Purple

Nearly lost in all the celebrity mortality business of last week was Spin’s tribute to Purple Rain‘s 25th anniversary.

The paper and ink issue features an oral history garnered from old managers, producers, musicians, club owners, and Tipper Gore, who still gets a little, uh, heated over Darling Nikki. Not one among them was Prince himself, but what can you do about that? Besides, what you really care about is the free album fulla cover versions the magazine commissioned for the occasion.

The track listing:

1. “Let’s Go Crazy” RIVERBOAT GAMBLERS
2. “Take Me With U” SHARON JONES & THE DAP-KINGS
3. “The Beautiful Ones” FOL CHEN
4. “Computer Blue” OF MONTREAL
5. “Darling Nikki” CHAIRLIFT
6. “When Doves Cry” THE TWILIGHT SINGERS
7. “I Would Die 4 U” MARIACHI EL BRONX
8. “Baby I’m a Star” CRAIG WEDREN
9. “Purple Rain” LAVENDER DIAMOND

Okay, it’s not exactly totally free because you’ve got to buy the magazine in order to get the answer to the skill-testing question in order to get access to the download, but using your basic dollar per song formula vs. the cover price of the magazine, it’s worth it.

Also making it worth it is the quality on offer. Stop crying that you hardly know any of the artists here. There’s no reason, beyond your own inherent squareness, that you shouldn’t recognize Sharon Jones and the Dap-Kings and the Twilight Singers, and probably Of Montreal as well, any of whom the magazine might have considered commissioning to do an exclusive, front-to-back rendition of the album. But the fact of the matter is, songs this good can survive just about anything anyone could dream of doing to them, which is why I nominate Mariachi El Bronx’s version of I Would Die 4 U as the scene-stealingest, socks-knocking-offest of the batch.

Finally, after experiencing firsthand the fun that can be had with the willy-nilly spreading of conspiracy theory memes, I couldn’t possibly hold it against anyone who took the idle thought of President Barack Obama’s plans to secretly enact legislation, in honour of the occasion, making Purple Rain the American national anthem, and ran with it.

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