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This is part two of my thoughts about the Prince albums (and some of the songs) I listened to this month. This post features the albums 1999, Purple Rain, Around the World in a Day, and Sign ‘O’ The Times.
- Out of all the albums I’ve listened to this month, this is the one I’ve listened to on repeat probably the least. It’s not a bad album by any means, just the one I haven’t gotten into as much.
- The point above notwithstanding I’m sure the song “1999” will be on my Spotify most played songs for 2020 cause I’ve been listening to that one a lot. “1999” is a very catchy song. Also, I don’t think I heard the full version of this song (just the radio version) until this project.
- What did people in the 1980s think the future would sound like? I imagine they would have an answer like “Automatic.” At least the first robot bit of the song. This song gets so weird. A lot of Prince’s songs get kinda weird, and I’m okay with that. I was never bored listening to Prince’s music.
- In my last post, I thought the song “With You” was the cheesiest Prince song I’ve heard. It’s not. “International Lover’ has clearly summited the top of cheese mountain. That weird faux British accent during the plane part what us that? How am I to react other than howling with laughter? This feels like an over-the-top parody of a sexy slow jam, but I think it’s supposed to be like a genuine song, not an ironic or meme song. I’m not sex/kink-shaming you if this is your thing, but for me, I don’t feel anything close to sexy when listening to this song (or any Prince song). I guess this is what happens when an asexual/aromantic listens to Prince.
- Prince has a song called “Free” which I didn’t know when I wrote this post, but I can’t say I’m surprised.
- In the song “All The Critics Love U In New York” there’s the line Prince sings “4th day in November we need a purple high.” I tried to find out if November 4 is Prince day or something like that, but got nothing. This year though November 4 is the day after the US election, so maybe we will need a purple high that day, depending on the results. I feel that November 4 should be Prince day, or at least a day to wear purple. I invite you to wear purple and listen to Prince on November 4.
Purple Rain (1984)
- First off I wanted to mention that I watched the movie Purple Rain. I didn’t expect it to be amazing, it was just kind of okay. The acting was okay (a little stilted maybe), the plot was kinda irrelevant. It wasn’t bad per se, but the best parts of the movie were definitely the live performances by “the Kid” (the character Prince plays in the film). I pointed out on my Insta stories the most unbelievable thing in the movie was at the beginning when the club owner/manager and the frontman from the other rival band are talking about what a bad performance “Let’s Go Crazy” was. Like were those characters on drugs that make you lie, because that performance was awesome. Purple Rain just made me wish I had seen Prince in concert before he passed away.
- “When Doves Cry” was the number 1 song the week I was born. Then again the album came out 4 days after I was born so there’s that. That week both Purple Rain the movie and the album were #1 in their respective charts. That’s the first time an artist has had a #1 song, album, and movie in the same week. Also, I learned that “When Doves Cry” doesn’t have a bass line (the drum machine acts as a bass), which was kind of a novel crazy thing back in the day.
- When I sing along to “When Doves Cry” (alone, driving of course) I tend to sing the harmony part of the chorus, rather than the melody. I just really like the harmony for this song.
- “Baby I’m A Star” is the song that ends the movie Purple Rain (until the song montage at the end credits). Yet the song “Purple Rain” ends this album, and I think that’s a really interesting choice. The song “Purple Rain” is such a great album closer despite being totally different from “Baby I’m A Star” which works as the last song for the film. That song got released as a B-side single.
- Whenever “The Beautiful Ones” starts I have this moment of “I don’t know if I like this.” Then 20 seconds in I think “no this is a good one too.” It is kind of a weird song, not the weirdest Prince song I’ve heard but just kind of like “what?” Like the space sounds in the middle (theremin, or likely some kind of synthesizer) is the kind of weird shit I love in music. Like why is this here? And then it’s followed by Prince wailing “is it him or is it me!!!” Pure Gold. 10/10. Must listen.
- “Take You With Me” has an intro that’s so different from the rest of the song. Also, that’s how you do a good fade-out ending.
- “Darling Nikki” is the song responsible for the “Parental Advisory” sticker on cassettes and CDs back in the day. It wasn’t the bold black and white stickers (those came in the 90s). It was the former Second Lady of the United States Tipper Gore who started this when her daughter was listening to this song. And look I get it’s a sexually explicit song, but then again there were a lot of sexually explicit Prince songs before this one. I think if a song like “Lady Cab Driver” or “Do Me, Baby” were released as a radio single and also became big hits they would’ve been the songs to start the whole “Parental Advisory” thing. Now there’s just a little “explicit” next to these tracks on Spotify.
