Rock Reads: Purple Rain: Music on Film by John Kenneth Muir

Reviewed by Anthony Kuzminski

I'm not sure if there has ever been a more inexplicable musician than Prince. His talent is incontestable and his concert performances are not of this Earth. That being said, due to his irritation with the state of the music industry, it appears he has gone on a permanent hiatus from recording and releasing new music. While this appears to be a loss to everyone, I've felt that his reluctance to revisit his past equally devastating. His music catalog is in great disrepair as his catalog has never been remastered. Further, he has not dug into his deep vaults for archive releases or participated in commentaries and documentaries for his films or documentaries about his music. While most artists prefer to leave the past behind them, it's a part of their soul and I personally find that when they get back in touch with that inner child, the flame of inspiration can be reignited. However, no matter what Prince does for the remainder of his career, people, will forever associate him with Purple Rain. Up until now, the film has largely been viewed as a product of its time but author John Kenneth Muir with his new book Purple Rain: Music on Film reminds us that Purple Rain is more than a late night guilty pleasure but one of the definitive musicals of the 20th Century.

John Kenneth Muir has written a few books on movies in recent years (including Spinal Tap, Kevin Smith and Horror Films of the 1970s) so he knows how to write, but could he crawl into the belly of the beast of a movie whose genesis was three decades back? The good news is even with the reluctant Prince offering no new insight or interviews, Muir successfully navigates the waters of the past pulling the story of the film into scope encompassing its whole history, its impact and several key bits of information I had never know before. By not having the star of the film and its key composer of the musical sequences available for insight should be a major road block, but Muir has proven himself to be an equipped journalist as he did his homework before investigating and getting several other key individuals on-the-record for the book.

What gives Purple Rain: Music on Film weight are the insights of producer (and Prince manager) Robert Cavallo and director Albert Magnoli. Both help frame the story of their struggles through the unexpected success and ultimately to their attempts to create a proper sequel. Muir's text is straight and to the point and he packs a lot of punch and unbelievable information in 132-pages. Most other writers would flesh the book out to a few hundred pages for the sake of their ego, but even if Muir had done this, the book wouldn't have been any better. Once you pick it up, you will probably read it in no more than two sittings and revel at the luster of the film. The music from the film has gone into the stratosphere as possibly the supreme record of the last three decades (it was number two on Rolling Stone's "100 Best Album's of the 80's" and number one on Entertainment Weekly's "Greatest Albums of the Last 25 Years" in 2008). The music is so timeless and faultless that the film is often forgotten about. But reading Muir's book we're reminded that Purple Rain was more than an album, but a cinematic event.

Some particularly interesting revelations Muir's book reveals include how the inspiration of the opening credit sequence (cued to "Let's Go Crazy") was inspired by the final montage in The Godfather. Prince's then protιgι Vanity was originally cast in the role that eventually went to Apollonia but she left for a role in Martin Scorsese's The Last Temptation of Christ which was cancelled and not filmed for another five years with another actress. Cavallo reveals Prince would only sign another five year contract with his management team if they secured him a film with a major studio which also had his name above the film title. Lastly, in something I don't think anyone could imagine the film studio wanted John Travolta for the role of The Kid. There are dozens of intriguing anecdotes like this throughout Muir's book that will make you smile and shake your head with disbelief. Purple Rain was the right movie at the right time where all of the key players fell into place something that would not happen for his next few features. This is where Muir's book goes into overtime and provides some invaluable stories of potential sequels that never came to light. He also covers his other forays into film including the box office failures of Under the Cherry Moon and Graffiti Bridge along with his concert film Sign 'o' the Times and his soundtrack work on 1989's Batman

Muir perfectly outline how the decisions for the story, casting and above all else, the editing by Magnoli and Ken Robinson engrained the images in our head of Prince for all time. Whether you were old enough to see the R-rated film in 1984 or were born in 1984, most people associate Prince with this album, his look and his music from this time. It's a reminder of the potency of the silver screen and how in the era of MTV, Prince took his career one step further. I firmly believe that acknowledging your past and embracing it often allows one to forge forward. As Muir hints at in the book, the ultimate resurrection for Prince could be another collaboration with director Albert Magnoli resulting in Purple Rain 2 taking the viewer into the world of The Kid thirty years later. Did he stay true to himself or lose himself in the process? Reunite with the Revolution and compose nine killer songs that are unforgettable. Purple Rain: Music on Film is a paperback, 132-pages and a little larger than a cell phone, however, don't let its size deter you from picking it up. Until his purple-holiness decides to go on film or put pen to paper, this may be the definitive tale of one of the most musically invigorating and memorable films of the 1980's.

