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.
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.