Friday, June 26, 2009

Friday Funk

25 years ago yesterday (6/25/84), Prince's Purple Rain album hit shelves, a month ahead of the movie. The album was preceded by the single "When Doves Cry," Prince's first number one. On the strength of that and the follow-up singles ("Let's Go Crazy," "Purple Rain," "I Would Die 4 U," "Take Me With U"), Purple Rain topped the charts for 24 weeks, selling 13 million copies in the US. (That number has since increased to 20 million.) In late July of 1984, Prince simultaneously held the number one film, album and single spots in the country, a feat previously accomplished only by the Beatles, I believe.

The album is undeniably a tour de force. Many hail it as Prince's greatest achievement. I don't know that I agree (my favorite album is Sign 'O' the Times. No, it's 1999. No wait, it's Dirty Mind). Regardless, the album's merit is undeniable, and it's impact on music and popular culture continues to resonate. Every track is a winner. From the raucous pop-rock of "Let's Go Crazy" to the nastiness of "Darling Nikki," the emotional frustration of "When Doves Cry" to the anthemic beauty of "Purple Rain" - the album remains a 20th century achievement in composition, production and execution.

Spin Magazine's Brian Raftery has a nice piece in the current issue, an intriguing (albeit brief) oral history of the Purple Rain project, including interviews from former members of the Revolution, The Time, Prince's management and others. In addition, there will be a free download of a Prince tribute album, Purplish Rain on Spin's site starting July 1. I haven't bought Spin in about 15 years, but put Prince on the cover and see if I don't buy it.

The 25th Anniversary of Purple Rain is significant. We have for years marked the anniversaries of Sgt. Pepper, Dark Side of the Moon, et. al. In terms of musicianship, skill and cultural impact, Prince is every bit as historically relevant as the Beatles, The Stones, Pink Floyd - take your pick from the rock canon. I'm pleased to see that the music press is beginning to recognize this.

As a reminder to those in the Pittsburgh area, a friend and I are throwing a celebration tonight in honor of the 25th anniversary of Purple Rain:

$1 off the cover if wearing Prince/Purple Rain-related costume.

And now onto the Friday Funk:

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