Purple Rain is a song, an album, and a film--each one a commercial success and cultural milestone. Read more...
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Purple Rain is a song, an album, and a film--each one a commercial success and cultural milestone. How did this semi-autobiographical musical masterpiece that blurred R&B, pop, dance, and rock sounds come to alter the recording landscape and become an enduring touchstone for successive generations of fans?
Purple Rain is widely considered to be among the most important albums in music history and often named the best soundtrack of all time. It sold over a million copies in its first week and blasted to #1 on the charts, where it would remain for a full six months and eventually sell over 20 million copies worldwide. It spun off three huge hit singles, won Grammys and an Oscar, and took Prince from pop star to legend.
Coinciding with the thirtieth anniversary year of Purple Rain's release, acclaimed music journalist Alan Light takes a timely look at the making and incredible popularizing of this once seemingly impossible project. With impeccable research and in-depth interviews with people who witnessed Prince's audacious vision becoming a reality, Light reveals how a rising but not yet established artist from the Midwest was able not only to get Purple Rain made, but deliver on his promise to conquer the world.
Publishers Weekly® Reviews
- Reviewed in: Publishers Weekly, page .
- Review Date: 2014-11-10
- Reviewer: Staff
On Halloween in 1983, Prince and director Albert Magnoli began filming Purple Rain, building upon the strength of Prince’s 1983 album of the same title. As music journalist Light (The Holy and the Broken) points out in sometimes repetitious, sometimes page-turning, adulatory set of fan’s notes, the album continues—even 30 years after its release—to garner accolades as one of the best albums of all time; when the movie opened, it made back its cost of $7 million in the first weekend and went on to make nearly $70 million. Drawing on interviews with musicians and filmmakers involved in the making of the title song, the album, and the movie, Light provides not only a portrait of a musician compelled to share his musical vision, no matter the cost, but also a cultural history of the times in which the film and music debuted. As guitarist Wendy Malvoin tells Light about Prince’s motivations, “I realized he’s not in the business just strictly for the music, not matter what he tells you; he’s also in it to entertain.” Matt Fink reveals Prince’s desire for control: “If you voiced your opinion, it usually didn’t matter to Prince... he would just say, ‘Somebody’s got to be the boss, and I’m him, that’s it.’ ” Through conversations with contemporary musicians, Light traces the indelible influence of Prince’s Purple Rain. Adam Levine of Maroon 5 says, “It’s Hendrix, it’s James Brown, it’s outer space, it’s church, it’s sex, it’s heavy metal... it’s such a fearless record. The music is just completely limitless and unselfconscious about what it is.” Light’s admiring book follows closely on the release by Warner Brothers—Prince’s original label—of two new Prince albums: Art Official Age and Plectrumelectrum. (Dec.)