Anthony Kuzminski is a Chicago based writer and Special Features Editor for the antiMusic Network. His daily writings can be read at The Screen Door. He can be contacted at tonyk AT antiMUSIC DOT com and can be followed on Twitter

Share this article

tell a friend about this article




News Reports

Latest Rock News Stories

• Led Zeppelin's Jimmy Page Reveals Solo Album and Live Return Plans (top story)

• Unreleased Van Halen Track Streaming Online (top story)

• Fear Factory Involved In Tour Bus Crash (top story)

• Lynyrd Skynyrd Cancel Live Dates Following Rossington Heart Attack (top story)

• Journey Reunite With Steve Smith, Announce Tour With Doobie Bros (top story)

• San Francisco Giants Announce 4th Annual Metallica Night (top story)

• Eagles Of Death Metal's Julian Dorio Releases Statement On Paris Attacks (top story)

• Scott Stapp Does Funny Review Of Creed Movie (top story)

• Papa Roach Pull Out Of Five Finger Death Punch Tour (top story)

• Saosin Kick Out Founding Member Justin Shekoski (top story)

• Slayer Bob Uses Slipknot and Disturbed For Latest Christmas Light Show (top story)

• Motley Crue's Tommy Lee Cured Of Hepatitis C Says Ex (top story)

• Ringo Starr Auctioning Beatles Rarities (top story)

• Whitesnake Release Video For Deep Purple Classic The Gypsy (top story)

• Wolfmother Announce 2016 North American Tour (top story)

• Foo Fighters and Fleetwood Mac Fans Among Victims Of Ticket Fraud (top story)

• David Bowie Avoided Rock N Roll On New Album Blackstar (top story)

• Def Leppard Explains Why New Bands Are Struggling (top story)

• Former Slayer Star Dave Lombardo Returns With Punk Band (top story)

• The Ritchie Blackmore Story DVD Extended Trailer Released (top story)

• Bumblefoot Release 'Don't Know Who To Pray To Anymore' Video (top story)

• The Cure Announce 2016 European Tour (top story)

• Fish Launches Album Reissue Campaign (top story)

• David Lee Roth Band Reunion Show Shut Down (top story)

• Motorhead's Phil Campbell Hospitalized (top story)

• The Word Alive Frontman Telle Smith Breaks Back Stagediving (top story)

• Final Black Sabbath Album Plans Shot Down By Geezer (top story)

• Bring Me the Horizon Top Active Rock Chart With Throne (top story)

• Paris Music Venues Seek Government Bailout In Wake Of Attacks (top story)

• Stone Sour Guitarist Explains Band's Cover Tunes (top story)

• Steve Smith Talks Reunion With Journey (top story)

• Black Star Riders Star Reveals Band's Pre-Concert Rituals (top story)

• Compressorhead Crowdfunding Lead Singer Construction (top story)

• Phil Anselmo's Illegals Guitarist Found Out About Firing Online (top story)

• The King Blues Reunite and Announce Tour With Enter Shikari (top story)

• Children Of Bodom Cancel Brussels Show Due To Terror Threat Level (top story)

• Jimmy Page's Daughter Scarlet Opens Guitar Icons Exhibition (top story)

• Tony MacAlpine 'Man In A Metal Cage' Live Video Released (top story)

• Emerson, Lake & Palmer Extensive Reissue Campaign Planned By BMG (top story)

• Sky Release 1983 Performance Video of 'Troika' (top story)

• Ghost Announce One-Off Show In London (top story)

• Corrosion Of Conformity Originally Wanted To Be Black Sabbath (top story)

• Bring Me The Horizon Release Tour Diary Video (top story)

