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4.8 out of 5 stars
Sign O the Times
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68 of 72 people found the following review helpful
on October 20, 2000
Format: Audio CD
I have no idea what the guy who called this album "Un-genius like" is talking about. The music on this album is overflowing with genius, style, and creativity. Before this album no-one had ever used a synthesizer and Linn-Drum Computer to the perfection that Prince did on the tracks "If I Was Your Girlfriend", and "The Ballad Of Dorothy Parker". The thought provoking lyrics of the title track"Sign O' The Times" and the simplicity of its music is unbelievable. "Play in the Sunshine" is a gospel meets rock and go-go track that makes u want to dance and shout. The rock guitar riffs, bass line and drum work are amazing. Its hard to belive that this is one musician playing all of the instruments. If dance tracks are what u are looking for, they are here in many forms, from "Housequake" and "Hot Thing" to "U got the Look" and "It's Gonna Be a Beautiful Night". For the rock guitar lovers u have "The Cross", and the brilliant "I Could Never Take The Place of Your Man" that will blow u away. If this is not enough....U have the most inspired ballads ever written by Prince, the peaceful "Slow Love", the marriage minded "Forever In My Life" which was used by the late John F. Kennedy Jr. at his wedding for the first dance, and the eclectic jam "Adore", which has one of the most inspired vocal performances that Prince has ever put on any album. However, the most impressive song of the set is the aforemntioned "If I Was Your Girlfriend" which has the most complex lyrical content I have ever heard. The song shows a man's vulnerabilty when it comes to love, and the way in which he wants to give his woman everything, while being her everything. The music of this track is equally impressive as the lyrics. "Strange Relationship" serves as the counter to "If I was Your Girlfriend" by showing the feelings that also go along with the ups and downs of a relationship. The most amazing thing about the track is the way in which Prince put such a happy musical track, to such depressing lyrics. The song is a true gem.
What can I say this album is brilliant, complex, moody, dark, and happy at the same time. The music is timeless and has influenced many musicians from Lenny Kravitz, Beck, and D'Angelo, to Macy Gray, Jill Scott, and Angie Stone. This is one of the most important albums released in the last 25 years along with "Songs In The Key of Life", by Stevie Wonder, Marvin Gaye's "Here My Dear" and Sly Stone's "There's A Riot Goin' On". If u like good music I suggest u purchase this album today. The music is revolutionary and timeless.
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16 of 16 people found the following review helpful
on May 27, 1998
Format: Audio CD
Sign O The Times came to us by chance. Originally titled Crystal Ball (not quite the same as the current CD with the same name), but what we got was something unexpected. The first album after the breakup of The Revolution, it contains everything from Rock (Play in the Sunshine and Title Track), pure pop (U GOt The Look), sensual ballads that would put Luther in jail (Adore, If I Was Your Girlfriend) and funk (Housequake, It, Hot Thing) and somethings we've never heard before (Forever In My Life). "The Ballad of Dorothy Parker" was actually recorded with a mix of error. Engineer Susan Rogers recorded Prince with only half the mixing board up and running, but the results were fresh and original. Most all hardcore Prince fans will always list Sign as one of their favorite albums. Purple Rain is for those who like top 40 radio, as is 1999. Sign is for those who want to go deeper.
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24 of 26 people found the following review helpful
Format: Audio CD
