Number Ones: #76


  • PRINCE & THE REVOLUTION Mountains (Paisley Park)
  • Week Ending 21st June 1986
  • 2 Weeks At #1


Between 1984 and 1993, effectively the period of Prince’s commercial pomp (from When Doves Cry‘s breakthrough to the release of HITS 1 and HITS 2), only four of his singles failed to make the UK Top 40. Two can be explained away as either victims of kamikaze timing (I Would Die 4 U at Christmas 1984) or public apathy at the end of a rather underwhelming campaign (Pop Life, from Around The World In A Day), while The Morning Papers was just a bizarre choice anyway from the Symbol project, and being its umpteenth single compounded the decision.

What about Mountains, though? How on Earth did one of Prince’s best-ever records actually flop at #45?

The comedown from Purple Rain, and the British public’s reluctance to adjust to Around The World In A Day‘s psychedelic pop so soon after it, appeared to be over when Kiss burst onto the scene at the beginning of 1986. Lean and funky, playful and witty, it was easily Prince & The Revolution’s biggest UK hit since When Doves Cry. It was also the first (new) Prince & The Revolution single I’d bought since When Doves Cry, although it fell just short of the #1 spot on my chart, peaking at #2.

I was most definitely on board for the new album which followed, ostensibly the soundtrack to another Prince film Under The Cherry Moon, but entitled Parade. Of course, Under The Cherry Moon turned out to be a dud (a beautifully filmed, black-and-white dud) but Parade cemented my passion for all things Paisley Park and Prince & The Revolution related. ‘Twas a mixed bag, for sure; wilfully experimental and stylistically all over the boudoir, including a seven-song segue lasting the whole of Side One.

Some of it was like nothing I’d encountered before, but it was seductive and fascinating. Warners must have wondered where the hell the hits were going to come from, aside from Kiss and the track which kicked off the second side of the album. Mountains.

In contrast to the minimalism of Kiss, it was an epic mix of rolling rhythms, huge synths, expansive percussion and a backing choir on the chorus. Mountains was, if you’ll excuse the pun, the very apex of the whole era of The Revolution, and their influence on the music Prince made, and the part they had in the way it sounded. (That would become clear in 1987 when Wendy & Lisa made their own album, with tracks such as Honeymoon Express, Waterfall, Chance To Grow and The Life).

It was fortunate that Mountains was at the start of Side Two, because I could not stop playing the track from the day I’d bought Parade on cassette in March. There was no other track, from any other album, that I can remember hammering as much as Mountains during virtually the whole of 1986.

By the time it was granted a UK release as Parade‘s second UK single, I was still obsessed enough with the track for it to debut at #3 before inevitably topping my chart, although the fortnight it spent at #1 hardly reflects just how much I was infatuated with it. Ironically, I didn’t buy the single until two decades later, and missed out on the fantastic 9-minute extended mix on the 12″ which might have prolonged its stay at the summit.

That #45 UK peak, though. U have got 2 be kidding me.

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