Book Review: Prince and the Parade & Sign “O” The Times Era Studio Sessions 1985 and 1986

Prince and the Parade & Sign “O” The Times Era Studio Sessions 1985 and 1986 is the second book in author Duane Tudahl’s superb series titled The Prince Studio Sessions. Coming June 7, 2021, the 728-page hardcover picks up right where the previous volume left off. A day-by-day, chronological record of Prince’s recordings and performances during the years 1985 and 1986, this book covers recording sessions that resulted in not only Prince’s Parade and Sign “O” The Times albums, but also tracks that would go on to be released on Jill Jones’ debut album, Sheila E’s second album, the debut album by BrownMark’s group Mazarati, the first Madhouse album, The Black Album, and many tracks that would not see the light of day until the 2020 release of the Sign “O” The Times deluxe box set. Many of the songs, including songs from Prince’s jazz project known to fans as The Flesh Sessions, remain unreleased.

As he did with his first book in this series, author Tudahl crafted a pleasantly exhaustive and authoritative labor of love in the same manner that one might go about assembling a puzzle. He researched recording studio session logs, interviewed band members, recording engineers, and other Prince associates, and includes pieces of previously published interviews as well as brand new interviews and assembles all of these pieces of the puzzle to provide the reader with the closest thing that we will ever get to a being a fly on the wall during the creation of Prince’s music. The interview segments often correspond specifically to the time period or song that is being discussed, incorporating all of the interview commentary into the chronological format that documents the two years covered in the book.

As with the first volume, the book avoids gossip and sensationalism. Tudahl only discusses Prince’s personal life when doing so will provide direct insight as to Prince’s frame of mind at the time that he recorded certain songs. In addition to the interviews with others, Tudahl provides many quotes from Prince himself taken from the time periods covered in the book. By adding Prince’s own words to the story in a context and chronological manner that complements the recording studio log session dates, Tudahl provides a balanced collection of quotations from Prince and those who worked with him at the time to provide as comprehensive an examination as possible of the recording sessions and Prince’s life during these two years.

With the experience of the first book behind him, and happily due to the success of the first book, Tudahl was able to interview even more Prince associates this time around than with the initial book. All of the additional interviews provide even more in-depth insight here than with the first book, which itself was a masterwork. Now that Tudahl has proven his intent with these first two books to be honorable, as historically accurate as possible, and with the genuine purpose of further understanding Prince’s musical legacy, the floodgates should open in regards to accessibility to interview others who worked with Prince, and hopefully we will see even more books in this series covering additional studio sessions from other eras of Prince’s recording career.

If you love Prince’s music, this book is an absolute must-have. I can’t wait for the next volumes in the series.

Here are some links to buy the book:

Click here to order direct from the publisher.

Click here to buy from Bookshop.org and support local bookstores.

Click here to buy from Amazon.

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