Review Summary: Honey, I'm rich on personality.
Purple Rain is more than just a piece of music history - it’s a crucial piece of 80’s history, it's the Minneapolis Sound, it's a unique piece of black culture, and it's a product of a time in American history that was way too lavish, way too big and way too much fun for its own good... but one that we’ve (more or less) started to look back on and fondly reminisce. And Purple Rain, this forty-minute blast of pop-and-rock mastercraft, encapsulates the over-the-top, bombastic, colorful energy of the 1980's perfectly
. Music like this
is why the 80's has continued to preserve in music and music production to this very day - it's a testament to the genuine artistry occurring under the blinding lights of aerobics, shoulder pads, and mullet metal. In spite of the straightforward, unpretentious accessibility and simplicity present within most of these songs, there's a mind-blowing amount of talent, precision, and downright funky
color on display here. Prince and the Revolution were firing on every cylinder possible here, and this condensed, compressed musical greatness led to what might be the best pop record of the 1980's. (Emphasis on might - Peter Gabriel's So
and Prince's own Sign of the Times
also come to mind.)
You can't get off on a better foot than the explosive "Let's Go Crazy", a bouncy, bombastic party rocker fueled by twinkling synths, fiery guitars, Prince's iconic, syncopated drum machine, and huge, multiplayer gang vocals that culminate in an aggressive spitfire of a guitar solo right at the very end. "Let's Go Crazy" is an infectious shockwave of fun, funky confidence that paints Purple Rain
in the best possible light right from the get-go, and the album's energy never flags, nor does it ever lose that crucial, inherent sense of momentum and musicality. Purple Rain
brings so much character and variety to the table - every one of these nine, finely-crafted songs has got something for someone, and yet it never strays into jack-of-all-trades, master-of-none territory.
Prince and his bandmates demonstrate range and eclecticism without sacrificing their unique sound or their authenticity. There's the sparse, chilly "Darling Nikki", an enjoyably unnerving and downright psychedelic track that fluctuates between whispery verses and growling, ferocious choruses; "The Beautiful Ones", a soulful, reverb-drenched ballad dripping with phosphorescence and warmth, Prince's angelic falsetto and the interplay of echo-heavy, marching synths and jazzy, flourishing piano transforming into a glamorous wall of high-pitched screaming and wailing synthesizers; there's "Computer Blue", an effects-laden jam session of a song that wields a fascinating blend of gritty, futuristic synth-funk and Eastern-influenced, theatrical rock. All of these disparate elements crescendo into one of the best damn instrumental breaks I've ever heard, and it's at this exact moment that Purple Rain
transforms from a spiky, formidable pop record into a genuine work of art.
There's the bright-faced, poppy psychedelics of "Take Me With U"; the irresistibly groovy, stomping beat on "Baby I'm A Star", a delightfully frenzied, hair-swaying explosion of energy; the iconic burst of drama-queen glitz and glamour that is "When Doves Cry", its booming drum-machine beat and arpeggiated synths managing to give warmth and resonance to lines like "An ocean of violets in bloom
" even without a bass guitar to keep it grounded. And, of course: "Purple Rain", a strong contender for the greatest power ballad of all time. Out of all of the revered, influential songs present on this record, the title track has perhaps stood the test of time the best, and for good reason: "Purple Rain" bleeds
with passion. The mellow, slow-burning guitar, the gospel arrangement of the Revolution's backing vocals, the reverb-soaked synths, booming drums, susurrating bass, the candlelight-worthy guitar solo, and Prince's stratospheric falsetto bringing the soul-stirring ballad to a shimmering close... "Purple Rain" is an uninterrupted drizzle of legitimate, unironic musical perfection, a pitch-perfect culmination of talent, heart, and undeniable soul.
Flowery praise, to be sure, but "credit where credit is due", and Purple Rain
is a musical triumph that deserves exactly as much credit as everyone's given it. Every so often, good things are rewarded for being good, and Purple Rain
deserved every dollar and every accolade it received. Frankly? It's genius, a wondrous combination of technical magnificence and genuine heart-and-soul that gives the simple, catchy music contained within charisma, grandeur, and emotional richness. 1980's audiences responded to Purple Rain
's musical brilliance just as well as I and many others still do in 2021. Purple Rain
is more than just some of the best music of the 1980's; it's some of the best music, period. There's nothing quite like Purple Rain
, and there was no one quite like Prince. Rest in peace, my man - it's such a shame our friendship had to end so soon.