The Time Biography
... exactly in April 1981 Prince creates THE TIME as an outlet for some of his most funky and danceable R&B material. The project was made possible when he signed a contract with Warner Bros. Records, that allowed him to develop and record other acts. After the considerable success the record company had achieved with his 1979 album "Prince" and the hit-single "I wanna be your lover" (which sold more than 1 million copies and hit #1 at the R&B Charts and #11 at the Pop-Charts) in the black marketplace, the record company was very interested when Prince presented them with more of the same. By creating THE TIME, Prince was able to continue on the path of his 1980 album "Dirty Mind" and explore other musical genres that would not label him as a R&B artist. His ideas about creating an alter-ego group was reinforced by a 1980 motion picture entitled "The Idolmaker". Directed by Taylor Hackford, this movie is a revealing and entertaining glimpse of the process behind the invention of pop stars. It was based on the career of Bob Marcucci, who pulled the strings for Fabian and Frankie Avalon in the '50s.
Sue Ann Carwell did a stint as lead singer before getting a solo contract, and also Alexander O'Neal took over. He was Prince's first choice as lead singer for THE TIME, but he declined his offer.
Finally Prince envisioned THE TIME as a cool, street-wise funk band, with Morris Day as the lead singer. The songs Prince tailored for the band were unpretentious and well humored, mostly concerned with love, sex, style, attitude, partying and money. Containing none of the spiritual or socio-political concerns that he dealt with on his own albums. Part of Prince's incentive for involving Morris Day in THE TIME was to repay him for the use of his track "Partyup" on Prince's 1980 album "Dirty Mind".
THE TIME's further line-up was basically created around a Minneapolis funk band called Flyte Tyme. This band, named after a song by jazz artist Donald Byrd, was founded by Jellybean Johnson (drums) and Terry Lewis (bass) and had exist in different incarnations since around 1973. Monte Moir and Jimmy Jam (both keyboards) had also played with Flyte Tyme many times ago. Jesse Johnson (guitar) was finally enlisted by Morris Day, who remembered him from an audition for his former band Enterprise.
Cynthia Johnson was one of Flyte Tyme's early lead singers until she left to sing with Lipps Inc., who had a huge hit with "Funkytown" in 1980.
Andre Cymone, who played bass in Prince's band, had been very involved in THE TIME project from the beginning. He was also assembling a girl group, called "The Girls", and saw the side projects as an opportunity to supplement his relatively small income from being a band member only. Andre claimed that he came up with many of the ideas for THE TIME before being muscled out of the project, wich led into falling out with Prince. The relationship between Andre Cymone and Prince had been deteriorating for some time. Andre felt, that he didn't receive enough credits for his input into Prince's music and stage act, even accusing Prince of knowing stealing his ideas. He decided to leave Prince's band and embark a solo-career. He accepted to participate in the upcoming european tour, but he left the band immediately afterwards.
Lisa Coleman later also reported, that Prince pulled stunts like turning home studio jams with Morris and her into material for THE TIME and another side-project, Vanity 6.
Prince initiate this album before the band had even been assembled. The record was completed in only two weeks in April 1981 at Prince's home studio in the basement of his house at Lake Riley in Chanhassen, Minneapolis. Only "Oh, baby" was recorded in April 1979 at Alpha Studios in Los Angeles during the sessions for his 1979 album "Prince". The final mixing of the tapes took place at Hollywood Sunset Sound in Los Angeles, from 28th to 30th April 1981. Prince himself plays more or less every note on the album. Matt Fink delivers synthesizer solos on "Get it up" and "The stick", while Lisa Coleman provides some backing vocals on "Cool" and "The stick". Prince's own voice is often audible in the final mix.
On 29th July 1981 the first album [The Time] was released by Warner Bros. Records. The credits listed Morris Day (lead vocals), Jesse Johnson (guitar), Terry Lewis (bass), Jellybean Johnson (drums) as well as Monte Moir & Jimmy Jam (both keyboards), as the members of the band. The production credit is shared by Morris Day and a guy named Jamie Starr, who had been first introduced as an engineer on Prince's 1980 album "Dirty Mind". Neither record nor sleeve contains any songwriting credits. The music itself bears all the hallmarks of Prince's synth-based Minneapolis-Sound and it didn't take long before stories start to circulating at the press, that Prince himself was behind this project - writing all songs, playing mosts instruments and producing the complete album, only utilizing Morris Day to add some vocals on the final mix.
[The Time] contains six songs. "Cool" is registered as a collaboration of Prince (music) with Desmond "Dez" Dickerson (lyrics). "After hi school" is registered to Morris Day, yet it was actually written and demoed by Dez Dickerson. Similary "The stick" was originally written by Lisa Coleman, but it was registered to Prince (as Jamie Starr). Except for Morris Day's songwriting credit to "After hi School" and Dez Dickerson's credit to "Cool" all the songs are registered sole to Prince (as Jamie Starr).
