Number Ones: #17


  • PRINCE & THE REVOLUTION When Doves Cry (Warner Bros.)
  • Week Ending 21st July 1984
  • 2 weeks at #1


If my obsession with Two Tribes was not entirely unexpected, the same could not be said of the record, and indeed the artist, which replaced it at #1 on my Top 40 mid-way through July 1984.

Had I been paying closer attention to the UK charts in early 1983, I would have known who Prince was (via 1999 or to a lesser extent Little Red Corvette) and had an idea what he sounded like. But I hadn’t been, and so I didn’t. When Doves Cry seemed to come from nowhere, and turned my world upside down.

It also sounded like nothing I’d ever encountered before; this was, of course, due to the deliberate absence of any bassline on the track but I had yet to become serious enough about the pop experience to realise that was why. Adding to the mystique, When Doves Cry was taken from an autobiographical feature film which he also starred in. An American pop star big enough to front a major movie, that I’d barely even heard of. Amazing.

So all of this, plus the sheer dreamy brilliance of 17 Days (which I discovered upon flipping over the copy of the single I’d rushed out and bought in WH Smiths) and then the cryptic sleeve notes on the rear of the 12″ single, added up to a sense of fascination and wonder at a new musical universe suddenly opening up in front of me. The whole Minneapolis sound, the risque lyrics (that mostly went over this boy’s head), even the look of his band, The Revolution. These crazy-looking, yet supremely cool people decked out in an assortment of funky, quirky and sometimes downright naughty outfits. Girls, boys…..boys who looked like girls, girls who dressed like boys.

The full Purple Rain album would be added to my barely-started collection not long after (an advert in Smash Hits, taking up the whole page, seduced me into parting with 4.99 on the LP before I’d heard any of the other songs), and I was properly hooked. Purple Rain would soundtrack the rest of my summer, especially the opening track Let’s Go Crazy. In the US, it was chosen to follow-up When Doves Cry and had already made great strides towards #1 on Billboard’s Hot 100 by the time I was encountering ridicule from some Our Price employee for choosing to purchase the album from their emporium. Had the UK also gone for Let’s Go Crazy as single #2, then it is more than likely it would have repeated the success of When Doves Cry on my own chart.

Instead, they opted for the title track – leaving Let’s Go Crazy for last, in early 1985 – and there would only be the one chart-topper from Purple Rain for me.

One comment

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s