Prince – Purple Rain (1984): Review

Produced by Prince & The Revolution
Label – Warner Bros

There is a kind of lasting renaissance for ecstatic, full colour, over the top 1980s pop and Prince’s camped up funk and risqué, super confident persona make him one of the most iconic characters of the decade, and his music, the most revered. Although the diminutive singer/songwriter continues to record, his albums from the 80s still gather the greatest acclaim and with that the widest influence. “Purple Rain” was the most audacious and challenging project he ever undertook. The soundtrack to a supposed semi autobiographical movie of the same name, he must have realised that he was putting his star status and musical credibility on the line. By a combination of dogged ignorance to the pitfalls and a collection of truly outstanding songs, this album has a genuine and justified claim to be one the greatest movie soundtracks ever recorded. In truth, the album voted number 2 in Rolling Stone’s poll of best albums of the 1980s is a triumph despite the accompanying movie and the fact that it transcends beyond the association says much for its validity as an incredible stand alone record.

Musically, “Purple Rain” moves towards the mainstream more than any previous recording and yet the standard of musicianship and creativity is as strong as ever. Lyrically he continues to convey stories of love, lust, possession and sex with an almost maniacal passion. Five of the nine songs would become hit singles; all unique in that although firmly chart directed they had some form of experimental invention and a vitality that separated them from mundane mainstream pap into epic creations.

The leadoff single “When Doves Cry” was stripped down to the bone and distinctly contains no synth or organic bass rhythm which leaves a startling icy void that seems to highlight Prince’s bleak story of break up in a “world that’s so cold”. Record company bosses at Warner Bros baulked at the idea of a single with no bass and when they eventually relented the song reached number one. “Let’s Go Crazy” is the ideal kick start for any album, full of fast paced rhythmic soul and synth beats and a deliberately bombastic guitar solo to close out only maintained Prince’s position as party animal and virtuoso instrumentalist. Vastly underrated and containing his best ever vocal performance “The Beautiful Ones” develops from a gentle falsetto ballad into a gargantuan, primal vocal crescendo as Prince screams out for the then love of his life, Susannah Melvoin. The title track will be familiar to us all, a sad soul ballad expertly produced, wonderfully evocative and a great representation of the ambitious pop songs of the time. Add to that the down and dirty “Darling Nikki”, the blissful simplicity of “Take Me With U”, and the electro/funk mix on “I Would Die 4 U” and there you have it; a stunning collection clothed in all its purple majesty.

Prince is in many ways as vital to 80s music as Smokey Robinson was in the 60s, or Stevie Wonder in the 70s. No accolade could be as befitting as being associated with these names and deservedly “Purple Rain” stands as his masterpiece and possibly the best soundtrack album of all time.

10/10

Track Listing
1 – Let’s Go Crazy 10
2 – Take Me With U 9
3 – The Beautiful Ones 10
4 – Computer Blue 9
5 – Darling Nikki 10
6 – When Doves Cry 10
7 – I Would Die 4 U 9
8 – Baby I’m A Star 9
9 – Purple Rain 10

When Doves Cry

Purple Rain

I Would Die 4 U

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One response to “Prince – Purple Rain (1984): Review

  1. Pingback: PRINCE ROGERS NELSON . . . – iBLOGalot·

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