Prince's involvement in [The Time] was strongly denied by all band members. Morris Day, who claimed credit for creating the band and shaping it's slick look and cool attitude, was only willing to admit, that Prince had offered some guidance on the album. He also explained, that Jamie Starr was really an engineer who lived and worked in Minneapolis, while Steve Fargnoli (from Prince's former management team Cavallo, Ruffalo & Fargnoli) did his best to support the story by pointing out in interviews, that Jamie was hard to get, because he was a kind of reclusive maniac. The truth was, that Jamie Starr was Prince in disguise and THE TIME was very much his own musical creation. The pseudonym enabled him to distance himself from this project, so THE TIME would stand or fall on its own. This also should allow the band to establish its own identity.
Undoubtedly [The Time] sounds like Prince, but the emphasis is more on pure funk. Much like Prince's albums at this time, the sound is very dominated by keyboards and the arrangements are spartan overall. Admittedly, the record has many weak points, but it provides good fun and entertainment without too much pretence. The album contains two rather melodic ballads, "Girl" and "Oh, baby", and three tight funky mid-tempo songs "Get it up", "Cool" and "The stick", all stretching into extended jams, leaving plenty of room for guitar and synthesizer solos. In addition "After hi school" is a fast and bouncy but quickly forgettable pop effort.
"Cool" portraits Morris Day as a flamboyant womanizer, who "might dine in San Francisco and dance all night in Rome". Both, "Get it up" and "Oh, baby", find him attempting to seduce a woman, while "Girl" depicts him as a desperate former lover who is doing his confused best to get back the girl that dumped him. "After hi school" is more serious and seems intended to balance the bravado of the other songs, asking "Hey you, what you gonna do after high school?". "The stick" introduces the famous signature phrases "What time is it?" and "Somebody bring me a mirror!". The song is an ode to masturbation, with Morris Day paying homage to his "stick". Prince has later returned to this masturbation theme in songs like "Jack U Off" (1981, from the album "Controversy"), "All the critics love U in New York" (1982, from the album "1999"), "Darling Nikki" (1984, from the album "Purple Rain"), "Tamborine" (1985, from the album "Around The World In A Day") as well as "Superfunkycalifragisexy" and "Rockhard in a funky place" (1987/1994, from the "Black Album").
[The Time] became a big hit with going gold, that means more than 500,000 copies sold in only seven months - much better than Prince's own 1980 album "Dirty Mind". The album hits position #7 at the Billboard R&B-Carts and position #50 at the Billboard Pop-Charts. Three singles were released: The debut "Get it up" hits #6 at the R&B-Carts, while the second single "Cool" made it to #7 at the R&B-Charts and #90 at the Pop-Charts. Less successful, the third single "Girl" only hits #39 at the R&B-Carts.
In many ways, [The Time] belonged to a new era in funk music. Their raunchy style with its pared-down and synth-oriented sound was far away from the mostly horn-based and elaborate funky music of the late '70s. THE TIME's stylish suits also seemed like a conscious attempt to get under way from the glamorous and outlandish outfits of many '70s funk acts. In an Interview Morris Day commented: "The black market has been starving for entertainers like us, who project a real image". What else to say ...
Although they hadn't yet really played together as a group in the studio, in August 1981 THE TIME performed their first live appearance at a showcase for a small group of executives from Warner Bros. Records at the S.I.R. Studio in Los Angeles, with Prince overseeing the proceedings by the soundboard. During rehearsals for the upcoming "Controversy"-Tour with Prince, they incorporated Jerome Benton into their acts to be Morris Day's on-stage valet. The band warmed-up in autumn 1981 by playing a small number of low-key gigs around the Minneapolis aera.
THE TIME made their public live debut on 7th October 1981 at Sam's, a music club in Downtown, Minneapolis, with Prince digging the show back by the soundboard again. A few weeks later they embarked as the main supporting act on Prince's 1981/1982 "Controversy"-Tour.
In late December 1981, during a break at his "Controversy"-Tour, Prince starts the recording sessions for THE TIME's second album. He recorded "Gigolos get lonely too" and "Jerk out" at his home studio again. The last mentioned song didn't make it on this album, but a reworked version surfaced 1990 on THE TIME's reunion-album "Pandemonium". From 14th to 20th January 1982 the sessions continued at Hollywood Sunset Sound, where he recorded "The walk", "Wild and loose" and a previously unreleased track called "Colleen". Another previously unreleased leftover from this sessions was a song called "Bold generation", recorded 11th January 1982 either at Prince's home studio or Hollywood Sunset Sound.
On 8th March 1982, Prince plays a one-off gig in front of 700 people at First Avenue in Minneapolis. The loose 80-minute set was taped using a mobile recording unit. After a break Morris Day 6 THE TIME joined Prince on stage to perform a previously unreleased song called "Dance to the beat" for the first time. Prince introduced this track with: "Y'all can play, but you gotta play some rock'n'roll. Don't come up here and play none of that old you-know-what!". The set continues with "The stick" with Prince teasing Morris Day by asking "Can you still play the drums?". Indeed Morris could and he played a monster drum solo at a raunchy performance of the set's finale "Partyup".
