I’m less than 18 months away from turning 55 and so it’s fast approaching the tenth anniversary of the 45 45s at 45 series. It was a series featuring favourite singles around which, sort of, I provided much of the story of my life through anecdotes. The singles however, could only qualify if they, or the parent album they had been lifted from, had been purchased at the time of release and as such, a great many wonderful records missed out.
I’m already thinking of a 55 45s at 55 series in which I’ll feature songs that I either discovered late or didn’t buy immediately at the time of release for one reason or another. It’s just a concept kicking around in my head at the moment and it’ll probably take some chill out time on a Caribbean beach between now and June 2018 to come to full fruition.
But I can guarantee that this will feature in any rundown:-
mp3 : Prince – Sign “O” The Times
It is now exactly 30 years since this single was released with the album of the same name following a month later. This coincided with the period when I wasn’t paying as much attention to pop music as I had in previous years. My consumption was mainly through radio and TV and so I’d have heard this and caught the video a fair bit, not only for the fact that it reached #10 in the singles charts but as it proved to be one of those songs that was retained on playlists for many months afterwards on account of most folk declaring it instantly as a classic.
Nowadays it is a simple task to read about the background to the song and the recording process that was undertaken. Wiki can again be your friend. It was a bit of a surprise to learn that everything you hear, other than some backing vocals, was provided by Prince.
It’s a song that sounded unlike anything else he’d done up to that point with more reliance on a synthesiser and catchy electronic drum pattern (I was tempted to describe it as infectious but that would be poor taste given that AIDS is one of the issues addressed in the lyric). And what a lyric it was…a sermon that called for action without resorting to bellowing or shouting from the roof tops. It was like a brilliantly argued column in a newspaper put to music.
I picked up a 7” vinyl copy of the single a short while back. I’m not an avid collector of vinyl, albeit I’ve a substantial amount sitting in Villain Towers, but I really felt that it would never be complete without this, albeit the track was readily available through a Greatest Hits CD that I bought a long time ago.
The b-side is a bit of fun. It’s not one that can be described as a masterpiece but it stands up to repeated listens:-
mp3 : Prince – La, La, La, He He, Hee
Seemingly composed as a rejoinder to Sheena Easton, but it takes a special kind of genius deviant to do so by way of a lyric that refers to a dog’s affair with a cat…..