Ok. The age old question: What IS Prince's best album? Sign 'O The Times or Purple Rain? I personally would throw in 1999 in that question too. Well to answer that you probably should look at it the same way that we look at Stevie wonder's Songs In The Key Of Life and Innervisions. Songs is Stevie's most important work for MUSIC. Innervisions is his PERSONAL best. Therefore I feel Sign is the Purple One's most important work for music and Purple Rain is his personal best. Why? "Sign" bashes down musical doors just as "Songs" did 11 years earlier. And, as with "Innervisions", "Purple" has better all around song writing and energy to it. Enough of the comparison, you should have BOTH CD anyway! On with my review. Because this is a double disc, reviewing all of the songs in 1000 or less is impossible so I'll stick with what I feel are the best songs.
Sign 'O The Times: A slow, purculating classic. Prince sings of all of the maddness going on in the world today and how things seem to be getting worse. "September my cousin tried refer for the very first time, now he's doing horse. It's June". It's a great opening for a the masterpiece that is to follow. Housequake: One of the tightest jams he's ever done, and he's done MANY! This song started so many parties it's amazing! It's Prince as both jokester and funkster. AllI can say is "Shut Up already, DAMN"! It: This is the hottest, sweatest sexiest song every. It is, well, IT!!. It's minimalist musicwise, not a whole lot of instramentation or anything but that's the point. Sex and sexual lust is not complicated or multilayered. It's pretty straight and simple. Just like this great song. A must hear. Starfish and Coffee: Prince snd Stevie Wonder were compared when Prince was just starting off. Mainly because of the fact that both were multi-instramentalist and great studio musicians. With this song it takes the similarities to another level. As a child, before his Motown fame, Stevie would be listening to many blues and soul masters on his way to school. And he was generally he only black kid on the bus going to these special schools for the blind. Because of that it took a lot of nerve for him to listen to what he loved while the other kids were listening the like. In Starfish and Coffee, Prince tells the tale of a person (Cynthia) who lived life to the beat of her own drum. Everyday she brought for lunch starfish and coffee. As he says in the song, "Go on Cynthia, keep singing starfish and coffee, maple syrup and jam..." She's going to do her thing no matter what. It makes you think if Cynthia is actually Prince in disguise. Say what you want but our buddy Prince IS different. And he has definately walked to his own beat. Musically, the song is weird, very psychedelic, but incredibly catchy. It's actually one of the best songs on the album. Not anything you would hear on the radio, but still one of his best. Strange Relationship: A heavyhanded funk classic. A tale of a love/hate/love relationship that many of us have been involved with. Crank this one up to listen to it. I Could Never Take The Place Of Your Man: One of the best song of his career. This is a psychedelic/pop/jazz masterpiece. To be honest, most of Prince's music is not very thought provoking. Prince is know for his MUSIC and there is plenty of it going on in this one. The song is about a night in the club where he meets a lady and does his rap but feels that she's looking for something more than just a one night stand. Which is what he's gunning for! Again, this is not brain surgery lyricswise but musically he goes from his now patented psychdelic/pop to a jazzy mid-section and back. Ending I with a rocked out scream. Amazing. Adore: The best song on the CD. Prince sings in falsetto here to great effect. It's a slow jam that glides you in and out of it's story. Prince clowns around on this one too. Saying he'll do anything and give anything for his woman.....except for his car!!! It's funny, irreverent but oh so truthful in so many ways. The best part is that it doesn't mess up the sexiness of the song. Only Prince could pull that off. It is a perfect end to a great CD. Prince never won Album of the Year Grammies but he should have for this one.
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10 of 10 people found the following review helpful
on February 13, 2006
Format: Audio CD
The album "Sign `o' the Times" by Prince is one of my ALL-TIME favorites. Not many people I encounter know anything about this CD and that is beyond shameful because they are missing out on one of the trippiest and most joyful musical experiences known to mankind. HOW'S THAT FOR HYPERBOLE?