The final show of Prince's "Controversy"-Tour was played on 14th March 1982 at the Riverfront Coliseum in Cincinnati. The show turned into a funny full-scale food fight between THE TIME and Prince's own band. During THE TIME's opening set, Prince and several members of his own band starts tossing eggs across the stage. While they were still playing, they rushed on the stage, grabbed Jerome Benton and took him to the dressing room, where they poured shaving cream all over him. After this, they took Jesse Johnson, handcuffing him to the wall in the dressing room, while Prince jumped on stage and took Jesse's place playing guitar for THE TIME. Once the show was over, THE TIME members went chasing after Prince and his band was armed with eggs and miscellaneous food too.
After the 2nd leg of the "Controversy"-Tour and various sessions for his own new album "1999" as well as another project, the girl group Vanity 6, Prince continues the work for THE TIME. During May/June 1982 he recorded "Onedayi'mgonnabesomebody", "I don't wanna leave you", "777-9311" and "Grace" once again at his home studio. The last song ends finally up as 7inch b-side of "777-9311". The sessions finished with final mixing at Hollywood Sunset Sound on 20th and 21st July 1982.
[What Time Is It?] was released by Warner Bros. Records on 25th August 1982. This time The Starr*Company is listed as producer of the album. Prince isn't credited on the sleeve, but in truth he wrote or co-wrote all songs as Jamie Starr again, except "Wild and loose", with lyrics registered to Dez Dickerson. Vanity 6 provides some background vocals on "Wild and loose" and "The walk". Morris Day adds lead vocals to all tracks, but Prince's own voice is often audible in the final mix again.
THE TIME members wanted to contribute more to the music and they were becoming increasingly frustrated by Prince's firm control on the band. Jimmy Jam, Terry Lewis and Monte Moir had started writing music for their own and went beginning to contemplate independent careers. Following the "Controversy"-Tour Jimmy Jam and Terry Lewis went to Los Angeles to collaborate on their own material, which they felt didn't quite fit to the image and sound of THE TIME, as they considered the band to be more of a vehicle for Morris Day. Prince was opposed to their outside production work, which he felt detracted from their commitment to THE TIME.
[What Time Is It?] shows a distinct improvement over THE TIME on almost every level. The production and arrangements are consistent with the debut album, but the melodic content is much stronger. At the same time, the record is much more funkier than its predecessor. It contains three mid-tempo funk songs, "777-9311", "Wild and loose" and "The walk". The ballad "Gigolos get lonely too" is funky too, but has a looser, more relaxed feel. One of the highlight is "I don't wanna leave you", an excellent pop/funk hybrid, drawing on the best of both idioms by combining an appealing melody and chorus with a funky beat. Less impressive is "Onedayi'mgonnabesomebody", a quick little rockabilly-flavored pop song of little merit.
Also the lyrics of [What Time Is It?] continues the theme of the first album. "I don't wanna leave you" concerns a do-wrong woman who has a reputation for running around. "777-9311" finds Morris Day trying to talk a woman into giving him her phone number. The title was actually Dez Dickerson's real telephone number, which created a lot of problem for him as soon as the album came out. "Wild and loose" is a straight forward party song about living life to the fullest and having a good time, while "The walk" stresses the importance of having a positive outlook on life and being honest to oneself. "Onedayi'mgonnabesomebody" is very much about Morris Day's own life and the song is his declaration to be a star some day. The most atypical song on this album is "Gigolos get lonely too", in which Morris Day sings the part of a Gigolo confessing to a woman, that even a professional seducer, such as himself, gets lonely once in awhile.
A non-album track, "Grace", appeared as b-side of "777-9311". Employing the musical backing from "777-9311", the song consists of an interview between Morris Day and a fictitious female journalist named Brigitte Harrington. Day is sporting his self-assured and cocky attitude throughout. The song-title comes from his insistence on calling the interviewer "Grace" instead of her proper name.
[What Time Is It?] became an even bigger success than the last album, with going gold (about 750,000 sold units) again and hitting position #2 on the Billboard R&B-Charts and #26 at the Pop-Charts. The album yielded three singles. "777-9311" becomes THE TIME's biggest hit so far, reaching #2 at the R&B-Charts and #88 at the Pop-Charts. "The walk" made it to #24 and "Gigolos get lonely too" hits #77 at the R&B-Charts only.
