Friday, 21 April 2017

Purple Reign

"I was dreaming when I wrote this / Forgive me if it goes astray / But when I woke up this morning / Coulda sworn it was judgement day"

It was a year ago today that the world lost Prince Rogers Nelson, the pint-sized musical genius whose songs were the soundtrack to so many people's lives. Whether it was the early perv-funk of Dirty Mind, the rock histrionics of When Doves Cry, the '60s pop of Raspberry Beret or the social commentary of Sign O The Times, Prince had a song and a style for every occasion. In the mid to late eighties if you were into American R&B / dance it often felt like there were only two ultimate choices  -  Michael Jackson or Prince. Jacko of course was one of the biggest stars in the world, a phenomenal singer and dancer with a shed-load of pop classics to his name, but he never captured my imagination like Prince did. Prince always seemed cooler, edgier and more self-mocking and weirder than MJ   -  of course we didn't know at the time just how weird Jacko really was!
I remember seeing photos of Prince in music mags in the early '80s, in his dodgy flasher-mac and underwear phase, but not actually hearing his music until the likes of 1999 and Little Red Corvette hit the charts. However, it was the Purple Rain album that really did it for me. An exciting, over the top collision of rock and R&B, this was the record that Prince used to grab the mainstream audience by the unmentionables. Hugely, insanely over-produced with pounding beats, squealing guitar solos and packed with hits ( the title track, When Doves Cry, Let's Go Crazy ), this album was an absolute monster. Just don't mention the terrible film! My mate Paul ( Death Planet Commandos drummer ) and I played the Purple Rain album to death at ear-frazzling volumes and it became an obsession for us  -  before being replaced by other musical obsessions involving Grandmaster Melle Mel and the Beastie Boys. I was now officially a Prince fan and followed his career for many years until his star began to wane in the '90s. At one point Paul and I had tickets to see the Purple One at Wembley Arena but there was some trouble with the local council over the gig's licence and it was cancelled, so that was my one chance to see Prince lost. I really should have made more of an effort to see him on a later tour...
And now, of course, it's too late. Although Prince's latter career saw him endlessly regurgitating inferior takes on his original funksplosions, he will always be remembered as that singing, dancing, twirling, guitar-playing Sexy MF who always partied like it was 1999...

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