The second incarnation of my blog
Based on the top 100 albums in Rolling Stone magazine’s top 500, I have set myself the challenge of hearing and appraising each album. I hope to be surprised and educated along the way.
At number 76 is Purple Rain by Prince and the Revolution. After the dated and weedy production of Sign ‘O’ The Times at number 93, I really didn’t expect much of this 1984 effort…
This album is the soundtrack to Prince’s semi-autobiographical film of the same name. It was considered raunchy enough to inspire the formation of the censorship watchdog group Parents’ Music Resource Center. That’s something to be proud of!
The formulaic pop of Let’s Go Crazy and Take Me With You open the album, not that formulaic pop is necessarily a bad thing as the songs clearly do what they set out to do. I dislike the “dearly beloved” opening of Let’s Go Crazy however. It just sounds creepy to me.
The Beautiful Ones and Computer Blue, although well produced in a quirky kind of way, are just filler. Darling Nikki is far more interesting with some shocking (for the time) lyrics and a great experimental performance. Then you get to the meat of the album with the excellent When Doves Cry. Much has been said about it’s lack of a bassline, despite being a great dance song. It’s highly original in style, production, content and performance and makes the other songs sound so weak in comparison.
I Would Die 4 U, continues the annoying use of “4” and “U” in song titles, but is pleasant enough. Forget Baby I’m A Star which could easily be a Eurovision reject.
The album ends with the title track. It’s been said by some critics that the song Purple Rain is self indulgent and overblown. I don’t really accept that, it’s a very good song and the performance copes with being 8 minutes very well. Much like When Doves Cry, the title track just makes the other tracks sound lacking in so many ways.
Once again I can say that I am out of step with nearly everyone when it comes to Prince, but when music ages badly like much of this album, I find it very uncomfortable to listen to. When Prince wrote a song and took the time to make it original, he made other artists look lazy; but too often he wrote and recorded at the same time and you can certainly tell those songs as they lack structure and depth.
It’s much better than Sign ‘O’ The Times, but he’s still not winning me over!
My rating: 5/10
Standout tracks: When Doves Cry, Purple Rain
Listen to the album here.
See the Top 100 here.