On 11th November 1982, THE TIME left to tour with Prince again as support on his "1999"-Tour at Memorial Auditorium in Chattanooga. Named the so-called "Triple Threat Tour", it also features Vanity 6 as the 2nd supporting act. Vanity 6's usually brief 20-minute set was accompanied by THE TIME always playing the music part unseen behind a pink stage curtain with Jill Jones providing additional backing vocals. However, it was obvious that the performance of Vanity 6 was very silly and didn't have enough stage presence to make it a successful live-act. By contrast, THE TIME came alive when they hit the stage for their own usually 40-minutes set. The tight dance grooves, high-spirited stage moves and routines made them an exciting live band. They often got a very positive reviews and the reception from the audience was phenomenal, which created a professional rivalry between THE TIME and Prince's own band.
On 21st November 1982, Prince used an interview, published by the Los Angeles Times, to scotch some rumors: "One: My real name is Prince. It's not something I made up. Two: I'm not gay. Three: I'm not Jamie Starr.".
On 16th December 1982, during a soundcheck for the "1999"-Tour show at Municipal Auditorium in Nashville, the disagreement between Prince and THE TIME came to a boil. Prince felt they were upstaging him and wanted to change a few things in their performance, which caused loud protests. There had been an underlying tension between Prince and THE TIME on the entire tour.
The "1999"-Tour continued after a one-month break in January of 1983. On this 1983 part of the tour, THE TIME were sometimes demoted from the bill. No official reasons were given for their occasional exclusion, but it's quite likely that Prince didn't want to risk being upstaged in some of the major cities. For example, at the shows in Los Angeles and New York in March 1983, as well as at the Detroit Show in April 1983, the bill was just Prince with Vanity 6.
On 15th March 1983, Prince returns in triumph to Minneapolis for a concert at 13,500-seat Met Center in Bloomington. A post-show bash was held at the Registry Hotel in Bloomington. At 2:00 am, some members of Prince's band, Vanity 6 and THE TIME played a short jam session with Prince on the drums and Sue Ann Carwell singing.
On 24th March 1983, THE TIME members Jimmy Jam & Terry Lewis failed to make it to the concert at the Hemisfair Arena in San Antonio. The duo had been working on sessions with the S.O.S. Band in Atlanta, but they were snowed in at the airport and couldn't make it back on time to San Antonio. To cover up for their absence, Jerome Benton strapped on the bass guitar and pretended to play it, while Prince stood in the shadow of the stage and played Terry Lewis' bass line instead. Lisa Coleman replaced Jimmy Jam on the keyboards. No explanation was demanded and the "1999"-Tour continued. Both were fined with $3,000 each, which was a considerable amount of money considering how small their salaries were at this time.
Jimmy Jam & Terry Lewis fulfilled their "1999"-Tour commitments, but things between them and Prince were never the same. In a later interview Jimmy Jam doesn't attribute it only to their non-attendance: "Prince didn't really want to break the band up, but the snowstorm provided the excuse he needed to fire us two. He thought we were off seeing some girls. Then he saw our picture in Billboard Magazine or something with the S.O.S. Band and all that changed. Seems like it was OK to be off meeting girls, but not OK to be furthering our own independent careers".
Without a doubt, THE TIME's unpretentious and humorous performance contrasted with Prince's more ambitious and elaborate theatrics. Morris Day later reported, that THE TIME were becoming a threat to Prince, adding that THE TIME's success caught many by surprise: "I think the whole thing was never expected to be anything more than an opening act. There used to be some arguments before going onstage about things that I would do that were conflicting with the things that Prince would do. I was ever told not to do certain things and certain dances.".
On 26th and 27th March 1983, during the 2nd leg of Prince's "1999"-Tour, Prince spends two days at Hollywood Sunset Sound to work with Morris Day and Jesse Johnson on tracks for the third album. This was the first time, that members of THE TIME were involved in the production process. They cut "Jungle love", "My summertime thang" and an impromptu jam called "Cloreen bacon skin", which was only released by Prince on his 1998 "Crystal Ball" album. "My summertime thang" finally didn't make it on this release, but a re-recorded version surfaced on THE TIME's 1990 reunion album [Pandemonium].
From 14th to 22nd April 1983, the "1999"-Tour ends 4 days before, Prince works with Morris Day and Jesse Johnson at Hollywood Sunset Sound again. Amongst other tracks they recorded "Chili sauce", "If the kid can't make you come" and "Chocolate". The last song didn't make it to this album too, but like "My summertime thang", a reworked version turned up on the 1990 reunion album [Pandemonium].
On 19th April 1983, a song called "Velvet kitty kat"" (sometimes also entitled as "Mink kitty kat") and on 20th April 1983, a ballad entitled "My love belongs to you" were recorded too. Both were previously unreleased until now.
On 18th April 1983, Prince called Jimmy Jam & Terry Lewis into Hollywood Sunset Sound, and told them, that they were both let go from THE TIME. The duo stays in Los Angeles at the same time and working on the S.O.S. Band project at Larrabee Studios in West Hollywood.