• Fall Out Boy Want To Score A Movie (top story)

• Panic! At The Disco Lead Slam Dunk Festival Lineup (top story)

• Dillinger Escape Plan Classic Gets String Quartet Makeover (top story)

• Megadeth Stream New Song The Threat Is Real (top story)

• Black Sabbath May Release Extra Songs From 13 Sessions (top story)

• Sammy Hagar and The Circle Releasing DVD and 2 CD Set (top story)

• Eagles Of Death Metal Want to Be First Band To Play Paris Venue Reopen (top story)

• Geddy Lee Optimistic About Rush's Future (top story)

• Lamb Of God Expand North American Tour With Anthrax (top story)

• Corey Taylor Covers Radiohead's 'Creep' With Japanese Band SiM (top story)

• John Frusciante Giving Away Music Collections Online (top story)

• Metallica's Kirk Hammett Shrugs Off Popularity Polls (top story)

• Scout Acord Announces Departure From Issues (top story)

• Plain White T's Release American Nights Video (top story)

• Billy Gibbons, Walter Trout, Warren Haynes On Supersonic Blues Machine (top story)

• The Temperance Movement Release Video For Blur Cover (top story)

• Ritchie Blackmore's Rainbow A Dream Come True To David Keith (top story)

• Rush Release Lakeside Park And Anthem Live Video (top story)

• The Quireboys To Headline HRH AOR On The Road Tour (top story)

• Henry Rollins Has 'Muscly Beast' Fossil Named In His Honor (top story)

• Gus G Releases What Lies Below Video Featuring Amaranthe's Elize Ryd (top story)

• Rhys Marsh Streaming New Song Wondering Stars (top story)

• Blues Historian Mack McCormick Dead At 85 (top story)

• Jack J Hutchison Forthcoming Unplugged EP Streaming Online (top story)

• Martin Barre Will Never Abandon Jethro Tull's Music (top story)

Subscribe to Day in Rock Report by Email

Latest Day In Pop News Stories

• Adele Smashes Record For Biggest Album Sales Week With 25 (top story)

• Justin Bieber Cancels Stephen Colbert Appearance At Last Minute (top story)

• Christina Aguilera, Ed Sheeran Lead 'A Home For The Holidays' Lineup (top story)

• Nicki Minaj and Tyga Cast In 'Barbershop: The Next Cut' (top story)

• Meek Mill Reveals New Drake Diss Track 'Winnin' (top story)

• Lana Del Rey's Ex Was Blindsided By Break Up (top story)

• Pusha T Plans Cruel Summer Pt. 2, Mini Movie (top story)

• Sam Hunt Meets 9-Year-Old Fan Battling Cancer (top story)

• Adele's (top story)

• B.o.B Releases 'NASA' Mixtape (top story)

• UFC Star Holly Holm Didn't Know Who Beyonce Was (top story)

• Puff Daddy's Alternate Video For 'Workin' Features Big Sean (top story)

• Rebel Wilson Is Teaching Dakota Johnson How To Be Single (top story)

• Video Of Adele's Tonight Show Appearance Goes Online (top story)

• Nsync Reacts To Adele Breaking Their Sales Record (top story)

• Kylie Jenner Denies Tyga Breakup Rumors (top story)

• Wu-Tang's Secret Double Album Reportedly Sells For Millions (top story)

• Clint Black Announces Short Christmas Tour (top story)

• Kelsea Ballerini and Tori Kelly Perform 'Should've Been Us' (top story)

• Trey Songz Previews Two New Songs 'Everybody Say' and 'Walls' (top story)

• 2 Chainz Reveals Ugly Christmas Sweaters And 'BFF' Video (top story)

• Charli XCX Documentary 'The F Word and Me' Goes Online (top story)

• Rapper YG Looks Back At Nearly Fatal Shooting (top story)

• Granger Smith Talks New Single Backroad Song (top story)

More News

Contact Us - Privacy - antiMusic Email - Why we are antiMusic

Copyright© 1998 - 2015 Iconoclast Entertainment Group All rights reserved.

Please click here for legal restrictions and terms of use applicable to this site. Use of this site signifies your agreement to the terms of use.