Prince – Sign O’ The Times Super Deluxe Edition

Prince - Sign O The Times - Remastered & Expanded - Header (prince.com)

Prince – Sign O The Times – Remastered & Expanded – Header

Album data

Artist Prince
Album Sign O’ The Times Super Deluxe Edition
Year of release 2020

Rating

Prince - Sign O The Times - Remastered & Expanded releases (prince.com)

Prince – Sign O The Times – Remastered & Expanded cd & lp releases and the singles box

Inleiding

On June 25th, 2020, at 06:17 PM I recieved an email containing fantastic news. On September 25th, 2020, Sign O’ The Times was to be re-released, remastered, supplemented with a disc with single-edits and B-sides, three (!) discs filled with previously unreleased material from the Paisley Park Vault, two cd’s containing a 1987 concert at The Netherlands in Utrecht, only to top it off with a DVD containg the complete New Year’s Eve 1987 concert at Paisley Park, with special guest star Miles Davis.

That same day the first teaser was released: Witness 4 The Prosecution (version 1), an incredible song. I already had it in my possession for decades, but to finally hear it in pristine qualitly was pure bliss.

Prince - Sign O The Times - Remastered & Expanded - Singles Box order confirmation (apoplife.nl)

Prince – Sign O The Times – Remastered & Expanded – Singles Box order confirmation

That very same day I ordered the singles box, consisting of 7 singles for the (ridiculous) price of $ 99.98. I usually don’t spend that kind of money on such trivial releases, but, well, in this case…, it’s a Prince release, related to Sign O’ The Times.

In the following weeks tension was professionally built. Via multiple mails I was constantly reminded of the upcoming release and extra teasers:

  • I Could Never Take The Place Of Your Man (1979 version) on July 17th, 2020. A big surprise for the Prince music lovers, because, not only this version was unheard of, it was a new wave version of the song, recorded as far back as the sessions for the second Prince album (titled Prince)
  • Cosmic Day on August 6th, 2020. Another great surprise. Psychedelic and great
  • Witness 4 The Prosecution (version 2) on August 13th, 2020. Recorded after the decision had been made to fire The Revolution (but hadn’t been made public yet), the rawer version (because The Revolution influences were scrapped) that I personally prefer
  • Forever In My Life (early vocal studio run-through) on August 28th, 2020. Or, a demo, as it was originally intended, with the choirs following the sung lines, instead of preceding them, the way it was on the released version, due to a starting error. Prince kept the error, providing added value to the song. It’s remarkable that the live version can be heard here in its entirety.
    That same day the first (of seven in total) episode of the great and highly informative Prince: The Story Of Sign O’ The Times podcast was announced
  • Announcement of the second episode of the Prince: The Story Of Sign O’ The Times podcast on September 4th, 2020, that delves into Dream Factory, living together with fiancee Susannah Melvoin and the (new) horn section made up of Eric Leeds and Atlanta Bliss
  • Announcement of the third episode of the Prince: The Story Of Sign O’ The Times podcast on September 11th, 2020, that delves into the (in)direct influences of newspapers and news resulting in the phenomenal song Sign O’ The Times and how an actual earthquake inspired Housequake
  • I Need A Man on September 17th, 2020. Not via mail this time, but via the Prince Facebook page
  • Announcement of the fourth episode of the Prince: The Story Of Sign O’ The Times podcast on September 18th, 2020, delving into the dissolution of The Revolution and the change(s) Prince went through
  • Announcement of the premiere of the New Year’s Eve show on December 31st, 1987, which was to be broadcast on September 24th, 2020, on the Prince channel on Youtube

N.B.:
All mails are incorporated in this review, see the bottom of this page.

Even though I already knew more than half of the Vault recordings from the endless stream of bootleg releases, I couldn’t wait for the release. Finally the right sound quality, supplemented with a previously unreleased concert from the Sign O’ The Times Tour at Utrecht in The Netherlands. Great! And, if that wasn’t enough, a DVD Live At Paisley Park – December 31, 1987. Those images also circulated on bootleg (also see Prince – The 25 best live bootlegs!), but only the second half.