On 16th May 1983 Prince appears at the 3rd annual Minnesota Music Awards at the Charlton Celebrity Room in Bloomington and was finally honored with six awards. He thanked Minneapolis for its support and ended the night with a 10-minute jam of "D.M.S.R." on borrowed equipment with a mix of members of his own band, Jesse Johnson, Morris Day & Vanity 6. Later this night they performed a jam session at First Avenue in Minneapolis with Jesse Johnson on drums and Sue Ann Carwell on lead vocals.
Also in May 1983 Prince, THE TIME and Vanity 6 starts preparations for the "Purple Rain" motion picture project. A warehouse in St. Louis Park, a Minneapolis suburb, was rented for band rehearsals and dancing and acting classes. Prince also installed his recording equipment and this warehouse becomes his new home studio for about 12 months.
The line-up of THE TIME finally underwent some more changes. Monte Moir made the decision to leave the band when he heard, that Jimmy Jam & Terry Lewis had been let go by Prince. Terry Lewis was replaced on bass by Rocky Harris, a local musician who knew Jesse Johnson. The replacements for Jimmy Jam and Monte Moir on keyboards were found in Paul Peterson, a member of Twin-Cities first family in jazz and Mark Cardenas, a Los Angeles native, who had been working in jazz-rock fusion circles in Minneapolis a few years before.
On 4th October 1983, the new THE TIME line-up premiered live at First Avenue in Minneapolis. Jerome Benton introduced the show, enlisting the help of several bikini-clad models. He also did a soul-preacher routine, begging the audience for donations and passing a plate through the audience for their contributions to a charity fund. THE TIME played an 8-song set that includes two at this time previously unknown tracks - "Jungle love" and "The bird". The concert was taped professional with a mobile recording unit and the live-version of "The bird" finally ended up on THE TIME's third album [Ice Cream Castle]. Despite a wildly receptive audience, this concert was filled with tension and it was obvious, that Morris Day was beginning to loose interest in the band. At the end of the show he stormed off the stage, bypassed the dressing room, and charged out the stagedoor to his car. The confused band members remained behind for a somewhat tainted celebration. Morris Day was very dissatisfied with Prince's firm control of THE TIME and the hand-picked additions to the band. Despite achieving a big commercial success with the previously two albums of THE TIME, Morris Day was also still seeing very little money for his work.
The shooting to the "Purple Rain" motion picture starts on 1st November 1983. New bass player Rocky Harris showed up late for the first day of filming and was replaced by Prince with Jerry Hubbard, from a noted Twin-Cities musical family, immediately. Morris Day was very uncooperative and chronically late to all rehearsals and filmings. He and Prince hardly talked with each other during the whole shooting of the movie. It was evident, that they both would soon be going their separate ways without each other.
Starting on 27th December 1983, Prince relocates for four months to Los Angeles for some additional shootings to the "Purple Rain" motion picture and extensive recording sessions for his own "Purple Rain" album, and a new project called Apollonia 6 at Hollywood Sunset Sound. In January 1984 he also finished the work for THE TIME's third album by recording "Ice cream castles" and "My drawers". "Tricky", that appeared as the 7inch b-side of "Ice cream castles", was recorded with Morris Day shortly thereafter in February 1984.
On 8th June 1984, THE TIME, led by Jesse Johnson, performed "Jungle love" live on the 3rd annual Minnesota Black Music Awards at the Prom Center in St. Paul. Morris Day wasn't present at this event and his conspicuous absence sparked rumors, that THE TIME had broken up.
In late June 1984 Morris Day was definitely no longer interested to continuing his work with THE TIME, has moved to Santa Monica in Los Angeles (CA) and severed ties with Prince's camp and his management team. Their departures weren't announced officially until after the premiere of the "Purple Rain" motion picture. Without Morris Day, it was basically Jesse Johnson who leads the band. Prince initially wanted continue THE TIME by installing Paul Peterson as new frontman and lead-singer, but Jesse Johnson rejected this idea. After failed attempts to convince Morris Day to return to Minneapolis, all come to the conclusion, that THE TIME was history.
Jerry Hubbard and Mark Cardenas decided to continue working solo with Jesse Johnson. The remaining members Jerome Benton, Paul Peterson and Jellybean Johnson were invited by Prince to a meeting at his house, where Prince offered Paul Peterson to front a new band called The Family as the lead-singer. This project was later joined by Prince's girlfriend Susannah Melvoin on co-lead vocals.
The third album, [Ice Cream Castle], was released by Warner Bros. Records on 2nd July 1984. This record was in all essentials a collaboration effort between Prince, Morris Day and Jesse Johnson. With the exception of "The bird", which was a live recording by THE TIME from 4th October 1983, there was very little musical input by the other band members. "The bird" features Morris Day on vocals, Jesse Johnson on guitar, Rocky Harris on bass, Jellybean Johnson on drums and Paul Peterson and Mark Cardenas on keyboards. However, Rocky Harris were fired before scenes with THE TIME in the "Purple Rain" motion picture were shot, so on the album sleeve his replacement in the movie, Jerry Hubbard, is listed as the bass player. Sharon Hughes sings background vocals on "If the kid can't make you come" and acts as Morris Days's love interest on "Chili sauce". The last song also features Novi Novog on violin.
