From a catalog lousy with riches, one of the Purple One's finest works gets the well-deserved and wildly enticing deluxe treatment.

By Sarah Rodman
September 25, 2020 at 09:00 AM EDT
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Jeff Katz/The Prince Estate

To paraphrase the man himself: There comes a time in every fan’s journey when they reach the crossroads of splurging or conserving while browsing the aisles of Prince’s posthumous wrecka stow.

This fall’s temptation: three versions of his magnificent 1987 double album Sign o’ the Times. There is a simple two-disc remaster, a slightly more premium three-disc deluxe set, and a behemoth eight-CD + DVD super-deluxe version with various nonmusical bells and whistles in the form of photos and liner notes. (LP and digital versions are also available.)

For rabid fans, it’s time to grab the piggy bank or start the holiday wish list. On a purely musical level, this collection is a true beauty, with 63 previously unreleased tracks — some well known to hardcore bootleggers — and a never-before-seen concert performance from Paisley Park featuring Miles Davis. Not everyone might be interested in, say, five versions of “Hot Thing.” But for the truly purple acolytes, each version offers something worth hearing, including an ecstatic, nearly seven-minute more-cowbell! dub remix. (Dig also a trumpet-tastic take of “Housequake,” with the endearing parenthetical suffix “7 Minutes MoQuake.”)

Amid the heavy trove of newly released tunes: a lump-in-the-throat version of “Power Fantastic” that includes an interlude of Prince addressing the band in studio; the brief but exquisite piano instrumental “Visions”; the hot guitar funk of “Witness 4 the Prosecution.” For the completists, you’ll want this set forever in your life. A

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