Catalog # SAB 110/111/112
Release Year 2004
3CD Length 73:00 / 79:54 / 73:26
Date/Venue Various Sign O The Times Tour 1987
Source Soundboard Recordings
Quality EX / EX+
Fink's Comments (rates this release 5.0/5.0)
Surprisingly this is Sabotage's first release documenting the Sign O' The Times tour/period (their rehearsals releases aside as they are not technically "tour" material) and whilst it received a fair amount of criticism on it's release in 2004, this is actually an impressive release containing some of the best material from that period. The criticism heaped on this release was centred around the First Avenue show on Disc 1 and the term "treble heavy" was frequently used - rightly or wrongly. The First Avenue show featured on Disc 1 has been sourced from the circulating video recording (listed HERE amongst others) and as such has a certain "video-feel" to it. The recording was of excellent quality already so the improvements done to it are minimal as if you work with high quality source material the end result will be excellent. The show itself is one of Prince's finest moments and whilst the majority of material previewed at the show made it onto the tour (the show was a week before the release of the 'Sign O' The Times' album), 'Strange Relationship' is one of the gems which was never given a public airing - unfortunately as the performance is stunning (it was made available via the NPG Music Club in heavily edited form in 2005). Disc 1 closes out with Prince's appearance at the MTV Music Video Awards in 1987 and I'm shocked this made it onto the release as the quality/editing is appalling. Sabotage have used the exact same (terrible) version they used on their 'Sound & Vision Volume 1' release, but have badly attempted to correct the flaws on 'Sign O' The Times' which has sections looped - thus making it not representative of the original performance - naughty, very naughty (and blatantly obvious too). 'Play In The Sunshine' has been taken from a completely different source and the sound is very thin, tinny and one of the worst quality sources I have ever heard. It's bad - it's very, very bad, and surprising as the MTV performance is easily available in vastly superior quality elsewhere. This is the only low point of the entire release, but it is a pretty shockingly bad low point for Sabotage.
Disc 2 features the beautiful quality Parisian soundboard recording from 1987 which has been circulating since the very early days of bootlegs (my first recollection of it was 1991). The quality really cannot be faulted and whist it is incomplete, it's almost beyond criticism due to the clarity of the recording. The show may not be the most adventurous from the tour, but the performance is certainly amongst the best and is a joy to listen to. The first couple of minutes of 'I Could Never Take The Place Of Your Man' suffer from some slight channel switching and is a little subdued - otherwise it is above criticism. Disc 2 concludes with one of the best versions of 'It's Gonna Be A Beautiful Night' taken from the Utrecht 22nd June 1987 soundboard which is (in the past) was tagged onto the Paris show and passed off as being from that concert. Words don't do this version of 'It's Gonna Be A Beautiful Night' justice and the near-13 minute performance is a highlight of the entire tour.
Disc 3 contains the Sign O' The Times' concert movie which has been sourced from the officially released Laser Disc - it's a well known performance and as such I'll skip over the commentary as it goes without saying the quality is of a very high standard. So, what do we say about this release? The only real disappointment is the shocking quality of the MTV Video Music Awards 1987 footage on Disc 1. Many of the discs contain very similar material, however that is to be expected of bootlegs concentrating on a particular era, and the performances do differ from show to show. The artwork is certainly impressive and better than many of Sabotage's recent efforts containing some nice text on the Sign O' The Times era and tour.