Purple Rain

Once upon a time there was a magical decade called the 80s.  Children growing up in this decade had the best toys (Transformers, G.I. Joe, Thundercats, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, etc.) and got to watch the best cartoons (Smurfs, Snorks, Gummi Bears, the list goes on…).  Movies like “The Goonies” and “Back to the Future” were in the theaters, and TV shows like “Alf” and “Punky Brewster” gave us something to watch in at home in the evenings.  And most of the great video game franchises like Mario Bros., Zelda, Metroid, and Final Fantasy all had their start in the 80s on the good old Nintendo Entertainment System.  It was an amazing time to be a kid.  About the only thing that really sucked in the 80s (other than Reaganomics) was the music.  Maybe it was the debut of MTV.  Or maybe it was the development of the synthesizer.  I don’t know.  But it was a decade of total synth pop crap and hair metal.  Fortunately for all of us children of the 80s, we were able to don our flannel shirts as we came of age in the 90s (1991: the year punk broke) and the alternative rock scene was able to wash away the horror that was music in the 80s.

So this album has the 80s stamped all over it.  From the moment you see Prince on the cover with his 80s style mullet and his purple motorcycle, you know its going to be an 80s extravaganza of over the top flamboyance.  I picked this album up for $2.50 awhile ago at the Exchange in Willoughby, but I just recently go around to listening to it.  And I wanted to like it…I am almost ashamed to admit that I really did like Prince’s first two albums with the New Power Generation in the 90s (Diamonds and Pearls and the unpronounceable love-symbol album)…but yeah, I just couldn’t get into this.  Prince is an excellent musician, and actually he has quite a bit of really good guitar work on this album.  But unfortunately, he has a tendency, and it is in full effect here, to drown his music in layers of synthesizers and drum effects.  Maybe I’m being harsh…it’s not all bad.  There are some good vocal melodies, and as a singer Prince has 3 distinct registers, almost like Axl Rose (although unlike Axl’s piercing full voice upper register, Prince’s high voice is more of a controlled falsetto).  But overall this album just has too much of what I hated about most 80s music for me to actually enjoy it.

And then there is the movie.  This is the second soundtrack on the list, and like I did with Super Fly, I listened to the album and then watched the movie, and then listened to the album again.  Except this time, watching the movie didn’t help make sense of the songs at all.  Actually, it probably made me like the album a bit less, as this is possibly the worst movie ever made.  Seriously, I can’t think of a worse movie off the top of my head.  It’s the cliche musician movie formula plot: struggling musician meets girl, musician has issues with his parents, musician loses girl to rival, musician’s issues put career in jeopardy, musician gives stellar performance that wins back girl and catapults him to fame and fortune.  Yawn.  And to top it off, the acting performances are terrible (like every single actor in the movie is bad), and the non-album songs are pretty bad as well (who thought it was a good idea to write a song called “Sex Shooter” for the female lead?).  I bought the blu ray of this movie off ebay for $7.72, and I want my money back.  Yikes.

Purple Rain Blu Ray

Other lists: “When Doves Cry” is #52 on Rolling Stone’s list of the 500 Greatest Songs of All Time, and the album Purple Rain is #2 on the list of the 100 Best Albums of the 80s (how is it that this is #2 and Joshua Tree is #3 on the 80s album list, but on the all time list Joshua Tree is #27 and this is #76?  Consistency please, Rolling Stone, consistency).   The Purple One ranks #33 on the list of the 100 Greatest Guitarists, #30 on the list of the 100 Greatest Singers, and #27 on the list of the 100 Greatest Artists.

Ch-ch-changes: This album dropped four spots from #72 due to the addition of CCR’s Chronicle and the rise of Kid AGraceland, and Star Time.

My favorite track: “Let’s Go Crazy”

Honorable mention: “The Beautiful Ones”

A word from the Princess: “I hate Prince.”

Quote: “Hey, I ain’t got no money, but honey I’m rich on personality!”