Like Beetlejuice’s The Handbook for the Living and the Dead, “this thing reads like stereo instructions”. But if the stereo instructions show Prince behind the scenes, it is worth spending a bit of time reading inconsequential details. Prince and the Purple Rain Era Sessions: 1983 and 1984 describes what Prince was doing, and especially recording, literally day-by-day through 1983 and 1984. It also includes some new and captivating tidbits. Prince was the producer and Svengali of Vanity 6, The Time, Apollonia 6 and Sheila E along with several groups that were not as successful. There were real tensions and competition between Prince and The Time before Purple Rain was even imagined. Prince foretold the rise of a Madonna-like star. Unfortunately and perhaps truthfully, Prince felt that the Purple Rain movie and album would “be hanging around my neck as long as I’m making music”.
I am a huge Prince fan. Jellybean Johnson, the drummer on the Purple Rain album, says “When ‘Little Red Corvette’ became a big pop smash, we started seeing a lot more white people” and that is also when I (and everyone I knew in 1983) started listening to Prince. Prince and the Purple Rain Era Sessions: 1983 and 1984 gives many details about Prince’s recording method and highlights his huge work ethic. It includes information about unreleased tracks that may be released later by his estate. It concludes with the author’s research methodology, which was meticulous and exhaustive. I’m sure that this book will be used by future scholars or biographers for their own books about Prince and the artistic process. The author teases at a sequel sometime in the future. Perhaps Prince: 1985 and 1986? I can’t wait. 4 stars!
Thanks to the publisher, Rowman & Littlefield, and Netgalley for an advanced review copy.