'Purple Rain' gets West African and deluxe reissue soundtrack treatment

Text Gary Chun
Thread music

Ever since the untimely death of Prince in April of last year, much has been made of the incredible amount of unreleased music waiting to be revealed from his Paisley Park vault. The anticipation grows with the June 23 release of the expanded and remastered reissue of the Purple Rain soundtrack.

The website Consequence of Sound reports that some of previously unreleased material from that particular 1980s era have already been released in anticipation of the reissue. The two songs are the studio-recorded Electric Intercourse and, just today, a live birthday concert recording of the medley Our Destiny/Roadhouse Garden. (You can hear both by clicking on the website link.)

It should be no surprise that Prince's music and the movie in particular would have such an international impact, which reminded me of a bit of curiosity I read about in the enlightening British independent music magazine The Wire.

In its October 2014 issue, they reported on a film remake of Purple Rain, as translated by the Tuareg desert tribesmen of West Africa and done in their own dialect. Since there is no word for the color purple, the film title Akounak Tedalat Taha Tazoughai translates into English as "Rain the Color of Blue with a Little Red in It."

Jennifer Lucy Allan writes that "In the place of Prince is guitarist and songwriter Mdou Moctar, all cheekbones in a lush deep purple tunic and white scarves, kicking up the dust on the orange dirt roads around Agadez, Niger, on a purple motorbike with a faux fur seat."

In translating the tale of a talented musician trying to make it against all odds, director Christopher Kirkley made the first fictional full-length film to be shot entirely in the Tuareg language. (He also runs the Sahel Sounds label, which features the contemporary music of West Africa. I highly recommend you check out the website.)

In an interview with okayafrica, Kirkley admits that "It began, as most ideas, as sort of a joke, but also as an imagining of 'what would Purple Rain look like retold in the Sahara?' After years of talking about, I realized the only way to find out was to make it.

"Mdou’s story is very different from 'the Kid’s.' The culture in Agadez is much more conservative, not just religiously, but some of the flamboyance of Prince’s character and central themes of Purple Rain just don’t translate. Other elements were remarkably similar, and I think are universal —the musical competition, problems of love, familial responsibility, and making peace with your ego. The music played a central part in the film and we adapted the story to fit his songs. So many of his compositions are consolations about love and lessons on life, so they fit nicely into the narrative."

If your interest is piqued, the film is available for rental on Vimeo On Demand. Here's the trailer to give you a taste of what to expect:

Akounak Tedalat Taha Tazouhai Trailer from sahelsounds on Vimeo.


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