In a show of tribute to Prince and the 30th anniversary of his critically acclaimed album Purple Rain, English reggae duo Radio Riddler have released an album, entitled Purple Reggae. This album not only features a track-for-track cover of Purple Rain, but also contains several collaborations with well-known musicians, such as Sinead O’Connor, Suggs, and Citizen Cope.
The album starts with a highly vocally-effected eulogy, accompanied by police sirens and a cathedral organ, before seamlessly flowing into what could easily be a Smashmouth or Ace Of Base cover of “Let’s Go Crazy.” “Take Me With U” and “The Beautiful Ones” see the music get mellow and sexy. “Computer Blue” gives us a taste of ska, funk, and even old school dub, complete with a trombone and clarinet solo mid-song.
While the whole album is phenomenal, one of the standout songs is “When Doves Cry,” for including marimba and a Latin drum beat. This beat is juxtaposed by the occasional texture-driven guitar line in the chorus. The song fades out with several “Don’t cry’s” followed by a short melodica solo. But what is Purple Rain without the title-track? The song closes the album with the sounds of Bob Marley meets brass band in a six-minute-long jam, featuring UB40’s own Ali Campbell on lead vocals and various others singing backing harmonies.
Multi-instrumentalists Frank Benbini and Brian Fast Leiser have really outdone themselves with the arrangements heard in this album. Simply put, Radio Riddler have taken the best parts of the ‘90s reggae revival and mashed them up with a musical masterpiece, creating not only a good cover album, but an amazing set of practically original songs.
In A Word: Funky