Workin’ For The Weekend (Tuesday Edition): Oklahoma City Barons Host Texas Stars In The “Purple Rain”

Prince is an artist I never fully understood. Come to think of it, I still don’t understand him. I think. Perhaps it’s my tendency to view the entire arc of his career rather than the glorious beginning. He was an artist at the top of his game in the mid-80’s, but fell to pieces with an over-exaggerated PR stunt, and saggy songwriting. Despite not understanding the artist formerly know as, but now know as Prince, I’ve learned to appreciate Purple Rain. Yes, the time-tested classic, Purple Rain.

The Temptations grabbed guitars one day, invited Keith Richards to play lead, only riffed on songs penned by George Harrison, and suddenly they were playing music that sounded like Prince. An icon of pop-rock in a decade of lost rock (in a broad sense), he was a genius songwriter, capable of crafting a torch song to perfection, and wielding an axe like Hendrix. He wanted to be R&B, but they wouldn’t have him. He was too good a songwriter for 80’s rock. And he was too boisterous for pop radio. Instead he blendered the things he did best into a recipe for success that hit its stride beautifully before crumbling just as quickly.

Back to Purple Rain.

From top to bottom, bottom to top, this is an album worth spinning daily. It’s a whirlwind of emotions wound up in a romping art lesson.

Thirteen times platinum, five top twenty-five hits, two at number one, but more importantly a groundbreaking show piece of pop-rock potential. Prince broke the stereotypical electronic leanings of the synth-pop world surrounding him, and instead embraced his natural ability to lure you in with vocal/instrumentation/writing wizardry.

After the massive hits of “When Doves Cry” and “Let’s Go Crazy” subsided, the title track, “Purple Rain”, was a turn towards rock balladry that found Prince in his sweet spot.

The soft, almost muted, guitar sequence and vocal reverb to open the first verse begin a crescendoing movement towards an epic guitar solo at the back half. Clocking in at ten minutes, and partially recorded live, THIS is 80’s music at its finest.

Great music might be great music, but I still don’t get Prince. Did he really want to be the next Hendrix? How does such a great writer and performer fall to pieces in the finality of his career? This doesn’t take away from Prince’s accomplishments, rather it makes him a more interesting test subject. It’s okay to be confused, and entirely thrilled at the same time. Sound familiar?

The Barons are a weird bunch, only four games in. Outmanned in three of four games, they found good offense to earn their first victory of the season on Sunday. But they are an awkward, confusing bunch. Systematically they look different, certainly un-Todd-Nelson-like, and that’s bothersome. Instead of letting players be who they are, and nudging them into the perfect slots, we get a prospect first mentality that drives the machine. That’s not bad, just different. And like Prince, Purple Rain, and his career – we can love this team as much as we are confused by them.

So they’ll face the Texas Stars on one of those goofy Tuesday evening games that the AHL throws at teams once or twice a month, and they will look to be a bit more headstrong moving forward.

The Stars, recently losing goaltender Jack Campbell to the big boy Stars club (Kari injured), have split their two opening games having thoroughly manhandled Chicago, and giving away goals like trick or treat candy to Rockford. But don’t be fooled, they are a good team.

Longtime Star, Travis Morin, has already notched three goals and three assists, and he will certainly get some help from the likes of Colton Sceviour and Curtis McKenzie.

All eyes will be on Jamie Oleksiak this season as the top defender on the club, but a guy like Maxime Fortunas will help pave the way as well.

Jack Campbell is indeed the blue chipper in net for the Stars, but they’ve also returned Cristopher Nilstorp who’s as stingy as they come. He’ll be a huge part of the clubs success this season.

Aaron Rome, having undergone two hip surgeries this summer, will take a conditioning run through the Texas Stars before potentially returning to full-time NHL defensive minutes. He’ll be one worth watching on Tuesday.

Oklahoma City will ice a similar roster to the one seen on Sunday. With Martindale (knee) and (maybe) Lander (lower bodyish) a bit banged up, there might be a chance for more creativity in the lineup. Then again, these fellas are tough, and the likelihood they play is great.

The real question remains – who starts in net? Former Star, Richard Bachman, has yet to win a game this season, but Olivier Roy hasn’t been fabulous either. The latter earned a win in his first start, but was certainly bailed out by the Barons offensive lift. I’d take a stab at Bachman. He seems to be ready for improvement, and really kept the Barons “in the game” on Saturday. In the end, he was bested by a terrible OKC offense playing at the other end. He’ll be fine.

Game starts at 7:00pm central time, and takes place in the Cox Center in downtown OKC.

Editors Note: Prince’s Purple Rain must be listened to with all windows and sun roofs wide open.