Purple Rain (1984)

1. Let's Go Crazy 2. Take Me With U 3. The Beautiful Ones 4. Computer Blue 5. Darling Nikki 6. When Doves Cry 7. I Would Die 4 U 8. Baby I'm a Star 9. Purple Rain


There are many who have a valid point when they say that this record wasn’t his best, but it was definitely his best known, most influential, sold the most copies, and firmly established the Minneapolis native as one of the best musicians around. Performers like this come along maybe once a generation. And some generations miss. This record has the perfect blend of everything that one would want from a mid-1980s album. Prince’s trademark funk is present, along with lots of keys and synths, and his guitar is everywhere. If you ever doubted that this man wasn’t a genius as a guitar player, just one listen to this record will convince you otherwise. Because of his eclectic styles, it was very easy for Prince to cross over to all audiences. If you were “white” but didn’t really like “black” music, there’s plenty on this record to love. If you were “old” and you didn’t like music that the “younger generation” was listening to, you can find much to enjoy here as well.

This is actually a soundtrack to the movie of the same name. You don’t hear much about the movie. To be honest, the movie wasn’t really that good. Sure, youth everywhere flocked to it, but that was because of the music featured, not because of some engrossing story. From what I gather, the story is loosely autobiographical – with Prince playing the lead role as “The Kid”. It’s been a long time since I’ve seen the movie, so I don’t honestly remember that much other than I was less than impressed. Those who watch the movie these days probably want to reminisce to get a kick out of the clothes and the hairstyles that were prevalent as opposed to enjoying any sort of actual plot.

I’m also a bit biased towards this record since it came out my senior year of high school. This is the particular time that should be filled with wonderful memories, and I’m happy to say that this album contributed to those remembrances in a mighty big way. Anything you did as a kid back in 1984-1985 would definitely have Prince’s tunes serving as background music to whatever activities that you were engaged at that time.

The two lead-off singles Let’s Go Crazy and When Doves Cry are the hardest rocking things here, and it’s no surprise that these two cuts rank among the very best in his entire catalog. Take a well done song from any genre and fill it up with elements that will appeal to a diverse group and you have music that just about everyone loves. Other cuts such as Computer Blue, I Would Die 4 U and Take Me With U don’t necessarily rock very hard, but they’re all synth-pop genius filled with lots of 1980’s bells and whistles. Sure, they now sound dated, but when the music is this good, such offenses are minor.

Since this was (and probably still is) his most well-known album, it shouldn’t be a surprise that Darling Nikki created the most controversy. The lyrics are definitely on the R rated side, but Prince was capable of much worse. Maybe because this was the first Prince album that parents bought for their elementary school kids, escalated this song so much to the limelight? You can imagine parent’s eyeballs bulging out in the song where we meet Nikki in the hotel lobby. Sadly, it’s a bit of a distraction since that song, like everything else here, is top notch.

The Beautiful Ones is an awfully nice sweet ballad, yet when we talk about sweet ballads, you can’t help but think about the closing track on this record, the nearly nine-minute title track that is undoubtedly Prince’s best song ever. You could make the argument that this song is the best song ever recorded by anybody. You certainly wouldn’t get any argument from me. Nine minutes never goes by so fast.

He’s now backed in full force by his band “The Revolution” and you can definitely spot some differences in the music. Most notably, the duo of Wendy (Melvoin) and Lisa (Coleman). If I’m not mistaken, it’s at least one of these ladies singing lead on Take Me With U. He even has some outside writers on Computer Blue.

It’s no accident that the color purple would somehow be synonymous with Prince from this point on his career. Nor should it be a shock that he would be referred to as “The Purple One” from time to time as well. This album is, quite simply, a masterpiece. Although not everything he’s singing about is sunshine and roses, this music definitely makes one want to celebrate the mere fact of being alive.

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