Purple reign: ‘Prince – Stories from the Purple Underground’ reviewed

❉ Prince is commemorated with an elegantly presented companion to his life and works.

Through out his career Prince powered through the charts, always ahead of the musical curve, inventive and from the moment he started recording and performing he set the world alight.

The grim reaper has been busy in 2016 taking many of those super idols who had a fan base that plugged into the zeitgeist for multiple generations.

This book gives fans a behind the scenes look at how Prince operated and interacted with those in his creative orbit. It’s a tad self indulgent in parts, but hey, it’s Prince, so that’s forgivable.


Prince was motivated by everything and everyone around him and this is clearly represented in this book, illustrated gorgeously in a family photograph album style.

This book follows his musical history on how his tracks, sounds and albums were created. Even referencing albums he put out without his Prince branding.  For example did you know he put out a pure jazz album anonymously, because he wanted it to stand on it’s own feet without the Prince PR spin behind it? Needless to say there was a second follow up album.

‘Stories from the Purple Underground’ will not be a disappointment for fans, but also those who’ve lived in a silent Prince free corner of the world will be intrigued taking a step into the world of Prince’s music and then listen to the tracks that are cross referenced within these elegantly presented pages.

I listened to his music while pouring over this book, as the vinyl spun on my turntable I read the frank, sometimes critical and sometime emotional outpouring from the contributors.  At times it felt as though I was attending his memorial (admittedly attended by some critical maiden aunts who don’t have much nice to say but are enjoying the pomp and ceremony).  The tone is fresh and balanced, it’s not just people who put him on a pedestal to worship, some contributors mention they had frequent conflicts with him.  However, overall the book highlights how deeply Prince made an impact on those he came into contact with.  His musical and creative teams held him in a respected position, however, although at times it does pander it’s not just a book about idol worship.


Prince had a conveyor belt of creative output, this is what came across in this book, these amazing tracks, lyrics and speed at which his talent worked is frequently commented on throughout these stories.

Did I learn anything new?  Of course, and some juicy gossip too.  This review is not to list down spoilers, I’ll let the reader uncover those tales.

After reading it did inspire me to do, was to research the contributors and listen to these less promoted creatives and this has made my Amazon wish list grow considerably.

Prince’s death has left another gaping void in the music world, joining Bowie in the cosmic stadium in the sky.  As with Bowie, Prince was an inspiration, his music will go on to inspire others for decades to come.  This book is an ideal companion for an existing fan or someone who wants a flavour to Prince’s shining star of a life.

❉ ‘Prince 1958-2016: Stories from the Purple Underground (Stories Behind the Songs)’ by Mobeen Azhar is out now from Carlton Books, RRP £20.00


Become a patron at Patreon!