Artwork provided by David R. Gaines
"Prince/Sign o' the Times (30th Anniversary)"
From what I remember, by the time Prince released his 6th album Purple Rain in 1984, people called it an instant classic and his best album to date. Well, just three years later, the great one did the impossible. Prince dropped the soul sonic mastery of Sign o’ the Times on March 31, 1987. Yes, 30 years ago. By this time in his career, he could have probably went on cruise control but of course, legends rarely go on cruise control. Even though he had both everything and nothing to prove in the eyes of most fans, he unveiled maybe his magnum opus. Having reached his commercial milestone three years prior with the previously mentioned Purple Rain, the powerhouse album and film that catapulted him into superstardom, I'm sure a perfectionist like Prince still felt the need to push himself musically as much as possible. His work ethic alone is unmatched but did people still doubt him?
After Purple Rain the great one did release two albums before Sign o' the Times. Prince’s experimental follow-ups Around the World In a Day (I love POP LIFE) and Parade also served as the soundtrack to his terrible second film Under a Cherry Moon. That said, both of these albums had some highs and lows that true Prince fans can debate forever. You could hear some James Brown (one of his favorite artist), Joni Mitchell and maybe some Rick James (you really heard James in some of Prince early work) in these projects. With all that being said, once a Record Company is use to the success of Purple Rain, anything less than that is potentially a concern. Let's remember, Prince is an artist FIRST.
While us true believers were cool following the The Purple One down, through or over whatever psychedelic path he chose, many people were use to a certain sound, feeling and groove displayed on earlier albums leading up to the 1985 and 1986 albums, completed between Purple Rain and Sign o' the Times. You know how we are as fans, we get spoiled. In true Prince fashion, he kept you guessing. In 1987, he did it again. He finally outdid himself.
Prince's 9th album would be the first album after The Revolution was disbanded. I mean, we were use to contributions from Wendy and Lisa. (The band wasn't together anymore but Lisa, Wendy and other members did contribute to the album technically but you didn't see them touring together anymore....allow me to clarify previous comment about their contribution)
How did Prince still continue to outdo himself? Well, he's Prince and that's how. He decided to master various styles with no single direction for the album. Instead, he took us everywhere.
On a side note, ADORE is a Top 5 Prince song in my opinion. The music on Sign o' the Times was/is amazing and it was even more critically acclaimed than Purple Rain by most mainstream critics. The album had Funk, Soul, Pop, and Rock. It was his most diverse album up to that point and maybe even 30 years later.
The Artwork of Prince is by Mr. David R. Gaines. Please see what his inspiration was for his beautiful work below.
"Prince - What inspired me to create this piece was a feeling of a shift of energy, that was a void, when he passed away. For little bit, it felt as if literally most of the globe had paused. I went for a walk about a week later and "The Beautiful Ones" came on, on my playlist. Instantly, tears began to flow...and I knew it was time for me to create something to give to others eyes. It was if I had to wait for the energy to connect with my creativity." - David R. Gaines