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Sign O’ The Times, Warner Bros. Records (1987) Sign O’ The Times © 1987, Warner Bros. Records
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Sign O’ The Times

Warner Bros. Records

Prince isn’t a star, he’s an event.

The release of Sign O’ The Times heralded Prince’s first album since disbanding the Revolution in October 1986 – the result of which causing much of the original content to be reworked, although members of the Revolution still feature in the configuration of the finished album (and entirely in It’s Gonna Be a Beautiful Night – recorded during a live show at Le Zenith in Paris, 25 August 1986, and which would happen to be the Revolution’s final track recorded as a group).

The Sign O’ The Times album is the culmination of a project resulting from the evolution of three previous albums. The initial sessions were began in the first half of 1986, recorded predominately at his home studio at 7141 Galpin Blvd., Chanhassen, in which Prince worked on an 18-track double album named Dream Factory. Prince had been unable to record at his new home studio for nearly a year due to the filming in France for Under The Cherry Moon. On his return to the US in late November 1985, and as the home studio was still not fully fitted out he based himself in Hollywood to begin recording tracks for Dream Factory. On his return to Minnesota in March 1986, Prince threw himself to work at the new studio, recording throughout the summer. However, by the time Dream Factory was complete the Revolution had been disbanded and caused the project to be abandoned. That October, Prince completed an entirely new 8-track album named Camille, which he laid down at Sunset Sound. Yet in early 1987, Prince decided to revisit the Dream Factory material, and reconfigured the tracks of both albums into a 22-track triple LP named Crystal Ball, with all the songs credited to Prince but under his new pseudonym Camille. When passing its master tape to Warner Brothers the label felt that the sheer number of tracks proposed for the release would sell better if reduced to a double album. Prince reluctantly obliged and again reworked the configuration, which was completed in January 1987. These shortlisted songs saw the project yet again renamed, to Sign O’ The Times (stylized as Sign “☮” The Times).

Sign O’ The Times has since become Prince’s most critically acclaimed work, but sold just 1.8 million copies in the US and 1.3 million elsewhere. On 2 July 1987 the album was certified Platinum by RIAA, and was later ranked by UK The Times newspaper number 23 in its list of the top albums of all time. Rolling Stone ranked it at #45 in their version of that list. The album received three Grammy nominations in 1987 but saw no wins. Those nominations were: Album Of The Year, and Best R&B Performance and Best R&B Song for U Got The Look – the final song recorded for the album.

Prince | Sign O The Times
Photography by Olivier Boitet

Part of tour supporting was filmed for the concert movie Sign O’ The Times, with additional scenes staged at Prince’s newly completed and personal studio complex Paisley Park. The segment for U Got The Look was shot on stage in Paris, when Sheena Easton happened to be making a guest appearance at the live show. 1986 is considered the peak year of Prince’s creativity, in which he worked on three albums of his own plus three others for his side-projects Jill Jones, Madhouse and Sheila E. Sign O’ The Times was remastered and reissued on 25 September 2020 as a 9-disk set titled Sign O’ The Times Super Deluxe Edition.

Cover story

The eclectic and iconic cover photo of Sign O’ The Times is a shot of the stage set for the Sign O’ The Times Tour captured at Prince’s rented warehouse at 6953 Washington Avenue in Edina, Minnesota. Oddly included and positioned just above Prince’s left shoulder, at close inspection can be seen a white box of Golden Dragon Inc. fortune cookies. The background itself is a backdrop borrowed from Chanhassen Dinner Theatres production of Guys And Dolls (while this backdrop was returned, the concept was recreated with real neon lights for the tour itself). Prince is not superimposed in the foreground, but photographer Jeff Katz sat Prince on a box positioned so close to the camera he is slightly out of focus.

Performers

All Instruments
Prince
Drums
Bobby Z. It's Gonna Be A Beautiful Night
Guitar
Wendy Melvoin Slow Love
Miko Weaver It's Gonna Be A Beautiful Night
Keyboards
Lisa Coleman It's Gonna Be A Beautiful Night
Matt "Dr." Fink It's Gonna Be A Beautiful Night
Bass Guitar
Brownmark It's Gonna Be A Beautiful Night
Percussion
Shelia E. It's Gonna Be A Beautiful Night, U Got The Look
Saxophone
Eric Leeds
Trumpet
Matthew Blistan "Atlanta Bliss"

Data

Production
Prince
Label
Paisley Park Records
Distribution
Warner Bros. Records
Cover/Design
Jeff Katz and Laura LiPuma
Released
34 years, 0 months ago on 30 March 1987
Reissued
25 September 2020 as Reissued as Sign O’ The Times Super Deluxe Edition
Running Time
79:58
US Chart Peak
6
UK Chart Peak
4
Prince Album
#9
Orig. Formats

Tracklist

Disk 1

  1. Sign O' The Times (5:02) 1
  2. Play In The Sunshine (5:05)
  3. Housequake [Prince as Camille] (4:34)
  4. The Ballad of Dorothy Parker (4:04)
  5. It (5:10)
  6. Starfish And Coffee (2:51) 2
  7. Slow Love (4:18) 3
  8. Hot Thing (5:39)
  9. Forever In My Life (3:38)
Running Time
39:33

Disk 2

  1. U Got The Look [Prince as Camille; duet with Sheena Easton] (3:58) 1
  2. If I Was Your Girlfriend [Prince as Camille] (4:54) 1
  3. Strange Relationship [Prince as Camille] (4:04)
  4. I Could Never Take The Place Of Your Man (6:31) 1
  5. The Cross (4:46)
  6. It's Gonna Be A Beautiful Night [feat. Jill Jones and Susannah Melvoin] (8:59)
  7. Adore (6:29) 4
Running Time
30:15

1 Released as singles.
2 Co-written with Susannah Melvoin.
3 Co-written with Carole Davis.
4 Co-written with Dr. Fink and Eric Leeds.