"All jams by Morris Day, except 'Jungle love&' written by Morris Day & Jesse Johnson" listed the songwriting credits on the album cover. However, "Ice cream castles", "Jungle love" and "The bird" were registered as a collaboration by Prince (as Jamie Starr) with Morris Day. All other songs registered solely to Prince (as Jamie Starr). Jesse Johnson stated in an later interview, that he wrotes "Jungle love" and that he was removed from the credits when he decided to left THE TIME in June 1984. His claim is substantiated, because in May 1984, when the songs initially were registered to ASCAP, Jesse Jonson was listed together with Prince (as Jamie Starr) and Morris Day as co-writer of "Jungle love" and "The bird". but his name was omitted in July 1984 by changing the songwriting credits on both songs.
[Ice Cream Castle] is the least satisfying of the three albums, reflecting the turmoil the band was going through. Boasting solid, funky grooves and contagious singalong chants, "The bird" and "Jungle love" were the closest the album gets to achieving the band's past glories. The opener "Ice cream castles" is a poppier effort, but there's little rhythmic or melodic variety throughout. The rest of the songs are clearly uninspired and have to qualify as fillers. "My drawers" is a dull, guitar-lasted funk-metal attempt (the main synth-line of the song is borrowed from the last few minutes of "The stick"). Sounding like a re-worked "Do me, baby" (1981, from the Prince album "Controversy") the dreary "If the kid can't make you come" is a watered-down electric piano ballad. Even less distinguished is "Chili sauce", which basically consists of background music.
The songs on [Ice Cream Castle] deal with much the same topics as the previously two album by THE TIME. "The bird" is a straightforward party song, introducing a dance called the bird, which doesn't require grace or personality, just "two arms and an attitude". The only serious song on this album is "Ice cream castles", which concerns interracial romance. Morris Day says, that if two people of different races want to fall in love, the color of their skin shouldn't matter, as in the end we all share a common humanity. The title of the song is borrowed from a phrase in Joni Mitchell's song "Both sides now" (1969, from the album "Clouds"). In "My drawers" Morris Day boasts to the fellas about his woman. "Chili sauce" finds him attempting to seduce his female companion while having a dinner in a restaurant. This song was originally titled "Proposition #17" due to the fact that Morris Day tells Jerome Benton, that he can stop him after he has tried 17 ways to convince a woman to come with him. "If the kid can't make you come" is also a seduction song, this time with the action take place in Morris Day's crib. In "Jungle love" he wants to show a woman his wild and untamed jungle love.
Despite being the last inspired of all three albums, but undoubtedly supported by Morris Day's charismatic appearance in the "Purple Rain" motion picture, [Ice Cream Castle] sold better then both previously albums, attaining platinum status (1 million sold copies). It was also the first album that really attracts a white following. It hits position #3 at the Billboard R&B-Charts and #24 at the Pop-Charts. Again three singles were released: The first "Ice cream castles" reached #11 at the R&B-Charts but didn't make it to the Pop-Charts. The biggest success so far came with the second single, "Jungle love", which hits #6 at the R&B-Carts and #20 at the Pop-Charts. "The bird", as the third single, peaked #33 at the R&B-Charts and #36 at the Pop-Charts.
The b-side of "Ice cream castles" was again a non-album Prince penned song called "Tricky", which was actually sung by Prince with an altered voice. This track was recorded by Prince (all instruments & lead-vocals) with Morris Day (drums) in February 1984 at Hollywood Sunset Sound, when the work on the album was completed. A really funky workout, the song is a good-natured jab directed to an artist who has seen better days and who is told quite bluntly to retire. The target of the song was actually George Clinton, one of Prince's favorite idols.
Despite persistent rumors, it took over three years before the originally line-up of THE TIME finally got back together on stage. On 2nd October 1987, THE TIME reunite for a concert on the 6th annual Minnesota Black Music Award at the Roy Wilkins Auditorium in St. Paul's Civic Center, where Prince was inducted into the Minnesota Black Music Awards Hall of Fame. The ceremonies were emceed by Jerome Benton, who was also a member of the eagerly awaited live-show by THE TIME, which was the undisputed highlight of this evening. All original members of the band, barring Monte Moir, who was expecting the birth of his first child, treated the crowd of nearly 4,000 people to a set of some of their most popular songs, including "Get it up", "The walk", "777-9311", "My drawers", "The stick" and "The bird". Prince wasn't present, choosing instead to attend a concert by David Bowie.
There were plans to reform THE TIME for another record and possible tour. Since the band dissolved in late June 1984, most band members had launched highly successful careers as solo artists or producers, which meant that not everyone saw THE TIME as their main priority any longer. There was also tension between some of the members, which further complicated matters. The 1987 reunion proved premature, but the original line-up of the band eventually did get together to record another album one day.
