Fun Lovin’ Criminals Frank Benbini and Fast Leiser, aka Radio Riddler, are marking 30 years of Prince’s influential album Purple Rain with a full length album tribute Purple Reggae.
Why pay tribute to Purple Rain in this way?
We had been remixing a lot of artists in a reggae style when we started Radio Riddler. A lot of current acts and hits got the Riddler treatment but when we decided to do a cover album it was only going to be Prince’s Purple Rain soundtrack. It’s safe to say Frank is one of the biggest Prince fans on the planet and I love reggae so the tribute began and five years later Purple Reggae was complete.
How easy was it to get permissions to record the album?
That was tricky. It took us a long time just to get through to Prince’s people. After many calls and emails we finally got a call back from Universal in Los Angeles. We explained what it was that we were trying to do, and they thought it was great so said we could go ahead with it. Prince does not like his music being covered at all. He asked for Frank’s phone number as he wants to talk to him about it. He hasn’t called yet.
Who are some of the contributing artists on the album and who was the most fun to work with?
We have some amazing artists on the album, all of whom we respect and admire in the music industry. They include the legendary Ali Campbell from UB40, Suggs, Sinead O’Connor, Beverley Knight, Deborah Bonham (sister of Led Zeppelin’s John Bonham) and Citizen Cope. Many of the singers were initially nervous as they are not the easiest songs to sing. Deborah Bonham’s session was great as we changed the whole rhythm/vibe of the song.
Will you be doing any reggae Christmas songs at the Manchester show?
Doubtful, unless when we do When Doves Cry Frank slips in “two turtle doves and a partridge in a pear tree”.
What’s your favourite Christmas song?
I love Let it Snow, Little Drummer Boy and other Christmas standards when sung by The Rat Pack. Christmas in Hollis by Run DMC is another favourite. They couldn’t be more different but both so cool. Ho ho ho and Jah bless!