Review Summary: Leave your thoughts at the door. Some called this album commercial suicide due to it being the follow-up to Purple Rain. Most call it brilliant. You decide.4 of 4 thought this review was well written
Imagine you as Prince in 1984. A huge movie, an even bigger soundtrack, and loads of recognition from peers and fans alike. Purple Rain seamlessly mixed all sorts of genres together to make an album that was so catchy, even the nastiest of metal heads and the teeniest of boppers all rejoiced. Record stores could not keep the album in stock quick enough due to the demand. While being on the Purple Rain tour, Prince was still writing and recording on days off (often flying back to LA's Sunset Sound while the rest of The Revolution were sitting in a hotel in Nebraska. You get the point.).
Purple Rain was Prince's sixth album with the "Minneapolis Sound", and was the last. It's a shame it took so long for people to catch on to Prince's funkiness, and it's even more of a shame that fans and critics alike did not know what to make of his quick follow-up, Around the World in a Day. Me personally, I blame the fans for being ignorant and late for getting into Prince and his sound he got so very tired of. ATWIAD is so drastically different from Purple Rain that it threw everyone into frenzy. That’s not to say it's a bad album, in reality it is feverishly excellent. Only Prince can do a complete 180 from what people expect of him.
It is said that Wendy & Lisa had gotten Prince into more rock/folk music during this time. Supposedly, Prince went crazy for The Beatles, and it was already well known he was a Joni Mitchell fan boy. The album is so full of Psychedelic compositions, and it really REALLY works on most of it. The LP starts off with the title track, a rocky beginning that makes much more sense in context with the rest of the album. Prince's first words in the song sum the entire record up: "Open your heart/open your mind". Fun, quirky, and always cool, the title track sets the pace well for the album.
Welcome to "Paisley Park", the second tune on the record, and the name of his studio a few years later down the road. The lyrics make no sense, which works well since the theme is about this crazy little land that mind over matter certainly does not mix. This track is one of the catchier ones on this LP, and makes more sense with each listen.
"Condition of the Heart" stands as one of Prince's finest ballads. Prince uses a lot of space as an instrument with certain percussion parts to add to it's theme of heartbreak. If you get the chance, check out this tune live when he does it on the much-loved "Lovesexy Live" show in Germany. It is fantastic, even though it is merely part of a medley, but it leaves you with such an overwhelming feeling. This tune is highly recommended if you want to get into Prince at his most tortured.
Of course, she wore a "Raspberry Beret". Obviously the most well-known song on this album, this tune is the definition of Prince's Minneapolis Sound mixed with the Psychedelic direction he was going for. Highly catchy, cute, and popped out funky, only Prince can sing about losing his virginity to some lady only wearing said beret. Gotta love this guy.
This is where the album gets very interesting. "Tambourine" is by far the funkiest and most aggressive song on here. An incredibly manic tune, Prince's bass playing really stands out with the funky-as-**** drums. I could never understand the lyrical content. It's boiled down to either masturbating ("Guess Ill stay at home/all alone/by myself/play my tambourine"), or making love to some woman ("I don't care for one-night stands....guess Ill stay at home and play my baby's tambourine"). Anyway, if you want the funk, go to this song. Also worth mentioning is Prince's final verse in the song where completely freaks out and screams mid-verse.
"America" is the tune where Prince shows off his signature guitar playing. An incredible riff and an even more incredible funk/rock hybrid, Prince gets political but not preachy. Watch out for the guitar solo he rips out mid way through the song. Give this tune a chance, you'll be sure to enjoy it.
Everybody needs a thrill, and "Pop Life" is where to get it. A fine performance by Sheila E on the drums, and an even more impressive bass performance by Prince, this tune is also one of the more familiar songs from the album. When one brings up Pop Life, they always bring up the bizarre breakdown in the middle of the tune to some recorded sample of a crowd of people roaring. Many tend to believe that it was a recording of Prince's disastrous time of opening up for the Rolling Stones on their 1981 tour where he was completely booed off the stage and had everything you can think of thrown at him. Sadly, it interrupts the flow of the song. Shame, since this is one of Prince's best songs.
"The Ladder" is a mish-mash of Gospel, and Praise. Nothing too crazy about this song, but it is a fan favorite. "Temptation" is a song of Prince having a conversation with God, and at the end you hear Prince go completely AWOL and scream. It's a bizarre, insane way to end the album but it works since the album's theme is to leave your thoughts at the door.
Quietly released in 1985 and still in the mist of the Purple Rain phenomenon, it totally threw fans off. Prince once said that he made the album to get rid of the millions of people who bought Purple Rain who weren’t really fans. Well, it worked, sadly. After ATWIAD's sales of 3 million, Prince's sales unfortunately went into decline. It is even more sad since this was when Prince's best ever material saw the light of day (Parade, Sign 0 the times, and so on). Regardless, Around the World in a Day stands as an oddity in the Prince catalog cannon (and that says a whole lot), and it continues to have a cultish fan base, much like being a fan of Prince himself.