Quarter Life Crisis: Life Is Just A Parade

Friday, September 30, 2011

I turn 25 this year and resting in a the comfortable grey area of a 'quarter life crisis'. To celebrate, for the next few weeks of September, I'm recapping some of my favorite albums and singles that are turning the big 2-5 along with me...

And so here we are at the end of the 'crisis', hope you've enjoyed the ride...

Everyone has their personal favorite Prince record(s). Just ask around and you'll get a myriad of answers. Mostly Purple Rain is the common choice, with Sign O' The Times right behind as their opus of choice. Dirty Mind and 1999 are sometimes thrown into the pot. The show-offs say a really obscure bootleg that about 4 people own just to impress you with their depth on Prince knowledge.

While I'll be the common (wo)man and say that Purple Rain is probably my all-time favorite Prince record, Parade just happens to be my personal favorite.

There is a difference between overall and personal favorite. Personal for me is that, I enjoy this album for the way Prince just prances and screws with you on this little masterpiece. It's so weird, so idiosyncratic, extremely eclectic, and kind of fussy that even when you're not sure what the hell is going on, you still get it--and I love that. Prince knew he could do whatever the figamajig he wanted just because he had 1999 and Purple Rain wrapped around his torso, now like a scientist in a lab, he was fiddling with formulas to create something that will take him even further out of the box.

Prince utilized more orchestral elements as well as his appreciation for jazz, but even though he expanded his band and widen his sound scope, the results are quite minimal. Notes of that could be heard when he pampered them on sub-acts like The Family ("The Screams Of Passion") and Jill Jones ("Mia Bocca"), but Parade has the full effect. Parade can be summed up as a experimental, art-pop deco jazz stunner, where each song takes you down a new avenue. "Kiss" is stylish modernized funk that is just incredibly classic while "Mountains" (my favorite) is peppered with horns and wisdom. "Girls and Boys" is paunchy with a fat baritone sax while "New Position" and "I Wonder U" take on sparse percussive prog leans. The lovely stroll of "Do U Lie?" has a je ne sais quoi as it wedges in a shuffle that recalls the early throws of jazz. The gorgeous "Sometimes It Snows In April" rounds out the cast of sound characters.

Parade was the accompaniment to Under The Cherry Moon, Prince's second flick and since it was no Purple Rain (allegedly it's pretty horrid, though I've never really had a desire to see it), the soundtrack, to my thought, never got herald as much even though it's quite a milestone that kept the door open for Sign O' The Times to strut right in a year later. Though it's a hodge-podge of ideas that seem unfinished and a bit indulgent, Parade's charm still keeps working on me.

Notable Tracks

Uh-huh! Seminal cut from O Purple One. This is the Prince funk that musicians today are still trying replicate.

Favorite one from the bunch."Mountains" is the most accessible, yet it's also disjointed due to the tempo changes and the oddball (but fabulous) horn work. Slightly with a gospel edge and pure perfection.

Prince is one smooth MF---this is just so sexy and cool. Segues well from the crackling "Kiss" to where we get the 'blue lights in the basement' jazz vibe as a nice cool-down.  

Sometimes It Snows In April
One of Prince's best, if not the best, ballads he has ever sung and penned. Period.

1 comment:

  1. This is also one of my favorite Prince albums. It was his last naturally "relaxed" recording before he began his slow trek toward the insularity that personified his work post-"The Gold Experience." Though not to slight the immediate wake of albums after "Parade," as those are epic in their own way.

    Anyway, it has a very cool jazzy, European, but modern feel as you said. Very sexy & fun. It is a shame the other singles didn't catch on in that major way, it went above folks head. The movie is actually one of my favorites ever, and if you like stylish, funny stuff, it isn't so bad. Just take it for what it is.-QH


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