On June 23rd 2017, Warner Bros and NPG Records finally released the long-awaited remastered edition of Prince’s “Purple Rain.” It was released either as a double-disc package, with the main album accompanied by a bonus disc of previously unreleased material, or as a deluxe triple-disc set featuring the aforementioned discs, extended versions and radio edits, plus an official DVD of Prince & The Revolution’s live show recorded at Syracuse back in 1985, when Prince was still coming off of the massive success of this breakthrough album.
Vinyl junkies were also given an choice between either a standard black remastered LP, a picture disc and even several 12” reissues of some of the most iconic singles lifted from the album.
Being a huge fan of all things purple, THE DELUXE 4 DISC SET was most definitely purchased by this here amateur reviewer… although, it was quite a mission just trying to find said edition, as everywhere in Sydney’s CBD were not carrying it. The purchase was finally made elsewhere the following day.
Back in 2007, “Purple Rain” was reviewed on my old blog, which shall remain nameless…. so, with that in mind, here’s my review of DISC 2:
The Dance Electric: In 1985, Prince gave this song to his childhood friend and former bass player, Andre Cymone who had a hit with it on Columbia Records. Initially, Prince’s version didn’t really do anything for me, especially when they sound so vocally similar, not to mention the fact that I was listening to it through a set of earbuds. However, playing it through a proper stereo and headphones made me realise exactly how much it actually kicks ass. I mean it literally thumps for eleven minutes and thirty seconds!
There are some very slight lyrical changes. For instance, in the intro Prince says, “Good morning children,” as opposed to Andre’s intro, which says: “Good morning, people.” Andre’s version says: “Listen to the rhythm of your soul,” whereas Prince says: “Listen to the rhythm IN your soul,” although he seems to alternate between the two in his version.
Lyrically, this song is about loving your enemies, but since he also ended the B-Side of the “Purple Rain” single, “God,” with the words: “Wake up children, dance the dance electric,” he may’ve been going for a much more spiritual meaning for all we know. Or maybe there is a connection between the two songs that we still have yet to realise.
Love & Sex: Prince’s James Brown influence comes through on this tune, not only after he’s counted his band off, but also after he’s let out that classic Prince scream and shouted, “Hurt me!” Although he never officially released this song when he was still here on earth, you can still picture him performing this one live, kicking his legs over the microphone stand, doing the splits, busting all of those killer James Brown-styled moves all over the stage. This is without a doubt, that classic “Purple Rain” sound we all know and love.
The first verse begins with Prince asking, “When we both die and go to heaven, will you still desire me?” Wow. Even back in 1984, Prince was getting deep with his lyrics. Check out the way he sings that, too so much RAW PASSION in his voice.
Interestingly, the chorus makes a reference to “the upper room,” which he would later make another reference to in the song “Sex In The Summer” from his 3 CD set, “Emancipation,” released in late 1996.
Computer Blue (Hallway Speech Version): Hardcore Prince fans have been waiting a lifetime for this version to be released and at last it’s finally here! That opening guitar riff will make your jaw drop. No doubt. Although on the original album, it segues into the next song, “Darling Nikki.” This version is known as “the hallway speech” because Prince finds himself literally opening different doors that are marked with words like “FEAR” and “LUST” and with each door, he experiences those particular emotions.
Computers were still very much a new form of technology back in 1984 when this song was first released, but here they are being used as a metaphor: Wendy is telling Prince that women, or “computers” have emotions and that they are human, too.
In a way it’s a shame this full version was never featured on the original album back in ’84… then again, the robotic “poor, lonely computer” speech becomes a little annoying, if not corny to listen to after a while…. perhaps this is the reason why Prince decided to edit it down, other than it being too long!! That said, it’s still very cool to have this as an official release… even if it took them about 33 years!
Electric Intercourse: The first ballad on the set has all of those classic Prince elements, such as the high falsettos and of course it has an overall sexy vibe to it all. If you’ve ever played around with a drum machine, you’d know that you have to literally hit a few buttons in order to get those drum beats and hand-claps. You can definitely hear Prince doing that on this track. I’m no musician, but it certainly sounds like the beat is a little off in the very beginning. That’s not to say it’s a bad song, though. Musically, it sounds a lot closer to “The Beautiful Ones,” which is probably what it ended up getting replaced with when the album was finally released.
Our Destiny/Roadhouse Garden: Back in 1999, Prince was working on a supposedly “lost” Revolution album that was going to be called “Roadhouse Garden,” but it never saw the light of the day. He later said that he’d “put it on the back burner.” If what has been presented here is anything to go by, then it’s quite clear why he felt this way, as it sounds incredibly dated at this point in time. It’s not even Prince singing the first part of this song, it sounds like Lisa, although Jill Jones has come out and said that she sang backing vocals and wasn’t credited! Furthermore, the overall sound quality is most definitely lacking, as it literally sounds like an old cassette that’s been digitised. On the other hand, if that was all they had to work with, then unfortunately this is what you get. Perhaps if you look beyond the full-on eighties sound, you could argue that it’s not a bad tune for what it is…. in most cases, it’s kinda like… NEXT.
