The career of Prince, whose life was sadly cut short at the age of 57 earlier this year in April, increasingly appears to be simply a series of breathtaking highlights. His 1987 album Sign o’ the Times, however, deserves to be singled out as something special—it’s arguably the most ambitious, diverse, coherent, and funkalicous statement of his entire career. Sign o’ the Times won best album in the 1987 Village Voice Pazz & Jop critics’ poll—the only time Prince ever won that particular honor—and the title track from the album also won best single in the same poll.
The album was released on March 31, 1987, and a few weeks later Prince embarked on a 34-date tour of Europe with a largely retooled lineup. Sign o’ the Times wasn’t an album by Prince and the Revolution—it was credited to Prince only—and veterans of Prince’s live and studio experience such as Bobby Z., Brown Mark, Lisa Coleman, and Wendy Melvoin weren’t on the tour. The resultant combo is especially cherished by Prince diehards as the “Lovesexy Band,” including Miko Weaver, Eric Leeds, Atlanta Bliss, and long-time keyboardist Doctor Fink. This was the first Prince tour to feature Sheila E. on the drums (the previous two tours, Sheila E.‘s band had served as opener).
The new live concept gives these incredible rehearsal tapes all the more meaning. Almost every song on Sign o’ the Times is represented, and the groovetastic recordings last more than 2 hours. In a way it’s probably the best possible bootleg imaginable from that tour.
The Shibe Park Music Vaults has made the music available, broken up into two “discs.” Listen to it while you can!
Sign o’ the Times
Play in the Sunshine
The Ballad of Dorothy Parker
Starfish & Coffee
Now’s The Time
Drum Solo by Sheila E
If I Was Your Girlfriend
U Got The Look
I Could Never Take The Place of Your Man
Forever in My Life
It’s Gonna Be a Beautiful Night
The Sex of It
via Passion of the Weiss, h/t: Ned Raggett
Previously on Dangerous Minds:
‘Starfish and Coffee’: Prince jams with The Muppets, 1997
Prince meets The Joffrey Ballet