If you’ve got money to burn or you’re a super fan of the pop icon Prince then the Super Deluxe package for his legendary “Sign o’ the Times” album pops in at a couple of hundred quid. For your money though, you get an eight disc package with all manner of rare tracks, unreleased recordings, remixes and a live gig. For hardcore fans, even at that price, it’s hard to deny that the Super Deluxe package offers another great addition to your suitably heaving collections of work by the music icon. Thankfully, for the casual fan, a more wallet-friendly version of the hit album has been made available.
Pulled from what must be an incredible Aladdin’s Cave of work, “Sign o’ The Times” first saw release in 1987 and has been given the remaster treatment to bring it into the modern era. Has it aged well though and has a remastered version done justice to what was to be Prince’s last work with the Revolution. A double-album, sixteen song set, released after numerous aborted attempts, “Sign o’ the Times” was, to many, the sound of Prince at his peak. Possibly his most diverse work, “Sign o the Times” is a mixed bag of Prince diamonds with something for everyone really. Clocking in at 80 minutes long, Prince showcases flashes of red hot funk, dabbles in R&B, dips his toes in rockier waters and wades through pools of pure, undiluted pop. “Sign o’ the Times” is the sound of a man who just loved music. From smouldering ballads like “Slow Love” to sizzling gems like “Hot Thing”, this album was the sound of a man constantly reinventing both his sound and his music. Some have said it is hard to pinpoint exactly what Prince was about on this double set and, as the double disc demonstrates, this was clearly a man who was a musical jack of all trades and, as he demonstrated over and over again throughout his career, he was master of many.
Unsurprisingly, and given that it was recorded over thirty years ago, there are times when the remastered version doesn’t quite bring the album dragging into the modern era. You know what though? That’s fine, “Sign o’ the Times” was the work of a man during an era when he constantly redefined pop music. The 80’s was an era when Prince made pop that was raw and sexy and that’s exactly how you want to remember him.
The choice is now yours. Are you a completist who wants to spend a couple of hundred quid on eight discs of rareties, unreleased tracks and live recordings or are you just happy revisiting one of his finest and most diverse moments? Either way this trip into the archives of one of pop music’s most important artists has dished up a treat that will be money well spent whether you’re a hardcore fan or not.