35 Years of Madhouse
On January 21st, 1987 Prince released his first instrumental album ever entitled Madhouse 8 and did a lot to persuade the public that it was not him. It was just one of Prince‘s plans to prove that his music could stand on its own without his name behind it.
The 8 songs on the album were titled 1 through 8 and placed in numerical order, but the only song that was released as a single was 6. Overall, even though the album is a collector’s item, it did not perform well on the charts only reaching position 107 on the Billboard Top Pop Albums Chart and position 25 on the Billboard Top Black Albums Chart.
The Japanese release of Madhouse 8 listed multiple musicians on the album including Dr. Fink on keyboards, Levi Seacer Jr. on bass guitar, John Lewis on drums, Austra Chanel on keyboards (who many believe was an alias of Prince), and Eric Leeds on saxophone. There were also many snippets used from the first two Godfather films and additional excerpts of Vanity from the Vibrator track simulating an orgasm that preceded the track called 7.
The reality is that the album was created entirely by Prince performing on all instruments along with saxophonist Eric Leeds at Prince‘s Galpin Boulevard studio in Minnesota. Even the location was hidden with the credits stating that the album was recorded at Madhouse Studios in Philadelphia, PA. The purpose of which was to steer the suspicion that it was recorded by Eric Leeds and his previous band.
The album was engineered by Susan Rogers who is a pillar of Prince lore as she sat behind the board at various points for many of Prince‘s most iconic albums including Purple Rain, Around the World in a Day, Parade, and Sign ‘O’ the Times.
Even more notable was the bright and colorful cover of the album featuring the beautiful Maneça Lightner who revisited her modeling job on the followup to the Madhouse album simply entitled Madhouse 16.
The album itself didn’t see much use unless you consider the terrible short film the Hard Life (shown below) which was filmed in various Minnesota locations and that also includes a fight between band members beating up an old woman who just happens to be Dr. Fink’s mother. The nutty film features clips from the Madhouse album but has no coherency or continuity in the plot. Just see for yourself below.
While there are two more Madhouse albums in the vault, both of them are titled 24, but each is different from the other. Funkatopia had interviewed Eric Leeds and discussed those lost tracks. While 24 probably will not see an official release anytime soon, various tracks have slipped out in the past including a track called 17 (Penetration) that was included on the 1-800-NEW-FUNK album release and another track that was heavily edited and placed on Eric Leeds album Times Squared.
While the album is steeped in myth and lore, it still holds its value and sounds just as fresh today as it did 35 years ago.