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Prince's "Sign O The Times"
April 20, 2012 9:47 PM Subscribe
We shrugged when friends told us Prince's Sign "O" the Times was the greatest rock concert movie ever. There are limits to how great a rock concert movie can be, and we figured Jonathan Demme's--and Talking Heads'--Stop Making Sense had stretched them as far as they were liable to go. But even though Sign "O" the Times was directed by the artiste, whose previous cinematic exploits haven't exactly put him in Demme's class, Prince has come up with a contender. Where Demme goes for a sinuous, almost elegant clarity, Prince's movie is all murk, scuzz, steam, and, oh yeah, sex. With all due respect, which one sounds more like a real rock concert to you?
posted by Trurl (31 comments total)
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- Robert ChristgauPrince was arguably at his creative peak in 1986 as he wrote and assembled the wildly diverse collection of songs that would end up on his acclaimed 1987 double-album ‘Sign o’ the Times.’ It was a cobbled together patchwork of songs that had originally been recorded for various unreleased projects - the aborted ‘Dream Factory’ LP, an album to be credited to the alter-ego “Camille” featuring Prince’s vocals manipulated and sped-up, and the proposed 3-LP set ‘Crystal Ball’ which was whittled down to 2 discs at the record company’s insistence. Many of the tracks recorded during this period remain unreleased but have been widely bootlegged, so in some respects the mystique of ‘Sign o’ the Times’ has always suffered a bit for imaging what it might have been. But while diehard fans will continue to pine for the release of outtakes from the era, it hardly seems fair to judge an album by what it doesn’t include – and without question ‘Sign o’ The Times’ is still a phenomenal record. The diversity, perhaps owing to the unfocused nature of its genesis, is its greatest strength.
- Christian Gerard
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