Why is Prince’s Purple Rain on my best 1,000 albums ever list?
Dearly beloved: let’s go crazy. Let’s get nuts.
Some stats & info about Prince – Purple Rain
- What kind of musical stylings does this album represent? Rock Music, Dance Music, R&B
- Rolling Stone’s greatest 500 albums ranking – #8
- All Music’s rating – 5 out of 5 stars
- When was Purple Rain released? 1984
- My ranking, the one you’re reading right now – #685 out of 1,000
Prince’s Purple Rain on Spotify
What does the “best 1,000 albums ever” mean and why are you doing this?
Yeah, I know it’s audacious, a little crazy (okay, maybe a lot cray cray), bordering on criminal nerdery.
But here’s what it’s NOT: a definitive list of the Greatest Albums of All-Time. This is 100% my own personal super biased, incredibly subjective review of what my top 1,000 albums are, ranked in painstaking order over the course of doing research for nearly a year, Rob from High Fidelity style. Find out more about why I embarked on a best 1,000 albums ever project.
What does Prince’s Purple Rain mean to me? What does it make me feel? Why is it exciting or compelling?
Purple Rain is an album that I had a hard time knowing exactly what to do with. I mean, figuring out a best 1,000 albums ever list overall ain’t no Mardi Gras, as James Gandolfini’s character (a fantastic early role from the great Gandolfini that shows off both his menacing and quirky side) from True Romance might say, but some artists and albums proved trickier than others in terms of where to be placed on the list, what I want to say about it, and ultimately what it means to me.
As partial background, here’s what I wrote as part of Prince’s 1999 entry (#701 of best 1,000 albums ever):
I’ve found in my travels that people typically either revere Prince as an artist and musician or are more generally meh (with serious music fans tending to be more in the former camp). I’m a little bit more in between, as full disclosure, but I do think that some of his music is absolutely brilliant.
“In between” is as good a way to describe how I feel about Purple Rain as anything else. Songs like “Let’s Go Crazy” and “When Doves Cry” formed part of the soundtrack to my early childhood. I’ll date myself by stating that when I was a little kid, my brother, sister, and I would listen to Casey Kasem’s nationally syndicated radio show, which literally counted down the “top 40” songs of the week. And I have a vague memory of listening to the show the week that “When Doves Cry” hit number one.
Of those two huge hits, I’m much more partial to “Let’s Go Crazy.” I enjoy its wild yet tightly controlled energy and the meshing between danceable hard rock, new wave, and R&B stylings that only Prince can pull off in the way that he does. “When Doves Cry” doesn’t hold up as well for me. No doubt others will cry foul (cry havoc!) at such a statement but, as The Irishman taught us and something my step-father would say a lot when I was a kid: sometimes it is what it is.
It’s deeper cuts like “Baby I’m a Star” that I’ve come to appreciate and enjoy much more over the years. “Baby” has a weirdo ecstatic energy that ties to the style and vibe that I appreciate so much about 1999 and even more so from Dirty Mind, from 1980. In writing these words, it’s helping me to realize that I’m much bigger fan of Prince’s work (and sound) than stuff he did later.
And from that standpoint it makes sense that Purple Rain is a pivot point. It rocketed the artist that would eventually change his name to an unpronounceable symbol to mega ultra-superstardom and surely altered the kind of music that he would go on to produce to some large extent.