Purple Rain: Prince’s Best Album
Purple Rain: Prince’s best. Amazing 1984 album with timeless classic tracks like When The Doves Cry, Let’s Go Crazy, I would Die for You, and of course Purple Rain. Lots of early 80s synthesizers on many of the songs, naturally and overall a great album from start to finish, with a brilliant Prince guitar solo.
Purple Rain: Prince’s timeless album
Perhaps Prince’s finest work, this timeless classic, instrumentally brilliant album sounds as fresh today as it did in 1984, don’t you think? While its sound is dated due to the use of synthesizers, outdated production techniques etc., it’s timeless because it still holds up as state-of-the-art and solid in 2020.
This is by far my favourite Prince album, and much more than a soundtrack. Funnily enough, I don’t like the film much. I’d rather listen to Purple Rain, the album, than watch the movie.
In this album (Prince’s sixth) you can appreciate the great talent owned by this little guy called Prince Roger Nelson. What a musician!
Purple Rain is a classic album that everyone should own, in my opinion. It’s true that I used to adore Prince during the eighties and nineties, but that doesn’t make me biased. This is a great record whether you like him or not.
Every song in this soundtrack has something about it, no skips. You can listen to Purple Rain repeatedly for hours and you will not get tired of it. If you have never listened to it, it might become a revelation.
Purple Rain Track by Track
Let’s see some of the tracks:
Let’s Go Crazy
The opening of the album kind of picks up where the titular track of 1999 left off.
If you’ve listened to the previous Prince’s album, 1999, released about two years earlier, you probably know the track of the same name, 1999. Here, Prince told us that Life is just a party and parties weren’t meant to last and that We’re all going to die one way or another, so let’s rock while we’re here. So, theme wise, with Let’s Go Crazy Prince picks up when he had left us, although, musically, with Let’s Go Crazy he makes a swift departure from the smooth beats of its predecessor.
Let’s Go Crazy suggests that the best way to tolerate life’s hardships is to rebel against the expectations and norms of our safe, sanitized society. Exactly my mind.
Take Me With You and The Beautiful Ones
Even though not a great track, Take Me With U works as the perfect palette cleanser after the craziness of the opening song. It’s quite simple and pleasant.
The Beautiful Ones is the third track of the album. Prince produced, composed, arranged and performed the track. Not much more to add, since it’s probably the “least good” track of the whole album.
Computer Blue is a club jam about the common ’80s theme of existential technological alienation which also have an impressive guitar solo by Prince and a cryptic conversation between guitarist Wendy and keyboardist Lisa. What the conversation is about, go figure. Imminently having sex or imminently having a coffee.
The artist took hold of the reins fully again on this track.
If you’ve listened to it, I’m sure you feel, like me, that Darling Nikki is a bit out of place. It sounds quite far from the refined pop of the rest of the record.
But here’s the best thing about Darling Nikki: centred on an apparent “sex beast” —Nikki— and also speaking of masturbation, —OMG—, it’s believed to be the song that instigated the creation of the infamous Parental Advisory sticker warning* due to its explicit nature.
*A group was formed in 1984 (whole story in the link above) called the Parents Music Resource Center to censure certain explicit language in music. They compiled a list of songs dubbed the “Filthy Fifteen”, which included works by Madonna, Prince, AC/DC, Cyndi Lauper, and Def Leppard, among others.
When the Doves Cry
Ok. There aren’t great great great tracks between Let’s Go Crazy and When the Doves Cry, but I think that the wait was absolutely worth it. This confessional track illustrates Prince’s arrogance and boastfulness… and genius.
When Doves Cry was Prince’s first ever Billboard #1 and the biggest selling single of 1984 in the US, although nobody thought it’d be as big. Delivering some of his most personal lyrics until then — “Maybe I’m just like my father/Too bold/Maybe you’re just like my mother/She’s never satisfied”— this is one of Prince’s most affecting compositions.
The whole song, a catalyst for Prince’s huge success after, screams his name from beginning to end. It was incredible how such an experimental and bold song could turn out to be so popular. But, then again, its lyrics do have a sort of universal connection that trigger that success. Thinking that this song was meant to just fill a spot on the album (sort of similar to the fact that Madonna’s Vogue wasn’t meant to be a single, but a B-Side to Keep It Together) makes you wonder what kind of artist can pull off something like that. Well. Madonna.
I Would Die 4 U and Baby I’m a Star
We’ve mostly covered all the hard stuff and are now welcome to party, although I Would Die 4 U is somehow incongruent: festive music, sort of gloomy lyrics. This track is one of the most upbeat on the album, featuring fast-paced drum beats but the lyrics are somewhat low-spirited.
In any case, Prince seems to be exploring gender fluidity and may be a song that holds an important message to listeners, from the opening statement: “I’m not a woman, I’m not a man, I am something that you’ll never understand.”
Following I Would Die 4 U is the naughty and yet utterly intense Baby I’m a Star, a song arrogantly informing the listener that, regardless of being criticised, he’s far greater than anyone —including himself— ever imagined, and those who don’t like it, can piss off, basically.
Prince’s epic grand masterpiece of his whole career.
The overall message of the song see him longing for a pure, wholesome, peaceful love whilst musically, it’s a powerful ballad which, with the vastness of its arrangement, reaches the listener easily. Purple Rain was the last song Prince ever played live, closing out his concert in Atlanta on April 14, 2016.
Purple Rain is a journey through the mind of a musical genius, one of the most talented artists in history, even if his music isn’t to everyone’s taste. But if you consider yourself a person who likes music, you need to listen to the glorious Purple Rain.
Prince wrote music for many other artists such as (top of my head): Madonna (Love Song; opening guitar solo of Like A Prayer, Act of Contrition…), Sinead O’Connor (Nothing Compares 2U), Tom Jones (Kiss), The Bangles (Manic Monday), Chaka Khan (I Feel For You) or Kate Bush (Why Should I Love You).