Speaking exclusively to PopMatters, longtime Prince manager Alan Leeds and Revolution keyboardist Matt Fink speak candidly about their experiences recording, filming, and making Purple Rain, and what it was truly like being inside the Revolution.
Harold Bloom's The Anxiety of Influence notes how that we often attribute artistic success to being able to reconstruct our influences to create something unique, yet, as we all know, it's much more complex than that. Analyzing similar conceptual ground covered by the Police and Michael Jackson prior to Purple Rain, James Fleming dissects Prince's reaction to these other artists landmark songs, and how he was able to manifest these other pop monoliths into his own, reactionary style.
Purple Rain showed "The Kid" and Morris Day fighting for control of the same club in Minneapolis, with artists like Dez Dickerson and Apollonia 6 trying to get their own share of stage time as well. The film perpetuated the notion of "the Minneapolis sound", synth-based funk workouts that featured artists like Vanity 6, The Family, The Time, and several more -- the irony, of course, being that all of their songs were written, performed, and produced by Prince.
In both Purple Rain and Graffiti Bridge, "The Kid" is pitted against Morris Day in a battle for artistic and commercial supremacy in the Minneapolis club scene. Lana Cooper digs deeper than that, though, showing that the characters are not too dissimilar, examining the psychological implications of both leads actions in these films, rife with business-minded headgames and personal attacks through pop music.
Bill Gibron was a true-blooded punk-rocker, him and a group of friends scoring gigs at the WFSU radio station and blowing the minds of the squares who didn't know their Sex Pistols from their U2. Yet somehow, the music of a small soul artist from Minneapolis wound up not only changing their lives, but wound up being championed by them as well, climaxing in a fiery performance during the 1999 tour, when, in two swift hours, racial divides were completely eradicated by the all-knowing power of modern funk.
Prince's films struggled with several issues, yet the most prominent theme with most of his work was walking that line between credibility and commercialism, turning away from greed in order to embrace his inner artist (which, in Purple Rain's case, is all the more ironic, given that it made him a commercial blockbuster).
Some people say that Purple Rain cemented Prince's image because of its music. Christel Loar argues it was that ruffled white shirt. In a personal tale, Loar shows us just how the influential fashion of Purple Rain defined herself and her friends, and what lessons a piece of big mainstream entertainment can teach us all.
When Jason Buel was in a rock-band called the Royals, he played some shows to metalheads and was met with indifference. When the band broke out a cover of "Computer Blue", however, everyone noticed. Here, Buel takes us on a journey into what precisely made Prince a figure that could transcend genres so easily, and why his songs are just so ripe for covering.