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13 of 14 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Album That Confirmed A Genius As A Legend
As 1987 approached, Prince, the singer/songwriter/producer/musician who had hit the big-time with 'Purple Rain' in 1984, was entering a period of unrivalled creativity in the history of music. After disbanding his band The Revolution, he recorded an entire triple album entitled 'Crystal Ball', among other projects, but his record company refused to release it.
So...
Published on 1 Feb. 2000

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5 of 14 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Massively overrated!
I have always been a fan of Prince but had yet to catch up with this album. I decided to take the plunge and boy was it a disappointment - this album is massively overrated! It's not that it's a bad album, it's just that it's no better than any of his others - in fact I definitely prefer most of his other albums to this.

Other commentators here point out the...
Published on 4 April 2009 by Kamakiriad


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1 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Ambitious, 5 Jun. 2012
This review is from: Sign 'o' The Times (Audio CD)
Prince's ninth studio album features some of the very best pop singles of his long career: 'If I Was Your Girlfriend'; 'U Got The Look'; 'I Could Never Take The Place Of Your Man', and the title track, 'Sign 'O' The Times'. And this 1987 release also boasts a fair number of powerful album tracks that complement that powerful and sleek funk rock confection, including the quirky pair of 'Housequake' and 'Starfish And Coffee'. There was even a well-liked concert film based on its contents, and it is very highly regarded by critics and fans alike. But I do not share their unqualified enthusiasm for this ambitious, stylistically diverse double LP. At 80 minutes and 16 tracks long, I found that it tested my patience on occasions. And that is because there is a not insignificant amount of filler - such as the 9-minute live number, 'It's Gonna Be A Beautiful Night' - to be found amongst the four sides of vinyl. I also happen to think that he actually made better albums in that mid 1980s era than this one, with both Parade and Purple Rain, which incidentally happen to be shorter and more consistent. It was instructive to learn that Sign 'O' The Times commercial impact at the time of release was relatively modest - the wider record-buying public clearly shared some of my scepticism about the more extravagant claims made for this supposedly career-defining LP.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Good album, 3 April 2015
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This review is from: Sign 'o' The Times (Audio CD)
Good album
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1 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Excellent album!!!, 17 Mar. 2001
By A Customer
This review is from: Sign 'o' The Times (Audio CD)
This album is really great. Listening to songs like "U got the look" and "Sign 'o the times" you really feel this funky music and the groovy beats. It's simply good music and with Prince, one of the biggest pop stars ever, you just have to get this album! -With funky beats and some very nice ballads as well,this album is pure joy and fun and a great sound form the eighties!!
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1 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars One of the best albums ever recorded, 15 July 2007
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This review is from: Sign 'o' The Times (Audio CD)
Chances are, if you like Prince you'll already own this album. If you don't, anything I could say will merely sound like pretentious hyperbole. The long and short of it though, is that this is an album worth owning. I wasn't lying when I wrote the title to this review.
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3 of 7 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Would have been a fantastic single album !!, 8 July 2004
By A Customer
This review is from: Sign 'o' The Times (Audio CD)
Don't get me wrong, this album is very good but if Prince had dropped a few of the fillers (Gonna be a beautiful night, It, Hot Thing) plus some of the alright songs (Slow love, Forever in my Life) and added the excellent B-side 'Shockadelica' then this could have been the best Prince album ever.
'Sign Of The Times' and 'The Cross' are two of the best songs Prince has made and 'Play In The Sunshine' and 'Starfish And Coffee' are two great fun songs.
A must-have for any Prince fan but do like I have and create your own version of the album and have a fantastic album to listen to.
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3 of 7 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Wow!, 12 July 2007
This review is from: Sign 'o' The Times (Audio CD)
Took me 20 years to get into this album, but songs like Sign O The Times, I Could Never Take The Place of Your Man and Hot Thing are among the greatest songs ever written.