Finally it took another year and a half before things eventually fell into place. Somehow all reported bad feelings were put aside and a possibly new THE TIME album, once again produced by Prince, was on the cards.
In June 1989, back from video shootings to "Batdance", Prince starts to work on a new THE TIME album, entitled [Corporate World]. The project started as a collaboration of Prince and Morris Day with some input by Jerome Benton without worth mentioning. The other members of the original line-up weren't involved in the project at this time. The sessions were held at Paisley Park and lasted most of the summer. Work on the album was completed in early September 1989 and contains the following tracks: "Murph drag", "Nine lives", "Donald Trump (black version)", "Love machine", "Data bank", "Shake!", "Corporate world", "The latest fashion", "Release it" and "My summertime thang".
Most of the tracks were newly written and tailored for the project, except "Data bank" was based on a jam that was recorded with the Revolution on 17th June 1986, "My summertime thang" was originally recorded with Morris Day and Jesse Johnson in March 1983 for possible inclusion on [Ice Cream Castle] and "Nine lives" was originally recorded with Cathy "Cat" Glover (lead vocals) and Margie Cox (background vocals) in December 1988 / January 1989 for a planned but finally aborted album by Cat.
[Corporate World] was set for release on 14th November 1989 with "Nine lives" planned as the first single release. However, the project was put on hold when Warner Bros. Records wanted to involve all the original members of THE TIME. The company were adamant, that the "Graffiti Bridge" motion picture should feature the complete original line-up of the band, like the successful influence in the "Purple Rain" motion picture 5 years ago.
After a meeting with Prince, it was decided that Jesse Johnson, Monte Moir, Terry Lewis & Jimmy Jam would participate and take an active part by writing and recording new tracks for the revised album, which later was renamed to [Pandemonium]. The additional recording sessions took place late 1989 - this time without much input by Prince.
"Murph drag", "Nine lives" and "Corporate world" were previously unreleased, but all tracks were circulating as bootlegs amongst collectors.
"Murph drag" is a minimalist funk number sporting a chattering "Controversy"-style rhythm guitar part and a synth providing lead lines like the Minneapolis sound. The song is about a dance only people with money can do. The title is slang for a thick roll of money, so it means that the money roll is so heavy, that it drags a man along the ground. A sample of Morris Day's "What time is it?" phrase is used frequently during the song. Candy Dulfer supplies some saxophone lines, but her contribution is not very prominent. "Nine lives" is a melodic pop-number with a haunting chorus sung by Margie Cox in a soulful voice and rapped verses by Morris Day. He's dreaming about a mega fine lover with a heck-a-pump body sayin' good time. Morris Day will die from the heat generated from the moment, that their eyes meet. At the end of the song he says: "This is the '90s and everybody wants a lover, a life-long lover with nine lives". "Corporate world" sounds like an update of Prince's electro-pop of the 1981-83 era, boasting a slightly robotic drum machine pattern and horn-like synth decorations. Some female voices, including Jana Anderson, add a multi-layered vocal to the soulful chorus. The message of this song is, that big companies should spend money to make a better world, a new-soul nation, where kids can grow up in safe. The song includes a sample of "Don't call me nigger, whitey" (1969, from Sly & the Family Stone's album "Stand!").
THE TIME members decided to keep "Data bank", "My summertime thang" and "Donald Trump (black version)" from the previous [Corporate World] album sessions. In addition they choose two tracks, "Jerk out" (recorded in December 1981 during the [What Time Is It?] album sessions) and "Chocolate" (recorded in April 1983 during the [Ice Cream Castle] album sessions), from Prince's Paisley Park vault. The lyrics of "Jerk out" were drastically reworked while "Chocolate" was very close to the original recording, even Prince's appearance as a waiter in the song remains.
[Pandemonium] was released by Paisley Park Records / Reprise Records on 10th July 1990. It was the first album that actually features major contributions by all members of THE TIME - some of them had never played any note on previous records of the band. Although he isn't mentioned in any credits, Prince wrote or co-wrote at least six songs on this album: "Donald Trump (black version)", "Chocolate", "Data bank" and "My summertime thang". "Pandemonium" was written by Prince with Jesse Johnson, Jimmy Jam & Terry Lewis while on "Jerk out" Prince shared songwriting credits with Morris Day, Jimmy Jam & Terry Lewis only. "Blondie" and "Skillet" were written by Jesse Johnson with Jimmy Jam & Terry Lewis. In addition the duo Jimmy Jam & Terry Lewis wrote "It's your world" solely and shared credits with Morris Day and Monte Moir on "Sometimes I get lonely".
