A psychadelic, oriental flute blows in the background, a guru like voice announces “Open your heart open your mind”, pyschadelic colours. What can be more different than Purple Rain? This is “Around the world in a day”. A song, an image and a repertoire of sounds that remind us that Prince is not just a rock God. Its there to filter out the wheat from the chaff in terms of fans. He challenges fans with a new sound and to some there is real disappointment. For me, there is wonder and amazement. Around the world in a day isn’t musically the best thing Prince has ever done, it’s also got a lot of flaws. In parts it seems rushed and hurried, but considering the world around Prince whilst in the midst of Purple Rain “fever”, this album is almost a miracle. The easiest thing in the world would have been for Prince to make Purple Rain part II. The whole world was waiting for it. But really, no album before Purple Rain sounded like Purple Rain so why should Around the World in a Day (ATWIAD)?
ATWIAD is almost two fingers up to the expectations of Purple Rain, although never completely losing the purple thing and still managing to be very funky in parts, this album is not very commercial (With the exception of the single Raspberry Beret) and is a more serious attempt at social commentary. It’s an album that demonstrates how immensely brilliant arrangement can transform average songs into masterpieces (listen to Condition of the Heart). I love ATWIAD not for what it is but what it could have been, it’s an album where the b-sides are as strong or even stronger than the album “She’s always in my hair” is always considered to be a fan favourite, yet is just a B-Side, as is “Another Lonely Christmas”. The fact that these brilliant songs were left out of ATWIAD shows either a real lack of judgement by Prince and Warner Brothers, or perhaps jus the very fact that Prince did not want ATWIAD to be too commercial.
The title track is all weirdness and fluff. It’s the first “Purple Rain” fans foray into Purple Rain part II. And the reaction was either disgust or curiosity. Mine was the latter. ATWIAD draws you in, and if you make it through, you dive further into the next classic “Paisley Park”. It’s hard not to like PP because it has a Beatlish aura to it. Almost trippy, but it essentially a social commentary with a childlike innocence to it, but a thunderous guitar rhythm and thumping drum beat. Condition of the Heart is (as above) a wonder of arrangement and classical style. It is completely heartfelt and interesting story but it gets you every time. The first listen is a real test for “new” fans, the piano introduction is wonderful and the tune is as catchy as anything he has done, the falsetto is haunting. Condition remains one of my favourite Prince songs ever – its originality, a brave but confident stride into “adulthood” for Prince.
more to come…