LET’S GET NUTS: A CONTEMPORARY REVIEW OF PRINCE’S ‘BATMAN’ SOUNDTRACK ALBUM
By Douglas Wolk
In the summer of 1989, primed by “Kiss” and “Alphabet St.” and “Sign ‘O’ the Times” to expect brilliance from the first taste of new Prince music, I raced out to buy “Batdance,” the first single to be released from his soundtrack to Tim Burton’s Batman. It seemed like a great idea at the time.
I remember my feeling of dazed disappointment the first time I heard “Batdance” lurch to an end. “Batdance” isn’t even a song, as such, but a cluster of unrelated chunks of underdone rhythm tracks, ineptly pasted together with chopped-up samples of film dialogue, a couple of lines flown in from other songs, Prince singing the hook from Neal Hefti’s ’60s Batman theme, and (in its album mix) a very aggressive guitar solo that has almost nothing to do with what’s going on around it. Prince and Batman together? How could that not be awesome? What just went wrong here?
Batman was the most anticipated movie of 1989, and Prince had spent the decade making a string of albums that were drop-dead classic at best (Purple Rain, Sign ‘O’ The Times) and fascinating overreaches at worst (Lovesexy, Around the World in a Day). He also really wanted to establish himself as a film composer — he’d been working on the Purple Rain sequel Graffiti Bridge for years. So when Burton asked Prince for two songs to go where he’d used “1999″ and “Baby I’m a Star” in the rough cut of Batman, Prince offered to record the entire soundtrack, and whipped up a bunch of material almost entirely by himself in his studio Paisley Park.
I enjoyed this album, some good tunes, and Batdance was fun. Saw Prince do it live on his ‘Nude’ tour in 1990, bat-banners unfurled on stage and dancing Batgirls aplenty :-)