Just wish it hadn't taken me 20 years to realise the sheer brilliance of this album!
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4.0 out of 5 stars Four Stars, 12 Oct. 2014
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This review is from: Sign 'o' The Times (Audio CD)
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5 of 14 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Massively overrated!, 4 April 2009
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This review is from: Sign 'o' The Times (Audio CD)
I have always been a fan of Prince but had yet to catch up with this album. I decided to take the plunge and boy was it a disappointment - this album is massively overrated! It's not that it's a bad album, it's just that it's no better than any of his others - in fact I definitely prefer most of his other albums to this.

Other commentators here point out the inconsistency of the music on offer. I can only assume that they haven't heard too many other Prince albums - the one thing about Prince that has been consistent throughout his career is his inconsistency! He seems to have little in the way of quality control and just put's out his latest collection of songs, with real classics sandwiched between brilliantly played 'auto-pilot' funk fodder.

That's just the way it is with Prince - there's nothing exceptional about this album and the best tracks aren't the best that he's done.

Don't be fooled by the hype - this is not THE essential Prince album and a wider view of his output will give you a much better idea of what he's about.
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0 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Good but not consistently great, 7 Mar. 2008
This review is from: Sign 'o' The Times (Audio CD)
This album always languished a little in my Prince collection because it's too long and not all the tracks are great. Especially in the first CD where there's some sameyness and lack of memorability that creeps in. I hate to call it Prince-by-numbers, but that's how it feels in places to me. During this period Prince was at his peak and there's nothing actually bad here, it just lacks the consistent track-to-track strengths of Purple Rain or Lovesexy.

This could have been a truly amazing 5 star single album. Instead it's a 4 star double.
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4 of 15 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Didn't really do anything for me, 29 April 2009
This review is from: Sign 'o' The Times (Audio CD)
I'm not a Prince fan. I have a 2CD Best Of with an additional disc of B-Sides. Which is way more than I have any use for. A single CD Best Of is all I really need from Prince. I do like, and can enjoy, his music but it doesn't float my boat in any major way. A little goes a long way for me.

I bought this album on the cheap with a fair amount of trepidation. As I had no enthusiasm for it going in, it pretty much meant I was destined not to be amazed by it. Approaching new music with a genuine interest, curiosity or enthusiasm can make a big difference to how much you enjoy what you're listening to. Unfortunately too much music is heard for the sake of it and not because you really want to hear it. Unfortunately this was one of those albums for me.

I much prefer up-tempo music. That's not to say I have problems with slower music, it's just that it has to work a lot harder and actually be genuinely good for me to like it. A driving propulsive beat can hide the deficiencies of a poorly written song. Without that rapid tempo, if the song isn't very strong, then I'll probably be bored by it.

Disc 1 (40 mins)

1. "Sign o' the Times" - 4:56
9/10 - One of his signature songs. A very spare and basic sounding mid-tempo funky song. Good lyrics.

2. "Play in the Sunshine" - 5:05
8/10 - Distinctive piercing electronic drum sound. Strange all over the place sprawling structure. Up-tempo.

3. "Housequake" - 4:42
5/10 - Strange rap vocals. The song doesn't really work. It reminds me very much of the music in a nightclub scene in the 1987 film Robocop (bad guy kicks Robocop in the crotch then gets dragged out by his hair). There is a strange keyboard(?) sound in the background that I'm sure I've heard before in that scene from Robocop.

4. "The Ballad of Dorothy Parker" - 4:02
6/10 - Mid-tempo track with lots of interesting sounds (the percussion sounds a tiny bit like a ping-pong ball). Doesn't quite gel as a song.

5. "It" - 5:09
4/10 - Not a good song. Repetitive lyrics and the music doesn't go anywhere. Big production wrapped around a bit of a non-song. Has a strange instrumental ending.

6. "Starfish and Coffee" - 2:50
6/10 - Pleasant enough insubstantial mid-tempo track. The very definition of filler.

7. "Slow Love" - 4:22
5/10 - Mid-tempo ballad. Restrained production. Not very interesting. Never gets going.

8. "Hot Thing" - 5:39
7/10 - Poppier than anything else so far. Saxophone is used to good effect.