Let's break it down....

01) SIGN `O' THE TIMES: This is a fantastic slow and spooky funk tune that waxes philosophical about such society ills as aids, gang violence, drugs, hurricanes, murders, poverty, war and even space shuttle explosions. Much like John Lennon's song "Imagine", this tune is just as relevant in 2006 as it was when originally released.

02) PLAY IN THE SUNSHINE: This is one of my fave Prince tunes ever. Musically, it sounds like a psychedelic gospel rave up and lyrically, it is all about trippin' on a natural high. FANTASTIC TRACK!

03) HOUSEQUAKE: Prince brings the fun big time with this tune. A mixture of James Brown, hip-hop and euro-dance-pop; HOUSEQUAKE is like nothing you've ever heard...and who else but Prince in his prime would toss out a "Green Eggs and Ham" reference in the middle of a mad-funky throw down?

04) THE BALLAD OF DOROTHY PARKER: This is a mellow funk groove that plays like a collaboration between Sly Stone and Joni Mitchell. I kid you not!

05) IT: After four fantastic tunes in a row, you'll be thinking "Man, this album is pure genius" but then comes this song. The only bleak spot on an otherwise exceptional album. "IT" is a meandering bit of danceable filler. Prince released a single b-side from this same period called "Shockadelica" that would have been much better in this position on the album.

06) STARFISH and COFFEE: This song begins with the sound of an alarm bell and proceeds to take us on a journey into the bizarre magic of childhood. Another one of my faves for it's sheer uniqueness.

07) SLOW LOVE: This is a sensual jazzy love ballad that features some magnificent trumpet solos.

08) HOT THING: What would a 1980's Prince album be without some blatant sexual innuendo? Well here it is furious and funky. The best part of this song is the saxophone work of Eric Leeds.

09) FOREVER IN MY LIFE: This is a slow romantic marriage proposal sung acapella with only the driving beat of a drum machine for accompaniment. Yet another one-of-a-kind song.

10) U GOT THE LOOK: A funk-rock masterpiece with some latin percussion driving the mix. This song is the "Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds" of dance music.

11) IF I WAS YOUR GIRLFRIEND: On this song, Prince writes in a conversational style as if telling his girlfriend that he wants a closeness with her that she usually reserves for her best girlfriend. One of the most interesting and daring lyrics you're likely to ever come across.

12) STRANGE RELATIONSHIP: Another out-of-the-ordinary lyric about a couple with a love / hate relationship that neither one can put an end to. Features the great chorus..."Baby, I just can't stand to see you happy / More than that, I hate to see you sad / Honey if you left me I just might do something rash / What's this strange relationship?"

13) I COULD NEVER TAKE THE PLACE OF YOUR MAN: This is guitar pop at it's best with a great lyric about actually turning down a woman's sexual advances. Features a terrific guitar solo / break down midway through the song.

14) THE CROSS: This is a song about overcoming the adversity in life through spiritual faith in but even if you're an atheist, you won't be able to deny the rhythmic and melodic power of this tune. It starts off slow, quiet and acoustic then builds to an all out rockin' climax.

15) IT'S GONNA BE A BEAUTIFUL NIGHT: This is a 9 minute jam-out track that was recorded live with Prince's unbelievable 80's band The Revolution...featuring Shelia E. on the drums. A truly remarkable funk experience that showcases Shelia E. rapping Edward Lear's classic poem "The Table and the Chair" in the middle of all the musical mayhem. Another one of my faver most faves!

16) ADORE: This amazing album comes to a end with this gorgeous classic-style r&b ballad.

