07 November 2006

Prince: Purple Rain

One of the most demoralizing news stories I’ve heard lately is not about Haggard or Foley, Bush or Hussein. It’s about Prince and the fact that the de-symboled one has sold out and — shuddergone Vegas on us. So let’s remember Prince’s prime … when he still had integrity and produced great albums.

For me, it’s Purple Rain. That first organ note of “Let’s Go Crazy,” and I’m back in the summer of 1984 — a steamy, sultry, sexy summer for me. We won’t go into those details, but trust me when I say it was one helluva summer.

I first became a Prince fan with “I Wanna Be Your Lover,” way back in 1979. Judged purely on the songs, Purple Rain isn’t my favorite. I prefer his first few albums for the funk, and “My Name Is Prince” may be my favorite from his oeuvre. But for passion and memories and just plain fun, I always come back to Purple Rain. And aren’t the memories associated with a song or album as important as the musicology of it?

The Prince sellout spreads. Morris Day is now doing television commercials for a local Toyota dealer. Seems it’s time to buy or something.

Some of Purple Rain sounds dated, I guess, but it also rocks the rafters, thanks to Wendy and Lisa. Maybe he needs to call them again.

“Let’s Go Crazy” kicks off the album — maybe a bit too theatrically, but I’ve always loved its energy.

“I Would Die 4 U,” along with “Take Me with U,” is the pop highlight. Yeah, I know I should say "When Doves Cry" ... but it just got played to death ... although Renae does a fabulous job reenacting the video.

Forget all the Tipper Gore brouhaha over “Darling Nikki.” And forget about the magazine-related activities. It’s a damn fun, balls-to-the-walls rock tune. And that backward stuff at the end is still neat. C’mon; can your hips stay still when Prince sings about Nikki starting to grind? Mine can’t.

Upload music at Bolt

Go home. Pull out your Purple Rain and relive the eighties.

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At 11/07/2006 04:47:00 AM, Blogger Coaster Punchman said...

Prince is from Minneapolis. One time in 1986 I ran into him in a very small, out of the way video store. He came in accompanied by a Playmate of the Year (according to the video store clerk) and he was dressed in his full regalia. My friend Chuck followed him shamelessly around the store.

At 11/07/2006 07:28:00 AM, Blogger Ben said...

I'm so glad you chose this Beth because nearly everyone chooses "Sign Of The Times", or "Lovesexy" or "1999" or his early stuff like "Dirty Mind" or "Controversy". Whilst I love them all, "Purple Rain" is still my favourite and dare I say, is in my top 20 ALL TIME GREATEST albums.

I think "Darling Nikki" is such a funny song, and "Lets Go Crazy" reminds everyone what a phenomenal Guitarist he is.

I think he was at his Zenith then, I know the track "Purple Rain" is overblown but the pomposity adds to the feel of the song.

You're right about the Pop songs too, "I Would Die For U" and "Take Me With U". They're just as good as the singles he released from the album. There really isn't one duff track on this LP.

In his later career Prince has been a victim of releasing too much stuff and not putting it through quality control first, but right then he was on top of his game.

Great post Beth.

At 11/07/2006 07:38:00 AM, Blogger Marni said...

Thank you for putting this out there. When I clicked on the Cup and saw the album cover, my heart lurched a little and I started dancing in my seat.

This album brings back so many memories and just makes me smile. I loved the short guy back in the day (today? not so much)!

I have the CD in my car and listen to it all the time. It is just a happy album that is fun to listen to with the top down (or sunroof open).

My favorite song of his, though, is Kiss. Just want your extra time and your - - - - - kiss! (how on earth to you *write* those kissy sounds?)

At 11/07/2006 08:16:00 AM, Anonymous DJ Cayenne said...

