COMMENTS:  This record tripped me out several different ways.  For starters, Prince managed to get a song on pop radio and all the way into the top ten with this heavy scriptural content.  The title is a reference to the seven seals of the apocalypse from St. John's Revelation. 

The second trippy part was the timing.  I suppose Prince didn't really have anything to do with that part.  This was a big hit during the siege of David Koresh and his Branch Davidians at Waco.  Both Koresh and Prince are rogue Seventh Day Adventists, and their rhetoric was very similar.  As his followers were preparing for their fiery end, Koresh was preaching the biblical apocalypse -and tens of millions were digging on Prince preaching on the same scripture.  Strangely, no one seemed to make the connection.

The trippiest thing of all is that he made a hit out of something so musically and sonically weird.  Besides the lyrics, this sounds like something from Mars.  He starts the record with an acapella vocal chorale of the chorus. 

Then it turns into what might best be described as acoustic based psychedlia.  With the song built on simple (but undeniable) acoustic guitar chords, it plays more as a rock song than funk.  Yet the drums and scratching add something of a hip hop element.  Psychedlia comes in from the lead guitar lines treated like a sitar, partly, but mostly from the purely hallucinatory air surrounding the whole thing (eg the dark laughter of the anti-christ on the track).

He was able to put such a freaky thing over on pop radio absolutely only because this is one of the most stunning pieces of both melodic and production craftwork in his career.  Every detail of this is perfect, from the indelible tune of the chorus, to the rock hard vocal harmonies behind, to the finger cymbals and flutes.

Not only that, but it has a strong sense of spiritual conviction.  Prince speaks here as one acting as a higher power. 

Only a couple of little differences in environment led Koresh and Prince on completely different paths.  One was a guitar player who started a sex crazed religious cult built around himself as the charismatic leader with a messiah complex.  The other...  Wait, now I'm confused.

Prince Rogers Nelson playing guitar during the apocalypse



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