- I really love the song “Purple Rain” and it’s a song I’ve added to a personal playlist of “Epic Sounding Songs.” I don’t know what makes this song sound epic to me, but it just does (and I felt this before seeing the movie). This is the only Prince song I have on that playlist.
Around the World in a Day (1985)
- On my first listen to this album I was a bit confused, cause it wasn’t what I was expecting. It’s kind of funny because if asked me to guess what this album would sound like based on the one song I knew from it “Raspberry Beret” well I’d be way off, cause “Raspberry Beret” is a kind of anomaly here. I mean I guess “Pop Life” is a kind of pop-sounding song, but it’s much more new-wave influenced.
- “Around the World in a Day” has the pop/folk/world music sound (with a psychedelic twist). I read a few posts about how this was to Prince as “Strawberry Fields Forever” was to The Beatles. I can see that, but the psychedelic twist in the album isn’t the same 60s psychedelic sound.
- I am kind of digging “The Ladder.” I know there’s Christian rock music (not a genre I’ve ever listened to), but I never realized there could smooth jazz and R&B Christian music. Also that awkward cymbal (maybe hi-hat) crash at the end? What was that? And why am I still thinking about it 3 days later? I know Prince became a Jehovah’s Witness in later decades, and I get not everyone is gonna be into a religious/spiritual theme song, but I always find it fascinating when artists tackle these ideas, even if I don’t share the same point of view.
- I didn’t get into this album right away, but then stuff starting clicking. The songs I didn’t enjoy as much at first have become my favourites from this album. Sometimes it takes time for an album to hit me.
- This album doesn’t have as much of a cohesive sound/theme as some of the other albums I’ve listened to this month, but I don’t think that’s a bad thing.
- Fun fact I learned about this album, the song “America” was recorded the day I was born. Booyah!
- “Temptation” is such a strange song. It’s like the whole Prince/sex thing that he has in a lot of his songs. But it also gets weird and super dramatic at the end. And my little Leo heart just loves when artists go dramatic.
Sign ‘O’ The Times (1987)
- This is not what I expected but I dig it. Some of it’s very chill, and the sound (mixing?) is quite different than the other Prince albums I’ve listened to.
- So many orchestra-hits on this album (see the song “It”), and kick drums (“Hot Thing”). This whole aesthetic reminds me of the late 80s and early 90s, but I know the orchestra hit sample was used back in the early 80s – check out this video Vox did on the Orchestra Hit.
- If you played “Housequake” (before I started this project) and asked me to guess who sings the song I would have never guessed Prince. Probably because the voice is pitched up a bit (he does this on a few songs on this album). Also when he says “Shut up already, damn!” that just makes me laugh.
- On first listen this album sounds like it should be the greatest hits album for a bunch of Prince songs I’d never heard of – because it hops around in genres so much and has such a different sound than his previous works. And within the album, there’s a lot of musical variety. Then I found out the album contains songs from 3 different unreleased albums/LPs. It started to make more sense after that.
- There was recently released a Super Deluxe version of this album, which clocks in at 8 hours. That’s not the version I listened to for this project, but I’m definitely going to give it a listen at some point.
- “It’s Gonna Be A Beautiful Night” has the flying monkey chant from The Wizard of Oz. I officially love this song. I don’t always love random live songs on a studio album, but this is great. If time travel is ever a thing screw going back to the French Revolution or some shit like that – I’m seeing Prince in concert.
- Speaking of “It’s Gonna Beautiful Night” there are several songs on this album like that one, which has an instrumental part in the middle or near the end that sounds quite different from the rest of the song. “I Could Never Take The Place of Your Man” does this and so does “Play in the Sunshine” (albeit for a shorter time). It’s almost like you get a bonus song in the song.
- The album just made me realize how much Prince’s music spans different genres and creates its own genre. I cannot overstate how much Prince’s music and musical talent amazes me.
- There’s a clip of Prince on Muppets Tonight singing “Starfish and Coffee.” You’re welcome.
Well, this is probably going to be the last post I’ll have on Prince for this project. And once again let me state for the record how astounded I am by this man’s musical talent, genius, and creativity. Prince left this world way too soon. Thankfully he left the world with a massive catalogue of his work. (and apparently, he has music that hasn’t been released to the public). While I’ll be focusing on another artist next month, I will continue to listen to Prince’s music for the rest of my life.
Check out some more Deep Dive Music Project posts on Take Me to the World
What’s your favourite Prince album?