In 1987 Prince finally released his ninth studio album, Sign O’ The Times, which was largely created over a period of eighteen months but includes songs that date back as far as 1979. The final sixteen tracks are just some of the countless songs that he recorded in his most prolific period and which saw the dissolution The Revolution, the band that was with him as he rose to super stardom, the construction of his innovative recording complex, Paisley Park and the breakup of his engagement to Susannah Melvoin, singer and twin sister of The Revolution’s Wendy.

And now some thirty three years later the album has been re-mastered and is available as a double CD or as a deluxe edition which includes sixty three previously un-released songs, two amazing full concerts, one on a DVD with a guest appearance from Miles David, and a fabulous book of photographs. This review, however, concentrates on the double album that combines R&B, pop, rock, ballads and gospel across its eighty minutes in a dazzling display of his creativity and imagination.

The original album was astonishingly wide ranging, taking in everything from the title track’s stark assessment of global catastrophes, to the funky Housequake and the power pop perfection of I Could Never Take The Place Of Your Man. This re-mastered album includes early versions of the songs such as Strange Relationship which is presented in its psychedelic original take, The Ballad Of Dorothy Parker has added horns and prominent vocals, whilst the drum led and pop smash U Got The Look introduces Sheena Easton’s vocals.

There is still the breezy Starfish And Coffee and an acoustic version of the ballad Forever In My Life which shows a softer side to the song leaning heavily on acoustic guitars. Adore has a heavenly vocal arrangement and brings the album to a finish.

Undoubtedly Prince was a bottomless pit of talent, creating an enormous platform that continues to influence other artists over three decades after its release. The Sign O’ The Times is arguably Prince’s most elaborate and diverse work but with the release of the deluxe edition, fans have been treated to a plethora of previously un-released material, some re-mixes and some alternate versions of some B sides. An absolute must for any Prince fan but in all honestly it doesn’t beat seeking out the original vinyl version and basking in the sounds of what was a true musical genius.

Our Rating: 4 out of 5 stars (4 / 5)

Number of tracks: 16

Running time: 80:06

Released on: Rhino/Warner Brothers

Release date: 25th September 2020

Formats: CD/Vinyl

To Purchase: https://prince.com

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