Purple Rain is Prince's sixth studio album and the soundtrack album to the 1984 film "Purple Rain" (which also starred Prince).
The album was released on June 25, 1984 by Warner Bros. Records and is the second album to feature Prince's backing band, The Revolution.
To date, it has sold over 22 million copies worldwide which became the 6th best-selling soundtrack album of all time.
Prince wrote all of the songs on the album, some with the input of fellow band members.
The songs "I Would Die 4 U", "Baby I'm a Star" and "Purple Rain" were recorded live from a show on August 3, 1983, at the First Avenue club in Minneapolis, Minnesota with overdubs and edits added later.
This marked the first time Prince included live recordings on any release. The show was a benefit concert for the Minnesota Dance Theater and featured the first appearance of guitarist Wendy Melvoin in Prince's band, The Revolution.
The song "Take Me with U" was intended for the Apollonia 6 album (a full band recording with the Revolution and Jill Jones on backing vocals), but Prince pulled it for his own album.
"Computer Blue" was a full band studio recording as well with various cuts some that are at least 14min long.
The songs "The Beautiful Ones", "Darling Nikki" and "When Doves Cry" are all Prince recordings.
"Purple Rain" was the first Prince album recorded with and officially credited to his backing group The Revolution. The resulting album was musically denser than Prince's previous one-man albums, emphasizing full band performances, and multiple layers of guitars, keyboards, icy electronic synthesizer effects, drum machines, and other instruments.
Musically, the album remained grounded in the R&B elements of Prince's previous work while demonstrating a more pronounced rock feel in its grooves and emphasis on guitar showmanship.
As a soundtrack record, much of the music had a grandiose, synthesized & even (by some evaluations) a psychedelic sheen to the production and performances.
The music on "Purple Rain" is generally regarded as the most pop-oriented of Prince's career, though a number of elements point towards the more experimental records Prince would release after Purple Rain.
As with many massive crossover albums, Purple Rain's consolidation of a myriad of styles, from pop rock to R&B to dance, is generally acknowledged to account in part for its enormous popularity.
In addition to the record's breakthrough sales, music critics noted the innovative and experimental aspects of the soundtrack's music, most famously on the spare, bass-less "When Doves Cry".
Other aspects of the music, especially its synthesis of electronic elements with organic instrumentation and full-band performances (some, as noted above, recorded live) along with its landmark consolidation of rock and R&B, were identified by critics as distinguishing, even experimental factors.
Stephen Erlewine of AllMusic writes that the album finds Prince "consolidating his funk and R&B roots while moving boldly into pop, rock, and heavy metal" as well as "push[ing] heavily into psychedelia" under the influence of the Revolution.
Erlewine identifies the record's nine songs as "uncompromising...forays into pop" and "stylistic experiments", echoing general sentiment that "Purple Rain"'s music represented Prince at his most popular without forsaking his experimental bent.
"Take Me with U" was written for the Apollonia 6 album, but it was later enlisted for "Purple Rain."
The inclusion of that song necessitated cuts to the suite-like "Computer Blue" (the full version of which did not earn an official release) although a portion of the second section can be heard in the "Purple Rain" film in a sequence where Prince walks in on the men of The Revolution rehearsing.
The risqué lyrics of "Darling Nikki" contributed to the use of Parental Advisory stickers and imprints on album covers that were the record label's answer to complaints from Tipper Gore and the Parents Music Resource Center (or the PMRC).
According to Jon Bon Jovi, "There's every emotion from the ballad to the rocker. All the influences were evident, from Hendrix to Chic."
- Prince – lead vocals and various instruments
- Wendy Melvoin – guitar and vocals (1, 2, 4, 7, 8, 9)
- Lisa Coleman – keyboards and vocals (1, 2, 4, 7, 8, 9)
- Matt Fink – keyboards (1, 2, 7, 8, 9)
- Brown Mark – bass (1, 2, 7, 8, 9)
- Bobby Z. – drums and percussion (1, 2, 7, 8, 9)
- Novi Novog – violin and viola (2, 8, 9)
- David Coleman – cello (2, 8, 9)
- Suzie Katayama – cello (2, 8, 9)
- Apollonia – co-lead vocals (2)
- Jill Jones – background vocals (2)
"Purple Rain" sold 13 million units in the United States, including 1.5 million in its debut week, earning a Diamond Award from the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA).
According to Billboard magazine, the album spent 24 consecutive weeks at #1 on the Billboard albums chart (August 4, 1984 to January 18, 1985), becoming one of the top soundtracks ever.
"Purple Rain" traded the #1 album chart position with Bruce Springsteen's "Born in the U.S.A." twice, during 1984 and 1985.
The album has sold more than 20 million copies worldwide and further established Prince as a figurehead for pop music of the 1980s.
It has sold 69,000 equivalent copies (62,000 in pure album sales) in the week following Prince's death in 2016 which allowed the album to re-enter the Billboard 200 at #2.
The singles from the album became pop hits worldwide, with Prince scoring four US Top 10 singles from the album.
Of them, "When Doves Cry" and "Let's Go Crazy" reached #1, "Purple Rain" reached #2 and "I Would Die 4 U" reached #8.
The fifth and final single "Take Me with U" reached #25, but became a top 10 hit in the United Kingdom, meaning all Purple Rain singles became worldwide hits.
"Purple Rain" is regularly ranked among the best albums in music history and is widely regarded as Prince's magnum opus.
Time magazine ranked it the 15th greatest album of all time in 1993 and it placed at #18 on VH1's "Greatest Rock and Roll Albums of All Time" countdown.
Rolling Stone magazine ranked it the second-best album of the 1980s and 76th on their list of the 500 Greatest Albums of All Time.
In 2007, the editors of "Vanity Fair" labeled "Purple Rain" the best soundtrack of all time and Tempo magazine named it the greatest album of the 1980s.
The 1,000th issue of "Entertainment Weekly" (dated July 4, 2008) listed it at #1 on their list of the top 100 best albums of the past 25 years.
In 2013, the magazine also listed the album at #2 on their list of the 100 Greatest Albums ever.
In 2012, Slant Magazine listed the album at #2 on its list of "Best Albums of the 1980s" behind only Michael Jackson's "Thriller" album.
During that same year, the album was added to the Library of Congress's National Recording Registry list of sound recordings that "are culturally, historically, or aesthetically important".
Prince won two Grammy Awards in 1985 for "Purple Rain" for "Best Rock Vocal Performance by a Duo or Group" and "Best Album of Original Score Written for a Motion Picture or TV Special" & the album was nominated for "Album of the Year."
He won a third Grammy that year for "Best R&B Song" as the songwriter for Chaka Khan's cover version of "I Feel for You".
In 1985, "Purple Rain" also won an Oscar award for "Best Original Song Score."