Monday, April 14, 2008

Underappreciated ’80s: Prince, Around the World in a Day

Let’s face it: It’s hard to follow up one of history’s greatest albums. Many artists who have tried have produced good albums, but not another classic.

The Who’s classic Who’s Next wasn’t matched by the uneven Quadrophenia. Fleetwood Mac’s Tusk paled in comparison to the previous Rumours, Led Zeppelin recorded the overwhelming Physical Graffiti, then produced the underwhelming Presence.

So it’s no surprise that many of you won’t recall Prince’s follow-up to his massive 1984 commercial and critical success, Purple Rain.

You should.

Around the World in a Day (1985), while not the tour de force of its predecessor, continued Prince’s more commercial path and gave us a few forgotten classics of ’80s pop.

The album kicks off with the title track, in which His Royal Purpleness beckons us to enter his realm:

Open your heart, open your mind
A train is leaving all day
A wonderful trip through our time
And laughter is all U pay

Not a bad way to start.

From there, Prince takes the listener on a short but diverse voyage, blending rock and funk and soul and a bit of humor.

It’s no surprise that “Raspberry Beret,” which maintains the rock-soul vibe of Purple Rain, gave Prince his best selling single from the album. You may also remember the minor hit “Pop Life,” featuring a delayed vocal track in the left channel that creates the perfect echo effect to match the lyrics.

Showing his usual range, Prince matches screaming guitars and politics on “America” with subtlety and emotion on “Condition of the Heart.”

And it wouldn’t be Prince without a funky sex romp. “Tambourine” delivers, with a fast-moving melody and lyrics like “What’s in like inside my baby’s tamborine?”

This may require another post, something about the Underappreciated Female Genitalia Metaphors of the ’80s.


At April 14, 2008 9:32 AM, Anonymous rockandrollguru replied to my musings ...

While the list of classic albums followed by duds is considerable, the are many exceptions. For example, Pink Floyd followed Dark Side of the Moon with Wish You Were Here, Steely Dan followed Aja with Gaucho, Warren Zevon followed Excitable Boy with Bad Luck Streak in Dancing School and on and on.

Great blog, David!

At April 14, 2008 10:10 AM, Blogger bob_vinyl replied to my musings ...

Guru, shouldn't that say "Steely Dan followed soulless crap with more soulless crap?"

Around the World in a Day took a lot of chances too as Prince dabbled more in 60s psych-pop at a time that such things had only a small following among Paisly Underground fans. It's certainly not the hit machine that Purple Rain was, but while a song like "Temptation" might not get on the radio, it is very intense and perhaps as creative as anything he'd ever done.

At April 14, 2008 12:57 PM, Blogger Tai replied to my musings ...

But I don't like Prince! He's kinda creepy.

At April 14, 2008 1:11 PM, Blogger Barbara(aka Layla) replied to my musings ...

I was just discussing Prince with a friend this weekend. He's a musical genius but I think some people (Tai above me here) only see him for his interesting antics and write him off as a weirdo.

Good post Daveed! I look forward to your female genitalia observations.

At April 14, 2008 1:55 PM, Anonymous kim replied to my musings ...

Good call! Prince is kind of awesome. He's singing less about genitalia now though, since he's been born again or whatever.

At April 14, 2008 4:10 PM, Blogger David Amulet replied to my musings ...

R&RG: Thanks for coming by and for the kind words. I agree with your point about SOME groups--Floyd certainly counts (though I've never liked Gaucho as much as Aja). But in thinking about it, there sure are more steps down following classic albums than steps up or even sideways.

Bob: We'll disagree about the Dan. Soulless? Perhaps. Differing tastes aside, the band's music iss among the best produced fusion pop ever made. Not always my favorite to listen to, but I can admire the careful texturing and crafting.

Tai, Barbara: Creepy, yes. Musical genius, yes.

Kim: And he's more creepy now with this Christian awakening thing.

At April 15, 2008 7:56 AM, Anonymous whatigotsofar replied to my musings ...

When it comes to female genitalia metaphors, Prince is the king.

At April 15, 2008 11:43 AM, Blogger Stacy The Peanut Queen replied to my musings ...

I loved Prince..."Raspberry Beret" was one of the first songs I downloaded for free (back before they started arresting people for file sharing).

