Sign o’ the times, mess with your mind. Hurry before it’s too late. It’s never too late to enjoy the glutton of Prince remixes and B-sides, no matter what era of his music you most prefer. With an album chock full of classic songs and coming from one of his most inspired bouts of creativity (1985-1987), there was bound to be a nice assortment of alternate takes and B-sides. Right?
Sort of. Of the four singles released in the U.S. from Sign o’ the Times, only two received the completely new B-side treatment. “La, La, La, He, He, Hee” was the B-side to the album’s first single, the title track, “Sign o’ the Times.” The album’s second single, the commercially unpopular but critical fav “If I Was Your Girlfriend,” had “Shockadelica” as its B-side. “U Got the Look” and “I Could Never Take the Place of Your Man” only had album tracks as B-sides (“Housequake” and “Hot Thing,” respectively). The funny thing is that we know Prince had a plethora of quality songs in the vault he could have used as B-sides for these singles. Three whole discs of unreleased material were included on the Sign o’ the Times Super Deluxe released from 2020. Of course, anything with The Revolution would have been off-limits, but “Crucial,” “Cosmic Day,” or “Adonis and Bathsheba” would have made excellent non-Revolution B-sides.
Most of the singles didn’t even get proper 12″ remixes. “U Got the Look” had a slammin’ extended “Long Look” that matched the movie/video version, and both original B-sides had 12″ versions that greatly expanded the appeal of these songs. Purchasers of “U Got the Look,” and “ICNTTPOYM” 12″ got extended remixes of “Housequake” and “Hot Thing,” songs that were meant for the club remix. That was it, though—no banging “Sign o’ the Times” remix. There are no experimental additions for an “If I Was Your Girlfriend” 12″. There are no added lyrics about how Prince had to let the woman down easy on an “I Could Never Take the Place of Your Man” 12″ extended version. We got what we got. Let’s revisit.
La, La, La, He, He, Hee (7″ & 12″) – The 12″ version, also known as the “Highly Explosive” remix, is definitely where it’s at for this fun little B-side. The story behind its creation is endearing. The simple yet clever lyrics are cute. The song’s additional lyrics in this nearly 11-minute remix take the song from tongue in cheek raunchy to downright nasty at times(“You must be wet.”). However, the extra time allotted to this track is mainly dedicated to Prince’s funky scratch guitar. Put your foot on the rock and get down from that tree.
Shockadelica (7″ & 12″) – This song is my favorite of the two original B-sides. It also has its own 7″ and 12″ versions to cherish. The 12″ doesn’t elevate the song the same way it does for “La, La, La, He, He, Hee,” however, I find Shockadelica more appealing anyway. The six-plus minute “Long Version” keeps a similar feel to the shorter 7″ version, but again, Prince decides to add some colorful language (“You been layin’ on my guitar, nasty bitch.”) to the extra couple of minutes. There are some intriguing additional lyrics in the 12″ version that we make sure to cover on the podcast episode for this standout song.
U Got the Look (Long Look) – Yes, please. This is the version of the song I wanted from the jump. The music video (taken from the SotT movie) had an extended intro that I loved. Prince breaks it down midway through the song to include a musical interlude with the whistling effects and more funk and fuzz guitar that you couldn’t get anywhere else. I love the album version, but the extra music in the “Long Look” just makes me giddy.
Housequake (7 Minutes MoQuake) – Prince gives us a seven-minute version of this disc one favorite, true to the song’s subtitle. It doesn’t exactly take the listener to new and creative highs beyond the original structure. However, we do get more of Eric Leeds’ exceptional hornwork. Oh, and fewer lyrics. Much fewer lyrics, at least for the most part. It’s primarily an instrumental jam version for dancing to an already danceable groove. It doesn’t meet or exceed the original album version of “Housequake” for me, but it’s still basically “Housequake” at the end of the day, so it’s not bad.
Hot Thing (Extended Remix) – Prince enlists club producer extraordinaire, Shep Pettibone, to remix this horny club jam. Shep includes an on-the-nose interpolation of “Sugar Walls” into a song about an attraction to a pretty young thing in a club remix of a song that takes place in a club. At eight and a half minutes, this remix does have its musical moments that justify its existence. Again, I prefer the album version for its brevity, but I get a kick out of hearing Prince mimic horn parts that Eric Leeds never added. There’s also a “Dub Version” of this song, also by Shep Pettibone, but there’s not enough of a difference between the two remixes for me to highlight it separately.
The 7″, 12″ and remixes mentioned earlier in this post can easily be streamed thanks to the 2020 Sign o’ the Times Super Deluxe edition. Give your ears a treat and listen to those superior (in my opinion) 12″ versions of the B-sides. Most of the rest of these tracks could be heard on Prince’s B-side collection from the ’90s or the Ultimate collection from the 2000s, but these 12″ B-side editions are extraordinary. Stop barking up the wrong tree and give them a spin (or stream).
High-Speed Dub Review: Prince’s Sign o’ the Times Era B-Sides and 12″ RemixesTweet