Prince - Sign O' The Times Super Deluxe Edition (prince.com)

Prince – Sign O’ The Times Super Deluxe Edition

Review

Well, what can I say? I start doubting again, which is his best album: Parade, Sign O’ The Times or is it Lovesexy?

Just like the 1999 Super Deluxe Edition, this release is beautifully packaged, beautiful book, great photos, handwritten lyrics, liner notes and, of course, genius music.

Combined with the podcast Prince: The Story Of Sign O’ The Times this particular period really comes to life. The participation of Susan Rogers in particular, helps to frame the work in a much broader perpective, especially artistically. Every time I hear her talk I am grateful for having been able to see and hear her in person (and was able to talk with her, even if it was very, very briefly). Her contributions are essential.

I don’t have much else to say about the remastering than this: finally! The album sounds fuller and richer than ever. The cd Single Mixes & Edits offers exactly what it promises.

Prince - Sign O' The Times - Photo session (vogue.com)

Prince – Sign O’ The Times – Photo session

Vault

The true treasure can be found on cd’s 4, 5 and 6 Vault, Part 1, Vault, Part 2 and Vault, Part 3. I can hardly believe I can listen to songs like All My Dreams, Strange Relationship (original version), Witness 4 The Prosecution, In A Large Room With No Light and Crucial in perfect sound quality after all these years. A treasure! The songs I didn’t know yet (or not in this particular version) are beautiful as well. The Power Fantastic recording offered here is highly touching, and is just one of the many, many highlights.

Is it all that good then? No, the songs meant for the proposed musical The Dawn are less interesting. Still, the bewilderment prevails. Of the three Vault cd’s, at least two full genius albums could have been compiled. Much of the vault material has the same unparalleled high quality level as the regular releases.

Prince - Sign O' The Times - Photo session (vogue.com)

Prince – Sign O’ The Times – Photo session

Live

The June 20th, 1987, concert in the Utrecht stadium Galgenwaard is a fantastic addition. The album is more live than many regular live album, yet, due to the lack of audience noise, it feels more like a rehearsal than a live event, where the audience was hysterical. Once again, Prince and the band stand out. Impressive!

The set is closed off with the New Year’s Eve 1987 show. The show is great and the images are wonderful. Prince was obviously working on the next project. Some songs that were part of the regular set during the Lovesexy Tour are played this evening, like Erotic City, including its choreography.

Is there nothing comment-worthy regarding the boxset itself? Sure there is, why no two cd’s of the Dream Factory album, a cd with the Camille album and three cd’s with the proposed and rejected Crystal Ball album?

But, it really is nitpicking. The box proves again how incredibly eclectic, creative, self-contained and genius Prince really was in 1986/1987. The set in one word? Crucial!

Prince - Sign O' The Times - Photo session (vogue.com)

Prince – Sign O’ The Times – Photo session

Songs

All songs “Produced, Arranged, Composed and Performed by Prince”.

CD 1: Sign O’ The Times (disc 1)

  • Sign O’ The Times
  • Play In The Sunshine
  • Housequake
  • The Ballad Of Dorothy Parker
  • It
  • Starfish And Coffee
  • Slow Love
  • Hot Thing
  • Forever In My Life

CD 2: Sign O’ The Times (disc 2)

  • U Got The Look
  • If I Was Your Girlfriend
  • Strange Relationship
  • I Could Never Take The Place Of Your Man
  • The Cross
  • It’s Gonna Be A Beautiful Night
  • Adore

CD 3: Single Mixes & Edits

  • Sign O’ The Times (7″ single edit)
  • La, La, La, He, He, Hee (7″ single edit)
  • La, La, La, He, He, Hee (Highly Explosive) (7″ single edit)
  • If I Was Your Girlfriend (7″ single edit)
  • Shockadelica (“If I Was Your Girlfriend” B-side)
  • Shockadelica (12″ long version)
  • U Got the Look (Long Look) (12″ edit)
  • Housequake (7″ edit)
  • Housequake (7 Minutes MoQuake)
  • I Could Never Take The Place Of Your Man (Fade 7″ edit)
  • Hot Thing (7″ single edit)
  • Hot Thing (Extended Remix)
  • Hot Thing (Dub Version)

