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Sign o' the Times Reviews

Before "the Artist," before the unpronounceable symbol that he chose in lieu of his birth-name, the pop sensation from Minneapolis was simply known as Prince. This 1987 concert film shot in Rotterdam, Holland, captures Prince and his band supporting material from the album "Sign 'O' the Times." Unfortunately, it only hints at the real fire the purple one brings to his shows. Unlike Michael Jackson, whose musical contributions are all but eclipsed by his bewildering public persona and private eccentricities, Prince will always be known first as a talented musician and composer. SIGN "O" THE TIMES gives viewers who haven't seen his act live a chance to see just how much work goes into one of Prince's shows. Opening with the title song from "Sign 'O' the Times" and working through high energy numbers like "Housequake" and "I Could Never Take the Place of Your Man," Prince and his band put on one hell of a concert. Between his sizzling guitar solos and his I-can't-stop-myself dancing, Prince is one part Jimi Hendrix, one part James Brown. Though the rest of the band is talented in their own right, Prince's show is helped immeasurably by the addition of singer-percussionist Sheila E. at the drums. The one puzzling element to SIGN "O" THE TIMES is the fact that Prince elected to re-record many of the vocal and guitar tracks in the studio, ostensibly sweetening the mix. Though this might have improved the overall sound quality of the movie, the lip- and finger-synching is imperfect, giving the impression that we're watching a video rather than a live performance. This impression is heightened by the inclusion of the video for "U Got the Look" in the middle of an already short concert. With his vast repertoire of songs and his reputation for performing marathon concerts, one wishes Prince would simply have played a few more tunes. Still, with tickets to the Artist's concerts hard to come by, SIGN "O" THE TIMES may be the next best thing to being there. (Profanity.)