Prince and Warner Bros. reuniting after 20 years? And just in time to celebrate the 30th anniversary of Purple Rain.
The record label announced today a new licensing deal with Minneapolis’ Rock and Roll Hall of Famer, the timing of which points to the approaching 30th anniversary of “Purple Rain.” A first-ever remastered deluxe-edition of the 1984 masterpiece will be the first product of the new/old partnership. More unreleased music from a variety of eras is also now promised.
I have my own “renegade” Purple Rain with extended 12-inch single version “Let’s Go Crazy,” the full-length 12-minute “Computer Blue,” and the b-sides “17 Days” and “Erotic City.” These extras are all hard to find, especially digitally. I’ve also believed a complete soundtrack Purple Rain should include both Time songs from the movie — “Jungle Love” and “The Bird” — along with Apollonia 6’s “Sex Shooter.” The version I have of the latter is a dub of a dub and sounds like it was taped over the telephone. It’s still funky, though.
I’d gladly purchase these songs again if remastered and re-released. Granted, they’re not for everyone — only the sexy people.
My favorite Prince era is the Parade period. The music is mature and challenging (“Under the Cherry Moon,” “Venus de Milo,” “Do U Lie?”) yet still funky (“New Position,” “Mountains,” “Kiss,” “Anotherloverholenyohead,” and well shut all ready, damn!). I also adore (wait, that’s next year) the slick zoot-suited outfits he wore at the time. So, this clip, which you can view here, is quite a treat. It’s Prince’s 28th birthday concert in Detroit on June 7, 1986.
Enjoy it while it lasts. The famously litigious Prince actively stalks the Internet and removes any of his videos or concert footage. A shame because his live performances are stunning theater. When I saw him most recently — almost 25 years after this show, he hadn’t appeared to have slowed down much if any. That’s clean living for you, I guess.
I just watched the seventh season finale of the new DOCTOR WHO series, which featured a cliffhanger ending that (obligatory spoiler warning) introduced John Hurt (Alien, Nineteen Eighty-Four) as the Doctor. At that point, my wife turned to me and said, “If this old guy is the new Doctor, you’re watching this show on your own from now on.”
So, John Hurt is the Doctor, except he’s not really the Doctor. I suppose the main character does change faces and personalities every few years, so it shouldn’t surprise me if he also appears to suffer from dissociative disorder. He sort of reminds me of Prince in the 1990s after he changed his name to an unpronounceable symbol and referred to his former self in the third person. Perhaps the finale would have played out better if it had actually featured Prince.
(PRINCE holds CLARA tight but suddenly reacts with horror when he glimpses a figure in the distance.)
CLARA: Who’s that?
PRINCE: Never mind. Let’s go back.
CLARA: But who is he?
PRINCE: He’s me. There’s only me here, that’s the point. Now let’s get back.
CLARA: But I never saw that one. I saw all of you. The Dirty Mind you, the Purple Rain you, the Parade you, the Sign o’ the Times you…
PRINCE: I said he was me. I never said he was Prince.
CLARA: I don’t understand.
DOCTOR: Look, my name, my real name, that is not the point. The name I chose is Prince. The name you choose, it’s like, it’s like a promise you make. He’s the one who broke the promise. (CLARA faints.)
PRINCE Clara? Clara? Clara! (PRINCE has a bodyguard pick up Clara in his arms.)
PRINCE: He is my secret.
NOT PRINCE: What I did, I did without choice.
PRINCE: I know.
NOT PRINCE: In the name of peace and sanity.
PRINCE: But not in the name of Prince! (PRINCE’s bodyguard carries Clara and Prince away. The figure turns around to introduce Jamie Foxx as O+>).
My first time in New Orleans, in December of 1995, I was more excited about browsing through the French Quarter’s independent record stores than in exploring Bourbon Street at its raunchiest. In those pre-Amazon/Napster days, I relished the opportunity to scour through the bins of stores in other towns. If your tastes went beyond Top 40 releases from the past five years, you weren’t interested in a Sam Goody or a Walmart. You kept your eyes out for a “wrecka stow.”
I first heard the term used in 1986’s Under the Cherry Moon starring Prince. Unless you’re Prince or me, you probably haven’t seen the film but there’s a scene in which he asks the very English Kristin Scott Thomas to say “wrecka stow.” Her Masterpiece Theater pronunciation of the term is hilarious.
My friends and I had passed by a promising indie shop on our way to our next drink (when visiting New Orleans, you are always on your way to your next drink). I offhandedly referred to the place as a “wrecka stow” and my friend Todd found it amusing. Later that day, he suggested we head back to the “wrecka stow.” By this point, I think he just enjoyed saying it. He did much better than Ms. Thomas.
Once inside, I went straight for the Prince section. Although Sam Goody had a decent supply of Purple Rain and 1999, his earlier material, especially his 7 and 12-inch singles, was harder to find. Prince had just released a Greatest Hits Collection that was comprehensive but mercilessly cut. It’s criminal to hear a three-and-a-half minute 1999 or I Could Never Take the Place of Your Man. I had all of the albums, but the extended mixes from the 12-inch-singles required patience and scavenging.
My big purchase that day was the 7-inch single for Prince’s Kiss. Todd humored me and listened to my explanation for why this was the best thing ever: Prince’s Greatest Hits CD had also come with a bonus disc of non-album B-Sides. For whatever reason, though, Love or Money, the B-Side to Kiss, was not included. I don’t even remember what it cost. Price was no object. Todd and I had a drink to celebrate my success.
This morning, while in the tub listening to Prince’s Crystal Ball, it occurred to me that because I only ever owned Love or Money on vinyl, it wasn’t on my iPod. I found it on iTunes and downloaded it while brushing my teeth. The 21-year-old me would be impressed but a part of me envies him and the joy of the hunt.
On November 25, 1981, my father was 33 and my mother was 29. That night, they did the coolest thing in their lives: They saw Prince in concert during his “Controversy” tour. This was back when he was still considered an R&B act and would play a relatively small venue like Greenville Memorial Auditorium, where I later graduated high school and where I once saw a rodeo (those were two separate events).
A month earlier, Prince opened for The Rolling Stones in Los Angeles. His “Rocky Horror” wardrobe and sexually androgynous lyrics was met with gay and racial slurs. The crowd was more receptive in Greenville.
I was 7 at the time so I was not at the concert. This means I cannot confirm my mother’s story that when the guy next to them offered her a joint, she declined.
Prince was theirs in 1981. He became mine in 1983 when I remember taping “Little Red Corvette” off the radio. Once that happened, they had to tone down their enthusiasm for Prince. They had to be parents and openly disapprove of “Darling Nikki” while silently jamming to “When Doves Cry.” Unlike Madonna and Annie, who they never got, my parents always dug Prince. My father still has his vinyl copy of the “Controversy” album, and the “Sign o’ the Times” double CD that’s in my collection is the one my parents bought in 1987. My first Christmas in New York, they sent me the just-released “Emancipation” CD.
There was a period in college when the three albums I listened to the most were “1999,” “Parade,” and “O->.” My mother, whose car stereo I’d hijack whenever I was back in Greenville, never complained. Once, after the 1,000th listening of “All the Critics Love U in New York,” she said, “He’s dirty, son. But he’s good.” That was high praise.
Greenville Memorial Auditorium was demolished in 1997. The BI-LO Center replaced it in 1998 and was the largest arena in South Carolina until 2002. Prince returned to Greenville to perform at the BI-LO Center in 2011 for his “Welcome 2 America” tour. If my mother were alive and my parents had gone to the show, they would have agreed he still has it.