WHAT A TRIP! If you've never heard this album, I strongly suggest that you check it out immediately and give your ears a sonic treat. Just skip song number 5!
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14 of 15 people found the following review helpful
on October 14, 2004
Format: Audio CD
Get this, Purple Rain, 1999 and Dirty Mind and you will have all the Prince you will ever need. This is the apex of his career. Was 1987 that long ago???
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
VINE VOICEon April 4, 2006
Format: Audio CD
Judging from the other reviews, I am apparently one of many Prince fans who have chosen "Sign o' the Times" as their favorite Prince album. I see it as the absolute pinnacle of the creative peak that began with "Purple Rain" and ended somewhere in between "Lovesexy" and the New Power Generation. Here we have seventeen tracks that showcase all the sides of Prince's personality that his fans have grown to love: Social critic ("Sign o' the Times"), spiritual seeker ("The Cross"), romantic ("Forever in my Life", "Adore"), and, of course, horndog ("U Got the Look", "It", "Hot Thing"). And then there are the songs that sort of defy musical or lyrical categorization, and are probably the strongest tracks of all: "If I Was Your Girlfriend" starts off as a romantic desire to get to know a lover better, and then turns into a strange stream-of-consciousness sexual fantasy. "Housequake" could have been a generic party anthem, but with lyrics like "Don't wait for your neighbors/green eggs and ham!" takes strange forays into fantasyland. One of my favorite tracks, the mellow "Ballad of Dorothy Parker" is an intruiging song that is either a nod to the famous writer or a character study of a witty, sexy waitress, or maybe both. It's this unpredictability, as well as his ability to make music that is both bizarre and accessable at the same time, that makes Prince one of the greatest artists in rock history.
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13 of 15 people found the following review helpful
HALL OF FAMEVINE VOICEon February 8, 2001
Format: Audio CD
Just about every major musical artist at one time in their career's have released a double album. Often they are bombastic, overblown and contain alot of filler. Prince had already released a double album, 1999, a mere five years before 1987's Sign O' The Times in 1987 and neither album are any of the above. Some argue that Sign O' Times is Prince's greatest achievement. The album contains the best musicianship of his career. His playing is tight and loose all at the same time. Whether he's singing about being happy and having fun in the bright "Play In The Sunshine" or is taking a sobering look at the problems facing society in the powerfully brilliant title track, Prince is on the top of his game. He can tear up the funk in "Housequake" & "U Got The Look" (a duet with Sheena Easton), sing shiny pop tunes like "I Could Never Take The Place Of Your Man" & "Starfish & Coffee", smooth it out on sensual slow jams like "Slow Love" & "Adore", look at religion in "The Cross" or make timeless hits like "If I Was Your Girlfriend". The album is a sprawling, brilliant, well-crafted masterwork.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
Format: Audio CD
1984's PURPLE RAIN no doubt made Prince a pop music icon. Topping the album charts for 6 straight months, spawning 5 hit singles & winning an Oscar for Best Song Score, Prince had effectively become pop music royalty. But he was still a musician & just as PURPLE RAIN was falling off the charts, he returned automatically with 1985's AROUND THE WORLD IN A DAY. The psychedelic experiments on that album were hard to stomach for most Prince fans, but it has since become a cult classic. 1986's PARADE was really the soundtrack for Prince's horrible film UNDER THE CHERRY MOON, but the music was still a sight for sore ears & it also has become a classic after the fact. While commercially, Prince was starting to fall from grace after PURPLE RAIN, creatively he was just getting started. To name Prince's best work would be like saying who's your favorite child, but my personal vote would go towards 1987's SIGN O' THE TIMES.
Prince had already recorded a double album with 1982's 1999, so did a second one seem necessary? Well, with triple & quadruple albums in the future, 1999 & TIMES were rather mild in comparison. The difference is that those two albums were excellent all the way through, especially on TIMES.
Opening with the darkly magnificent title track, this musical account of poverty & other ills of society was just as effective as the hip-hop songs being made about it at the same time. A surprising top 5 hit, "Sign O' The Times" is just waiting to be sampled by a hip-hop act today. "U Got The Look" (a duet with Sheena Easton) was the album's biggest hit, peaking at #2. The hip-shaking rhythm of this tune is addictive as always.
