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Sign O The Times & The Black Album

1987

"Sign O The Times" is Prince's ninth album. This album features a range of styles, mixing the live and acoustic sounds from Parade with the electronic sounds from earlier albums.

Prince plays most of the instruments, with the Revolution appearing on "It's Gonna Be A Beautiful Night". Other guests include Eric Leeds, Atlanta Bliss, Lisa Coleman, Wendy Melvoin and Sheila E. There are some accounts of the recording sessions, including details from engineer Susan Rogers.

Prince recorded the Black Album around the same time as Sign O The Times. The two albums probably share similar instruments, except When 2 R In Love which was recorded closer to the Lovesexy album.

Prince toured Sign O The Times from May to June 1987 with a new, unnamed band. Prince also filmed a concert movie with this band in Europe and Paisley Park. Details from this period are taken from photographs and videos from the tour and this article from Soundcheck magazine.

In the studio

Sign O The Times was recorded between March and December 1986 at Sunset Sound studios and Prince's Galpin Blvd Home Studio, Chanhassen. Prince played a Hohner Madcat and a Dave Rusan Cloud Guitar on the album. He used his Boss pedalboard and Colorsound Wah. Clean guitar parts were recorded direct through a Countryman Type 85 DI. Distorted sounds came from Prince's live amplifier rig, comprising of a Mesa/Boogie Mark II and a Bag End D12-M.[1]  There are reports of him using a Roland JC-120 Jazz Chorus in the studio, although this may have been a Bag End D-12M.[2] Other guitars that may appear on the album include a Roland G-707/GR-700 guitar synth, an Auerswald Model C[3] , an Epiphone Emperor Thinline[4]  and a Sigma SE-19.

The bass parts were probably recorded with an Alembic Spoiler or a Fender Jazz bass.

The primary keyboard on this album was the Fairlight CMI, which appears on most songs. Some songs like Sign O The Times and It[5]  were largely recorded on the Fairlight. Other keyboards that appear on the album include a Prophet VSEnsoniq MirageYamaha DX7, and Oberheim OB-Xa/OB-8.[6] [7]  A Hammond B3 appears on the song Adore and is also featured on the album cover.

The Linn LM-1 appears on many songs. It was processed through various Boss pedals, including Prince's live pedalboard, along with a Boss DS-1 DistortionHM-2 Heavy Metal [8] and possibly a Boss TW-1 Touch Wah. The bass parts on Hot Thing and Forever In My Life were created by running a tuned tom through Boss effects pedals[9] . A LinnDrum possibly appears on Sign O The Times (tambourine and cabasa) and I Could Never Take The Place of Your Man. Live drums also appear on several songs, recorded on an acoustic Yamaha kit.[10]

For details of the instruments used by the Revolution on "It's Gonna Be A Beautiful Night", see the Parade tour section.

The Black Album was recorded between October 1986 and March 1987 at Sunset Sound and Galpin Boulevard, with the exception of When 2 R In Love, which was recorded in October 1987 at Paisley Park. See the Lovesexy page for more information about these sessions.

  1. ^Brown, Jake (2010) Prince 'in the Studio' 1975 - 1995
  2. ^Gearspace Those 80's / Prince drum and perc sounds
  3. ^The Met Model C
  4. ^Tudahl, Duane (2021) Prince and the Parade and Sign O The Times Era Studio Sessions 1985 and 1986
  5. ^Who Sampled Prince It
  6. ^Brown, Jake (2010) Prince 'in the Studio' 1975 - 1995
  7. ^Tudahl, Duane (2021) Prince and the Parade and Sign O The Times Era Studio Sessions 1985 and 1986
  8. ^Red Bull Music Academy Susan Rogers Lecture
  9. ^Chuck Zwicky R/E/P Forums - Linn Drum
  10. ^Brown, Jake (2010) Prince 'in the Studio' 1975 - 1995

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