Photograph titled "Lungmotor" from the archive of the Bain News Service, c. 1940
I'm going to keep this short - it's hard to write about Prince intelligently because there is so much you need to know, and I'm just starting to figure out Prince's various collaborators, incarnations, official releases, and other stuff. I'm not really qualified to say anything about Prince's work beyond what I like and don't like, so I'll stick with that. What I really, really like is Parade, much more than I expected to. My first Prince purchase was Sign o' the Times - people tell you that's where to start - but that album doesn't really work for me as well as this one. Parade is like a Prince album custom tailored to what I like about Prince.
It's diverse without being baffling (see Sign o' the Times), it's got some jams without becoming a marathon slog (see 1999), and it's poppy without reminding me of the Prince videos from my high school years (see Diamonds and Pearls and Love Symbol Album). There are still plenty of Prince albums I haven't gotten to know well, but I'll be surprised if I end up liking any of them as well as Parade. Maybe I need to see Under the Cherry Moon if I'm going to be a Parade superfan.
The interesting thing about Parade is that I find it to be heavily backloaded - I think I'm developing a complex of some kind, though, because I have trouble enjoying the first halves of any albums lately. But I think that it must have been intentional in the case of Parade - the album's three charting singles are tracks 8, 10, and 11. The first half of the album is bogged down a little by an underwhelming intro track and a turgid title track, and it ends with a "meh" instrumental. The second half is perfect, though, with three great singles ("Kiss", "Mountains", and "Anotherloverholenyohead"), and three to great ballads ("Do U Lie?" and the jaw-droppingly beautiful closer "Sometimes It Snows in April"). I know that there's some interesting story and context to this album - it was his last album with the Revolution - but I'm still learning that part of the story. For now, I'm just glad that I found a Prince album that fits me like a purple glove.
"Mountains" by Prince and the Revolution