Singles from Sign O’ The Times

Sign O' The Times single from Sign O’ The Times, Paisley Park Records (1987)

Sign O' The Times

Paisley Park Records

Released
18 February 1987
US Chart Peak
3
UK Chart Peak
10
Format
  1. Sign O' The Times [Edit] (3:42)
  2. La La La, He He Hee (3:21)
Sign O' The Times [Maxi Single] single from Sign O’ The Times, Paisley Park Records (1987)

Sign O' The Times [Maxi Single]

Paisley Park Records

Released
18 February 1987
US Chart Peak
3
UK Chart Peak
10
Formats
  1. Sign O’ The Times (4:57)
  2. La, La, La, He, He, Hee [Highly Explosive] (10:32)
If I Was Your Girlfriend single from Sign O’ The Times, Paisley Park Records (1987)

If I Was Your Girlfriend

Paisley Park Records

Released
6 May 1987
US Chart Peak
67
UK Chart Peak
20
Format
  1. If I Was Your Girlfriend [Edit] (3:46)
  2. Shockadelica (3:30)
If I Was Your Girlfriend [Maxi Single] single from Sign O’ The Times, Paisley Park Records (1987)

If I Was Your Girlfriend [Maxi Single]

Paisley Park Records

Released
13 May 1987
US Chart Peak
67
UK Chart Peak
20
Formats
  1. If I Was Your Girlfriend (4:54)
  2. Shockadelica [Extended Version] (6:12)
U Got The Look single from Sign O’ The Times, Paisley Park Records (1987)

U Got The Look

Paisley Park Records

Released
14 July 1987
US Chart Peak
2
UK Chart Peak
1
Formats
  1. U Got The Look [Edit] [duet with Sheena Easton] (3:46)
  2. Housequake (3:24)
U Got The Look [Maxi Single] single from Sign O’ The Times, Paisley Park Records (1987)

U Got The Look [Maxi Single]

Paisley Park Records

Released
21 July 1987
US Chart Peak
2
UK Chart Peak
11
Formats
  1. U Got The Look [Long Look] (6:45)
  2. U Got The Look [Edit] (3:46)
  3. Housequake (4:38)
  4. Housequake [7 Minutes MoQuake] (7:15)
I Could Never Take The Place Of Your Man single from Sign O’ The Times, Paisley Park Records (1987)

I Could Never Take The Place Of Your Man

Paisley Park Records

Released
3 November 1987
US Chart Peak
29
UK Chart Peak
10
Formats
  1. I Could Never Take The Place Of Your Man [Edit] (3:39)
  2. Hot Thing [Edit] (3:40)
I Could Never Take The Place Of Your Man [Maxi Single] single from Sign O’ The Times, Paisley Park Records (1987)

I Could Never Take The Place Of Your Man [Maxi Single]

Paisley Park Records

Released
19 December 1987
US Chart Peak
-
UK Chart Peak
-
Formats
  1. I Could Never Take The Place Of Your Man (6:31)
  2. Hot Thing [Edit] (3:40)
  3. Hot Thing [Extended Remix] (8:32)
  4. Hot Thing [Dub Version] (6:53)

Supporting tour

Sign O’ The Times Tour

Sign O’ The Times Tour

1987

Sign O’ The Times – review

Sign O’ The Times provides Prince the pinnacle point of his music making career. This double album, Prince’s second, contains his most diverse work of which is really comprises his unsurpassed masterpiece. Will Prince ever emulate it? Could he? I risk discrediting this entire website had I not rained on this album considerable paeans of praise and thankfully bucketing heaps of much approval on this album could not be more easier a task. The lyrics to the title track are a work of art, serving as the quintessential time capsule of social commentary to modern day woes. Immerse yourself into the beat of It, the power of The Cross, the pop of U Got The Look, the smoothness of The Ballad Of Dorothy Parker, the thoroughly electric Housequake, the sweetness of Adore, the energy of Hot Thing and end with the amazing crescendo of I Could Never Take The Place Of Your Man. There are too many favorites to list here but save If I was Your Girlfriend until the early hours: listen to it loud and in complete darkness and discover its majesty. That’s not even the half of it. Sign O’ The Times is a mature, thoughtful and majestic tour de force of an album, which from the first and haunting notes cuts so deep into your soul if this is the last album you ever here your exploration is complete. To put it simply Sign O’ The Times is Prince’s finest achievement.

Sign O’ The Times

Related releases

Sign O’ The Times [movie]

Sign O’ The Times [movie]

Palace Pictures / MCA (1987)

About this release

Sign O’ The Times Super Deluxe Edition

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