|Sign O’ The Times (stylized as Sign “☮︎” The Times) is the ninth full-length studio album by Prince, and his ‘solo’ release since 1982’s 1999 (his intervening album’s were credited to Prince and the Revolution). It was released worldwide in March 1987.
Sessions and compiling
Eight of the album’s sixteen tracks were included on various configurations of the Dream Factory album, planned as the fourth album by Prince and the Revolution. When the Revolution was disbanded in October 1986, Prince reworked the album.
In late October 1986, Prince worked on an unrelated album, Camille (to be given the artist credit of Camille), on which Housequake, Strange Relationship and If I Was Your Girlfriend were included, before combining elements of the two projects to create Crystal Ball, a triple album initially also credited to Camille, but possibly also considered to be credited solely to Prince.
Warner Bros. were skeptical about releasing a triple album, and Prince removed seven of the 22 tracks and recorded the radio-friendly U Got The Look, completing the album on 15 January 1987 with the recording of an introductory piece acting as a segue from Sign O’ The Times to Play In The Sunshine.
The album went trough various track-sequences, until as late as the second week of January 1987 before it was finalized with the sixteen tracks ultimately on the release.
The album produced four commercially-released singles, Sign O’ The Times (which preceded the album), If I Was Your Girlfriend, U Got The Look and I Could Never Take The Place Of Your Man, as well as two promotional releases, Hot Thing (in the USA only) and The Cross (in South Africa only).
Prince supported the album with a major European tour, titled Sign O’ The Times Tour, which focused largely on the album (while missing some of Prince’s previous hit singles). Two dates on the tour were filmed and the resulting concert film, Sign O’ The Times was released worldwide, focused on the territories where the tour did not travel.
The album reached number 6 on the US Billboard Top Pop Albums Chart, and number 4 on the Billboard Top Black Albums Chart.
The album was certified platinum by RIAA three months after release, on 2 July 1987.
- Prince - all vocals and instruments, except where noted (credited as Camille for lead vocals on Housequake, U Got The Look, If I Was Your Girlfriend and Strange Relationship)
- Susannah Melvoin - background vocals on Play In The Sunshine and The Ballad Of Dorothy Parker, vocals on It’s Gonna Be A Beautiful Night
- Eric Leeds - saxophone on Housequake, Slow Love, Hot Thing, It’s Gonna Be A Beautiful Night and Adore
- Atlanta Bliss - trumpet on Housequake, Slow Love, It’s Gonna Be A Beautiful Night and Adore
- Gilbert Davison - party voice on Housequake
- Coke Johnson - party voice on Housequake
- Todd H. - party voice on Housequake
- Susan Rogers - party voice on Housequake
- Mike S. - party voice on Housequake
- Brad M. - party voice on Housequake
- The Penguin (a plush prop, not an actual person) - party voice on Housequake
- Clare Fischer - orchestration on Slow Love
- Wendy Melvoin - guitar and backing vocals on Slow Love, tamborine and congas on Strange Relationship, guitar and backing vocals on It’s Gonna Be A Beautiful Night
- Lisa Coleman - backing vocals on Slow Love, (Fairlight) sitar and wooden flute on Strange Relationship, keyboards and backing vocals on It’s Gonna Be A Beautiful Night
- Sheena Easton - vocals on U Got The Look
- Sheila E. - drums and percussion on U Got The Look, percussion and transmississippirap on It’s Gonna Be A Beautiful Night
- Bobby Z. - drums on It’s Gonna Be A Beautiful Night
- Brown Mark - bass guitar on It’s Gonna Be A Beautiful Night
- Miko Weaver - guitar on It’s Gonna Be A Beautiful Night
- Dr. Fink - keyboards on It’s Gonna Be A Beautiful Night
- Jill Jones - vocals on It’s Gonna Be A Beautiful Night
- Greg Brooks - backing vocals on It’s Gonna Be A Beautiful Night
- Wally Safford - backing vocals on It’s Gonna Be A Beautiful Night
- Jerome Benton - backing vocals on It’s Gonna Be A Beautiful Night
- "Thank U, Susannah, Eric, Susan, Coke, Todd H, Brad, Atlanta, Bob, Joe, Steve, Sheena, Carol D. Camille, Jill Jones, Wendy, Lisa, Bobby, Dr. Fink and Mark, Brooks, Wally & Jerome, Mico, Alan Leeds, Karen Krattinger, my friend Gilbert, Rande, Sheila E. Murray & Lillian, Sunset Sound, Paisley Park, Jeff Katz, Bernie G. Clare Fischer, Cubby & the crew, Miles D. Fred M., Lee Phillips, Robbie, Duane Nelson, Abba John & the Treacherous, Laura L. Paris, France, Beth and her cohorts, JiJi, my patient Mother, Mattie, Billy Sparks, Quentin Perry and Mojo, Susan Hale and all the purple boys and girls, soon the boat will sail & take us all away."