Following his disastrous, hubris-drenched fling as a leading man in the non-musical, glossy b&w fantasy Under the Cherry Moon, Prince Rogers Nelson of Minneapolis wisely has returned with a polychromatic concert performance film that should draw anyone who got a charge of out his classic rock ‘n’ roll romance pic Purple Rain.
Shot on location at a music hall in Rotterdam and at the musician’s studio in Minnesota, Sign O’ the Times is a filmed treatment of Prince’s touring show of 14 songs from his hit lp of the same name. Defiantly carnal in the face of AIDS-era safe sexiness, the Prince revue is set in a film noir fantasy zone where the come-hither blinking of gaudy neon honky-tonk signs flashes over an idealized back-alley netherworld. There, strong-willed, Nautilus-sinewed, lascivious women – lissom gladiatrixes of rock ‘n’ roll bloodsport – challenge the sexual imperatives of Princely machismo.
Posing, pouting and pirouetting with androgynous abandon, pushing his guitar into ethereal, upper-register soundstorms and giving supple voice to songs of sensual and emotional free-fall in an anomic contemporary world, Prince provides musicvideo addicts with a pure fix of visual and aural synchronicity.