Monday, October 29, 2007

Reign of the Rain

The editors of Vanity Fair magazine created a list of the top 50 movie soundtracks of all time. Looking at the Top 10 from bottom to top, they had The Big Chill, American Graffiti, Saturday Night Fever, Trainspotting, Superfly, The Graduate, Pulp Fiction, The Harder They Come, A Hard Day's Night and in number one position: Purple Rain. The editors describe Prince's masterpiece as "a flawless combination of funk, R&B, pop, metal and even psychedelia into a sound that defined the '80s".

Now, I'm certainly not going to disagree with that choice for number one. I'm a huge fan of Purple Rain. I owned it on vinyl and then again on CD. I had the movie poster adorning my walls for much of my college years. I owned the movie on VHS and again on DVD. I've easily seen it a couple dozen times. Sure, the acting in it is a little poor at times. But there are some shining moments. There is no denying the chemistry between Prince and Apollonia, and the comedy stylings of Morris Day and Jerome Benton were also key. I would have liked for the rest of the Revolution (Wendy, Lisa, Dr. Fink, etc.) to have a bit more meat in the film besides a few lines here and there, but that's okay.

What really worked for the film was the slick, music-video stylings of the various performance numbers. In fact, the whole album is properly showcased in the film with full numbers along with a couple killer performances from the Time, Apollonia 6 and other Minneapolis bands from the early 80's era. That's really when the movie rocks literally.

And, back to the soundtrack which is all tunes by Prince and the Revolution, the songs are a very solid combination when put together. The music has some variety - a little experimenting here and there by Prince to keep the audience totally interested. From the opening bounces of "Let's Go Crazy" through the final lighter-waving "Purple Rain", this is an album that delivers the goods through and through. Sure, it was one of the records that set Tipper Gore and her PMRC group a flutter about ratings being needed for music (nothing more amusing than hearing Tipper recite the lyrics to "Darling Nikki"), but that's just a total other angle of why this album has a place in musical history.

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