Prince was a pop culture icon who helped define the ’80s. Now, 33 years after the debut of Oscar- and Grammy-winning Purple Rain, the artist’s most dedicated fans have the chance to experience the seminal album in a new way.
On Friday, NPG and Warner Bros. Records released highly anticipated “deluxe” and “deluxe expanded” editions of Purple Rain, featuring a mix of previously unreleased tracks and other special features.
Both editions were mastered by Bernie Grundman, the engineer behind the original album, and include its 2015 Paisley Park Remaster (which was overseen by Prince himself). Hits like “When Doves Cry,” “Darling Nikki,” and “Purple Rain” have an almost surround sound–like quality, as modern engineering sands away the grit and distortion of time.
Both editions also include 11 rare or previously unheard tracks. Some of these tracks have floated around for years as unauthorized recordings or alternate versions distributed among Prince superfans, but this is the first time they’ve been officially released. Notable examples include: “Electric Intercourse,” a ballad that, according to Variety, was bumped from the original Purple Rain album and replaced by “The Beautiful Ones”; a different version of “We Can Fuck” than the one that appeared on Prince’s 1990 album Graffiti Bridge, featuring alternate lyrics; and the haunting, full version of “Father’s Song.” “Father’s Song,” an instrumental, was co-written by Prince and his father, and a portion of it was featured in the Purple Rain film.
On top of all of the above, the deluxe expanded edition of Purple Rain features 15 additional singles and B-sides, including a dance mix of “Let's Go Crazy” and an extended version of “Erotic City.” It also boasts a long-unavailable concert film — Prince and the Revolution Live! — which was filmed in Syracuse, New York, in 1985, during Prince’s Purple Rain Tour.
Prince’s history of creative license and freedom of self, particularly during live shows, is on full display on the deluxe expanded edition, particularly in the extended version of “I Would Die 4 You” and footage of his 1985 show.
And while not all of the newly released tracks benefit from the enhanced sharpness or clarity of the 2015 remasters, they still offer fans a new way to appreciate one of music’s most visceral artists.