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The best decision Prince ever made,
This review is from: Around The World In A Day (Audio CD)
"Purple Rain" shook the world, selling millions and tearing up the charts. What would Prince do next? More of the same, surely?
Until "Purple Rain", and indeed since then, Prince albums have been something of a mixed bag, with genres and styles changing from track to track, and "ATWIAD" underlines this twice, in red pen. Opening with the almost world-music inspired title track, the album wrong-foots most who listen to it, no loud guitars to be heard, spiritual-sounding lyrics about "the little one" escorting you to "the ladder" baffling the casual listeners. The Beatles-like "Paisley Park" comes next, almost a hymn to his studio complex in Minneapolis, and one of my all-time favourites of his tracks. Then, the dark and initially jazzy piano ballad "Condition Of The Heart" chills you until kettledrums roll in and the track explodes into a crescendo, before collapsing in onto itself once again.
For some, "Raspberry Beret" comes as a relief at this point. After all of the experimentation and downright weirdness of the opening three tracks, a little bit of pop music lifts the spirits, even if its arrangement is hugely unconventional with all those descending lines and see-sawing strings. "Tambourine" is the album's only atonal moment, a percussive little thing which blusters in, makes a bit of a fuss, and then disappears in a chime of a triangle.
The album's sole rock moment opens the second half. "America" is a track which could almost have been included on "Purple Rain", such is its drive - for the full experience hunt down the 20-odd minute version which was released on 12" single at the time in the USA! "Pop Life" tells of the dark side of celebrity, another lush yet weird arrangement counterpointing the commercial aspects of the melody. "The Ladder" is the album's big rock ballad, where Prince sings once again of a mystical stairway to heaven, and then finally, in the sole embarrassing moment of the album, he has a conversation with God (in reality just Prince with his voice slowed down) during the bizarre coda of "Temptation".
By bewildering those who expected "Purple Rain 2", Prince showed us all just how creative and unconventional he truly is. Buy it, listen to it, and give it time - it is one of his best.