|Dream Factory is an unreleased album by Prince and the Revolution, planned for release following their third (and ultimately final) album Parade. There are three known configurations of the album, dated late April 1986, 3 June 1986, 18 July 1986. A version with slightly revised track order from the one two days prior was then made on 20 July 1986.
Strange Relationship, Teacher, Teacher and I Could Never Take The Place Of Your Man were the earliest recordings included on the album, originally recorded in Summer 1982. Dream Factory was recorded in December 1985, but Prince hadn’t yet decided on the album, as he was unsure of how he would proceed following Parade, which was not yet released. By January 1986, however, Prince proceeded with further work on an album, recording Last Heart and Wonderful Day.
It was only in mid-March 1986, however, that he embarked fully on the album, when Prince started working using a new home studio in his house, known as the Galpin Blvd Home Studio, Chanhassen, MN, USA. Recorded there from mid-March to mid-April 1986, were The Ballad Of Dorothy Parker, Power Fantastic, And How, A Place In Heaven, Movie Star and Witness 4 The Prosecution. And That Says What? was recorded during the same sessions, but at the Washington Avenue Warehouse, Edina, MN, USA. In mid-April, Crystal Ball, Starfish And Coffee, Big Tall Wall and Visions were recorded.
An initial configuration of the Dream Factory album was compiled in late April 1986, containing eleven tracks. Work continued in early May, however, with the recording of In A Large Room With No Light and It, and a new double LP configuration containing 19 tracks was compiled, dated 3 June 1986. The album was mastered in early June, but Prince still didn’t consider it a final version, and continued work on the album. Slow Love was recorded the following day. By mid-June, Prince was considering working on a Broadway musical, referred to both as Dream Factory and The Dawn, and it is possible that there was some overlap between the projects, but the musical was ultimately abandoned.
In early July 1986, Prince recorded Train for the album, and in mid-July, he recorded The Cross and Sign O’ The Times, and revamped the 1982 track I Could Never Take The Place Of Your Man to complete the album. The final double LP configuration containing 18 tracks was compiled on 18 July 1986. In one last session on 20 July 1986, the track order was changed up a bit for sides 2, 3 and 4, as well as some editing done, and crossfades made. It was the last time Prince worked on the collection.
The disbanding of Revolution meant the end of the project. With most of the Revolution’s input eliminated, the collection was expanded by also incorporating other tracks, recorded later in 1986. This resulted in the three-disc set Crystal Ball, which eventually was pared down to become Sign O’ The Times.
Although many of the tracks were solo recordings by Prince, several include other members of the Revolution.
All of the tracks considered for the Dream Factory album have been released in one form or another. The Ballad Of Dorothy Parker, Strange Relationship, Starfish And Coffee, It, Slow Love, I Could Never Take The Place Of Your Man, Sign O’ The Times and The Cross were all included on the Sign O’ The Times album. Train was released by Mavis Staples in 1989 on her album Time Waits For No One (Prince’s version was included on the Deluxe Edition edition of the Sign O’ The Times album in 2020).
Power Fantastic was released (in edited form) in 1993 on The B-Sides compilation (included as the third and final disc on The Hits / The B-Sides). Dream Factory, Sexual Suicide, Last Heart, Movie Star and Crystal Ball were eventually released on the 1998 compilation Crystal Ball. A re-recorded version of In A Large Room With No Light was streamed online in 2009, but was not officially released. Visions remains unreleased as a Prince-related track, but was released (now renamed Minneapolis #1) by Wendy & Lisa in 1990 as the first track on a limited edition bonus CD included with their third album Eroica. It was later included on the Sign O’ The Times Super Deluxe Edition set in 2020 as were Wonderful Day (two versions different from the Dream Factory album), Big Tall Wall, And That Says What?, A Place In Heaven, Witness 4 The Prosecution, All My Dreams, Colors and Nevaeh Ni Ecalp A and Teacher, Teacher (The 1982 version of Teacher, Teacher was also released in 2019 on the Deluxe Edition edition of the 1999 album). Only the segue (including a bit of Nevaeh Ni Ecalp A) preceding Dream Factory remains unreleased.
It was long believed work on the packaging for the album had not yet been worked on at the time the project was abandoned, but in 2017 Susannah Melvoin showed color pencil sketches she made in 1986 of what was an idea for an album cover. The cover depicts sort of a time-warp flash surrounded by a an array of flowers and a border of little hearts. In the 'flash' we see a female figure (Susannah herself) holding open a door to the ‘Dream Factory’ with a rainbow at the bottom, a sun, moon, stars, clouds, balloons and drapes. Interestingly the album cover in this sketch is attributed to The Flesh rather than Prince and the Revolution.