Robert Christgau: Dean of American Rock Critics

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Consumer Guide Album

Prince and the Revolution: Purple Rain [Paisley Park, 1984]
Like the cocky high speed of the brazenly redundant "Baby I'm a Star," the demurely complaisant "Thank you" that answers "You're sheer perfection" signals an artist in full formal flower, and he's got something to say. Maybe even a structure: the frantic self-indulgence of "Let's Go Crazy" gives way to a bitter on-again-off-again affair that climaxes in the loving resignation of the title song--from in-this-life-you're-on-your-own to in-this-life-heaven-is-other-people (and-you're-still-on-your-own). But insofar as his messages are the same old outrageous ones, they've lost steam: "1999" is a more irresistible dance lesson for the edge of the apocalypse than "Let's Go Crazy," "Head" and "Jack U Off" more salacious than the groundout "Darling Nikki." He may have gained maturity, but like many grown-ups before him, he gets a little blocked making rebel-rock out of it. A-