Prince Parade Album Review from 1986
Prince’s Parade from the mid 80’s (1986 to be precise) is just one of Prince’s best albums.
The man, the album, the year – Prince Parade 1986. Although initially receive well by the critics, and it is the soundtrack for a rather weird, some say rubbish (I say interesting) movie. The music is what makes Parade just irresistible. What makes for a good album? Well, in my opinion, its like high quality wine which ages and improves over time. Parade has no “time”, it doesn’t sound like an 80’s album in most cases, and it has a psychedelic, almost surreal quality reminiscent of Sergeant Peppers and his earlier Around the world in a day, except Prince’s work is more funky, funny and French?? Imagine yourself in the French Riviera, on hallucinogens? prince parade 1986 .
The album starts with the psychedelic trip “Christopher Tracey’s Parade” which is the Prince entrée to the treats to come from this 1986 classic. Its a short little pop tune with lush orchestrations, multiple voices with the distinctive Wendy/Lisa voices, and the feeling of a hectic trip to the merry-go-round. The song segues into the Caribbean retro funk of New Position, which is almost a throwaway, yet it is so head nodding and funky that you never get sick of hearing it, a piece of fun and joy. The Caribbean drum (bells??) are the highlight for me evoking a beach and palm trees, but strangely the song fits into this psychoscopic landscape quite well. New Position slows down and becomes “I Wonder U”, which is basically a Wendy and Lisa song, Prince’s voice is barely audible. I Wonder U is a slow hypnotic dreamscape that is way too short, and is a complete pleasure to listen to. The introduction of funky rhythm guitar in the mid song and the lush orchestrations of Clare Fischer are just astounding. The 4th song, “Under the cherry moon” seems to be the first “full” song on offer, and is Prince crooning at his best, the orchestrations are simple and the song is fairly simple, but the French (European) feel continues.
The other striking feature of Parade, is Princes use of contracts, and dynamics to almost bring out the “colour” in his music. Its strange that the movie is black and white, but really the colour and vividness is in the music – I think Prince realised that when deciding to make the movie black and white. The banging drums to “Girls and Boys” are in striking contrast to what comes before is, “Under the cherry moon”, is a slow croon, and Girls and Boys is a loud party (in France?). Really Girls and Boys is one of Princes catchiest and most original tunes. The horns section contrasts to the funky bass and guitars, the “Camille” voice is prominent, as is the feeling you are listening to something immoral and wrong, and the French woman moaning throughout is Prince’s sex on a record perfected.prince parade 1986
The tempo builds up on “Life can be so nice” which has to be one of Prince’s most complex arrangements to date. It is an absolute joyful song and one that always evokes happiness and (I call is hysteria) at the same time. The pounding drums get ever so faster throughout the album until you are literally in a frenzy by the end (when the song suddenly stops). Not for the faint hearted.prince parade 1986
Prince Parade 1986 O yeah!
The contrast continues on “Venus de Milo”, a Wendy and Lisa instrumental. Nice for dinner parties, but for me not a song I listen to a lot. However, the album seems to need Venus as part of the adventure. For me, Alexa de Paris (the B Side of Mountains) would have been a better choice, but perhaps side one was running out of space, so Prince added this filler in instead.prince parade 1986
Side 2 starts with Mountains. This was the second single off the album after KISS and to me is a superior song, it wasn’t a smash hit, but the song is so full of energy and happiness, and continues the European, lush orchestration and arrangements from the rest of the album, yet in it’s own way having some simple things, like the drums, the singing, and the horns, but the orchestrations take this song to another level – check out the 12inch version, which I believe is even better than the single and its a pity couldn’t be included on Parade (its just too long). During this period, Prince’s B-Sides and 12 inch extended versions were as good as any of his Album or single material and better than everything most other people were producing. This was the time where Prince was truly carving out his legend as a brilliant song writer and producer/arranger.prince parade 1986
After Mountains, the contrast continues with “Do you lie”, a quick, funny, jazzy, yet intriguing little song, sung without the cares of the world, in a truly relaxing and smooth as you like way. Do you lie brings together beautiful arrangements, marvellous vocal work and accordions :). Did I mention it’s “Frenchness”??
Do you lie is so soft, so gentle, like a breeze. So to hear the ultra modern dance classic of KISS, Prince’s huge 1986 hit, is something of a shock (a good one). Kiss is in such contrast to every other element of this album, it’s arrangement sparse, no orchestration and no “Lush” feeling. Definitely not sounding French and is just a throwback to 70’s funk, like Sly and the Family Stone, and George Clinton. Its so different, that it actually fits into the album and provides that extra bit of balance. We have more Sly funk coming later (Anotherloverholeinyourhead), but Kiss is just a real piece of genius in that it takes a classic funk sound, strips it down, removes the bass line (ala When Does Cry) and is like no thing heard on the music charts to date. The key, however to KISS’s success is simply that it’s a good basic tune. Surrounded in techno funk. prince parade 1986
The last two songs, are for me the weak points of the album. Not saying their not good, but not as strong as what came before. Anotherloverholeinyourhead, despite it’s very long title without spaces, is a standard piece of funk music with a catchy chorus, almost designed to be a hit single (which it wasn’t). Once again, the 12 inch version of this song is far superior to the album version, as is the live versions. So there is really a good song in there, but I believe (could have done better) with the arrangement and sounds. Prince Parade 1986.
Lastly, Sometimes it snows in April, is a touching, poignant song. Many of my friends loved this song, but I was never into it that much. For me the album ends at KISS. prince parade 1986
STARS 5 out of 5 prince parade 1986
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