I used to have mixed feelings about the Parade album. For those of you unfamiliar with Parade, it’s the soundtrack to Prince’s second movie, 1986’s Under the Cherry Moon. I guess following 1984’s semi-autobiographical Purple Rain, people weren’t expecting Prince’s second movie to be an artsy black and white film about two gigolos in the south of France. To me it’s incredibly enjoyable in an “it’s so bad it’s good” kind of way. Some people apparently swear by Under the Cherry Moon. I don’t know these people, but they’re on the internet, so they must exist. I’m not 100% sure exactly what the term “camp” means, but in mind, the movie Under the Cherry Moon belongs in the dictionary next to that word. Better to be memorably bad than forgettably bad, right? I think…
Anyway, I looked at the rottentomatoes.com reviews for the movie and the Critics’ Consensus is the perfect segue in to what I really want to talk about:
“Under the Cherry Moon may satisfy the most rabid Prince fans, but everyone else will be better served with this vanity project’s far superior soundtrack.”
My initial reaction to Parade was that it sounded extremely dated and not worthy of the hype. There are certainly Prince heads who rank Parade in their Top 3 Prince albums and it took me more than a few listens to understand them. I still wouldn’t put it in my Top 3, but I’ll say it’s grown on me to a point where I’d say that Side B of the album is one of my favorite sides to any album ever. “Mountains,” “Anotherloverholenyohead,” “Sometimes it Snows in April,” and “Kiss” is a murderer’s row. There are multiple 5 Star songs there. Side A is a different story. Songs like “Christopher Tracy’s Parade,” “New Position,” and “Life Can Be So Nice” are so dated I still struggle to get on board with them.
Right in the middle of Side A is a timeless, poetic, haunting ballad in a what I believe to be a 6/8 time signature. That would be the song I’d call the title track “Under the Cherry Moon” except I’m not sure that’s accurate since the album is technically called Parade. The song teeters on the edge of sounding like something from a vampire movie. If Prince even gave a hint of a Transylvanian accent this would sound like a Dracula ballad. I still dig the vibe of the song and Prince’s unique, stripped down vocal performance. The lyrics are beautiful and fortify any argument that Prince was one of the greatest songwriters who ever lived.
My last note on this song is that anytime I hear Parade there’s a hint of melancholy for me because it’s the final album by Prince and The Revolution. Prince would have other bands, but none as cohesive or significant as The Revolution. I doubt they’ll ever get the credit they deserve for impacting Prince’s songwriting and musical taste, but they were his bandmates during the peak of his popularity. I think Wendy, Lisa, Brownmark, Dr. Fink, and Bobby Z. made a greater impact on Prince than most people realize. They weren’t just the people playing instruments in the background. This album marked the end of an amazing era.
As for today’s song, “Under the Cherry Moon” I’ll give it a 3 out of 5 stars again, which apparently is my default score at this point. I swear I’m not doing it intentionally. This is six days in a row of songs that I find slightly better than the average Prince song, which also means that I find them significantly better than most songs by anyone else. Long live Prince and The Revolution.