The release, which was announced Tuesday and almost immediately followed by a lawsuit from the artist’s estate, was orchestrated by longtime Prince engineer George Ian Boxill, who claimed co-writing and co-producing credits with the artist. It was removed from streaming services and retailers late on Wednesday, during or shortly after a hearing held in Minnesota on Wednesday evening. During its brief window of availability, the release reached No. 1 on iTunes’ pre-order chart and No. 2 on Amazon’s album chart.
At the hearing, Judge Wilhelmina M. Wright of the United States District court issued a temporary restraining blocking Boxill’s efforts to release any of Prince’s music and ordered him to “deliver all of the recordings acquired through his work with Paisley Park Enterprises” and return them to the estate, according to the New York Times. The order expires on May 3, unless the court decides to extend it.
However, a rep for Boxill noted that the song “Deliverance” is still available for sale, albeit only on a website of the small independent label Rogue Music Alliance that was scheduled to release the EP.
“The Federal Court located in Minnesota has temporarily enjoined the release of the remaining unreleased tracks on the ‘Deliverance’ EP. The court order has not enjoined the released single ‘Deliverance,’” a statement from Boxill and the label reads. “Therefore the ‘Deliverance’ single will continue to be sold.”
“Deliverance” was scheduled for release on the small independent label Rogue Music Alliance in apparent defiance of a recent $30 million licensing deal between the estate and Universal Music Group; sources tell Variety that former advisers to the estate misrepresented the availability of certain recordings that are currently covered by Warner Music Group, and Universal is now seeking to nullify the deal. The period in which the “Deliverance” recordings were purportedly made, 2006-2008, was covered by the Universal deal.
The songs on the EP — the title track, an eight-minute-plus multi-part “Man Opera” containing four titles, and an extended version of one of those titles, “I Am” — were completed by Boxill after Prince’s death. The recordings are surprisingly strong, particularly the title track, a bluesy slow-burner with some blazing guitar work, gospelesque backing singers, and a soaring falsetto vocal from Prince. (Hear it here.)
A rep for Boxill said a statement is forthcoming, while a rep for the estate didn’t immediately respond to Variety’s request for comment.
Friday marks the one-year anniversary of Prince’s death from an accidental drug overdose.
Note: This article was updated at 4:51 p.m. ET p.m. April 20 to note the ongoing availability of the song “Deliverance.”