In 1975, Brooklyn transplant Pepe Willie booked time at Cookhouse Recording Studios in Minneapolis, Minnesota, to demo five original compositions. Without roots in the Twin Cities’ insular scene, Willie had no fixed backing group to help realize the arrangements he and vocalists Marcy Ingvoldstad and Kristie Lazenberry had been rehearsing. Willie organized a young cast of backing musicians for the session, among them his wife’s cousin: a 16-year-old guitar prodigy named Prince Rogers Nelson.
Known colloquially as “The Cookhouse 5” these recordings showcase Prince’s instantly recognizable guitar playing, seasoning to perfection 94 East’s short-but-sweet songbook. A crucial document concerning the origins of the Minneapolis Sound, the B-side boasts instrumental versions of each infectious tune, providing an even greater vantage point from which to admire the Purple One’s expressive playing style, already evident in his teenaged years.