Nice selection. I'll always be a "When Doves Cry" guy. There's a Simpsons episode where Millhouse is feeling very bummed out and says, "now I know how it feels....when doves cry" in that mopey voice. The first time I saw that I almost wet my pants. Other favorite Prince #'s include Sexy MF and Nothing Compares 2 U (sung by Sinead). I haven't heard about Prince in Vegas, but it just might get me to Vegas. I saw Prince w/ Sheila E in NOLA in '85 or 86'- it was a last minute show announced just before Christmas. He had a little red Corvette that he drove around the stage. So cheesey and so totally awesome. If we're honest, Prince has always been a little cheesey, so Vegas shouldn't be a big stretch. He's becoming Elvis.

At 11/07/2006 08:23:00 AM, Blogger Beth said...

COASTER PUNCHMAN: Do you remember what he rented? I'm so damn jealous. I saw Michael Stipe at the mall once ... but that's just not the same.

BEN: I'm clapping over the fact that we're on the same Prince page! Now that I'm an MP3 girl, I've whittled down my take-everywhere Princes to a few tracks from most albums ... and all of Purple Rain. I just damn love it.

MARNI: I'm glad I made you dance. I'm going to crank it next time we get together so that I can see that car dance of yours.

DJ CAYENNE: I haven't seen that "Simpsons"! I wonder if it's on YouTube. Yeah, Prince has that cheese and theatricality about it -- which is part of his appeal -- but don't you worry who's gonna go Vegas next?

At 11/07/2006 11:38:00 AM, Blogger lulu said...

I think you're probably safe Beth, no chance of REM doing a Vegas review...although it's interesting to imagine what that might be like.

I do love me some Prince. Purple Rain reminds me of tenS and high school, and also of dancing like a mad woman at bars in college.

At 11/07/2006 11:42:00 AM, Blogger Beth said...

You sensed my biggest fear, Lulu.

BTW, Peter Buck is headed for Chicago as I type this. He's playing tomorrow night at the Metro as part of Venus 3 (a Minus 5 offshoot), opening for Robyn Hitchcock. You should go; I'm going to catch their show in Baltimore in a couple of weeks. I love that, famous as R.E.M. is, he still loves playing with smaller bands in smaller clubs.

At 11/07/2006 11:44:00 AM, Blogger Will said...

"I Would Die For You" truly is an amazing song. I'm kinda pro-Vegas so I'd be interested to see what happens. Hopefully he doesn't go all Celine Dion on us. This is another great record that my dad introduced me to.

At 11/07/2006 11:47:00 AM, Anonymous DJ Cayenne said...

Beth: I can't find the Simpsons segment on YouTube. The set up was that Bart and the gang found that they each had a Shelbyville doppelganger. Millhouse was so happy that someone finally "got" him that he was broken hearted to go home. Or something like that.

Anyway, if you have to see someone in Vegas, you could do worse than Prince. I'm thinking Hall and Oats.

At 11/07/2006 11:51:00 AM, Blogger Beth said...

WILL: My child, we were doing completely different things when we first heard this album. I think I prefer my Purple Rain activities.

DJ CAYENNE: Thanks for checking. My nephew has all of the DVDs, so I'll have him cue up that episode next time I'm over there; I love Millhouse (how can you not sympathize with someone sharing Nixon's middle name?). You know, I'd almost consider a quick dash to Vegas to see Prince.

At 11/07/2006 01:05:00 PM, Anonymous paul said...

Good post. Purple Rain's the album that started it for me. I was startled by it when I heard it the first time. To a suburban white kid from Ohio it was a new kind of music. A weird hybrid of rock and funk. It wasn't just a synthesis of those two componants-- it was more than the sum of its parts. --And, as a teenager, I could definitely relate to Prince's unrepentant horniness. --A great, great record.

At 11/07/2006 01:51:00 PM, Blogger Johnny Yen said...

I just got around to putting that album on my ipod. It still sounds great to me. In the summer of 1984, I was rooming with Larry and Dobie, two of my closest friends and just starting my grad work. That album got a lot of spins. Hearing it brings me back to that summer. I remember the three of us driving to the next town over, Mattoon, Illinois, to see the movie.

