Purple Rain

Prince And The Revolution

Warner Brothers Records, 1984


REVIEW BY: Michael R. Smith


Yes, Virginia, there is a Santa Claus. And yes, America, Purple Rain is indeed Prince’s best album – it just took me this long to realize it. Like George Michael’s Faith, Prince’s Purple Rain begins with the sound of a church organ. With his tongue firmly planted in cheek, Prince can’t help but utter the appropriate words “Dearly beloved,” before launching into the ballroom blitz assault of “Let’s Go Crazy.” This is one relentless dance song that needs to be heard to be believed, especially with the blistering rock guitar solo that unexpectedly comes at the end of it. Right from the get-go, Prince is intent on making the biggest impact and strongest impression possible.

Prince follows up such a breathless opening with a pair of love songs. The first is a mid-tempo favorite of mine entitled “Take Me With U,” where he is joined by one of his many protégés (and his co-star in the my_heart_sings_the_harmony_web_ad_alt_250 Purple Rain film), Apollonia Kotero. The second is a ballad that builds in intensity, “The Beautiful Ones,” in which Prince utilizes his upper register. It’s a song that starts out sounding like an unfinished demo and ends with a sweat-drenched Prince down on his knees singing his little heart out at full volume.

Prince goes into tech-geek, experimental mode on both “Computer Blue” and “Darling Nikki.” Two of his background musicians Wendy and Lisa turn in a lesbianic performance of sorts with their spoken word intro on “Computer Blue,” preparing us for Prince’s down and dirty showcase that is “Darling Nikki,” a track that fits into the tradition of other X-rated Prince fare like “Erotic City” and “Sexy M.F.” Though its raunchy lyrics are clearly for mature audiences only, teenagers were the ones who gravitated to this one like moths to a flame when it was first released.

Speaking of 1984, “When Doves Cry” immediately transports the listener back to that golden year for music. It’s funny that I didn’t really care much for it when I first heard it, because now it is one of my all-time favorite Prince songs. I certainly favor it over the overplayed “I Would Die 4 U,” which is the most overtly radio-friendly of all the tracks to be found on Purple Rain – and also the most boring. It does lead into the terrific big finish, “Baby, I’m A Star,” a track most notable for the fact that it was recorded live.  

The final song on the album (the encore, if you will) is the overlong title track that you can almost guarantee will be the final song you hear at one of Prince’s shows. Don’t believe him when he says he is never going to perform such songs in the future. He’s already shot himself in the foot once before when he attempted to change his name to an unpronounceable symbol. If he didn’t perform any of his old hits anymore, his career would be over. Finis. Caput. Prince should think twice before he makes statements like that. The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame is one thing, but public scrutiny is another.

Rating: A

User Rating: A-



© 2008 Michael R. Smith and The Daily Vault. All rights reserved. Review or any portion may not be reproduced without written permission. Cover art is the intellectual property of Warner Brothers Records, and is used for informational purposes only.