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Purple Rain

Warner Bros. Records

The first album that was jointly credited to Prince and the Revolution, Purple Rain is the soundtrack to the movie and has since remained one of the most successful albums in music history, selling over 14 million copies in the US and 6 million elsewhere. It was largely recorded between the summer of 1983 and spring of 1984, at Prince’s Kiowa Trail home studio, in Chanhassen: except I Would Die 4 U, Baby I’m A Star and the title track, which were recorded at First Avenue and using a mobile studio hired from Record Plant

Purple Rain originally peaked at number 7 in the UK charts, however bettered that in 2016 climbing to the number 4 spot in the week following Prince’s death.

Thirty years later, there’s nothing remotely close.

Purple Rain, Prince’s most successful album, sat at the top of the US album charts for 6 months, and won two Grammies (Best Motion Picture Soundtrack and Best Rock Performance) plus the Oscar for Best Original Soundtrack. The album sold 1m units in the US within a month, and 8m before the end of 1984, and since then certified Platinum a staggering 13 times by the RIAA. The album also received two Grammy nominations, for Album Of The Year and Best Production.

The song Darling Nikki became part of music history, in that it was responsible for the album to receive the first ever Parental Advisory warning, following complaints from the Parents Music Resource Center (a movement founded by Al Gore’s wife Tipper Gore) owing to its ‘filthy’ lyrical content. In 2008, Purple Rain was ranked number 2 in Entertainment Weekly’s best albums ever; 18th in VH1’s best albums of all time, and 2nd in Rolling Stone Magazine’s list of best albums of the 1980s and 8th in their top 500 of all time. Following Prince’s death in April 2016, Purple Rain re-entered the charts at #2 on Billboard and was the highest selling soundtrack album in the US that year.

In May 1984, Prince and the Revolution started recording a follow-up album named Roadhouse Garden, in the warehouse which the band hired at Flying Cloud Drive, Minnesota, to rehearse their upcoming Purple Rain promotional tour. Prince subsequently felt Purple Rain suffered from overexposure and the songs of Roadhouse Garden, which included Splash, Witness 4 The Prosecution, All My Dreams, Wonderful Ass and the title track all sounding too similar to Purple Rain, were abandoned in favour of Around The World In A Day which took a different path, much to the public’s chagrin. In 2015, Prince had the original Purple Rain tapes remastered at Paisley Park Studios, incorporating state-of-the-art sound in the intention to rerelease the album on the 35th anniversary of the original issue. Prince subsequently withdrew his cooperation from the project and the reissue was shelved, albeit until 2016 when following his death. Purple Rain Deluxe was released Warner Bros. Records on 23 June 2017, and contained a companion disk with tracks from Roadhouse Garden.

Prince & the Revolution
The Revolution; photography by Larry Williams

Cover story

Purple Rain is doubtlessly the most iconic of Prince’s album covers. The image, shot by Ed Thrasher for the movie poster, captures Apollonia Kotero stood at the top of a short external fire escape stairway, with Prince pulled up on the pavement and sat astride his famous purple motorbike with his trademark love sex symbol emblazoned on its petrol tank. The staircase is part of the backlot of Warner Bros. Studios in Burbank California and was also featured in the Spider Man Movie in 2002, in the scene which Toby Maguire and Kirsten Dunst kiss – in the rain. Because the same image had been used for the movie poster, which was portrait, flowers were added by Laura LiPuma, a graphic designer in Warner’s art department, to turn it into a square image for the LP. LiPuma would lead the art direction for four of Prince’s album covers, the others being Parade, Sign O’ The Times and Lovesexy.

The Revolution

Vocals/Guitar
Prince
Drums
Bobby Z.
Guitar
Wendy Melvoin
Keyboards
Matt "Dr." Fink
Lisa Coleman
Bass Guitar
Brownmark

Data

Production
Prince and the Revolution
Label
Warner Bros. Records
Distribution
Warner Bros. Records
Cover/Design
Ed Thrasher and Laura LiPuma
Released
36 years, 9 months ago on 25 June 1984
Reissued
23 June 2017 as Purple Rain Deluxe
Running Time
43:51
US Chart Peak
1
UK Chart Peak
4
Prince Album
#6
Orig. Formats

Tracklist

  1. Let's Go Crazy (4:39) 1
  2. Take Me With U [duet with Apollonia] (3:54) 1
  3. The Beautiful Ones (5:15)
  4. Computer Blue (3:59) 2
  5. Darling Nikki (4:15)
  6. When Doves Cry (5:52) 1
  7. I Would Die 4 U (2:57) 1
  8. Baby I'm A Star (4:20)
  9. Purple Rain (8:45) 1

