Picks and Pans Review: Purple Rain

updated 08/06/1984 AT 01:00 AM EDT

originally published 08/06/1984 AT 01:00 AM EDT


There are plenty of intriguing things about this album, the sound track from Prince's dramatic movie debut. It has clever synthesizer twists, some intricately layered harmonies and a moment or two of wit (especially in Baby I'm a Star). But the album hardly warrants the phenomenal sales figures it has already generated, and the same is true of the megaselling single When Doves Cry, an inane bit of whimsy that is neither ornithology nor music. Prince's compositions at times are about as melodic as the hum of an air conditioner and as rhythmically subtle as lead weights falling on an empty oil drum. In addition, taken out of its movie context, a lot of this material seems excessively mannered. (The lyric sheet enclosed with the LP is mannered to a fault—"to" is "2," "for" is "4," "you" is "U"—and all but illegibly printed.) There are echoes of everyone from the Beatles to Martin Denny, the old maestro of tropical jungle sounds, and Take Me With U, a duet with Apollonia Kotero, rouses some real passion. Prince, rapping, crooning and even just singing on occasion, doesn't embarrass himself. Too much of the album, though, attempts to make up in overproduced form what it lacks in content. (Warner Brothers)

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