. . .
Along with “Let’s Go Crazy” and “The Cross,” “Mountains” is probably my favorite Prince song, such a stellar jam that I’m pissed at myself that I didn’t realize how much I loved it until 2016, but better late than never.
Seamlessly blending funky soul and psychedelic pop, “Mountains” is as big-sounding as its subject, riding on top of a massive four-on-the-floor kickdrum that never lets up for even seconds, even as the song changes all around it.
That kickdrum is surrounded by glistening synths and ringing percussion, giving “Mountains” the feel of a magic carpet flying high in the sky gazing down at the world.
Prince brings out his falsetto for the verses, but for me, at least, I can’t understand a thing he’s singing, which is luckily rectified by the chorus, where — accompanied by Wendy Melvoin and Lisa Coleman — he sings:
I say it’s only mountains and the sea
Love will conquer if you just believe (oh, yeah)
You know, “only” mountains and the sea. No big deal. Then for the second half of the verse, it’s just Wendy and Lisa — who get co-writing credits — responding.
It’s only mountains
And the sea
There’s nothing greater, you and me
This part of the chorus is accompanied by a trumpet obbligato that is pure Beatles, suddenly positing “Mountains” as a cross between Beatles 1967 and Sly & The Family Stone 1969, but even better. “Mountains” didn’t need that trumpet obbligato to be successful, but once heard, it becomes utterly necessary.
After that “Mountains” is just pure overpowering relentless groove, expertly deploying all of the weapons at its disposal to run you over like a truck.
Just before the end of the album version, “Mountains” changes up the groove, adds some droning sitar-ish noise — though that kickdrum remains nut-crunching — and begins to wander off into what is clearly going to be an all-night jam, which is then continued on the extended 12″ version.
I didn’t know that an extended version existed until a couple of days ago, and it’s fucking awesome: steel drum solos, sax solos, synth solos, guitar solos, trumpet solos, whatever the hell else they want to, including the master of ceremonies exhorting you to get out and dance!
I couldn’t find it on YouTube, but you can hear it right here.
Either way, “Mountains” is an all-time banger, and is one of the major reasons that Parade is probably my favorite Prince album, but that said, as a single — and the follow-up to the world-wide smash, “Kiss,” — it kinda stiffed. I mean by Prince in his imperial phase standards, as it still made it to #23 in the U.S.
“Mountains” official music video
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