Prince - 1984 Purple Rain


ARTIST: Prince
ALBUM: Purple Rain
LABEL: Warner Bros
SERIAL: 25110 (LP), 7599-25110-2 (CD)
YEAR: 1984


LINEUP: Prince - vocals, guitars, bass, keyboards, piano * Brown Mark - bass, vocals * Dr Matt Fink - keyboards, organ, vocals * Lisa Coleman - keyboards, piano, sitar, vocals * Wendy Melvoin - guitars, vocals * Bobby Z - drums, percussion * Apollonia Kotero - vocals on 'Take Me With You' * David Coleman - violin * Suzie Katayama - violin, viola * Novi Novog - violin, viola

TRACK LISTING: 01 Let's Go Crazy * 02 Take Me With You * 03 The Beautiful Ones * 04 Computer Blue * 05 Darling Nikki * 06 When Doves Cry * 07 I Would Die 4 U * 08 Baby I'm A Star * 09 Purple Rain


As it stands today, 'Purple Rain' is still one of the best albums I've ever heard. The nostalgic qualities it possesses after just a few notes into 'Let's Go Crazy' send shivers down my spine to this day. Prince could have retired after this IMO and gone out like Seinfeld-on Top.

Sure 'Sign Of The Times' was a decent effort.. granted, and his first couple of releases have charming appeal, but everything after 'Sign..' just missed the boat or ventured too far into insipid R&B territory for my tastes.

'Purple Rain' possessed a pronounced rock feel with an emphasis on full band performances, multiple layers of guitars and keyboards. As a soundtrack record, much of the music had a grandiose, synthesized, and by some accounts - a vaguely AOR sheen to the production value and performances.

Generally regarded as his first foray into full bore pop/rock, though several elements point towards the more experimental pop/psychedelic records Prince would record after.

As with many massive crossover albums, 'Purple Rain's plethora of styles is generally acknowledged in part for its enormous popularity.

The Songs

'Purple Rain' was musically denser than previous Prince platters, concentrated on well-crafted songs with memorable hooks and melodies, rather than electro funking grooves or rhythmic intricacies.

The keys standout as does the intricacies of Prince's fret work; 'Let's Go Crazy', 'When Doves Cry', and 'Purple Rain' all feature blistering lead guitar work from his royal badness.

Opening with an 'organ'-ized 'sermon' by Prince, 'Let's Go Crazy' is a fast, high-energy rocker centered around an infectious riff. Manic synths add to the spectacle, but it's Prince's blistering guitar solo that stands out as the song closes.

Steering closer to AOR, 'Take Me With U' is a mid-paced duet between Prince and his 'Purple Rain' co-star Apollonia; an immediate number with an attractive string arrangement.

'The Beautiful Ones' is a gorgeous, endearing ballad featuring a passionate falsetto vocal delivery by Prince. He builds the song from an intimate beginning with drum machine and organ to an intense, forceful climax. Matt Fink's synth work provides a lush backing to this underrated gem.

Although the music in many ways was Prince's deliberate move towards a mainstream sound, unorthodox songs such as the rousing rocker 'Computer Blue' indicated his increased willingness to experiment.

The song leads directly into the infamous 'Darling Nikki', a stark tense rock number and fan favourite to this day with it's racy overtone and screeching vocals that have become synonymous with Prince.

'When Doves Cry' is a haunting rock song that is carried mostly by a drum machine, and spare keyboard parts. Prince carefully adds a repeated synth motif that eventually erupts into a soaring guitar solo and accordion-like synth melody. Even though it's been played to death to this day, it's stands as one of the best tracks to grace this 40-minute experience.

'I Would Die 4 U' glides along effortlessly and shows the same keyboard flair Prince possessed when writing the music for Stevie Nicks' 'Stand Back'.

'Baby, I'm A Star' has a vibrant bouncy beat that's built around a tasty synth and piano phrase that repeats throughout, the fast pulse of the song is similar to 'Dirty Mind'.

Ending with Prince's most recognized song, 'Purple Rain', I can't help but declare this one of the most perfect pop songs ever recorded. Again it's been played to death and just about everyone knows it, but very few songs have since matched its beauty or timelessness. Prince gradually builds the song to an emotional fever pitch, before he launches into a an amazing guitar solo, climbing way up the register.

The title track coalesces into an elegiac sing-a-long theme, finally giving way to an instrumental string-section coda. Some speculate that the guitar solo onward bares a strong similarity in chord progression to that in Journey's 'Faithfully'. It wouldn't surprise me that the AOR kings of the early 80's influenced his purple majesty in some way.

In Summary

'Purple Rain' catapulted Prince to international stardom, outselling all of his previous records. It reached an unprecedented 13 million copies in the US and 5 million worldwide.

The soundtrack album retained the number one spot in the US for 24 weeks, something few artists ever achieve.

'Purple Rain' had such a huge impact on 80's culture and is still one of the most highly respected soundtracks in history. It doesn't need press and it certainly doesn't need justification from yours truly, but it's certainly worthy of inclusion here at Glory Daze.

'Purple Rain' was, and probably always will be, Prince's greatest selling album. Essential.

All written content on this website belongs to copyright. Duplication elsewhere on the Internet is strictly prohibited, unless specific permission is granted.

Sign In or Register to comment.