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Parade is the eighth studio album by American recording artist Prince and The Revolution. It was released on March 31, 1986, by Paisley Park Records and Warner Bros. Records as the soundtrack album to the 1986 film Under the Cherry Moon.

After the critical disappointment of his 1985 album Around the World in a DayParade was released to acclaim from music critics and was named one of the best albums of 1986 by The Village Voice and NME magazine, who named it their album of the year. It also sold two million copies both in the United States and abroad.

ContentsEdit

 [hide*1 Background

Background[edit]Edit

Parade was the follow-up to Around the World in a Day and the soundtrack to Prince's second film. The album sees Prince further diversifying musically, adding orchestrations to his music and presenting a very European feel. Prince also displayed a new image with Parade: his trademark ruffled shirts, wild curly hair, and purple outfits which defined his look from 1981's Controversy to 1985's Around the World in a Day gave way to slicked-back hair and dress suits. The single, "Kiss", was a number one hit, and the album as a whole was well received in the United States and Europe. Europe, however, embraced the album, and for the first time in Prince's career, European album sales eclipsed those in the United States. While Parade was the last official release with The Revolution, a follow up called Dream Factory was recorded. Its release was canceled when Prince disbanded the group.

Writing and recording[edit]Edit

The first four tracks were recorded in sequence with Prince laying down the drum track to all four in one take. Then he laid down the bass, guitar, and other instruments in the same fashion. They can almost be considered a suite, having a very continuous feel. "Girls & Boys" features a Roland guitar synth sound, saxophone by Eric Leeds, and a French-spoken monologue. "Life Can Be So Nice" features drums by Sheila E. and cuts suddenly to the instrumental "Venus de Milo".

Side two starts with the "Mountains", and leads into "Do U Lie?"; that is followed by "Kiss", the album's biggest hit. It immediately leads into "Anotherloverholenyohead". The album finishes with the ballad, "Sometimes It Snows in April". The cut is raw and done in one take. The sounds of the fingers on the strings, and the squeaky bar stools which Prince and Wendy & Lisa sat on, can be heard in the recording.

The album was, for the most part, a solo effort by Prince, aside from the full band's input on "Mountains". Wendy & Lisa are co-credited with writing the music for "Mountains" and "Sometimes It Snows in April", and background singing on many tracks. John L. Nelson, Prince's father, is credited as co-composer on "Christopher Tracy's Parade" and "Under the Cherry Moon". Several other contributions are also featured throughout the album. "Christopher Tracy's Parade" was originally called "Little Girl Wendy's Parade", the title of which can be heard in the lyrics of "Kiss". "New Position" was a 1982 track pulled from Prince's vault and re-recorded from scratch for ParadeClare Fischer composed and arranged the orchestra heard on many tracks, the album is Prince's first to use a full orchestra. Eric Leeds and Sheila E. provide some instrumentation and/or singing on various tracks. Prince's then-fiancée Susannah Melvoin (twin sister of Wendy) provides backing vocals on several tracks, and their brother, Jonathan Melvoin plays the drums on "Do U Lie?".

Music and lyrics[edit]Edit

Parade eschews the guitar and rock elements of Prince's 1984 album Purple Rain in favor of the psychedelic pop style he explored on Around the World in a Day(1985), austerely produced funk, and soundtrack compositions.[1] According to Blender magazine's Keith Harris, Parade "makes a pop cavalcade out of the same psychedelic affectations" of Around the World in a Day.[2] Robert Christgau of The Village Voice viewed it as a modern "fusion of Fresh's foundation and Sgt. Pepper's filigrees", with songs he described as baroque pop creations.[3]

Parade is bookended by two songs—"Christopher Tracy's Parade" and "Sometimes It Snows in April"—that reference Christopher Tracy, the protagonist from Under the Cherry Moon. The latter song is an acoustic ballad with chromatic choruses and sentimental lyrics bidding farewell to Tracy.[4] Christgau wrote that the album's lyrics suggest that Prince sings as Tracy, although he cannot be certain.[3] Parade also features some French lyrics and chanson arrangements, which refer to the film's French setting.[4]

