Album #538 – Purple Rain

Album #538

Ahhh…the purple one, the artist formerly known as…now known again as…PRINCE. Living next to Minnesota, it’s a state that is more known for hockey players, bitterly cold winters and its distinctive accent. But, I am in love with this part of the world since I moved to Northwestern Ontario 2 and a half years ago. Maybe its because the Midwest is not unlike the Maritimes in that the people are friendly, charitable and communal. Their neighbors and community are everything.  But, Minneapolis/St. Paul is kind of a world unto itself. There are still the cold winters and, if you look hard enough the accent but, some of the best music of the last 35 years has come out of that city. First Avenue is where most of it was heard for the very first time, live in front of eager music fans. The Minneapolis scene was not only huge for punk rockers but, r&b too. Not only Prince, but Morris Day and the Time, Lipps Inc. and Jimmy Jam and Terry Lewis. They all came from the same Minneapolis scene and helped shape the music we love today. Like the scene, Purple Rain really does a good job at combining gritty rock n’ roll, smooth r&b, psychedelic pop and new wave synths together. You can hear Prince’s influences on every track. In fact, 1984 was his year. He was not only riding high on Purple Rain’s success but, producing and writing songs for Shelia E, Sheena Easton and Chaka Khan among others. I love that he can not only sing and dance but play the guitar like nobody’s business. The proof is in this performance of While My Guitar Gently Weeps from George Harrison’s induction into the Rock N’ Roll Hall of Fame. Tom Petty, Jeff Lynne and Dhani Harrison are all playing the song when, out of nowhere, Prince does Eric Clapton’s solo better than he did on the album!!!  But, for all that showmanship and musical intellect, there is Prince’s mysterious persona and attitude. He can be pretentious, intimidating, over bearing and quiet. Some might even go as far as calling him a dick or an asshole. Case in point, when he covered Radiohead’s Creep at Coachella a few years ago and had all the YouTube vids of him performing it taken down (only to have Thom Yorke demand to have them put back up, as it is their song after all!!!) That aside, Purple Rain is an amazing example of the different types of pop music that came out of the 80’s. Maybe it didn’t match Thriller in sales or acclaim BUT, for a movie soundtrack, Purple Rain is one of the most influential of them all. I can’t think of another soundtrack album with original songs that was as successful on the pop charts. Probably because most soundtracks are a mishmash of artists and songs; some new, some old. But, it certainly held it’s own: 2 #1 hits, 4 top 10 singles!!! And that’s just in the US. Purple Rain cemented Prince’s place in pop music. Thankfully though, he would change his style, just as fast as he made his way to the top. The worst thing for an artist to do is to get stuck in the same sound or image. Highlights include: Let’s Go Crazy, Take Me With U, Darling Nikki (the song that started it all for the PMRC and the Explicit Content label), When Doves Cry, I Would Die 4 U and one of the best album closers EVER, the EPIC Purple Rain. Overall, I give this album 4 out of 5.

Next: Let It Be by The Replacements

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