Monday, July 13th, 2020
My Favorite Album: Alexis Taylor of Hot Chip on Prince’s “Sign o’ the Times”
“I remember as a youngster being shocked by its explicit sexual lyrics, and also intrigued by whatever was going on in ‘If I Was Your Girlfriend.’”
Jul 13, 2020
By Alexis Taylor
Photography by Ronald Dick Issue #66 – My Favorite Album – Angel Olsen and Sleater-Kinney
I think Prince’s Sign o’ the Times is my favorite album. Sometimes it’s been [Prince’s] Parade, but recently I have veered back to Sign o’ the Times. For sheer pleasure, wonder at its musical breadth, and number of years spent listening to it, as well as for the unusual nature of the album—live full band tracks next to completely solo, somewhat minimal, even demo-like tracks—I rate this as the best Prince release. And my favorite by any artist.
I would have first heard it when it came out in 1987 (when I was seven) because my brother bought all of Prince’s albums back then, on release. I heard it a lot on my brother’s cassette playing at home, and began to know its sequence well, eventually buying my own cassette copy a couple of years later (along with every Prince album) and listening to that on secondary school trips on my Walkman or on car journeys etc.
I remember as a youngster being shocked by its explicit sexual lyrics, and also intrigued by whatever was going on in “If I Was Your Girlfriend,” but liking the whole album so much—and wanting to share this love with others at school. By the end of secondary school I was lending my copy to the guitar teacher so he could hear Prince’s bluesy playing on the title track. He didn’t seem too impressed or interested.
Once older and making my own music with Hot Chip, I would spend hours listening and re-listening to these tracks I had heard for literally years, deconstructing the production and arrangements of the tracks, and trying to make something as minimal and funky as the LinnDrum programming Prince had done, or as odd sounding as this music, which still maintained a pop feel. It has stayed with me as a constant source of inspiration—and something to listen to in order, from start to finish, if I ever need the deep satisfaction of listening to a complete album that effortlessly ties together so many musical influences and proves that double albums can be rich and rewarding, joyful, playful, spiritual, and ecstatic, and never outstay their welcome.
(Alexis Taylor is the vocalist/multi-instrumentalist in the British dance-rock/electro-pop band Hot Chip. They formed in 2000 and have released seven albums, their most recent being A Bath Full of Ecstasy, released earlier this year on Domino. In 2018 Taylor also released a new solo album, Beautiful Thing, also via Domino.)
[Note: This article originally appeared in Issue 66 of Under the Radar’s print magazine, which is out now. This is its debut online. For the issue we interviewed musicians and actors about their all-time favorite album.]