Calling this one of Prince's most interesting albums doesn't do justice to how kicky and playable it is. The soundtrack from his failed romantic comedy Under the Cherry Moon, the disc often sounds like a preview of the supremely surefooted quirkiness of its follow-up, the classic Sign o' the Times. Marrying lean funk grooves to over-the-top orchestrations and trying his hand at Parisian balladry and a hushed, Pet Sounds-style instrumental, he triumphs as few other record makers did in 1986. --Rickey Wright
Review by Stephen Thomas Erlewine
Undaunted by the criticism Around the World in a Day received, Prince continued to pursue his psychedelic inclinations on Parade, which also functioned as the soundtrack to his second film, Under the Cherry Moon. Originally conceived as a double album, Parade has the sprawling feel of a double record, even if it clocks in around 45 minutes. Prince & the Revolution shift musical moods and textures from song to song -- witness how the fluttering psychedelia of "Christopher Tracy's Parade" gives way to the spare, jazzy funk of "New Position," which morphs into the druggy "I Wonder U" -- and they're determined not to play it safe, even on the hard funk of "Girls and Boys" and "Mountains," as well as the stunning "Kiss," which hits hard with just a dry guitar, keyboard, drum machine, and layered vocals. All of the group's musical adventures, even the cabaret-pop of "Venus de Milo" and "Do U Lie?" do nothing to undercut the melodicism of the record, and the amount of ground they cover in 12 songs is truly remarkable. Even with all of its attributes, Parade is a little off-balance, stopping too quickly to give the haunting closer, "Sometimes It Snows in April," the resonance it needs. For some tastes, it may also be a bit too lyrically cryptic, but Prince's weird religious and sexual metaphors develop into a motif that actually gives the album weight. If it had been expanded to a double album, Parade would have equaled the subsequent Sign 'o' the Times, but as it stands, it's an astonishingly rewarding near-miss.