However, it seemed Prince was not on a normal time schedule compared to everyone else. He not only had time specifically to make his album, but whenever he felt like doing a session or two for someone he was working with or wanting to collaborate with someone else, he had the opportunity to do so. On top of that, it seemed when he wasn’t on tour, he was in the studio recording a wealth of songs, some of which remain on the vaults as is so the only time anyone knew he was releasing a project was when it was reported in Rolling Stone. As Purple Rain came out with a string of successful singles, it was when we heard about him already finished with another album, Around The World In A Day. Upon listening to the first song, the title track, it seemed Prince was not about to follow-up a successful album by creating variations on a theme. Due to how different some of the tracks sounded to those who were able to listen, it was immediately called Prince’s Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band with slight psychedelic touches. Yet with every hint of “Strawberry Fields Forever” or “Penny Lane” one felt they could detect on that album, you had songs like “America”, “Pop Life”, “Temptation”, and “Tamborine”.
Around The World In A Day featured four singles, at least in the UK. While “Paisley Park” also marked the introduction of his brand new boutique record label, it was also the first single released from the album and got a small bit of airplay in the United States but depending on what you read, either radio programmers didn’t like it as much, code for “it doesn’t sound anything similar to “When Doves Cry” or “Let’s Go Crazy” and we need something familiar so fans can say “hey, welcome back” or fans didn’t take to it immediately. They may have wanted something closer to Purple Rain than the Beatles fetishism Rolling Stone were creaming about. Nonetheless, when Warner Bros. UK decided to release “Raspberry Beret” as the album’s second single, that became the United States’ first release for the album. While not as big as Purple Rain, Around The World In A Day was a huge success and just when it was expected for him to perhaps rest another year, here came news of not only a new album, but a new movie.
However, fans had three months to have some sense of what this new movie would be like with Parade. Like Purple Rain, while it was released as a soundtrack, the music worked on its own terms and could be heard separately from the film. In fact, most people who saw the film probably wanted to forget it, as the film that cost Warner Bros. $12,000,000 to make barely made over $10,000,000. It lost money for Warner Bros., who spent $7,000,000 to make Purple Rain, relatively low but decent for a first-time project for Prince, and it made close to $70,000,000. Under The Cherry Moon was panned, bashed, give any word that compared it to complete crap and it probably received it. I saw it at a local drive-in theater and I didn’t mind it at all, I thought it was good. It was quirky and fun and while that may come off as a nice way to say “it’s good but not as good”, not at all. There were a lot of in-jokes throughout the film and sadly, new Prince fans weren’t wanting Prince to be quirky. They wanted to try to understand their new hero and Prince wasn’t about to let anyone in. If that is anywhere close to being true, Prince was not afraid to let people in through his music.
Prince had utilized string sections in two tracks on Around The World In A Day: “Raspberry Beret” and “The Ladder”. He liked it so much that he wanted to do much more with one of his next projects. He decided to make it work for a number of songs on his Parade album by bringing in Clare Fischer, a composer/arranger who most likely knew of Wendy Melvoin and Lisa Coleman, as both of them were children of the recording studio culture of Los Angeles that their parents came from. Nonetheless, Prince knew he wanted to work with Fischer in time they would but their relationship involved never meeting with each other. In an interview with Fischer, he said that Prince did not want to know what he looked like, nor did he want to be anywhere near the recording studio when he created arrangements for him. Prince felt if he was there, he would interfere and end up adding his input, which he did not want to do. Prince was confident in his own capabilities but wanted to work with Fischer because he put faith in his capabilities so in the time they made music, they apparently never met each other. They traded master tapes, sheet music, and notes and if Prince liked it, that is what would be added. If Prince didn’t like it, it wasn’t used. That was their healthy exchange and as odd as that might sound, it ended up creating some of the most incredible music in Prince’s discography.
I want to live life to the ultimate high
maybe I’ll die young like heroes die
maybe I’ll kiss you some wild special way
if nobody kills me or thrills me soon
I’ll die in your arms under the cherry moon
Essentially he is telling what will happen in the film but what works about the song is while it wouldn’t be known that Prince played everything but the arrangement in “Under The Cherry Moon”, it sounds like it’s just him and his “band” in a small jazz club, playing a bit of the blues and being intimate with no one but himself. I always love the “if that alright” part as he is getting into a piano groove. One can say he is either giving himself code as he is in the studio doing the overdubs, or perhaps it’s a bit of code for Fischer to do something specific. One can say Prince got caught up in the moment and simply said something as if someone else was in the room or the studio. As the song comes to an end, the album’s first four tracks could have easily been something Prince could’ve or should’ve done more of in the years to come, and I wish he did. Then again, I probably would’ve said something to the effect of “Prince did that mini rock opera again, I wish he didn’t repeat himself.”
The song itself ends with two lines that you could say ended up being prophetic for what was to come for Prince and his career:
Sometimes I wish that life was never ending
and all good things, they say, never last
all good things, they say, never last
and love, it isn’t love until it’s past
Parade would become the last set of music credited to Prince & The Revolution. A tour in support of the album was fairly small compared to all of the dates did for Purple Rain and if you look at the concert dates, it almost seems as if he had no urge to push the music to a bigger or greater audience. Only eleven shows were done in the U.S. and the second half of the tour went to Europe along with a small handful of shows in Japan.
Perhaps the failure of the film in the United States moved Prince to wonder if it’s worth supporting the album at all. “Anotherloverholenyohead” only went as high as #63 on Billboard’s Pop Singles chart and ran out of steam in a month. By the end of the tour, Wendy & Lisa were no longer happy with Prince’s shenanigans and that put an end to The Revolution. While reading that made it off as if Prince’s decisions to break things down was sudden, perhaps it was something he was preparing to do in the first place, despite the fact most of his band had toured with him long before there was a Revolution.
Nonetheless, even when Parade was recorded, mixed, and mastered, he was still working on an album that had yet to be finished, Dream Factory and it had been planned for release at the end of the year. In other words, Prince was not only working on what was assumed to be one new album a year for three years, but he had enough on stand-by to possibly release a second album. All the song that were done over the years were put together for album configurations but Prince was not happy with either of them. A few weeks after Under The Cherry Moon was released in limited theaters, Prince was putting together what he felt was good enough for a double album. However, when Wendy & Lisa getting ready to leave, there was no reason for him to release Dream Factory as is and the album was scrapped. The album never came anywhere close to being approved for a final version but some of its songs would be used for a project-to-come.
That included a third album that was planned for 1987, and it was Crystal Ball that was was not only announced as his follow-up to Parade, but it would make up for the scrapped Dream Factory (at this point in his career, Prince’s on-again/off-again album projects were becoming told like a soap opera). Portions of what was Dream Factory were used for what was to be Crystal Ball and he came up with a plan to release it as a triple LP. That included tracks from a new project he was working on, where his voice was sped up to where he came close to sounding like a Chipmunk. That would be the voice of Camille and he had plans on releasing a full album under the character. While sales for his music were still very strong, Warner Bros. looked at the flop that was Under The Cherry Moon and told him under no circumstance would they ever release a 3-record set. He needed to reduce the amount of songs or come up with something completely different. While Prince had no problem with coming up with anything, two of his potentially-biggest projects were not meant to be and that would help him create what we now know as Sign ‘O’ The Times. When news of that album surfaced in Rolling Stone, I was kind of leery about it, only because his other projects were not considered worthy so what should I expect from him in 1987. We would find out on March 31, 1987.