It’s not that you can’t cover “Purple Rain.” You can. People have done it. Etta James and the Waterboys and LeAnn Rimes have all released their own versions of Prince’s perfect 1984 power ballad. Sufjan Stevens and Bruce Springsteen and Pearl Jam and My Morning Jacket have covered “Purple Rain” live. Madonna and Stevie Wonder once duetted on “Purple Rain.” Nicolas Cage sang it at karaoke. Two years ago, Stereogum published a whole column on “Purple Rain” covers. But a “Purple Rain” cover is still a pretty ridiculous thing to even attempt. Richmond metal heroes Inter Arma have now done the ridiculous.
Next month, Inter Arma will follow up their great 2019 album Sulphur English with a new covers collection called Garbers Days Revisited. They’ve already shared their versions of Neil Young’s “Southern Man” and Nine Inch Nails’ “March Of The Pigs.” Today, Inter Arma have shared the album’s closing track, a grand and cinematic eight-minute take on “Purple Rain.”
Inter Arma aren’t the first underground metal band to cover “Purple Rain”; Mutoid Man have done it live. But in their surprisingly faithful version, Inter Arma have done their best to recreate the majesty of the original, even replicating the guitar solos with remarkable fidelity. Drummer TJ Childers’ take on Prince’s falsetto whine-moan is better than anyone could’ve possibly hoped. The Inter Arma cover doesn’t really add anything new to “Purple Rain,” but it rules regardless, since “Purple Rain” also rules. Check out Inter Arma’s version and Prince’s video for the original below.
In a press release, Inter Arma say:
This was never meant to be heard publicly. It was meant to be outrageous — to be played late at night while laughing and drinking beer with our friends. Because that’s what this is: Inter Arma covering the greatest pop song of the 1980s, and arguably of all time, by Prince, who HATED when people covered his music.
The vocals were done in one take by the drummer and not pitch-corrected, because who else can sing like that? Prince. So we opted to stay honest and simple because we never thought that the general public would hear it. Once Relapse heard it there was a little bit of back and forth between the two camps and it was decided, reluctantly, to be included on the record.
We hope everyone enjoys this and gets a little bit of a chuckle because I think we could all use that right about now. Stay safe, stay outrageous, BLM.
Garbers Days Revisited is out 7/10 on Relapse.