Friday, July 16, 2010

Prince - Batman (LP, 1989)

Prince doing the Batman soundtrack seemed to make perfect sense and no sense at all. I don't consciously remember thinking it was odd, but I must have. They would have been short-lived: as soon as we all heard "Batdance" and saw the video for it, we realized that the dude got it.

In the summer of 1989, Batman was the coolest thing going, so Prince, by osmosis (or whatever) was cool as shit as well. It didn't hurt that "Batdance" was the dopest almost-non-vocal dance track since "Pump Up the Volume," and it certainly didn't hurt that the video looked as high-budget as the film. People were walking around saying "Vicki Vale" all the time, aping the way it's said in the song. I annoyed myself by doing it. I couldn't hear that name without instantly going to that. "I like... BATMAN!" It was nuts.

Whatever it was, it got Prince to churn out a cool little record. "The Future" and "Electric Chair" are both stomping dance tracks, and it's cuts like those that work the best on this record. "The Arms of Orion," a duet with Sheena Easton, is a little too "Somewhere Out There" for me, and "Scandalous" is a decent slow jam, but it lags a little around the fifth minute.

But whatever. Tracks like "Partyman," "Trust," and "Lemon Crush" bump nice and hard, and if Prince was trying to make some sweet dance jams, he pulled it off. Having "Batdance" close the record is a bold move, but of course, it makes sense. That song sounds fairly dated now, but it's still impressive. Prince really could do it all.

It's funny to hear some of the vocal samples on this record. Not on "Batdance" so much, but on some of the other cuts. They don't quite match the ones in the movie. It's hard to explain, but you can notice it if you listen close. Apparently Prince worked with a rough cut or something. This record still feels like a bit of novelty, but it's really not. There are some solid tunes here.

This would pretty much be the end of Prince for me, though that wasn't a conscious decision at the time. 1990 was around when I started getting into other kinds of music, and not relying on the radio so much, I guess. But, you know, "Thieves in the Temple" and that New Power Generation shit just didn't really do it for me. And if you've ever seen Graffiti Bridge (the "sequel" to Purple Rain, then you probably understand what I'm talking about. It's just a terrible, terrible movie. And this was when Prince started hyping Tevin Campbell - it was just no good.

But the 80's were good for Prince. Damn good.


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