Another colossal album of the 1980s today, we have “Purple Rain” from Prince. I know at least one Prince fan who disagrees with me, and I’m sure there are plenty others, but I will gladly hop on the bandwagon and proclaim this to be the best record he ever made. Every single song on this album is timeless, and no matter what you think of the accompanying film, this album is phenomenal. It is rated as the #8 album of all time on Rolling Stone’s Top 500 Greatest Albums of All Time, which just for the record, is higher than Michael Jackson’s “Thriller”.
I do recall being taken with minimal enthusiasm to see this movie when it came out, although I did enjoy it more than I expected. I also recall my number one Prince fan at the time, my friend Jim, being an early adopter of this album as a classic. The opening song of the album is truly my favorite Prince song ever, and it is one of the best showcases of his gifts on guitar, in addition to everything else he did so very well. If I had to pick a short playlist of songs that get me fired up and get the heart pumping, this song would absolutely make the cut.
We get back to the funkier and sexier side of Prince with the infectious melody of “Take Me with U”. Was Prince an early adopter of text message abbreviations with his use of “U” for you? His genius has no end. Next comes the R&B classic “The Beautiful Ones”, and for all of the shots I take at Prince dragging out songs too long, his riffing at the end of this song is just right. “Computer Blue” is funkier, a throwback to some of his earlier work, and just bumps perfectly. Side one ends with the highly controversial “Darling Nikki”. Because she enjoyed her magazine so much, we all became the beneficiaries of “Parental Advisory” stickers on our albums.
Side two opens with the first single “When Doves Cry” and the synopsis video from the film. This probably isn’t my favorite song on the record, even though it was a massive hit, but it certainly is one of the signature songs of the record. Another iconic track follows, the up-tempo dance hit “I Would Die 4 U”. The hits just keep coming, as “Baby I’m A Star” showcases the celebratory feel as we get closer to the triumphant end of the album and the film for Prince. Last, but certainly not least, we have the titanic title track, where Prince (aka The Kid) lays it all out on the line as he professes his love for Apollonia. Even his arch-rival, Morris Day cheers him on. And speaking of Morris Day, the only thing that would make this amazing album even better would be if it was treated as a true soundtrack and “Jungle Love” (co-written by Prince) was also on the record. “Jesse.. Now, Jerome!”
This is definitely an album that is worthy of all of the hype and praise, and I really enjoyed revisiting the entire record multiple times. In a perfect world, I would find the time to watch the movie too, but alas, I don’t live in a perfect world… yet.