Michael Nelson, Brian Gallagher, Steve Strand, Kathy & Dave Jensen (horns); Mr. Hayes (Hammond B-3 organ, keyboards); Tommy Barbarella (keyboards); Sonny T., Levi Seacer Jr. (bass); Michael B., Sheila E., Kirk Johnson (drums, percussion).
Engineers include: Ray Hahnfeldt, Steve Durkee, Shane Keller.
Recorded between 1985 and 1994 at Paisley Park, Chanhassen, Minnesota; Sunset Sound, Los Angeles, California; Davout Studios, Paris, France; Warner Pioneer Studios, Tokyo, Japan.
Personnel: Prince (vocals); Dave Jensen, Michael Nelson, Steve Strand, Kathy Jensen, Brian Gallagher (horns).
Audio Mixers: Ricky P.; Tom Tucker.
Recording information: Davout Studios, Paris, France (01/23/1985-06/18/1994); Paisley Park, Chanhassen, MN (01/23/1985-06/18/1994); Paisley Park, Clanhassen, MN (01/23/1985-06/18/1994); Sunset Sound, Hollywood, CA (01/23/1985-06/18/1994); Warner Pioneer Studios, Tokyo, Japan (01/23/1985-06/18/1994).
Photographer: Claude Gassian.
Unknown Contributor Roles: Hayes; Mr. Hayes; Michael B.; Sonny T.; Levi Seacer, Jr.; Sheila E.; Tommy Barbarella.
Arrangers: Michael Nelson; Prince.
In order to finish out Prince's contract with the label he abandoned for his own imprint, Warner Bros. released THE VAULT in 1999. Though he'd long since been called the Artist Formerly Known as Prince, our boy apparently wanted so little to do with this project that he had Warner use his old name on the album. The note stating that these songs were written between 1985 and 1994 and "intended 4 private use only" makes the artist's distance from THE VAULT's release that much clearer.
In most other performer's cases, such a collection would be full of second-rate, demo-quality cast-offs, barely worth a listen. For an artist as prolific and versatile as Prince, however, it's simply another chance to glimpse the breadth of his mercurial talent. From the churning, Al Green-ish R&B of "5 Women" to the evocative piano-and-percussion-framed "When the Lights Go Down" and the sad, stately ballad "There Is Lonely," Prince is in rare form. Listening to these satisfying, fully formed pieces with the knowledge that they were never meant to be heard only makes one wonder what else lies in the Purple One's vault.