Musings in the Dark: #3: Prince's Legacy


#3: Prince's Legacy

#3: Sign O’ the Times

This gem of a double album came out in 1987 and it was the first Prince album I actually owned myself and believe me, I played it until the needle broke.  I used to stare at the album cover (inside and out) for hours.  Prince had this whole peach and black thing going on (as mentioned in “U Got the Look”) and the inside cover contains a picture of him sitting in front of what I swear looks like my mother’s living room window sporting a peach outfit, glasses and fierce hair.  He was fucking beautiful and stimulated quite a few dreams and fantasies.   I am not ashamed to admit this.  Hell, y’all know me by now.  Men inspire me.

Pictured: Inspiration
During this time, Prince was working on other projects.  One of them was Camille, an alter-ego solo album.  Here, Prince sang in a sped-up feminized voice.  Camille was never released to my knowledge, but some of the songs ended up on Sign O’ the Times.  This effect is most noticeable in “If I Was Your Girlfriend.”  I didn’t know if I liked it at first, but eventually it grew on me.  Just Prince being Prince, always experimenting.

Prince and The Revolution broke up before Sign was released, but some members of the band contributed to the effort, including Wendy & Lisa, Dr. Fink, Brown Mark, and Bobby Z.  My homegirl (and one of Prince’s muses) Sheila E. also contributed.

Sign O’ the Times has 16 songs and every last cut fucking goes.  The album is maybe The Purple One’s most eclectic and is one of his best albums.  There are critics who consider the album genius, and imho they’re not wrong.  Like the remaining two albums on my list, I can’t really isolate my favorite tracks.  I love every song and have a hard time trying to pick faves.  So I’ll give you a brief rundown.

The title track is woke, dealing with the issues of the time…all to a kickass beat.  “Adore” is the motherfucking business.  That breakdown makes me feel like stripping.  “Hot Thing” is fierce.  “It” has a sickening beat.  I always play air guitar off “U Got the Look” and “Play in the Sunshine.”  “Housequake” is the jam.  “Starfish and Coffee” is that random seemingly senseless track that doubles as a great song.  “The Ballad of Dorothy Parker” is a nice, sexy little low-key track.” “Slow Love” is another sexy track.  “Forever in My Life” is a lovely cut with a great melody.  “If I Was Your Girlfriend” confused me at first, but that beat made perfect sense.  “Strange Relationship” and “I Could Never Take the Place of Your Man” are good, simple songs.  “It’s Gonna Be A Beautiful Night” is a concert cut with sickening horns, and “The Cross” is a beautiful, haunting track.

Now I need to go and listen to Sign again.

Sign O’ the Times peaked at #20 on Billboard.

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