OUR WEEKLY REMEMBRANCE OF GREAT ALBUMS
SALUTES HIS PURPLE MOUNTED MAJESTY
Dearly beloved, we are gathered here to hail stiletto booted royalty. And get through this thing called life, too. This week in 1984, Prince achieved his second No. 1 hit from the soundtrack album for his film Purple Rain with "Let's Go Crazy." Without a doubt, the well-reviewed, already cultish Minneapolis boy had hit the big time. Despite the many outfits, hairstyles and albums released in the intervening 24 years, the frilly shirt, purple clad, silent film star pencil moustache sporting, vaguely damp looking image Prince put forth around this film and record is how he will always be cemented in the minds of millions in our soundbite culture. It was his moment in the sun, hitting the Top 10 around the world and selling more than 13 million copies to date.
Purple Rain refined his "punk-funk" style into something both outsiders and the mainstream could get down with, and in the process single-handedly changed popular music forever. Without both the creativity and the voluminous success of Purple Rain it's unlikely we'd have Gnarls Barkley, Outkast and many others that took their cues from this album (and many subsequent releases from Prince). But, forget for a minute its cultural and commercial importance and just slip this one on. Maybe light a few candles, fire up your smoke machine and put on something silky. Go on, no one is watching (unless you leave the curtains open…). Prince begins by welcoming us into his church, a place full of beloved folks and purple bananas, where Dr. Feelgood gonna makes everything alright. In just nine tracks, he throws us on the back of his motorcycle for a highly personal journey that also works as general purpose entertainment. Even expressly dirty stuff like "Darling Nikki" is so smilingly inviting it's hard not to be an enthusiastic voyeur. And this last point is key: Prince makes us watch and listen with pointer dog attentiveness on Purple Rain. Babies, he IS a star and he was ready for everyone to know it. Mingling rock and soul in ways only Sly Stone and a handful of others had managed before him, Prince found lines of connection between New Wave and Old School, punk blasts and Motown croon. It is a highly modern stew that we're still shoveling down with tremendous gusto, even if the man himself has trouble hitting the charts anymore.
Purple Rain track list
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
Here's Prince and his Revolution with a nearly 18-minute live assault on "I Would Die 4 U/Baby I'm A Star."
Dig, if you will, a picture of genuine salacious oddness as Prince crawls from his bathtub and into our hearts in the original video for "When Doves Cry."
Let's punch a higher floor with the video for "Let's Go Crazy."