CD 4: Vault, Part 1

  • I Could Never Take The Place Of Your Man (1979 version)
  • Teacher, Teacher (1985 version)
  • All My Dreams
  • Can I Play With U? (featuring Miles Davis)
  • Wonderful Day (original version)
  • Strange Relationship (original version)
  • Visions
  • The Ballad Of Dorothy Parker (with horns)
  • Witness 4 The Prosecution (version 1)
  • Power Fantastic (live in studio)
  • And That Says What?
  • Love And Sex
  • A Place In Heaven (Prince vocal)
  • Colors
  • Crystal Ball (7″ mix)
  • Big Tall Wall (version 1)
  • Nevaeh Ni Ecalp A
  • In A Large Room With No Light

CD 5: Vault, Part 2

  • Train
  • It Ain’t Over ‘Til The Fat Lady Sings
  • Eggplant (Prince vocal)
  • Everybody Want What They Don’t Got
  • Blanche
  • Soul Psychodelicide
  • The Ball
  • Adonis And Bathsheba
  • Forever In My Life (early vocal studio run-through)
  • Crucial (alternate lyrics)
  • The Cocoa Boys
  • When The Dawn Of The Morning Comes
  • Witness 4 The Prosecution (version 2)
  • It Be’s Like That Sometimes

CD 6: Vault, Part 3

  • Emotional Pump
  • Rebirth Of The Flesh (with original outro)
  • Cosmic Day
  • Walkin’ In Glory
  • Wally
  • I Need A Man
  • Promise To Be True
  • Jealous Girl (version 2)
  • There’s Something I Like About Being Your Fool
  • Big Tall Wall (version 2)
  • A Place In Heaven (Lisa vocal)
  • Wonderful Day (12″ mix)
  • Strange Relationship (1987 Shep Pettibone Club Mix)

CD 7/8: Live In Utrecht

  • Intro/Sign O’ The Times
  • Play In The Sunshine
  • Little Red Corvette
  • Housequake
  • Girls & Boys
  • Slow Love
  • Take The “A” Train/Pacemaker/I Could Never Take The Place Of Your Man
  • Hot Thing
  • Four (With Sheila E. Drum Solo)
  • If I Was Your Girlfriend
  • Let’s Go Crazy
  • When Doves Cry
  • Purple Rain
  • 1999
  • Forever In My Life
  • Kiss
  • The Cross
  • It’s Gonna Be A Beautiful Night

DVD: Live At Paisley Park – December 31, 1987 (DVD)

  • Sign O’ The Times
  • Play In The Sunshine
  • Little Red Corvette
  • Erotic City
  • Housequake
  • Slow Love
  • Do Me, Baby
  • Adore
  • I Could Never Take The Place Of Your Man
  • What’s Your Name Jam
  • Let’s Pretend We’re Married
  • Delirious
  • Jack U Off
  • Drum Solo
  • Twelve
  • Hot Thing
  • If I Was Your Girlfriend
  • Let’s Go Crazy
  • When Doves Cry
  • Purple Rain
  • 1999
  • U Got The Look
  • It’s Gonna Be A Beautiful Night Medley (featuring Miles Davis)
Prince - Sign O' The Times (startribune.com)

Prince – Sign O’ The Times (original)

Mails

Click on on of the lines below to read the received mails and the Facebook statement:

 

Video/Spotify
This story contains an accompanying video. Click on the following link to see it: Video: Prince – Sign O’ The Times Super Deluxe Edition. The A Pop Life playlist on Spotify has been updated as well.

 

Prince - Sign O The Times - Remastered & Expanded - Footer (prince.com/maraid.co.uk)

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2 comments

    • IPH on 10/01/2020 at 9:34 PM
    • Reply

    I’ve used the playlist in ITunes to compile Camille, Dream Factory and Crustal Ball, using this set. (of course, you need to have the Black Album for “Rock Hard in a Funky Place”, the 1999 Crystal Ball for “Good Love” and “Movie Star”, and The B-Sides for “Feel U Up”. The track missing from this set IMO is “Sexual Suicide”, which I have on the Crucial bootleg, in order to recreate my favorite version of Dream Factory.

    1. Haven’t got round to it yet. Still think it’s great that it’s possible!!

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