Written by / 4/23/2016 / No comments / , , , ,

LIVE 2 SEE THE DAWN: PRINCE IN 'PURPLE RAIN'

Price as The Kid with a spooky puppet looking like The Count and goading his poor bandmates into eerie submission
"Dearly beloved... We are gathered here today, to get through this thing called," well since Thursday, April 21st, 2016, what's followed that sentence is instead "this thing called" death, that of a music icon; an eclectic, eccentric, hydrogenous, brilliant and distinguished performer who was around long before hitting it big with 1999, and then, with his band THE REVOLUTION, the album PURPLE RAIN and the likewise titled motion picture put Prince into the legendary stratosphere, relatively early on...

Morris Day
The film itself is a fictional yet non-fiction melodrama centering on Prince as The Kid, a musician whose style, combining soul, rock, Jimi Hendrix guitar homage and screaming sexuality, overrides his attempt at acting, something not quite in his realm or comfort zone, his performance consisting of one-note reactions to those around him, including disgruntled band-mates (including and especially Wendy and Lisa) who want their own song to finally be heard...although it turns out a simple beat for him to create a "new path" that THE REVOLUTION, in reality, represented; after a decade in the business, creating his own variation of sexually-driven funkadelic, Prince did in fact hit it huge with them as his band... And the entire project is highlighted by the gorgeous dream girl Apollonia, who falls for The Kid way too soon for their relationship to matter beyond a rushed case of what Prince often writes about... lust! And so, when she winds up coaxed onto her own career since his is at a standstill at the local club, you'll find yourself rooting for her success over The Kid's silent and selfish moping caused by it. On the flip side to his sweet, vulnerable b-side, he's not too nice a fella, at times, lacking a decent role model...

Here's the Puppet
Thus, on the peripheral is The Kid's drunken, beaten mother and alcoholic, failed musician father... a sort of Ike and Tina... as this After School Special style melodrama occurs before we get a chance to flesh out a character who, to a rabid fan-base audience, isn't a character at all... For Prince is as real as his music is timeless.

Meanwhile, there's another funkster on board who has his acting chops down pat in the solid, funny "ringer" department, pulling off a legitimately humorous, sly, conceited and masterful performance as the central location club's headliner with his band, THE TIME...

That being Morris Day, who, along with sidekick Jerome, are a cross between  Abbott and Costello (including their very own "Who's On First" having to do with a password) and the kind of villains that bring out a more fleshed-out performance from the very man (or rather, Kid) who, despite his on-screen limitations off-stage, puts himself out there with intrepid, limitless rage yet without completely letting go, seeming aware of the camera, but, during times of reposeful melancholy, his silence speaks volumes while his music is spread perfectly throughout, either in montage romance or story-driven scenes, or, most important, live performances: where Prince truly reigns ("The Beautiful Ones" is a standout)...

Which is downright scary
Not even Morris, with two groovy James Brownish tunes that sound quite similar and represent the mainstream wide road to Prince's narrow, smoky boulevard, can come close to providing the soulful aura of his rival's day job, and yet the real plot winds up involving a "competition" (to remain the third band at the club) between various groups including THE REVOLUTION, THE TIME, and last but not least, the leading lady's talented yet contrived band, APOLLONIA 6. Every tune is memorable and catchy, carrying a vehicle that, bathed in a vivid, Neo Noir glow of murky alleyways countered by a rural countryside and, especially the flawlessly-edited opening with LET'S GO CRAZY, catapults the beginnings of the Music Video craze into an actual story that, despite the flaws, if allowing the music, and lyrics, to lead the way, you'll learn that "In this life, things are much harder than in the afterworld," for "in this life, you're on your own."

Eventually, The Kid, thrust into melodrama madness in the 11th hour as a parental tragedy practically vanishes his ingenue altogether, leading to Prince and the Revolution proving who they really are, which, in reality, was already well on display, especially doing their explosively sexy DARLING NIKKI performance and all the other perfect tunes that are hard to believe weren't being taken seriously within the club, and, well, to end this tribute\review in an offbeat fashion, one question looms: What's with that horrendously creepy puppet The Kid pops up from a maroon cone to speak to his band-mates...

Apple of his eye
An eerie middle-man, of sorts, resembling Sesame Street's Count had he been Eddie Munster's first cousin with the ventriloquist voice of a possessed cartoon channeling Linda Blair (not Mercedes McCambridge); instead of that maligned semi-sequel GRAFFITI BRIDGE, dealing with an all-out competition sans the barrage of already-covered PURPLE RAIN melodrama, Mr. Puppet could have had his very own franchise, and a nightmarish one at that.

RATING: ***
TRIVIA: As mentioned within the review, thus making it a tribute memorial, Prince passed away on April 21st, 2016, a tragedy and yet, he lived through his music-writing prime that lasted until a rather awkward phase where he changed his name to a sign... his real name which is really Prince Rogers Nelson and this odd act of narcissism didn't last long and, while his music in the 1980's, from the track "1999" to personal favorites MOUNTAINS, ALPHABET ST. and COMPUTER BLUE, is mostly what he's known for, and he kept writing music for others, and turning out a myriad of albums, and movies, too, including the mentioned-above GRAFFITI BRIDGE "sequel" to PURPLE RAIN and a maligned romance UNDER THE CHERRY MOON, both which just might be reviewed soon • A sad irony, at the very end, and explaining this post's title, after the "thank you" portion following the final song credits, are the words: "May you live 2 see the Dawn." Well he sure saw more than us, and enjoyed more, and more, as well • And the question about why The Puppet exists has an answer, answered long ago while talking to a great friend, who happens to be an Oscar nominated actress who knew a famous musician who, before delving into an acting job, was desperate for advice, and was told to find some kind of device that he could handle to help his performance... Mick Jagger, in FREEJACK, uses an old bottle of Whiskey, and the very musician we could be referring to, Bob Dylan, has his device built-into his classic leading-scene in PAT GARRETT AND BILLY THE KID where he's told to count canned foods while James Coburn robs a bar. Thus, Puppet was there to help Prince, and he's awesome, that Puppet, as was his Master... Rest in Peace, and thanks for the music!
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