Hear the 1979 version of Prince’s I Could Never Take The Place Of Your Man

Previously unheard version of the song recorded seven years earlier

One of the many highlights of the bonus material on the forthcoming super deluxe edition box set of Princes Sign O’ The Times album is a 1979 recording of the fourth single ‘I Could Never Take The Place Of Your Man’.

Talking to SDE about some of the bonus material, back in June, Prince vault archivist Michael Howe had the following to say:

“It was an enormous surprise. It was found very early in our excavation and digitisation process, but the rough mix we had was not dated and we assumed it was a little bit later than it actually was. But finally we found it on a two-inch multi-track tape which was dated May 1979, which kind of blew our minds. So it was a wonderful surprise and such a treat to be able to hear one of Prince’s best known songs in a completely different way.”

Listen to this early recording below:

Sign O’ The Times will be reissued on 25 September 2020 via Warner Music, across six different physical formats. Track listings below and more detail on the original post.

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Sign O The Times - 8CD+DVD super deluxe


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Sign O The Times - 13LP+DVD vinyl super deluxe


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Sign O The Times - 2LP peach vinyl


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Sign O The Times - 4LP vinyl edition


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Sign O The Times - 3CD edition


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Sign O The Times - 2CD remaster


CD1 / LP1: Remastered Album (Disc 1)

1 Sign O’ The Times
2 Play In The Sunshine
3 Housequake
4 The Ballad Of Dorothy Parker
5 It
6 Starfish And Coffee
7 Slow Love
8 Hot Thing
9 Forever In My Life

CD2 / LP2: Remastered Album (Disc 2)

1 U Got The Look
2 If I Was Your Girlfriend
3 Strange Relationship
4 I Could Never Take The Place Of Your Man
5 The Cross
6 It’s Gonna Be A Beautiful Night
7 Adore

CD3 / LP3&4: Single Mixes & Edits

1 Sign O’ The Times (7” single edit)
2 La, La, La, He, He, Hee (7” single edit)
3 La, La, La, He, He, Hee (Highly Explosive) (12” version)
4 If I Was Your Girlfriend (7” single edit)
5 Shockadelica (“If I Was Your Girlfriend” B-side)
6 Shockadelica (12” long version)
7 U Got the Look (Long Look) (12” edit)
8 Housequake (7” edit)
9 Housequake (7 Minutes MoQuake) (12” edit)
10 I Could Never Take The Place Of Your Man (Fade 7” edit)
11 Hot Thing (7” single edit)
12 Hot Thing (Extended Remix)
13 Hot Thing (Dub Version)

CD4 / LP5&6: Vault, Part 1

1 I Could Never Take The Place Of Your Man (1979 version)
2 Teacher, Teacher (1985 version)
3 All My Dreams
4 Can I Play With U? (featuring Miles Davis)
5 Wonderful Day (original version)
6 Strange Relationship (original version)
7 Visions
8 The Ballad Of Dorothy Parker (with horns)
9 Witness 4 The Prosecution (version 1)
10 Power Fantastic (live in studio)
11 And That Says What?
12 Love And Sex
13 A Place In Heaven (Prince vocal)
14 Colors
15 Crystal Ball (7” mix)
16 Big Tall Wall (version 1)
17 Nevaeh Ni Ecalp A
18 In A Large Room With No Light

All tracks previously unreleased

CD5 / LP7&8: Vault, Part 2

1 Train
2 It Ain’t Over ‘Til The Fat Lady Sings
3 Eggplant (Prince vocal)
4 Everybody Want What They Don’t Got
5 Blanche
6 Soul Psychodelicide
7 The Ball
8 Adonis And Bathsheba
9 Forever In My Life (early vocal studio run-through)
10 Crucial (alternate lyrics)
11 The Cocoa Boys
12 When The Dawn Of The Morning Comes
13 Witness 4 The Prosecution (version 2)
14 It Be’s Like That Sometimes

All tracks previously unreleased

CD6 / LP9&10: Vault, Part 3

1 Emotional Pump
2 Rebirth Of The Flesh (with original outro)
3 Cosmic Day
4 Walkin’ In Glory
5 Wally
6 I Need A Man
7 Promise To Be True
8 Jealous Girl (version 2)
9 There’s Something I Like About Being Your Fool
10 Big Tall Wall (version 2)
11 A Place In Heaven (Lisa vocal)
12 Wonderful Day (12” mix)
13 Strange Relationship (1987 Shep Pettibone Club Mix)

All tracks previously unreleased

CD7&8 / LP11-13: Live In Utrecht – June 20, 1987

1 Intro/Sign O’ The Times
2 Play In The Sunshine
3 Little Red Corvette
4 Housequake
5 Girls & Boys
6 Slow Love
7 Take The “A” Train/Pacemaker/I Could Never Take The Place Of Your Man
8 Hot Thing
9 Four
10 If I Was Your Girlfriend
11 Let’s Go Crazy
12 When Doves Cry
13 Purple Rain
14 1999
15 Forever In My Life
16 Kiss
17 The Cross
18 It’s Gonna Be A Beautiful Night

All tracks previously unreleased

DVD: Live At Paisley Park – December 31, 1987

1 Sign O’ The Times
2 Play In The Sunshine
3 Little Red Corvette
4 Erotic City
5 Housequake
6 Slow Love
7 Do Me, Baby
8 Adore
9 I Could Never Take The Place Of Your Man
10 What’s Your Name Jam
11 Let’s Pretend We’re Married
12 Delirious
13 Jack U Off
14 Drum Solo
15 Twelve
16 Hot Thing
17 If I Was Your Girlfriend
18 Let’s Go Crazy
19 When Doves Cry
20 Purple Rain
21 1999
22 U Got The Look
23 It’s Gonna Be A Beautiful Night Medley (featuring Miles Davis)


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Marc Tobolski

I’m just shocked at how cheap the set is via Amazon Canada.


