Prince’s Sign ‘O’ The Times Super Deluxe Edition CD set: My First Reactions

Prince Sign ‘O’ The Times Super Deluxe Edition (8 CD + 1 DVD)

If you’re waiting for your copy of Prince’s Sign ‘O’ The Times Super Deluxe Edition box set to arrive, I am happy to tell you that you are truly in for a treat. You’re going to be tempted to listen to it on the day that you receive it, but unless you have that entire day off from work, I strongly suggest that you wait until the weekend or take the day off. You’re going to need at least 10 hours to marathon your way through this massive collection of music and video. 

The first two CDs consist of the remastered Sign ‘O’ The Times album. I’ll leave it up to the audiophiles to explain specifically how this remaster sounds compared to the original CD, but to my ears, this remaster by Bernie Grundman sounds significantly better than the original 1987 CD. I am pretty confident that no matter what device you listen on, you’ll prefer this new remaster. 

The third disc contains single edits, B-sides, and extended versions of the songs that were released as singles from Sign ‘O’ The Times. For me, this disc is all about the B-sides and extended versions. I’m not a fan of the single edits, but if you want them, you’ll have them. 

The real treasure here is found on discs 4-8. There are three entire discs (Discs 4-6) packed with previously unreleased tracks from the vault. The majority of these are from 1986 with a few exceptions. Quite a few of these tracks have circulated among fans in lesser sound quality for many years, but the sound quality in this set is far superior to any of the bootlegs that I have heard. In addition, there are still a significant number of tracks that I have never heard at all. Even some of the tracks that I had heard previously are significantly different versions than those that have circulated. In many cases, just as I thought, “Oh, I know this song,” I was stunned to hear additional music, additional instrumentation, or even different arrangements. 

Disc 7 and 8 comprise a complete concert from Utrecht on the Sign ‘O’ The Times tour. The sound quality far surpasses all of the live bootlegs that I have heard from that tour, so you’ll be thrilled with the performance and the sound. 

The DVD features the complete December 31, 1987 New Year’s Eve show shot live at Paisley Park and includes a guest appearance by Miles Davis. The audio and video quality is fantastic for a video from 1987 and the quality is consistent throughout. For much of the show, the camera mix is focused on Prince, which I love because I get to see close up what he’s playing on guitar. This show in my personal opinion is even more enjoyable than the theatrically released Sign ‘O’ The Times movie (which by the way, is not included in this set due to legal reasons). 

I strongly recommend that you listen to all 8 CDs and watch the DVD on the same day, as I did on Saturday. Binge it like you would a great Netflix series. I feel that binging it in one sitting will give you a deep understanding of just how hard Prince worked in the studio. After listening to and watching all of the material in this set, I felt exhausted in an exhilarating way, and fully satisfied. I think you will too. 

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