Release and reception[edit]Edit

Professional ratings
Review scores
Source Rating
Allmusic [5]
Blender [2]
Chicago Sun-Times [6]
Robert Christgau A−[3]
Entertainment Weekly C−[7]
Hi-Fi News & Record Review A:1*[8]
The Rolling Stone Album Guide [9]

Parade was released on March 31, 1986, to acclaim from music critics, who viewed it as a creative comeback after the critical disappointment of Around the World in a Day.[10] In a contemporary review for The New York TimesJohn Rockwellsaid that the album succeeds in part because of the more aggressive songs, "in which Prince chooses to play up the black side of his multifaceted musical sensibility."[4] The Sunday Times found its musical scope "stunning", and the Detroit Free Press called the album "a confirmation of Prince's place as a superior melodist, arranger, and player, as well as a celebration of his creativity."[10] Hi-Fi News & Record Review called songs such as "New Position and "Girls and Boys" well-crafted funk and said that "when Prince opts to go completely daft, as he does on 'Do U Lie', a soft-shoe shuffle that comes replete with French accordion dressing, even then the result is somehow endearing and instantly likeable."[11]

Commercially, Parade charted at number 3 on the pop chart and at number 2 on the R&B chart, while selling 2 million copies in the United States, where Prince's sales had decreased. However, it garnered him a new commercial audience in Europe and sold 2 million copies internationally.[12] The album finished 25th in the voting for The Village Voice's annual Pazz & Jop critics poll.[13] Christgau, the poll's creator, ranked it as the 33rd best album of the year on his own list.[14] NME magazine named it their album of the year for 1986.[15]

In a retrospective review for AllMusicStephen Thomas Erlewine viewed Parade as a musically diverse near-masterpiece that is given depth by Prince's "weird religious and sexual metaphors".[5] In a less enthusiastic review for Entertainment WeeklyGreg Sandow said that its ornate ballads and inconsistent material made it more self-indulgent than Around the World in a Day.[7] According to American rapper Chuck D, Prince "turned off a lot of the black followers [with the album]. I couldn't understand that. People don't want artists to endlessly repeat themselves, yet they can't tolerate change either. Prince changes all the time, always working on the public's imagination, always trying to keep ahead of them."[16]

Track listing[edit]Edit

All songs written and composed by Prince, except where noted. 

Side one
No. Title Writer(s) Length
1. "Christopher Tracy's Parade"   Prince, John L. Nelson 2:11
2. "New Position"   2:20
3. "I Wonder U"   1:39
4. "Under the Cherry Moon"   Prince, John L. Nelson 2:57
5. "Girls & Boys"   5:29
6. "Life Can Be So Nice"   3:13
7. "Venus de Milo"   1:55
Side two
No. Title Writer(s) Length
8. "Mountains"   Prince, Wendy & Lisa 3:57
9. "Do U Lie?"   2:44
10. "Kiss"   Prince, arranged by David Z 3:37
11. "Anotherloverholenyohead"   4:00
12. "Sometimes It Snows in April"   Prince, Wendy & Lisa 6:48

Personnel[edit]Edit

  • Susannah Melvoin - backing vocals (1, 5, 11)
  • Marie France - vocals (5)
  • Sandra Francisco - vocals (9)
  • Mazarati - backing vocals (10)
  • Craig Powell - rhythm guitar (10)
  • Tony Christian - keyboards (10)
  • Marr Star - drums (10)
  • Aaron Keith - drums (10)
  • Kevin Patrick - backing vocals (10)
  • Clare Fischer - orchestra arrangements

Charts[edit]Edit

Chart (1986) Peak

position

UK Albums Chart[17] 4
US Billboard 200[18] 3
US Billboard R&B Albums[18] 2

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