Parade (Music from the Motion Picture Under the Cherry Moon)
In 1985, less than six months after the end of the Purple Rain Tour and the release of his Around the World in a Day album, Prince began shooting his second movie, Under the Cherry Moon. Released in 1986—and featuring Prince serving as both star and director—the black-and-white film lacked the performance-showcase feel of 1984’s Purple Rain (and didn’t come near ’s box office or critical heights). But Under the Cherry Moon still had strong musical elements, with Prince playing Christopher Tracy, a piano player and gigolo in 1930s France. And the album it inspired, Parade, is less of a traditional soundtrack and more of a companion album, in both style and structure. The album’s first four tracks—“Christopher’s Tracy Parade,” “New Position,” “I Wonder U,” and “Under the Cherry Moon”—play more like evocative scene-setters than traditionally constructed pop songs, with each clocking in at less than three minutes. The same goes for the piano instrumental “Venus de Milo” and “Do U Lie?”—the latter a bit of jazzy, French-kissed whimsy that perfectly captures the period and Riviera locale. But listeners don’t need to gaze upon the Cherry Moon in order to take part in the Parade: There’s the party jam “Girls & Boys,” which references “the steps of Versailles” and drops some French; the funk-rocker “Anotherloverholenyohead,” which serves as the album’s answer to “When Doves Cry”; and the gorgeous “Sometimes It Snows in April,” a Joni Mitchell-esque elegy for Christopher Tracy that would prove to be even more poignant when Prince himself died in April 2016. But the two biggest hits from Parade—which was released three months before Under the Cherry Moon hit theaters—have no connection to the film. First up is “Mountains,” one of two tracks that Prince wrote with guitarist Wendy Melvoin and keyboardist Lisa Coleman of The Revolution (Parade would prove to be the third and final album in which Prince shared billing with his best-known backing band). Then, of course, there’s the stuttering “Kiss,” the smash single that became one of Prince’s several career chart-toppers, and reconfirmed his mid-1980s commercial clout. With a sexy staccato beat that’s as impossible to resist as Prince’s flirty falsetto, “Kiss” proved once again why the singer simply ruled our world.