I had intended to post on Thursday (June 25th) about a number of things- firstly the fact that it was the 38th Anniversary of the release of both Blade Runner and The Thing in America. Just imagining those two classic films being released on the same day is pretty wild- studios seem much more cautious these days about releasing tent-pole films at the same time, preferring to allow each other at least a week or two for each such release to dominate screens/recoup costs before the next big release comes along. Just imagining genre fans over in America being able to go to the cinema and watch both films on that opening weekend, or even on the same day, rather blows mind. Just imagining it was 38 years ago blows my mind too, but for all the wrong reasons.
Simultaneous international releases were simply not a thing back then, so over here in old blighty we had The Thing in August and Blade Runner a few weeks later in September (I was too young to get into a screening of The Thing, eventually watching a pirate copy on VHS later that Autumn, but did indeed see Blade Runner on its first weekend- the rest, as they say, is a well-documented history here on this blog).
On Thursday I also wanted to comment on the official announcement that day of Prince’s classic album Sign o’ The TImes getting a Super Deluxe release. Widely rumoured over the weeks prior, the announcement set in stone the contents and packaging, both of which was subsequently scrutinised and deliberated on forums worldwide. On the whole, the track contents are excellent with very few glaring omissions, and I’m particularly pleased to see All My Dreams (a wildly bizarre track only Prince could come up with) and two versions of Witness 4 the Prosecution (the kind of funky classic that only Prince could create and then shelve) included- these are two of my favourite Prince songs that have appeared on bootlegs. As with last year’s 1999 Super Deluxe, the fact that I have heard most of the vault tracks listed for Sign o’ Times Super Deluxe in bootleg form in the years since Prince’s passing seems a double-edged sword; on the one hand the prospect of hearing what I know are really great songs in better quality is really exciting, on the other hand, the sense of discovery most fans will experience hearing these vault releases for the first time is something I’m quite envious of.
Of course there are many tracks included I haven’t heard before either, and some bootleg material from that period apparently missing but hopefully planned for the Parade Super Deluxe that is already being worked on – indeed originally this was actually intended as the follow-up to 1999 Super Deluxe but rights issues for Warner caused a rethink, as the label owns Parade material (and that of other film-related Prince material like Purple Rain and Batman) in perpetuity but the non-film albums move to Sony from next year. So Warner obviously figured that if it wanted to profit from a deluxe edition of what is widely considered Prince’s finest album/period, it had to do it now, and leave the other albums for 2021/2022. I think that’s fair enough, considering all the work the label did for Prince during that period of his career. No doubt we’ll also get a ‘proper’ Purple Rain Super Deluxe after those, too (for the 2024 anniversary?). The bitter irony that it took Prince’s passing to enable these releases to ever surface is not lost on me, indeed, its never far from my mind when getting excited by these releases.
Hopefully we fans will benefit from the oversight of both the Parade and Sign o’the Times Super Deluxe projects being worked on pretty much at the same time, ensuring a wealth of material between them- on the evidence of the Sign o’the Times release, that seems pretty likely.
Regards the packaging, it does seem a bit of a shame that the Estate hasn’t been able to ensure that all the CD versions of the Super Deluxe releases match each other in design, but the 12″ format of the Sign o’ The Times release means we get a lovely, impressive-looking 120-page book as part of the package. Its large size hopefully means that I’ll find it easier to read. I liked the compactness of the 1999 Super Deluxe and that it fits on my shelf with other CDs but my word, my eyesight has failed over the past year or two on the evidence of how I struggle with that boxes booklet. It should come with a magnifying glass or something. Hopefully when Sony takes over for other Prince Super Deluxe releases perhaps they will maintain this 12″ format (and likewise Warner with its own future releases).