My wife grew up in Chaska, where Prince is from and when we went to visit her family a couple of months ago, she brought me by his old house. It burned down a while back, but the gate, with it's Prince symbols are still there. I'll post a pic on my blog in the next day or so.

She remembers seeing him in the grocery store buying frozen pizzas.

At 11/07/2006 02:15:00 PM, Blogger sKincarver said...

I never cared that much for Purple Rain. I thought the pinnacle of his career was "Sign Of The Times". Now that's a great album. Best "Will you marry me?" song ever is on there, "Forever In My Life".
"The Black Album" is also great and over-looked by most. He shelved it for years and used one track on "Love Sexy". You could find bootlegs of it back in the day for $50+. "Bob George" from that release is my favorite Prince song of all time. Close second, "Housequake" from SOTT.

At 11/07/2006 02:44:00 PM, Blogger Old Lady said...

I think that Prince would be perfect for Vegas. His stage productions are fabulous and showy, his is an excellent producer, as well as musician and poet. He would get the freedom he needs to do his shows that he can't really do on video. He is a very erotic performer.

At 11/07/2006 03:36:00 PM, Blogger Beth said...

PAUL: I miss Prince's overt sexuality. While his music can stand on its own, I think his sexuality added a lot. But I guess we all have to grow up sometime.

JOHNNY YEN: Were they mini-pizzas (sorry, Paulie, but I had to steal your line)?

SKINCARVER: I love both Sign O' the Times and The Black Album ... but I gotta vote for Purple Rain as number one.

OLD LADY: I've seen him live just once, and was thrilled. Seeing him could almost get me to Vegas.

At 11/07/2006 04:44:00 PM, Blogger lulu said...

I just finished the book Motherless Brooklyn, and the narrator, who has Tourettes, talks about how Prince's music is perfect for someone with Tourettes because it is very tic-y and filled with sudden changes.

A great book by the way.

At 11/07/2006 04:54:00 PM, Blogger Beth said...

Thanks for the recommendation, Lulu; I've been curious since you mentioned picking it up. I love the Tourettes reference, so that will get me into the bookstore.

At 11/07/2006 05:33:00 PM, Anonymous KLee said...

I was never that much into Prince, but I do have to admit that he churned out the toe-tappers.

When I saw this post, I thought of Prince's appearance on the sadly now-defunct "Muppets Tonight" and the doorman wouldn't let him in to do the show because he couldn't give him his name. (That was back when he was using that symbol-thingy.) At least it shows that he can poke fun at himself.

I think he'll fit right into the craziness that is Vegas. You can find just about ANYTHING in Vegas, so it doesn't shock me that he'd be a fixture there. Of course, it also wouldn't surprise me if nuns opened a sex shop on the strip in Vegas, either.

At 11/07/2006 05:34:00 PM, Blogger Melinda June said...

1999 is my favourite because it reminds me of being in high school and stealing vodka from my parents to make martinis when they were out of town. I think Vegas is a GREAT place for Prince. Imagine what he can do with production budget and a permanent stage!!! How's this for the perfect bill...early Tom Jones show, late show of Prince. If only David Lee Roth were still playing the Debbie Reynolds theatre.

And I once rode the elevator with all of the Crash Test Dummies. Does that count?

At 11/07/2006 05:46:00 PM, Blogger Coaster Punchman said...

How did I know Mindy would support the "Prince Plays Vegas" idea? I was going to suggest that perhaps it is a rite of passage soon to hit our generation - when we get old enough that "our" people start playing Vegas. Perhaps it's inevitable, and we will be glad of the warm weather.

To answer your question, Beth, Prince did not rent anything. He purchased three videos, and unfortunately I did not see the titles. Keep in mind this was 1986, when purchasing videos was not cheap. But he was Prince. He still is, actually.