His "Darling Nikki" shocked the heck out of me the first time I heard it (that was off of "Purple Rain", I believe).

Me and two of my room mates would drive over to the beach every weekend (back in our young single days) and sing every song on "Purple Rain" at the top of our lungs.

Good times...;)

At April 15, 2008 7:35 PM, Blogger zen wizard replied to my musings ...

"Sugar Walls," by Sheena Easton, and pseudononymously produced by Prince, has some good metaphors-for-a-twat in it:

Blood races to your private spots
Temperatures rise inside my sugar walls
Come inside my sugar walls
Come spend the night inside my sugar walls
Heaven on earth inside my sugar walls...etc....

At April 16, 2008 6:04 AM, Blogger David Amulet replied to my musings ...

WIGSF: Was the king. I'm not sure who has replaced him on the throne, though.

PQ: Of course, some people changed the refrain in "Purple Rain" to "acid rain, acid rain." Some people ...

ZW: Indeed. And let's not even get started about "Little Red Corvette."

At April 16, 2008 12:39 PM, Blogger cube replied to my musings ...

They can't all be gems.

At April 16, 2008 1:55 PM, Anonymous Anonymous replied to my musings ...

Second acts have got to be killer. Intimidating at best, horrifying at worst.

Lisa B.

At April 18, 2008 1:44 AM, Blogger Phats replied to my musings ...

I am sorry I have nothing to add here, but I wanted to say

I definitely think we need a prediction when the game arrives.

At April 18, 2008 4:17 AM, Blogger BuffyICS replied to my musings ...

Just noticed your comment on the blog, so I'm sorry if this is ages late. I definitely want to go back to reviewing, but it definitely won't be happening while I'm in school. I have a break this summer so I'm sure I'll get back to it. The sad thing is I've only seen one movie since school started, which was 10,000 BC. HUGE mistake.

Been reading your blog though, still enjoying it as ever. The wisecracks bring a smile to my face during the seemingly never-ending times of stress!

At April 18, 2008 8:31 AM, Blogger David Amulet replied to my musings ...

Cube: Not always. But most of Prince's albums are.

Lisa: You're so anonymous lately with your comments. Travel practice, I assume?

Phats: We'll know a lot more about how the teams measure up after we see the early exhibition games in the fall.

Buffy: Welcome back--it's good to know you're still enjoying your visits here. I hope school is going well, even if it's very busy. Don't be a stranger!

At April 18, 2008 10:07 PM, Blogger :P fuzzbox replied to my musings ...

I don't know if it is the most underappreciated Female Genitalia Metaphor of the '80's, but I have to agree with Zen Wizard Sugar Walls has to be one of the best metaphor's.

At April 21, 2008 8:49 PM, Blogger The Phoenix replied to my musings ...

Prince also had "raspberry beret" on that album. Now that can't be just about a hat, right?

Like "little red corvette" was just about a car. Yeah right.

At April 22, 2008 6:19 AM, Blogger David Amulet replied to my musings ...

Fuzz: Good to see you back. I've tried to figure out the sex hook in "Manic Monday" also written by Prince, but I'm coming up short.

Phoenix: Risen from the ashes again! I'll have to check your site to see if you're resuming your posting.

At April 25, 2008 12:26 PM, Blogger Malcolm replied to my musings ...

There used to be an album rock station in Flint that would play a brand new album in its entirety at around midnight. I remember taping "Around the World In A Day". That had some pretty good jams on it. My favortite tunes on the album were "Paisley Park", "America", and "The Ladder".

Like you said, I think that many people wrote off "Around the World In A Day" because it would've been hard to top "Purple Rain". I don't feel that he necessarily tried to and that was a smart move. To me, that was one of Michael Jackson's creative downfalls: he tried to top "Thriller".

At April 28, 2008 6:08 AM, Blogger David Amulet replied to my musings ...

Malcolm: I love stations that do that. It didn't happen all the time, but I did love listening to new albums all the way through before buying them.

When artists try to top massive success, they do sometimes succeed commercially, but fans don't always appreciate it. Def Leppard followed Pyromania with Hysteria and Metallica broke huge with the so-called Black Album, but many fans of both saw the two new albums as sell-outs.

At April 29, 2008 3:59 AM, Anonymous Anonymous replied to my musings ...

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