Album of the Day: Prince (8/6/84)

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Busting genres with a blend of smooth R&B, Northern soul, synth-funk, rock ‘n roll and dance-pop, Prince created a legend in the late 70s and early 80s on the level of Madonna and Michael Jackson. Although the latter two outsold him, neither had the all-around creative skills that Prince displayed on his first five albums. A musical prodigy in his teens, he played every instrument on the albums, self-produced all five, wrote all but two of the 45 tracks, sang lead on every one, and danced to music videos and movies he produced himself. His sixth LP, Purple Rain (released on August 6, 1984 and the soundtrack to the movie of the same name) brought it all together and earned Prince the mega-stardom he’d been cultivating since he broke out of the Minneapolis club scene in with 1978’s For You. There’s much to hear on Purple Rain, including the #1 hits “When Dove’s Cry,” “Let’s Go Crazy” and the title track. The album itself spent nearly 6 months atop the Billboard charts and is ranked #72 on the Rolling Stone all-time list of top 500 albums. And those lewd references to masturbation on “Darling Nikki”?  While on par with the unabashedly sexually explicit lyrics on his previous albums, they caught Tipper Gore’s ear and she tagged Prince with inspiring her to mount the campaign that ultimately led to the offensive material labels on music packaging in the U.S. from that point forth. Purple Rain is on Amazon and iTunes, and Prince is in Dr. Rock’s Playlist Vault.

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