9. "Forever in My Life" - 3:30
5/10 - Sounds like a ballad disguised as a mid-tempo rock song. Decent but not very interesting. Nice bit of acoustic guitar at the end. Again, doesn't really go anywhere.

Disc 2 (39 mins)

1. "U Got the Look" - 3:47
9/10 - Proper up-tempo pop. Sheena Easton's co-lead vocals are great.

2. "If I Was Your Girlfriend" - 5:01
8/10 - A slower song. The lyrics come across as being pretty perverted, in an interesting way, as it's a man singing words that are written for a woman. A very strong song.

3. "Strange Relationship" - 4:01
8/10 - Fun little rocker with a simple beat. Feels like filler but I enjoyed it.

4. "I Could Never Take the Place of Your Man" - 6:29
8/10 - A good rocker with a real propulsive quality. Has an extended instrumental ending that has a good swing to it.

5. "The Cross" - 4:49
7/10 - Starts slow but bursts into a up-tempo rocker. Has some brief Eastern sounds. Suddenly fades out at the end followed by some silly spoken words. I can hear the quality in it, but it didn't really do anything for me personally.

6. "It's Gonna Be a Beautiful Night" - 9:01
7/10 - A live track. Proper funk. Works a groove for a long time with each instrument getting to take over and show off. More of a groove than a song.

7. "Adore" - 6:31
6/10 - Falsetto vocals on this slow (waltz?) track that seems custom designed for slow dancing after everyone else has gone home. It sounds nothing like REM's "Everybody Hurts", but it's got that similar melancholy but oddly optimistic feel to it.

Disc two wipes the floor with the rather plodding first disc. Also the album isn't especially funky much to my surprise. The over the top production is probably the most distinctive and arresting thing about it as it's a very 80's sounding album. I've got to admit though, he does sound unique. None of his songs really remind me of anyone else's work.

It's not an album I can ever see myself reaching for by choice. There will always be something more interesting to listen to instead, such as his Best Of.

I have re-sequenced the album on my iPod from a sprawling double into a more concise eight track single album:
CD1 - 1, 2 and 8.
CD2 - 1-4 and 6.

A WORD ABOUT THE LACK OF MODERN REMASTERING ON THIS ALBUM:

These old 80's CDs sound good. All they need is to have the volume put up. Either manually by simply turning the volume nob up, or by using the iTunes volume enhancer*.

Neil Young has the quietest CDs. They were mastered back in the 80's and they seem to sound very weak. Everyone carps on about how bad they are. I used the iTunes volume enhancer on his albums and suddenly the songs sound EXACTLY THE SAME as the versions on the loudly remastered recent Best Of. The old versions had just as much punch, presence and vitality to them as the remasters. It was as if I was listening to new remastered copies of his albums.

That's on an iPod, so I wanted to test my CDs. I played a Joy Division song called "She's Lost Control" that I have on an old 80's album CD and on a recently remastered Best Of. At the same volume they sounded pretty much 99% identical. The 80's CD sounded a tiny bit muffled on the vocals and the drums had maybe 5% less whack to them. Those were the only differences I could tell by playing them back to back with each other. Without the direct comparison I wouldn't be able to tell the difference between the two. If both versions came up on shuffle on my iPod two tracks apart from each other then I wouldn't be able to pick out those differences.

When a song does come up on shuffle that I have on both a 80's CD and a 00's remastered Best Of, I usually make a guess as to what versions I'm listening to. I then look and 50% of the time I guessed the wrong source.

I repeated the above with "Life During Wartime" by Talking Heads. Vocals and drums sounded exactly the same on both versions.

Remastering is nice but it's not anywhere near as important as most people think it is. You would have to be a real audiophile to notice the differences during normal, casual, day to day playback. All you have to do is put the volume up to make older CDs sound as good as newer CDs.

*On iTunes highlight the album or tracks.

Right click and select Get Info.

Under the Options tab there is a volume changer bar.

Drag the volume marker to the desired point on the bar.

Click Okay.

From now on every time those songs play they will always play with that enhanced volume.
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Sign 'o' The Times
Sign 'o' The Times by Prince (Audio CD - 1987)
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