My favorite artist making music right now is Anderson .Paak. He has a band called Free Nationals who certainly make a major contribution to his music and creativity, but in the end, .Paak is the straw that stirs the drink. Kelsey, Jose, Callum, and T. Nava seem to be fine musicians, but what would they be without .Paak? Then last December they dropped an album and it ended up being one of my favorite albums of the past five years. .Paak only appears on one song – one of my favorites on the album – but it is unmistakably a Free Nationals album and I love it.
We never got an album by The Revolution. I could be wrong, but in my mind “Mountains” is the closest we get to hearing what that album might have sounded like and it’s glorious. Simply put, the members of The Revolution don’t get enough credit for being one of the baddest bands that ever existed. “Mountains” is special for a multitude of reasons, but the main reason may be the sentence on the princevault.com entry that states “Demo by Wendy and Lisa (no Prince input).” “Mountains” is The Revolution. Prince certainly had a lot of input. It’s difficult for me to say how much. Wendy and Lisa might be the only two people who really know. Sadly, Parade was the final album credited to Prince and the Revolution. We’ll never know what could’ve been next.
“Mountains” is beautiful and inspiring. It’s the song that opens the brilliant second side of 1986’s Parade album. According to Wendy and Lisa on a recent episode of SiriusXM’s Purple Playlist, they introduced him to their “Mountains” demo after they recorded it in London and he immediately took it and added his lyrics and vocals. This song means a lot to me and I already wrote about it for housequake.com last August. Check out that link if you’d like to read more. “Mountains” helped me through a rough time and I still get goosebumps when I hear “It’s only mountains and the sea.” I purchased the 12″ single from Discogs so I could get the full 10 minute version. The extended stuff was worth the price, but I’m not sure I like the different drum sound used in that version. I still prefer the version on the Parade album.
One last story that sticks in my head about “Mountains.” In April 2018 Questlove was a guest on The Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon. Yes, I’m well aware Questlove is the drummer for the Tonight Show house band, The Roots, but that night he was also a “guest” promoting one of his books. After the interview segment Jimmy challenged Questo to a game of “Guess that Prince Song.” Prince would play the opening second of a Prince song and Questlove would guess the song. He easily burned through “Raspberry Beret,” “Baby I’m a Star,” “Gett Off,” “I Feel For You,” “U Got the Look,” and “Alphabet St.” He was able to guess “Under the Cherry Moon” with only 1/4 second. I took issue with the 1/2 second challenge. It wasn’t anything Questlove did, it was Jimmy. They played 1/2 second of “Mountains” and Questlove correctly guessed it. Jimmy freaked out and commented that he didn’t even know “Mountains.” What?!? I love you Jimmy, but damn it, how can you not know “Mountains?” I was beside myself. Also, not trying to brag, but I too guessed every one of those songs correctly and many of them more quickly than Questlove did. I would LOVE to take the Questlove “Guess the Prince Song in One Second or Less” challenge.
“Mountains” belongs on any and every list of Prince’s greatest songs, and it’s special because it’s truly a song by Prince and The Revolution. “Mountains” will forever be one of my favorites. Long live The Revolution.