Posted in Album Reviews

Prince – 1999 (2CD Deluxe Edition) (2019)

Prince’s fifth album, 1999, was released in 1982 and was the first to have the band The Revolution play on it.  For many mainstream rock fans, this would be the first time they came across Prince and his brand of rock/funk/pop/soul.  A one-night stand is detailed on his first top ten hit, “Little Red Corvette”.  The sleek rocker has a great female vocal from Lisa Coleman whose brief vocal adds texture to the “ride it to the ground” lyric. While the original release of single “1999” stalled high in the charts, the ubiquitous new year’s eve track is one of Prince’s, and pop music’s, most popular songs. The infectious party anthem sees a shared vocal between Prince and other members of The Revolution who sing of bombs and destruction over the punchy drum track.

Upbeat third single “Delirious” has a squiggly keyboard line before the darker and harder beat of “Let’s Pretend We’re Married” appears.  The original album was a double vinyl release which allowed Prince to stretch out on funk tracks such as “D.M.S.R.”, the crisp beat of “Automatic”, and rock guitar of “Lady Cab Driver”.  For fans of pop music, the album 1999 is front loaded with the hits coming fast and furious.  However, for those wanting to explore further, the funk workouts at the end of the disc all ride a fabulous groove that rarely outstay their welcome.

The second disc on this release features various promo mixes and  B-sides.  Your love of it will depend on how much you want to listen to several versions of the album tracks with only minor differences from the originals.  It is a bonus to have the 7” versions of “1999” and “Little Red Corvette” that immediately jump into the track vs. the album versions.  Of the three B-sides, the soulful “How Come U Don’t Love Me Anymore” from the “1999” single is the pick.    

1999 – 10/10

Second disc – 8/10

Posted in Album Reviews

Prince and the Revolution- Purple Rain Deluxe (2017)

On a recent trip to Mexico, I wanted to listen to just one or two albums during the time spent away from home. One of the main ones was Prince and the Revolution’s mega selling Purple Rain in the two-disc anniversary edition from 2017. While sitting on the resort’s balcony every morning and looking up at the palm trees, Prince seemed like the perfect choice as the area reminded me of popular 80s TV show Miami Vice.  Originally released in 1984, Prince’s sixth album and first with The Revolution is the third highest selling soundtrack of all time, has sold 25 million albums around the world and is on the Library of Congress’ National Recording Registry list.  It is one of the most popular albums of all time both critically and commercially.

Three of Prince’s most recognizable songs are here.  Chills still go up the spine with the declaration at the beginning of album opener, “Let’s Go Crazy”.  Young kids throughout the world were introduced to slinky, sexy, club R+B in “When Doves Cry”.  Somehow one of the funkiest, grooviest tracks of the 80s has no bass but just percussion, synths, guitar and Prince. These two #1 songs are the sound of mid 80s rock and put Prince at the forefront of music along with Madonna, Bruce Springsteen, and Michael Jackson.

The third #1 from the album is the title track that clocks in at nearly nine minutes long.  The showstopping ballad is double the length of it’s four-minute single version but never feels overlong or heavy even though it is packed with emotions and a lengthy guitar solo. The violins sound faintly like “Nothing Compares 2U”, another Prince track that would be a smash for Sinead O’Connor in 1990.

The fourth single, “I Would Die 4 U” is a mid-tempo, minimal jam that sounds like a not too distant cousin to Madonna’s “Dress You Up” released that same year. Fifth single(!), “Take Me With U” is the poppiest track on the album.  A duet between Prince and Apolonia with added background vocals from Jill Jones makes this a full and rich vocal performance on top of a breezy melody.   “Computer Blue” is a slinky Minneapolis funk rocker and the much talked about “Darling Nikki” is the famous raunchy masturbation track… cutting out the lyrics, the verses are musically minimal with a great Prince vocal.  Purple Rain is a classic album that is worth all it’s praise and sales numbers.

The extra tracks on the second disc contain several highlights.  The repetitiveness of the eleven minute synth funk work out “Dance Electric” is hypnotic.  The second half of  “Our Destiney/Roadhouse Garden” sees the beat get turned up and morphs into the excellent “Roadhouse” side where Prince takes over the vocals.  Clocking in at under three minutes, “Velvet Kitty Cat” sounds like a demo made on a cheap casio keyboard but is one of the most immediate tracks here before moving on to one the more developed and lyrically interesting “Katrina’s Paper Dolls”.  

The disc ends with the instrumental piano feature “Father’s Song” that sounds similar to ambient tracks that Moby would make in the 90s. In a family household, not sure how many spins “Wonderful Ass” and especially the ten minute “We Can F***” will get.  Typically, we’re fine with two-disc version of deluxe editions to save a bit of dosh but with this one there is regret in not going with the not much more expensive expanded deluxe with a third disc of single versions + b-sides and live DVD.

Purple Rain – 10/10

Extra Disc – 8/10