Possessed: Here comes that classic “Purple Rain” sound again…. come to think of it, this song immediately reminds me of “Sugar Walls,” the song he gave to Sheena Easton around the time of this album’s release. The beat’s a little more hyper here. He performed this one live with The Revolution in Syracuse all the way back in 1985, but now we finally get to hear the original studio version. Can I say GOT DAMN? There, I just said it. Even though he’s telling his woman that he’s “stone cold in love” with her, it’s essentially another one of those oversexed Prince songs. He’s just talking about being possessed by some kind of “demonic lust.” Nothing really abnormal, then. “Someone’s in my body, baby someone’s in my box!” That was definitely original.
Wonderful Ass: “U do not understand my quirky ways.” Says it all about Prince, doesn’t it? This is another one of those tunes that was in circulation for many years. It’s finally been released in crystal clear quality and now we can all understand the lyrics without having to strain our ears. One thing in particular that stands out is…. somebody whistling at the twenty minute mark. It sounds as though they’re trying to get somebody’s attention. Most interestingly, there’s a lyrical homage to Bob Dylan’s “Subterranean Blues,” which INXS also used in their song “Mediate” in 1987. It’s during this particular portion of the song that Prince clearly says the word “masturbate,” which is what got him into trouble around the same time, although that was nothing compared to what he was doing before or even after “Darling Nikki.”
Fans have speculated for many years that the inspiration for this song was the late Denise Matthews, then known simply as “Vanity.” Jill Jones later confirmed this on the internet after “Purple Rain” remastered was finally released.
Those thumping Linn drum patterns and iconic synth lines tell you that this song was recorded back in the early ‘80s when Prince was producing that classic Minneapolis Funk for The Time. Even Prince himself couldn’t resist slipping into Morris Day or “Jamie Starr” mode towards the end of this song, rasping: “U KNOW I like yo’ ass!” Brilliant.
Velvet Kitty Cat: “She’s man’s best friend, furry cuddly and fat.” Clearly, the “kitty cat” is a metaphor…for… we all know…. WHAT. Musically, this one reminds me a little more of what he was doing the year after “Purple Rain” with bands like The Family and what not. It even sounds like it was another one of those songs where he had a lollipop in his mouth when he was recording the lead vocals. In 2017, this song really shows its age, which is why I couldn’t even make it past the first few seconds when I first heard it. Yeah, you can see why Prince didn’t want to even use this one as a B-Side, it’s nothing really mind blowing or anything. It’s more a so-so type of song.
Katrina’s Paper Dolls: Another one of those songs that was allegedly inspired by “Vanity.” Her middle name is Katrina. Again, it made me want to press the skip button before I even made it to the end of the song, because it sounded SO EIGHTIES. Lord, have mercy. You could argue that some songs should’ve stayed in the vault…. I guess we’re all entitled to our own opinions…. this song is.. nothing much, really. But it’s a part of the Prince legacy, so… here it is. All right then, what’s next?
We Can Fuck: Essentially this is the same version that was released on “Graffiti Bridge” back in 1990. However, it features a couple of extra verses not heard in that version and you even get a glimpse at one of the original lyrics: “Sex between two people is all right,” followed by an implication that they don’t necessarily have to be in love in order to have sex. Eventually, that lyric became: “Sex between two people is all right. Fall in love with the world is what they got.”
This particular version is also much more stripped down and a hell of a lot longer, clocking in at a whopping ten minutes and fifteen seconds! Seeing as how I’m so used to the aforementioned “GB” version of this song, the first time I heard it, I almost caught myself singing: “I’m testing positive for the funk! I’ll gladly pee in anybody’s cup… and let yo’ cup overflow….” It’s just as well I controlled myself though, I was out in public!
Embarrassing moments aside, this is what it sounded like before Prince changed its title to “WE CAN FUNK,” edited it down to about five minutes and asked George Clinton to join him on it. Or rather, as George himself would say, this was what it sounded like before he “peed on it,” along with his gang funky, including, among others, Mr Joseph “Amp” Fiddler and the late, great Belita Woods.
The end of this song is quite reminiscent of the classic Prince ballad, “Do Me Baby,” in which he is seducing his lover and talking to her. Except this time, he’s telling her that they can “FUCK” right there on the spot.
Back in 1999, Prince was interviewed by Kurt Loder and was asked what type of music was in the vault. Prince replied, “You’d find the really, really erotic Prince.” Perhaps, this is an example of what he was talking about… unless of course, there’s even MORE erotic stuff than this!
Towards the end of Prince’s career, his former protege, Andy Allo recorded an acoustic version, which was then re-titled, “Oui Can Love.” No, seriously, it’s out there.
Father’s Song: So-called because it’s the short instrumental piano piece that’s played by “The Kid’s” father in “Purple Rain.” Prince used certain parts of this song for “Computer Blue,” but obviously he played them on guitar, which therefore gave it a much cooler type of sound. As much as I love Prince’s piano playing, this sounds more like what you would hear if you were being put on hold. Just as well it’s the last song, then. Yeah, I know it’s almost sacrilegious for me to be saying all of this, but it honestly does nothing for me at all.
Verdict: Gripes aside, it’s very cool to hear all of these unreleased Prince songs, whether they’re good or bad, or somewhere in the middle, they’re still all a huge piece of the Princely puzzle. For all we know, these songs never would’ve been released when Prince himself was still here. And (Uh-oh, one more gripe) even though there is a very slight error at the beginning of the 12” version of “Erotic City” on Disc 3, (End of gripe) the deluxe edition is most definitely a must buy for all of the massive Prince fans out there.