Great version of a great song…I can’t wait for the reissue!

Alan M

Fingers in my ears until the postie delivers the album! Although 6music have played a couple i think.

I remember when he released 20ten I’d already heard half the album. Talk about ruining a release.


To be honest, I find this so-called 1979 version a little suspicious. I do not recognize at all the falsetto voice that Prince was using at the time (mainly until Controversy included). musically we’re already closer to the sound of Dirty Mind but the vocals are way too similar to how Prince sings on Sign ‘☮’ the Times. sure i could be wrong, but i hear a music track made in ’79 (even early 80s) and a vocal track made in ’86 (Prince could have used the instrumental track from ’79 as a vocal guide and prototype for the re-recorded version on the Sign ‘☮’ the Times album). this is just a guess on my part!

Alan M

Or we could just go with what the Estate believe it be? The tape said ’78 and I’m happy to go with that. Not really important at the end of the day.

Of course these Vault songs should be issued as standalone albums. Series 1, 2, 3 and so on. Let everybody have a chance of hearing them instead of a wealthy few. We’re entering a world recession and the Estate are releasing £290 albums. Must be nice being a millionaire without having to put the work in.


“Let everybody have a chance of hearing them”

Everyone will have a chance. SOTT will be available on streaming platforms like the other Prince SDEs.

Alan M

Ahh, okay. I’m not familiar with streaming so had no idea.

Johnny Spasm

I thought the same thing when I listened to it. This sounds nothing like the dark funk Prince was recording at the time. I know I’ve thrown CDs in the wrong cover, and such. Can’t held wondering if that’s what happened here. The box we found it in said ‘May 1979’. It must be true!

O(+> Peter B

This is great, thanks Paul. The best version I’ve ever heard of this was when he played it live in Melbourne in 2012. The arrangement was slowed right down which gave extra drama to the lyrics.

Paul Fraser

Fascinating to hear. The song was fully formed in terms of lyrics. The Sign o The Times is still the definitive version in my mind. I hadn’t been bothered about this deluxe edition, even though this is my favourite Prince album, but this has piqued my interest.

Phillip Fogel

It’s interesting to hear but I much prefer the one that was released from Sign O’ The Times. I think this makes up my mind about just getting the regular vinyl or perhaps the 3 CD version. Do the vinyl’s come with a download code?


When You Were Mine! It wouldn’t have sounded out of place on (my favourite Prince album) Dirty Mind.

R. Michael Cox

Estate orders: I went to add the peach vinyl to an existing order before it went on Amazon and they wouldn’t let me add to the order. Sounds like they are not that customer friendly.

David McIntyre

Like others have pointed out, this wouldn’t sound out of place on Dirty Mind. great hearing this but like so many tunes, Prince seemed to sit on some for years and years before they found a home eg, Tick Tick Bang, Feel U Up and NPG (Bold Generation).

Tom m hans

I jumped the gun and ordered the Peach Colored Vinyl from the official Prince Webstore on June 25th when it was not available at amazon.com (yet) and it cost me $45 incl. Shipping – this morning I tried to cancel because bezos.com now sells it for $33.00 (free Prime shipping) but the store responded to my email request “that it is not their policy to cancel pre-ordered items”. Just a FYI for people trying to cancel official store orders.


I bought the 12“ single version when it came out and think it’s one of his best extended mix at all. Great to listen to an early version. Ordered both CD and Vinyl editions plus the peach version.
Thanks, Paul.


The 12″ maxi-single doesn’t have an extended mix of “I Could Never Take The Place Of Your Man”. It’s just the album version. However, the Dream Factory version of the song has a few extra-musical parts and is a little longer than the Sign O’ The Times version.


Absolutely MINDBOGGLING he sat on this song for 8 YEARS before letting it out to the world, and what a version THAT was! Pure genius! The music just poured out of him!


Wow, so different to the version we know so well. To my ears this could easily have been included on his self titled album. Love it. Hope there’s a longer version as this seems like a radio edit.


Wow, that song was in his head after he finished this version for about 8 years.
I think this version is a really good one and I’m so glad I can enjoy it now. Every artist would be very happy to put it on an album, but the end result on Sign o’ the times is when it leveled up, as good wine it grew when it got older.


That man & his genius are missed!!!! Cannot wait for this box to arrive. SDE of the year so far!


This is Prince in his future style (May 79) that we will find on Dirty Mind Album (1980)…..Prince in his New Wave rocky style…..one of the earliest trax sung with is normal voice for the lead vocal unusual so soon when he used to sing the main parts with his falsetto voice(s) !!! GREAT TRAX ….would have been perfect on Dirty Mind ALBUM IMO !!

Metal Mickey

In this guise, it actually sounds very much like 1980’s “When You Were Mine”, so it was presumably written around the same time… I’d guess Prince just thought they sounded too similar to release contemporaneously, so kept “I Could Never…” in The Vault until he found another outlet for it…?