At 11/07/2006 08:00:00 PM, Anonymous HollyC said...

I've never wanted to go to Las Vegas, but if it was a place I wanted to go, that would be the show I would want to see...I love his Dance-Music-Sex-Romance from the "Risky Business" soundtrack, and I love his basketball team on Dave Chappelle's show...

At 11/07/2006 08:41:00 PM, Blogger lee said...

oh beth -you must have nearly died when you saw michael stipe! :).

At 11/07/2006 09:39:00 PM, Blogger Beth said...

KLEE: Prince could always laugh at himself ... to a degree. Have you seen the Kevin Smith college tour DVD? He talks about meeting and hanging with Prince; very funny. Maybe you could open that nun-run sex shop in Vegas and retire a rich woman!

MELINDA JUNE: Did you hum with the Crash Test Dummies? Now that would be very cool!

COASTER PUNCHMAN: Or, he's Prince again (that whole symbol phase). Maybe we can coordinate not-quite-blue-haired tours of Vegas to see Prince and our other 1980s heroes. If Boy George opens, I'm so there.

HOLLYC: Maybe we can hit the Prince show together one day. I love "DMSR," too. And that basketball skit is supposedly true.

LEE: I did. I squealed and called my friend who was madly in love with him. But I used to see all of 'em quite a bit back in the day, when all of 'em were in Georgia.

At 11/07/2006 10:51:00 PM, Blogger kfluff said...

Oh, I'm so late to this party, but hell yes, Purple Rain! I can't believe no one here has mentioned the nacho-cheesy goodness of Wendy and Lisa on that album. "Is the water warm enough?"

At 11/07/2006 11:43:00 PM, Anonymous DJ Cayenne said...

I'll second Motherless Brooklyn. Jonathan Lethem is fantastic. His next novel, The Fortress of Solitude, is loaded with music references, too.

At 11/07/2006 11:57:00 PM, Blogger Bubs said...

Why shouldn't Prince end up in Las Vegas, the American Zenith? CBGB is set to re-open there this year. And the best lounge act in Las Vegas is Purple Reign, a Prince cover band.

At 11/08/2006 05:36:00 AM, Blogger Beth said...

KFLUFF: Argh! I missed the best moment on the album. Prince was always great with the sexy cheese, wasn't he? And, yes, that's past tense ... because he lost that fun side of him.

DJ CAYENNE: I'll buy 'em both with my Borders Rewards coupons.

BUBS: Now, see, Bubs, I just stopped crying over the CBGB thing ... and you reminded me. Maybe Congress can start appearing there.

At 11/08/2006 05:36:00 PM, Blogger Grant Miller said...

"Purple Rain" is a Goddamned masterpiece. So is "1999." Amazing. And he's a compltely underrated guitarist.

At 11/08/2006 05:54:00 PM, Blogger Beth said...

I completely agree with you, Grant. I think his mastery of the guitar got lost in his wild persona.

At 11/08/2006 06:07:00 PM, Blogger Dale said...

Motherless Brooklyn is an excellent book Dale chimes in. I like the Prince but it's funny, I've never seen the movie although I've heard the music. I bought the dvd but haven't gotten around to it.

At 11/08/2006 11:26:00 PM, Blogger Beth said...

Well, three of the reading bloggers I trust most have recommended Motherless Brooklyn, so I guess I'm hitting the bookstore Saturday morning. Thanks, Lulu, DJ Cayenne, and Dale.

At 11/09/2006 09:53:00 AM, Blogger patrick said...

great post babe. great album. but you didn't mention 'the beautiful ones', which i think is one of the best on the album.

At 11/13/2006 10:39:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

"Insatiable" from the "Diamonds and Pearls" and his cover with Rosie Gaines singing Sinead's "nothing compares" rocked. What a concert. I wore purple but didn't get yanked on stage dammit!


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