This summer marks 30 years since the release of one of the most influential and iconic albums of all time, Prince’s Purple Rain. In celebration of the milestone, the Purple Prince himself has approved the release of an album, which pays tribute and homage to his work – Purple Reggae, released on 30th September. The album features an all-star line-up of some of the biggest names in pop music, who have come together under the masterful production hands of Radio Riddler, to create reggae versions of Prince’s most well known Purple Rain tracks.
A labour of love that’s been five years in the making for the Radio Riddler producers, Purple Reggae started life as an experiment between Fun Lovin’ Criminals’, Frank Benvini and Fast Leiser (aka Radio Riddler) in between their remixes for the likes of Coldplay and Lily Allen. Initially convinced their idea of a reggae tribute to their musical hero would be challenging, the duo were pleasantly surprised with their first efforts and the idea snowballed from there. In as little time, the producers had a ‘who’s who’ of the music world clambering to pay tribute to one of the most iconic performers of all time.
As Frank Benbini from the Fun Lovin’ Criminals and Radio Riddler explains:
“Prince is the reason I started playing music. I grew up on this album. It’s the soundtrack to my life’ and this is a tribute to him from me.”
UB40’s Ali Campbell’s version of ‘Purple Rain’ has already garnered a lot of attention during his live shows, so it’s only fitting that the title track will be the first single from the album, while Suggs has hailed his own take on ‘Let’s Go Crazy’ as a “piece of genius”. Radio Riddler personally approached Sinead O’Connor, who had an international smash hit back in 1990 with her take on Prince track ‘Nothing Compares 2 U’. They expected her to dismiss their request, but she was delighted to join them in the studio to record ‘I Would Die 4 U‘.
Rock and blues singer Deborah Bonham, The Slits singer Hollie Cook, US songwriter Citizen Cope, and soul starlet Beverly Knight have also leant their talents to the album. Their diverse vocal styles over a reggae backdrop have resulted in a fresh, unique, perfectly-crafted tribute that will inspire as much affection as Purple Rain did 30 years ago.
What is your favourite all-time Prince tune?