Most of the album contains leftovers from an aborted project by a singer called Camille, which was really Prince singing in his highest register. Songs like the grooving "Housequake" & the eyebrow-raising "If I Was Your Girlfriend" (he was still breaking down barriers even in the mid-1980s) sound like they could have been on what would been, for its time, a truly daring album. The experiment itself was a drastic undertaking even for a risk-taker like Prince.
SIGN O' THE TIMES is also about variety, with Prince mastering a crazy quilt of various styles of pop music. The album's third top 10 hit "I Could Never Take The Place Of Your Man" is my favorite & is certainly the poppiest track on the album, its bouncy sound should have helped the song reach higher than #10. The song would be covered by former New Kid On The Block Jordan Knight, but as a ballad, robbing the song of its original sprightliness.
The near bubblegum-sounding "Play In The Sunshine", the psychedelic "Starfish & Coffee", the religious-inspired "The Cross" (just a preparation for the onslaught of Prince's recent THE RAINBOW CHILDREN album), the stripped-bare funk of "Forever In My Life" (played at John F. Kennedy, Jr.'s wedding), the funky live workout "It's Gonna Be A Beautiful Night" (the last song Prince recorded with the Revolution), the epic closer "Adore"! All of the songs are sheer genius & prove that Prince may have waiting until SIGN O' THE TIMES to truly unleash his talents. DIRTY MIND, 1999 & PURPLE RAIN were just the calm before the storm, I believe.
SIGN O' THE TIMES turned out to be Prince's last major commercial success for several years. 1988's LOVESEXY became one of his lowest-selling albums ever; 1989's BATMAN was thought to be the ultimate in selling out by hardcore Prince fans; 1990's GRAFFITI BRIDGE was another soundtrack that was miles better than the movie it came from. But 1991's DIAMONDS & PEARLS seemed to show that Prince had put his heart back into his music again, not just operating on autopilot in hopes of getting a hit.
Since then, Prince hasn't been the same fresh artist we knew him as back at the start of his career. Occasionally, there are some glimmers of genius, but now they seem to be on a song-by-song basis. In my mind, SIGN O' THE TIMES will be not just Prince's last truly magnificent album, but his best overall. Nothing can match in its scope & magnitude, not even the similarly-structured RAINBOW CHILDREN album of late. While the reviews of that album may be mixed at best, chances are Prince's old fans will be looking to the older stuff for comfort. In that case, SIGN O' THE TIMES wouldn't be a bad thing to turn to.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
VINE VOICEon February 24, 2000
Format: Audio CD
Prince has about 22 full length studio albums on the market--where do you start? Sign O The Times is a good place, though you might be more at home with Purple Rain or The Hits/B-Sides package. Why Sign O The Times? It showed how experimental and original he could be. Of his 22 cds, Sign O The Times stands alone as his only double cd. 16 tracks that waste no time. Great songs such as "Sign O The Times", "U Got The Look" and "I Could Never Take The Place Of Your Man" combine with more experimental fare like "Starfish and Coffee", "It" and "If I Was Your Girlfriend." It's hard for an artist to continue to live up to a prior success, and for Prince that will always be Purple Rain, but Sign O The Times shows a broader range than Purple Rain did. It's difficult to say only one cd is Prince's best, but I would say that Sign O The Times is ONE of his best. It does sound like it was made in 1987, but the songs still hold up 13 years later. I'm sure Elton John, Billy Joel and Bob Dylan have all had some albums that sound very dated in their extensive catalogues. If you have Purple Rain and are looking for another Prince cd that matches it, Sign O The Times, Diamonds & Pearls and The Symbol albums are all worthwhile. This is worth the money, you won't be disappointed.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
Format: Audio CD
"Sign O' The Times", for me, was the last of the great
Prince albums from 1978's "For You" and '79's "Prince",
to the groundbreaking "Dirty Mind" in 1980,
"Controversy" in '81, the futuristic "1999" in '82,
to the zenith of "Purple Rain" in '84,
and the interesting and eclectic
offerings of '85 and '86...
"Around The World In A Day" & "Parade"!!
(Man, those were the days!)

Sign O' The Times had it all!--The funk, experimentation,
silky slow jams and straight up spiritual and sexual exhaltation!
---Prince took everything he had learned from the
preceeding albums and condensed it into a
concentrated piece of pure late 80's
pop/funk/rock genius!
Definitely a classic offering and worth the money!

**Highlights That Still Stand The Test Of Time:

Sign O' The Times, Play In The Sunshine, Housequake,
The Ballad Of Dorothy Parker, Starfish & Coffee,
Slow Love, Forever In My Life, If I was Your Girlfreind,
Strange Relationship, I Could Never Take The Place Of Your Man,
The Cross & Adore!!--All Still Move Me Like They Did in '87!!
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