“Purple Music” is the perfect song for this moment. With the release of Sign O’ the Times Super Deluxe Edition only days away, “Purple Music” is a reminder of the vault greatness that’s about to bless my turntable. The last massive release of vault music we got from the Prince Estate came in November of 2019 with the 1999 Super Deluxe Edition. One of the best tracks in that collection was “Purple Music.”
For starters, that’s a dope name for a track. Prince decided at some point that he was going to own an entire color, and then he actually did it. Based on the title of the song, I’m led to believe this is what the color purple sounds like. “Purple Music” was recorded on May 22, 1982. It’s funk track on speed. The guitar and bass work are sparse, but effective. The drum programming is simple but shows its age and suffers from overuse of the hand clap sound effect.
The song clocks in at 10:58, which isn’t unusual for Prince. I normally happily welcome Prince’s extended jams, but “Purple Music” is the rare long Prince song that might actually benefit from some editing. Unlike some of his other extended length tracks like the Hallway Speech version of “Computer Blue” or the “Make Love Not War Erotic City Come Alive” version of “Erotic City” this song kind of loses me after a few minutes. Nothing beyond the 4-5 minute mark feels necessary. Maybe the insane tempo of the song makes it exhausting after a few minutes. The schizophrenic feel of the song is damn near seizure-inducing at times. Maybe I can only hear Prince sing the lyrics, “Don’t need no reefer. Don’t need cocaine. Purple music does the same to my brain and I’m high.”
I’m nit picking, however. “Purple Music” is the kind of song I hear now and I can’t believe it wasn’t a hit for him in the early-80’s. Maybe he had too many songs that have a similar uptempo new age funk vibe and decided to shelf it. “Purple Music” has a similar feel to “Lady Cab Driver” and “All the Critics Love You in New York” from the 1999 album. I just can’t believe he couldn’t find a B-side to showcase “Purple Music.” It deserved a better fate than 37 years in the vault. The privilege to hear more of Prince’s music from his prime is never taken for granted. I appreciate the fact that we got to hear “Purple Music” at all, even if it was nearly four decades late. I can’t wait to hear more unheard music from Prince’s prime this Friday.