Classic 80s Albums- Purple Rain (1984)

Purple Rain is the sixth studio album by American singer, songwriter, producer, and multi-instrumentalist Prince. It is the first to feature his band the Revolution, and is the soundtrack to the 1984 film of the same name. The album was released on June 25, 1984, by Warner Bros. Records.

In the United States the album debuted at No. 11 on the Billboard 200 the week of July 14, 1984 with approximately 1.5 million copies sold. After four weeks on chart, it reached No. 1 on August 4, 1984. The first two singles from the album, “When Doves Cry” and “Let’s Go Crazy”, topped the US singles charts, and were hits around the world, while the title track went to No. 2 on the Billboard Hot 100. Purple Rain was present on the Billboard 200 for a total of 122 weeks.

Prince and the Revolution won a 1984 Grammy Award for Purple Rain, for Best Rock Vocal Performance by a Duo or Group with Vocal, the four composers (Nelson, Coleman, Prince, and Melvoin) won Best Score Soundtrack for Visual Media, and the album was nominated for Album of the Year. Purple Rain also won an Oscar for Best Original Song Score in 1985. As of 2008, it has sold over 25 million copies worldwide, making it the third-best-selling soundtrack album of all time. The album was certified 13-times platinum (diamond) by the RIAA. Purple Rain is regularly ranked among the best albums in music history and is widely regarded as Prince’s magnum opus along with his 1987 double album Sign o’ the Times. In 2012, the album was added to the Library of Congress’s National Recording Registry list of sound recordings that “are culturally, historically, or aesthetically important”.

Although it is not known if there is actually any connection, both Mikel Toombs of The San Diego Union and Bob Kostanczuk of the Post-Tribune have written that Prince took the title “Purple Rain” from lyrics in the America song “Ventura Highway”. Asked to explain the phrase “purple rain” in “Ventura Highway,” Gerry Beckley responded: “You got me.”

Purple Rain was released by Warner Bros. Records on June 25, 1984. Prince wrote all of the songs on the album, some with the input of fellow band members. “I Would Die 4 U”, “Baby I’m a Star” and “Purple Rain” were recorded live from a show on August 3, 1983, at the First Avenue club in Minneapolis, with overdubs and edits added later. The show was a benefit concert for the Minnesota Dance Theater and featured the first appearance of guitarist Wendy Melvoin in Prince’s band, The Revolution.

“Take Me with U” was intended for the Apollonia 6 album with Jill Jones on backing vocals, but Prince pulled it for his own album and according to Matt Fink, Prince reportedly played all the instruments on the song save for the string overdubs.[17] “Let’s Go Crazy” was also recorded with The Revolution while an unreleased version of “Computer Blue” clocking in at 14 minutes was a full band studio recording as well with various cuts some that are at least 14min long. “The Beautiful Ones”, “Darling Nikki” and “When Doves Cry” are all Prince recordings.

Track listing

All songs written by Prince, except where noted.

Side one
No. Title Length
1. “Let’s Go Crazy” 4:39
2. “Take Me with U” 3:54
3. “The Beautiful Ones” 5:13
4. “Computer Blue” (Prince, John L. Nelson, Wendy & Lisa; uncredited: Dr. Fink) 3:59
5. “Darling Nikki” 4:14
Side two
No. Title Length
6. “When Doves Cry” 5:54
7. “I Would Die 4 U” 2:49
8. “Baby I’m a Star” 4:24
9. “Purple Rain” 8:41

Personnel

  • Prince – lead vocals, background vocals, lead guitar, piano and various instruments
  • Wendy Melvoin – guitar and vocals (1, 2, 4, 7, 8, 9)
  • Lisa Coleman – keyboards and vocals (1, 2, 4, 7, 8, 9)
  • Matt Fink – keyboards (1, 4, 7, 8, 9)
  • Brown Mark – bass (1, 4, 7, 8, 9)
  • Bobby Z. – drums and percussion (1, 4, 7, 8, 9)
  • Novi Novog – violin and viola (2, 8, 9)
  • David Coleman – cello (2, 8, 9)
  • Suzie Katayama – cello (2, 8, 9)
  • Apollonia – co-lead vocals (2)
  • Jill Jones – background vocals (2)

Prince configured at least two unique track listings of Purple Rain prior to setting the final running order. November 7, 1983 and March 12, 1984 configurations are listed below. The early configuration included “Wednesday” (a song by Prince with Jill Jones) and “Father’s Song”. The latter was replaced by “When Doves Cry”. Edits to “Let’s Go Crazy” and “Computer Blue” were introduced in order to include “Take Me with U” in the final running configuration. The full length version of “Let’s Go Crazy”, as it can be seen in the movie, would later be released as “Special Dance Mix” on 12″ maxi-single.

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