Prince’s “Parade” Reviewed
“Kiss” is career defining greatness. The day after Marvin Gaye was shot to death, I had a brutal hangover and I was lying on the sofa smoking dope and watching Live AID, where the superstars of the era got together to perform across two continents some of the shittiest music known to mankind and without a single redeeming quality, everybody from Bowie and Jagger to Dylan and the Stones, performed lazy, drowsy post-punk egocentric turns.
Nothing could save me, and nothing could save the day, except for Prince. On the largest stage in the world, the we are in we are the world, he introduced a zeitgeist capturing, in the moment, spark funk, bass slap minimalistic moment of eternal magic. The black and video sparkled and spanked and the strictures and scriptures of bottled up love blew down the doors of Live Aid and made it real. With this song, at that moment, on that day, “Kiss” made Prince the greatest rock star on the world.
What we didn’t know, because we hadn’t seen it, was that when he sang “you don’t have to be rich to be my girl” he was stepping through the fourth wall of his own strange variant on “Stardust Memories”, but without that foreknowledge, it felt so minimal when compared with the bombast around it. Even the video, in black and white like the movie, is minor, Prince and two women.
The story of the song, originally a 12 bar blues till funk band Mazarati overhauled it, Prince took it back, added the “think I better dance now” bridge, the trilling guitar double time, and boom – masterpiece for the ages. Music yes, but more, it is one of the most inclusive seduction songs of all time: any girls, all girls, are so welcome. You might consider it a gift in a sense to the ordinary beauty of people, to what are the things that make the sexual, sexual, to paraphrase a different song: it’s in her kiss.
Quite possibly Prince’s single greatest achievement, it holds the whole of his eight album, the 1986’s Parade up straight and the kicker is: it doesn’t need holding up. You know how people claim Parade is a great album? Well, guess what. It is a great album. From “Girls And Boys” (played on a boombox in the middle of an upper crust party Prince ends up getting thrown out of, in the movie) through to orchestrated piano pieces – Prince is a hotel piano player cum gigolo, to the huge “Mountain”, the shoulda been a contender “Anotherloverholenyohead” , to the death song resurrected after his death as an ultimate death song “Sometimes It Snows In Winter” -the album is, indeed, all that. The movie may have been so bad it is a camp classic, but the album gave it a sense of the excitement and the excitement has the uncommon place, where music trumps wealth, hell, where music trumps life.
A sort of Eurotrash world, funk slow fuse minimalistic , it takes from all over (over 20 people play for the former one man band), but scales it down, it is huge and skeletal. A big album, without being overblown, on the day after Marvin Gaye was killed, Prince was the only reason to smile.