Purple Rain – Prince and the Revoltion – 1984
Claimed Sales: 20m
First listen?: No
Format Listened?: Apple Music
‘Dearly beloved, we are gathered here today to get through this thing called life’ is an opening statement that has been heard countless times in the year since Prince’s untimely death in April of 2016. It just about sums up the mentality of Prince and Purple Rain as an album/movie soundtrack/live show/way of life. Here, it kicks of an introduction to Let’s Go Crazy, one of Prince’s most thrillingly hectic songs. It’s delightfully crazy, but impossibly danceable, the juxtaposition of screams of lyrics and funkiness of the guitars being just a tease of the sorts of varying sounds to be heard on the remaining 8 tracks here. As an album, Purple Rain feels like a perfectly constructed suite of themes and ideas; Prince notably took a few attempts before finalizing the track list of the version we know now. Every second of every song has been poured over. The subtle claps interrupting the thudding synth of I Would Die 4 U make such a huge impact during such a fast tempo song. The layers of production are so impressive on songs like this, guitars tease in and out, vocals are electronic but full of soul, piano slides in and the song is over before you know it. It’s so amazing for me that a soundtrack album created as one entity can have so many songs that stand perfectly alone, none more so than When Doves Cry that opens Side B with the sudden clattering of drums. It’s the phrasing that gets me here, the way he paces the lyric ‘Maybe I’m just like my father, too bold’ is subtle but totally shows the musicianship Prince had. The rest of the album jumps between the sex fuelled Darling Nikki, the soaring balladry of The Beautiful Ones and the easy string laden Take Me With U which opens and closes with a thundering drum solo. Of course, Purple Rain is simply the pre show before the main event, the full near on 9 minute closer happens. Purple Rain remains an outstanding song and works even better as part of the greater whole here. The slow layering of vocals as the chorus comes around each time, the countless solos from guitar, piano, even what sounds like vocals at times, it’s an undeniably emotional song, even before the tragic death of its star just last year. Purple Rain stands as one of the greatest, if not the greatest, film soundtracks of all time. In fact, Purple Rain arguably works better without the film, it’s an album that showcases one of the greatest artists of a generation at the top of his game.
Will I listen again?: Most definitely.
Best Track: I could pick literally any of the 9 tracks here. In the end, making a final decision between When Doves Cry and Purple Rain is so difficult that I’m choosing both here.