In honor of Prince reconciling with Warner Brothers on the eve of his Purple Rain extravaganza’s 30th Anniversary, I thought it might be good to make a little compilation of the videos of some of his best film-related tracks, available on FilmOn’s free VOD service. While it is hard to find ANY of Prince’s videos on the internet, these days, many of these were rarely seen in the US even when first released.
Let’s Go Crazy (1984): The opener to open all openers, this was the first song officially credited to ‘Prince and The Revolution.’ This video is made up of a collage of clips from all over the duration of Purple Rain, which unfortunately diffuses the charged, frenetic immediacy of Albert Magnoli’s opening sequence for the film, which is widely considered Prince’s ‘supernova’ moment, and a defining portrayal of performance in itself, certainly in the (coke-filled? But that’s not really fair) 80s.
Take Me With U (1985): This is more like it. While in Purple Rain the sequence featuring this song is fairly pedestrian (mostly depicting Prince and Apollonia’s motorcycle journey to Lake Minnetonka for the ‘purification’), this concert performance (in Houston, Jan 1985) is spectacular, with Prince and the Revolution stretching out with a new funky coda that showcases Prince and Wendy Melvion’s dance moves as well as a blistering, Hendrix-like Controversy-referencing solo from the main Purple One and even some subtle psychedelic superimposed images, and indication of his transition toward Around the World In A Day mode.
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I Would Die 4 U/Baby I’m A Star (1984): Ideally, these two should be watched in sequence, as in the finale of Purple Rain. Presented here in a Nov 1984 performance in Maryland, these clips reflect the presence and immediate influence of Sheila E. – in I Would it’s a funky extended intro that would make Pharrell and Daft Punk envious today, while Baby, already a house on fire, is given an additional bottom locomotive. Prince is in his Sly Stone mode here, an early highly entertaining homage.
Kiss (1986): A re-statement of intent, stripped-down visually and musically. Competition with Michael Jackson for the Kingship of Pop produced (with a detour via David Z and Mazarati) the song NME would rank #4 on their ‘150 Greatest Singles of all Time.’ ‘Kiss’ was added at the last minute to Parade, the soundtrack album to Under The Cherry Moon, Prince’s the follow-up film flop to Purple Rain, which would be the last album credited to ‘Prince & The Revolution’ (a mild success in the US, although the beginning of Prince’s superstardom in Europe, where the film and especially the album were much better received), although in this Rebecca Blake video only Prince, Wendy Melvoin (on acoustic guitar) and dancer Monique Mannen appear. A highly successful showcase for Prince’s ever-surprising dance moves and wacky humor, tasteful, a classic video.
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Batdance/Partyman (1989): these are linked more visually than sonically, big production pieces directed by Purple Rain director Albert Magnoli. Filmed in conjuction to Prince’s soundtrack album to Tim Burton’s Batman (1989), like that album they are more parallel works than directly connected. Prince certainly takes thing off into another direction with his ‘Gemini’ persona, a combination of himself, the Joker, and Batman that actually comes off more as a precursor to the ‘Two-Face’ Harvey Dent Batman character first played onscreen by Tommy Lee Jones in 1995’s Batman Forever. ‘Gemini’ appears first in Batdance, a disjointed mash-up of shots of an anime-style coiffed Prince ‘in-the-studio’ with proto-Lady Gaga-style choreography (having just watched Australian band Empire of the Sun in concert, it looks like they picked up some things here, too). It’s the Partyman video, however, where things get crazy. Taking a cue from his previous incendiary Girls & Boys video, with guest appearances including Candi Dulfer on sax and future New Power Generation drummer Michael B, Prince as ‘Gemini’ makes this much more entertaining scene than Jack Nicholson’s Joker-gallery-defacing sequence where the song was used in Burton’s film. Unfortunately this version edits out the notorious addition of a monkey who peels a banana labeled “PSYCHE,” a not-so-subtle dig at Michael Jackson’s buddy Bubbles.
Scandalous (1989): the appropriate finale for this program is even more stripped down than Kiss, just Prince in a devil-red jumpsuit working one of his most under-appreciated and apocalyptically-funky slow jams.
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