1 Released as singles.
2 Co-written with John L. Nelson, Lisa Coleman and Wendy Melvoin.

Singles from Purple Rain

When Doves Cry single from Purple Rain, Warner Bros. Records (1984)

When Doves Cry

Warner Bros. Records

Released
16 May 1984
US Chart Peak
1
UK Chart Peak
4
Formats
  1. When Doves Cry [Edit] (3:47)
  2. 17 Days (3:54)
When Doves Cry [Maxi Single] single from Purple Rain, Warner Bros. Records (1984)

When Doves Cry [Maxi Single]

Warner Bros. Records

Released
13 June 1984
US Chart Peak
1
UK Chart Peak
4
Format
  1. When Doves Cry (5:54)
  2. 17 Days (The Rain Will Come Down, Then U Will Have 2 Choose. If U Believe Look 2 The Dawn And U Shall Never Lose.) (3:54)
Let's Go Crazy single from Purple Rain, Warner Bros. Records (1984)

Let's Go Crazy

Warner Bros. Records

Released
18 July 1984
US Chart Peak
1
UK Chart Peak
7
Format
  1. Let's Go Crazy [Edit] (3:46)
  2. Erotic City [feat. Sheila E.] (3:53)
Let's Go Crazy [Maxi Single] single from Purple Rain, Warner Bros. Records (1984)

Let's Go Crazy [Maxi Single]

Warner Bros. Records

Released
29 August 1984
US Chart Peak
1
UK Chart Peak
7
Format
  1. Let’s Go Crazy [Special Dance Mix] (7:35)
  2. Erotic City (Make Love Not War Erotic City Come Alive) (7:24)
Purple Rain single from Purple Rain, Warner Bros. Records (1984)

Purple Rain

Warner Bros. Records

Released
26 September 1984
US Chart Peak
2
UK Chart Peak
6
Format
  1. Purple Rain [Edit] (4:02)
  2. God (3:59)
Purple Rain [Maxi Single] single from Purple Rain, Warner Bros. Records (1984)

Purple Rain [Maxi Single]

Warner Bros. Records

Released
26 November 1984
US Chart Peak
2
UK Chart Peak
6
Format
  1. Purple Rain (8:45)
  2. God (3:59)
I Would Die 4 U single from Purple Rain, Warner Bros. Records (1984)

I Would Die 4 U

Warner Bros. Records

Released
28 November 1984
US Chart Peak
8
UK Chart Peak
58
Format
  1. I Would Die 4 U (2:57)
  2. Another Lonely Christmas (4:51)
I Would Die 4 U [Maxi Single] single from Purple Rain, Warner Bros. Records (1984)

I Would Die 4 U [Maxi Single]

Warner Bros. Records

Released
19 December 1984
US Chart Peak
8
UK Chart Peak
58
Format
  1. I Would Die 4 U [Extended Version] (10:15)
  2. Another Lonely Christmas [Extended Version] (6:47)
Take Me With U single from Purple Rain, Warner Bros. Records (1985)

Take Me With U

Warner Bros. Records

Released
25 January 1985
US Chart Peak
25
UK Chart Peak
No Release
Format
  1. Take Me With U [duet with Apollonia] (3:42)
  2. Baby I'm A Star (2:56)

Supporting tour

Purple Rain Tour

Purple Rain Tour

1984/5

  • 98 shows from 4 November 1984 to 7 April 1985

Purple Rain – review

Purple Rain sounds like Prince’s greatest hits album, because that’s exactly what it is. Needing no introduction, it is, to put it bluntly, the template album for musical perfection. 13 times platinum and like it or not Purple Rain contains the greatest and best known work of the 80’s and the album which Prince will always be remembered for. To this day Prince still tries to emulate this level, and to be honest, he never will. Purple Rain contains some of the greatest music of all time and comes from an era when the media talked of the music rather than a tired obsession with Prince’s name changes. With songs like Let’s Go Crazy, Take Me With U, Computer Blue, Darling Nikki (yes the very song which gave birth to the Parental Advisory warning), When Doves Cry, well, actually, every track on this album, makes it the definitive album of a decade. Although I am not an old-school Prince fan, here one has to give in, and accept music simply does not come better than this. Purple Rain is and always will be the essence of Prince. Essential in any music lover’s collection.

Purple Rain

Related releases

Purple Rain Deluxe Edition
Purple Rain [movie]

Purple Rain [movie]

Warner Bros. Pictures (1984)

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