Prince, Batman (1989)
I’ll always name this as one of my favourite Prince albums. In fact it’s probably the Prince album I have listened to the most. And that’s because it was linked to the huge franchise that was Tim Burton’s Batman film, sure. I collected the bubblegum cards and I had this on cassette tape. I used to play it several times over. If, at first, I was less in to the ballads (Scandalous, The Arms Of Orion) I loved the pop-funk of The Future and Electric Chair. And they sounded different to me, 12 years old and a Prince fan from the age of seven or eight. The record exists in its own space outside and away from the film, the Danny Elfman score probably means more to fans of the film. Prince’s Batman actually tells its own story – it’s not just a soundtrack, it’s an aural movie in and of itself. I picked up this LP copy from the Wellington Real Groovy (R.I.P. from tomorrow, May 31, 2011) a few years ago. And it continues to be a favourite. Sure, I could point to almost any other Prince album before it and a few after it as being “better” – but then I’d not be telling you what I think. It’s actually one of his best albums-as-snapshot. It’s concise, it’s song-based, it showcases pop, funk, ballads – there’s just enough indulgence and weirdness to remind you it’s Prince and not just somebody trying to be Prince. And more than just about any other record in my collection this one anchors me to a time and place. I remember going to see the film for a second time, in Napier. My parents picked me up afterwards. Me and a friend. We made them put the Prince soundtrack tape in the car for the drive back. Bungy-jumping had just made it to Hawke’s Bay so we had to take a detour. I remember the car stereo was pumping Electric Chair. And we made it to the car-park of Countdown where, for $25, you could bungy-jump from a crane over the shingle car-park. No scenery – but there was a double air-bed mattress ready to save any Partymen and/or Partywomen. We watched one Partywoman rip her black t-shirt and go down in her off-white bra. She looked as filthy as her bra (the perpetual reason for its off-white-ness). Her hair: the stuff you hate to have to fish out of a communal plug-hole. She is framed for all time, in a slow-motion fug of her own cigarette smoke. The car stereo playing The Arms Of Orion.
Sample Track: Partyman