31 March 2013

31st March - Prince's Sign O' the Times

Artist – Album: Prince – Sign “O” the Times
Released:  31st March 1987
Sounds Like: Well, er, a sign of the times, would you believe it?

 Happy Easter Sunday people! Hope you’ve all had healthy amounts of chocolate eggs and a good old bit of Christianity (if that’s what you’re in to).

Fittingly, today’s post is about that most Christian of artists: Prince. Actually, that should be the artist formerly known as Prince. And actually, he’s not Christian at all, I was totally joking. Prince, the little impish joker, sings here about drugs, sex and AIDS as though they were issues that were ten a penny back in the late 80’s. Which they may well have been. He certainly considers them a sign o’ the times.

The dark subject matter is actually downplayed by a double album that forays into a wide variety of music styles and fun experimentalism. From the vital pop of ‘I Could Never Take the Place of Your Man’ to the funky groove of the title track, Prince chameleons through the genres in a manner miles ahead of his 80’s peers Michael Jackson or Madonna. The sinister, psycho-sexual ‘If I Was Your Girlfriend’, the just plain sexual ‘It’, the fantasy of meeting another woman whilst being in a relationship covered in ‘The Ballad of Dorothy Parker’, the brilliance of a particularly beautiful woman in ‘U Got the Look’; many of Prince’s greatest moments on this album encompassed the same general  sexual theme, but the musical approach in each differed greatly and really his ability to mix it up.

I have begin to sound like something of a broken record on this blog, often extolling the virtues of keeping your albums short but sweet (or at least reasonable and cool), but double albums are always a slightly different kettle of ball fish. They often need to be viewed from a different standpoint, accounting for the massive ambition and foresight given to them. This one is ambitious and forward thinking, and you know what? It doesn’t even feel too long. Although it doesn't sound it, that is one hell of a compliment from me. Well done Prince. Or squiggle. Or whatever your name is. 

Albumaday... rating: 9/10

1.       Sign o’ the Times – 4:57
2.       Play in the Sunshine – 5:05
3.       Housequake – 4:42
4.       The Ballad of Dorothy Parker – 4:01
5.       It – 5:09
6.       Starfish and Coffee – 2:50
7.       Slow Love – 4:22
8.       Hot Thing – 5:39
9.       Forever in My Life – 3:30
10.   U Got the Look – 3:47
11.   If I Was Your Girlfriend – 5:01
12.   Strange Relationship – 4:01
13.    I Could Never Take the Place of Your Man – 6:29
14.   The Cross – 4:48
15.   It’s Gonna Be a Beautiful Night – 9:01
16.   Adore – 6:30

Listen to ‘The Ballad of Dorothy Parker ’: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7Xi8A5OFhUI

Also released on the 31st March:
1986: Prince – Parade
Also released on the 31st March:
2008: Frank Turner – Love Ire & Song

Also released on the 31st March:
2010: Jónsi - Go

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