June 23, 2017. The Purple Rain Deluxe version is released by the Prince Estate. Disc 1 is the remastered version of the soundtrack. Disc 2 is vault material. Disc 3 is remixes, edits, and B-sides. However, when you’re streaming the album they play one after the other. The frist time I listened to the Deluxe edition and heard the familiar strings and crowd noise fade away in the final seconds of “Purple Rain” it occurred to me that after 32 years of hearing that album, it wasn’t the last song. Something was coming next. And then it hit.
When “The Dance Electric” starts it’s already in full stride. It’s abrupt. You’re joining a song already in progress. For me, this was my first time hearing the song and it’s mesmerizing. I loved it immediately. Another song so unique that only Prince could’ve pulled this song off. I did some internet research. Calling “The Dance Electric” a “vault” track was not entirely accurate. It would’ve been a perfect fit on the Originals album because I could’ve been listening to this song for the past 32 years. Prince’s close friend and former roommate and bandmate Andre Cymone released “The Dance Electric” in 1985.
Andre Anderson (stage name Andre Cymone) went to high school with Prince in Minneapolis. When Prince was kicked out of the house by his father and nowhere to go, he ended up moving in with Andre’s family. They played together in the band Grand Central. When Prince got a record deal Cymone joined his touring band and stayed with him until he was replaced by Mark Brown (a.k.a. Brownmark) in 1981. Cymone released a few albums on his own in the early-1980’s. In 1985 the lead single for his third album, A.C., was “The Dance Electric.” It hit #10 on the Billboard Black Singles Chart and #8 on the Billboard Hot Dance Chart. All I know is, if they were playing it on the radio in Green Bay I never heard it. I didn’t hear this song or even know of its existence until 2017.
As we found out with the release of the Purple Rain Deluxe version, Prince completely wrote and recorded “The Dance Electric” himself. The day after Prince made the original recording he added some background vocals courtesy of Wendy Melvoin, Lisa Coleman, and Jill Jones. Their voices do not appear on Prince’s version, but they do on Andre Cymone’s. Prince sings the harmony on his version. The other differences between the two are subtle. The drum programming has a flange effect on the A.C. version that’s not present on Prince’s. The rhythm guitar is more prevalent on the A.C. version. If any other differences exist they’re barely noticeable.
Actually, that’s not true. There’s one massive difference: Andre Cymone’s “long version” is 5:31. There’s an extended version that’s 10:24, but strangely it’s an instrumental and could be the backing track that Prince gave to Cymone so he could record his own vocals. The Prince version is 11:29. For me, this is another incredibly long Prince song that could go 30 minutes for all I care. I love every second of it. “The Dance Electric” flies by. As I’m typing this I have it playing in the background and my reaction is always, “It’s over already?” It never feels like 11:29. It has a driving beat and an urgent, almost ominous feel to it. It’s cold and futuristic. Prince once again takes on the topic of dancing in the face of doom. Call it “1999 Part 2” but with a darker, more industrial sound. Here’s a sample of the lyrics:
Look – U’re livin’ in Babylon
Makin’, but not feelin’ love at all
When your youth is gone, when it comes 2 dawn
A light of truth will shine and U will fallThat’s why U got 2 dance the Dance Electric
Listen 2 the rhythm of your soul
U got 2 dance the Dance Electric
We better love each other, it’s almost time 2 go
Our man Prince was certainly making sure we had not just one song, but an entire soundtrack, for the apocalypse. While “The Dance Electric” is not “1999” it’s still an incredibly catchy dance song. I can’t help but wonder how this song could’ve performed on the charts if Prince’s name had been on the single in 1985. I think this would’ve been another hit. It’s one of my favorite of the posthumous Prince vault releases so far.