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RECORD RACK

Prince's Gotham City Batdance: Id and Ego

June 18, 1989|CHRIS WILLMAN

PRINCE"Batman--Motion Picture Sound Track." Warner Bros.***: Albums are rated on a scale of one (poor) to five (a classic) stars. Holy libido, Batman! Gotham City's infamous Caped Corrupter--Prince, that is--is on the loose, and this time he's nefariously putting words in your mouth! Salacious words like "2 night why don't we just skip all the 4-play, mamma / And just get down here on the floor!" Leapin' lustbuckets, Batman, you wouldn't say anything like that, would you? . . . Uh, Batman?

Looks like Mr. Wayne is in conference with Ms. Vale right now. While we await their return from the Batcave, we can debate the finer points of these nine songs, in which each set of lyrics is ascribed to one of the movie's three main characters.

Said characters all tend to sound suspiciously like the Purple One himself, natch. The Joker represents the id side demanding instant gratification in the more party-hearty dance songs ("Electric Chair," "Trust," "Partyman") while Batman and Vicki are the innocent but still suitably sex-crazed romantics of the ego .

This grand conceit never adds up either as a love-triangle pop-operetta or a sound track, since the songs aren't all that "cinematic," don't delve too specifically into character (except for the best track, "Vicki Waiting") and don't figure prominently in the film. Taken as a Prince album, though, it's not unsatisfying, mixing the techno-pop disco fun of "1999" with the less easily digested musical ambition of "Lovesexy."

Least successful are "The Arms of Orion," a surprisingly standard balladic duet with Sheena Easton, and the extended version of the single, "Batdance," a sample-filled mess that nervily reprises the campy "Batman!" choral cry from the old TV theme. Yet "Lemon Crush" and a few other tracks represent the most compelling grooves Prince has come up with in years. Commercially, this dance-a-thon probably couldn't miss even if our hero posed naked on the cover.

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