You can learn a lot about the person who previously owned a used record just by listening to it. In fact, you can learn a lot before that even happens—whether they’re the type to write their name on personal property, whether they take good care of things, whether they’d actually sell the damn thing in the first place, etc. (And I, for one, want to know why anybody would sell Purple Rain, especially an early pressing of it.) In the case of my copy of Prince’s Purple Rain, bought used at Record City in 2012, I learned just what kind of listener the previous owner was. Short answer: They liked the hits!
I’m the kind of listener who has such a deep craving for music that I could never limit myself to just the hits (though some bands only have good singles and the rest are garbage, but that’s another story). And frankly, Purple Rain is 100 percent hits. Every track is amazing. Every. Single. Track.
My copy, however, is crackly and noisy at the beginning of two tracks: “When Doves Cry” and “Let’s Go Crazy.” These are, incidentally, the first tracks on each side, so it could just be a matter of long-term needle dropping (maybe a little carelessly) but my instincts tell me that whoever had this record was going back to these two jams. And I can’t say I blame them. But then again, the title track, “Take Me With U,” “I Would Die 4 U,” “Computer Blue,” “The Beautiful Ones”…. I’m just listing every song at this point.
Purple Rain is one of those albums, like Rumours, where you not only know and love every track, but seemingly everyone you know has a personal connection. I genuinely don’t know anyone who doesn’t like Prince. I don’t think you’re allowed to not like Prince. Last year, after he died, many of my Treble colleagues shared their Prince stories and the common theme seemed to be that he was as ubiquitous to them as he was in my own life. His music, anyway. I never met the man. Though everyone who has definitely has a story about it.
For me, I only have stories about going to see a midnight showing of Purple Rain at the Ken Cinema, or that the album was released on my wife’s second birthday, or that it was also released on my friend Alex’s actual date of birth. Or when my wife and I and several of our friends and my brother and her sister all did the eyeball-gun-four-point hand dance to “I Would Die 4 U” at our wedding. (That looks confusing but just try to convey the title of the song to someone else with hand gestures and then it makes more sense.)
Purple Rain belongs to everyone, even those who just want the hits, and that’s fine. Though I’ve given this record a good home, where I enjoy every moment. And those few crackles are a minor hindrance to what’s overall a pretty stellar sounding record. Though there is one extra bonus to buying this particular record:
Does yours come with a badass poster of The Revolution? If not, you missed out.
Sound Quality: Good (beginning of each side); Great (everything else)