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ICYMI: Holy O(+>! ‘Sign O’ The Times’ is streaming on Amazon Prime!

Joe Gross
jgross@statesman.com

Dude.

DUDE. (And I mean that in the most gender neutral way, which is how you should talk about all things related to today’s topic.)

Prince’s 1987 concert film “Sign O’ The Times” can be streamed on Amazon Prime right this second.

In fact, it has been on Prime since the end of February.

And yes, you would be completely within your right to stop reading right now and fire up Prime.

How was there not an announcement from heaven above is beyond me.

And yes, I understand that this thing screened on Showtime back in 2017.

But now it is on Prime and it’s hard to explain how wild this is. 

Brothers and sisters (and especially you young people),  you must understand how hard it was to SEE this thing after about 1991.

Dig, if you will: It is 1987. Prince has released “Sign O The Times,” which will soon be regarded as one of the best double albums ever made, certainly one of the best made in the ‘80s. 

Prince shot and released a companion concert film to go with the album. Crowd footage from Europe, performance footage from a stunning show at Paisley Park Studios.

This was the first time a lot of people had ever seen Prince’s post-Revolution outfit, an agglomeration of folks including drummer Sheila E., keyboard player Boni Boyer, bassist Levi Seacer Jr. (later of the New Power Generation), guitarist Miko Weaver, Revolution keyboard player Dr. Fink, a horn section, a few backup singers and brilliant dancer and on-stage foil Cat Glover

And folks: It’s a stunning film. 

“Purple Rain” is “Purple Rain,” but musically, "Sign” is some next level stuff, funk and rock and gospel colored in peach and black, The Artist hitting new heights. 

Prince is full peacock mode -- lots of jumpsuits, feather earrings, playing off of Glover as he glides and humps and smashes his through the title track, "Hot Thing," an explosive "I Could Never Take the Place of Your Man," a glorious "If I Was Your Girlfriend” and more. Gospel flourishes are everywhere. Even the skits are okay. EVEN THE SKITS.

The only non-“Sign” tunes are a savvy "Little Red Corvette" and a juiced-up cover of Charlie Parker's "Now's the Time” that highlights the band’s fusion-funk chops. (The full concert, with a few older tunes, has floated around the bootleg market for years.)

Add the the music video version of "U Got the Look" (what with Sheena Easton and all) and you have a wildly thrilling, sexy document of a key 20th century American artist.

Except it didn’t do so hot at the box office, which may have been a bit of a blow for a guy who was working at Dylan-in-’65-and-’66 pace to top himself month after month. 

There were two VHS versions, one in 1988 and one in ‘91.

And, friends, that was IT. No domestic DVD or Blu-ray.

RELATED: The story of the impossible photos of Prince playing SXSW

Until the internet era, you had to know a guy who knew a guy to even see the thing. Video store rental copies were often worn to death. I didn’t see the thing until my freshman year in college, a year after the last VHS printing, and even then it like “Woah, you HAVE one of those?!” 

There were some import DVD versions here and there, but they were always expensive and the wrong region and look, this is Prince. Prince is one of the best things America has ever produced.  This flick should have been available to everyone all the time. 

And now it pretty well is. Color me takin' aback.