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Digital Subscriptions > Classic Pop > Duran Duran (Sept 2019) > SIGN O’ THE TIMES PRINCE

SIGN O’ THE TIMES PRINCE

Sartorially, Sign O’ The Times, Prince’s 1987 magnum opus, may have been coloured peach and black, but sonically it drew from a myriad hues, presented as an alchemised collage of funk, soul, electro, gospel and R&B.

Although it was less than three years after the globe-conquering juggernaut that was Purple Rain, his commercial stock had dipped significantly following two underperforming albums, both of which veered him away from the pulsing electro-rock and soaring anthems of that seminal LP, in favour of the psychedelic pop of Around The World In A Day and Eurocentric, jazz-inflected funk of Parade.

The latter served as the soundtrack to box-office misfire, Under The Cherry Moon, a self-indulgent black-and-white 1920s-set farce which cast him as a gigolo in the South of France. Asserting that he was never going to be the kind of artist to satiate himself with huge sales over creative contentment, Prince was forced to compromise when his record label Warner Bros vetoed his plan to release Crystal Ball as a triple album at the end of 1986.

“They told him no, which was something that hadn’t really happened up ‘til that point”, Susan Rogers, Prince’s sound engineer between 1983 and 1987, told Curtain Call. “After all, they’d agreed to let him write and produce his own music from the beginning and to go off and make a movie when he was 23 and not really big yet; they pretty much let him do as he pleased but said no to the triple album idea.”

It was argued that the Around The World In A Day and Parade albums hadn’t sold that well, comparatively, with the label believing that he’d peaked commercially with Purple Rain. Consequently, Warners were reluctant to back the ambitious, and costly, Crystal Ball.

The wealth of material crafted during one of his most prolific periods was the distillation of a number of different projects. As well as writing for other artists such as The Family, The Time, Sheila E and Jill Jones, Prince was working on a jazz project with Miles Davis and had almost completed Dream Factory, a double album with The Revolution whilst on the Parade tour.

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About Classic Pop

In the latest issue of Classic Pop we have a world exclusive interview with Duran Duran who reveal all about their forthcoming new studio album and the iconic show they played for NASA to mark the 50th anniversary of the moon landing. A candid Gary Numan talks to us about his 40 years as a ground-breaking icon of electronic music and Kim Wilde explains why it’s taken her 38 years to release her first live album, plus we also chat to Metronomy’s Joe Mount about his band’s ambitious new studio LP.

For our latest album-by-album feature we examine the amazing back catalogue of Blur and we also look back at the technology that drove the electro revolution with the help of members of the Human League and Landscape. 

Our classic album is Prince’s Sign O’ The Times and we also meet his collaborator Cat Glover to hear about her recollections of the project.

Our packed new album reviews section includes Charli XCX, Kim Wilde, Bon Iver, Keane, Chrissie Hynde, The Brand New Heavies and more. On the reissues front, we serve up a selection including Prefab Sprout, Goldfrapp, Janet Jackson, Jimmy Somerville, Echo & The Bunnymen and The Teardrop Explodes. In our live reviews section, we check out shows by New Order, kd lang, Stevie Wonder, Jenny Lewis and more.

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