8. Prince and the Revolution - Purple Rain
“I think Purple Rain is the most avant-garde, ‘purple’ thing I’ve ever done,” Prince told Ebony in 1986. He was still a rising star with only a couple of hits when he got the audacious idea to make a movie based on his life, and make his next LP the movie’s soundtrack. When it was released in 1984, he became the first artist to have the Number One song, album, and movie in North America.
But Purple Rain was so much more than a huge movie soundtrack: It was a testament to Prince’s dream of creating a utopian Top 40, a place where funk, psychedelia, heavy-metal shredding, huge ballads, and daring experimentalism could coexist. “Listening to Purple Rain now, it’s kind of like a Beatles album,” keyboardist Matt Fink of the Revolution told Rolling Stone shortly after Prince’s death in 2016. “Every song is just so brilliant in its own way — all so unique and different.”
It’s an incredible balance of contradicting impulses — from the pornographic “Darling Nikki” to the sparkling innocence of “Take Me With You.” When Purple Rain director Albert Magnoli asked for a good song to back a montage sequence, Prince came in the next day with “When Doves Cry,” a stark, eccentric-sounding brokenhearted song that became his first Number One single.
The title track was one of several songs recorded live at his hometown club, First Avenue, in Minneapolis (strings and overdubs were added later in the studio). It was inspired by Bob Seger, of all people — when Prince was touring behind 1999 [see No. 130] in 1983, Seger was playing many of the same markets. Prince didn’t understand the Midwestern rocker’s appeal, but decided to try a ballad in the Seger mode — the result may be the greatest rock ballad of all time. - RollingStone.com