Review: Purple Rain Deluxe (Expanded Edition) – Prince and the Revolution (1984/2017)

As if to signal some kind of religious significance, 33 years later to the day and 14 months after his death, Prince’s estate re-releases 1984’s seminal classic Purple Rain remastered and packaged with 26 extra cuts for you to feast on.  Stunning. An absolute must have.

I’ve previously waxed lyrical about this album, which catapulted the then establishing Prince into mega-stardom, and how it’s a landmark recording that doesn’t date. For something that was composed, constructed and recorded around a movie in 1982-1983 (and subsequently released a year later), it’s an absolute adrenaline injection into the music scene of the early 80s – a scene dominated by Michael Jackson. Knowing how prolific a musician Prince is, it’s little wonder this remaster features a healthy dose of unreleased tracks, fan favourites and remixes of classic songs.

Firstly, the remaster of the original album – Purple Rain Deluxe. These cuts were given the works back in 2015 under Prince’s meticulous supervision and the results speak for themselves. The tracks sound pristine, as if recorded with today’s technology, the arrangements enhanced but never adjusted, and the whole thing has a visceral, organic authenticity to it. When Doves Cry never sounded so bold, Purple Rain never ached as beautifully, the prophetic Computer Blue never felt so righteous, Baby, I’m A Star is a punching shot of energy and Let’s Go Crazy... well, yeah it surely still does. It’s a salute to one of the greatest pop albums ever recorded.

Onto the bonuses – the highly anticipated addition of Prince’s epic 11 minute fan fave The Dance Electric is a giddying triumph and, for those uninitiated, it gives you an insight into the creative well and exploratory nature of the man. (His enormous catalogue of genre-defying albums is testament to it, too). Unreleased cuts Electric Intercourse, Our Destiny/Roadhouse Garden, Wonderful Ass, Velvet Kitty Cat, Katrina’s Paper Dolls, We Can Fuck, and Father’s Song are drenched in the delicious synth pop that was a signature of the time, and a signature of Prince. Effortlessly listenable, unashamedly cheeky and bursting with ideas, these invoke a warm sentimentality for not only the artist himself but for the music of the time.

Onto the remixes/b sides – Let’s Go Crazy, Purple Rain, I Would Die 4 U, Baby, I’m A Star, When Doves Cry, and Take Me With U get 7″ edits included and the appearances of single B-Sides Erotic City, God, Another Lonely Christmas, and 17 Days (all of whom have been given a polish) are, as Prince would moniker it, a Sign O’ The Times of just how damn good this creative period was for pop music.

A must have album given the royal treatment, Purple Rain Deluxe belongs in everyone’s music collection. Timeless, formative, and iconic (as I sit here and play my air guitar along to Purple Rain in the background), it’s a celebration of a legendary album and a salute to an artist gone too soon.