Prince, Sign O' The Times - 2CD Remastered & Expanded Edition (2020)
The Prince estate and Warner Bros. Records have finally reissued Prince’s ninth studio Sign O’ the Times. The remastered and expanded edition was on September 25th in a variety of formats including; 8CD+DVD, 13LP+DVD super deluxe, 2LP peach vinyl and the 2CD, 3CD and 4LP editions.
Sign O’ the Times was born from Crystal Ball, a proposed triple album that Warner Bros. refused to put out. That abandoned set was itself composed of songs from two other discarded projects. The first was Dream Factory, an album Prince made with input from the Revolution. The second was Camille, in which Prince sang with sped-up vocals to play the androgynous title character.
Sign o' the Times (SOTT) was released as a double album on March 30, 1987, by Paisley Park Records and Warner Bros. Records. The album peaked at number six on the Billboard 200. It reached the top 10 in Austria, France, Italy, New Zealand, Norway, Sweden, and the UK and reached number one in Switzerland. The singles "Sign o' the Times", "U Got the Look" and "I Could Never Take the Place of Your Man" reached number three, two and ten on the Billboard Hot 100, respectively.
Since its release in 1987, SOTT has been one of my all time favorite albums. The record not only influenced my musical taste, but it has become a measuring stick to which most albums that I own are measured against.
In my opinion Prince’s ninth studio captured him at the height of his creative ambitions, showcasing all the magic that Prince and his Paisley Park studio were capable of. The 16-song double-album masterwork played out like career retrospective showcasing Prince’s breathtaking range-from funk, rock, R&B, psychedelic pop, electro, balladry, and soul.
When the album came out it didn’t sound like anything else that was out at the time. SOTT sounded both modern and retro creating a surreal listening experience. The merging of these quirky sounds/beats along with Prince’s ability to move between genres made SOTT seem like an audio journey of Prince’s experiences/ observations of the social issues that we were looming over the world at the time.
SOTT was remastered by Prince’s original mastering engineer Bernie Grundman. In my opinion this newly remastered edition sounds better the 1997 version. The 2020 remaster shows that great care was taken to improve the sound without sacrificing the dynamic range or integrity of the original recording, offering a new clarity and warmth to the material.
In my humble opinion SOTT is one the albums in the Prince catalogue that needs to be part of any music lovers record collection.
I am truly overjoyed that this masterwork from Prince has been finally given its just due. Highly, highly recommended.