Whereas the earlier albums had stuck to a basic formula of funk numbers mixed with a few ballads, the musical contents of [Pandemonium] are more varied. The hard rock funk metal of "Blondie" and "Skillet", both boasting Jesse Johnson's guitar skills, and the hard and clean dance pop of the duo Jimmy Jam & Terry Lewis added fresh elements to THE TIME's new basic concept. Despite the newly recorded material, two of the standout tracks are Prince's minimalist funk gems "Chocolate" and "Jerk out", the songs with most similarity with earlier recordings of THE TIME. Both achieve a tight, funky groove by locking in the bassline with a scratchy rhythm guitar part. The stomping "My summertime thang" and "Data bank" are less interesting, containing only a few noteworthy musical ideas. "Donald Trump (black version)" meanwhile, is a smooth, laidback ballad, that follows directly in the footsteps of "If the kid can't make you come" (1984, from the album [Ice Cream Castle]).
"Jerk out" finds Morris Day in his traditional role of the womanizing seducer. He picks up a woman, referred to as "Stella", at a party. The song stresses the appeal of money as an aphrodisiac, as the woman falls for Morris Day when he shows her his stash of cash. Similarly in "Donald Trump (black version)", where Morris Day is realizing, that his woman isn't satisfied with merely true love and affection. His adore needs a wealthy magnate, a black version of multi-millionaire Donald Trump, someone who can fulfill a woman every wish and dream, including a $100 dinner at Adriano's, a brand-new coat or a brand-new hat. "Chocolate", "Data bank" and "My summertime thang" are all about desire and lust. In "Chocolate" Morris Day reprises a phrase that Prince used when he acted out "How come U don't call me anymore?" in his "1999"-Tour shows: "Don't you wanna see my tootsie roll?". He pleads with a women, but she seems unwilling to go all the way with him. In "Data bank" he tries to convince his object of desire, another Stella, that the other guys that she is going out with are nothing but insecure brothers, who might be bedwetters. "My summertime thang" is about Morris Day's love for a summertime thang, a kind of lover who makes him feel alright.
[Pandemonium] became a big commercial success again, outselling all previous albums by THE TIME. The first single "Jerk out", their biggest hit so far, hits #1 at the Billboard R&R-Charts and #9 at the Pop-Charts. however, the second single "Chocolate" unfortunately went to nowhere and THE TIME's reunion soon lost its momentum. Frictions between certain band members while they were shooting a video for "Chocolate" signaled the beginning of the end for Jimmy Jam & Terry Lewis, who wanted to concentrate on their own production work.
[Graffiti Bridge] was released by Paisley Park Records / Warner Bros. Records on 20th August 1990, more than two months prior to the accompanying motion picture by Prince. Four of the 17 tracks were performed by or with THE TIME. "The latest fashion" was written by Prince, "Shake" was registered to Prince with Morris Day and "Release it" and "Love machine" was a collaboration of Prince with Morris Day and Levi Seacer jr.
"The latest fashion" features Prince with Morris day on co-lead vocals with saxophone by Candy Dulfer and crowd noise by Jerome Benton, Robin Power as well as the Prince engineers Tom Garneau and Michael Koppelman. "Love machine" was a duet by Morris Day and Elisa Fiorillo with saxophone by Candy Dulfer and backing vocals by Jerome Benton. Jana Anderson contributes backing vocals on "Shake!" while Candy Dulfer adds saxophone to "Release it" again. Levi seacer is listed as musician on "Release it" and "Love machine", but his input isn't really specified.
All tracks were leftovers from the 1989 [Corporate World] album sessions by Prince with Morris Day. "The latest fashion" was originally recorded in April 1987 by Prince at Paisley Park and was first offered to Dale Bozzo for her 1989 album "Dale", but she rejected. The finally released version is drastically reworked, employing the melody line of "My summertime thang" (1990, from the album [Pandemonium]) instead of its original melody.
All four tracks are pure dance funk. Driven by busily drumming, "Release it" is a sparse, edgy funk workout recalling "Tamborine" (1985, from the Prince album "Around The World In A Day") and "Lady cab driver" (1982, from the Prince album "1999"). Candy Dulfer adds a few saxophone parts on the coda, but her contribution is peripheral. "Shake!" is a terse and jerky dance tune. The chorus with its cheesy organ sound evokes memories of the two '60s garage rock classics "Wooly Bully" (1965 by Sam the Sham & the Pharaohs) and "96 tears" (1966 by The Myterians). "The latest fashion" is fun, buoyant funk outing with a stomping beat but with very little rhythmic or harmonic variety. The song ends with a rap by Prince. Far more impressive, "Love machine" is a tense, urgent drum-driven funk dance track with formidable rhythmic power. The whole song is created around a drum machine pattern with only flickers of rhythm guitar and synth providing embellishments. The lyrics are alternately sung by Elisa Fiorillo and spoken by Morris Day.
In the "Graffiti Bridge" motion picture, the songs performed by THE TIME depict Morris Day as a dishonest, greedy, sex-crazed and hedonistic pleasure-seeker. The material provides a counterpoint to Prince's overtly spiritual and more serious themes. "Shake!" is a simple celebration of partying and dancing. It borrows the line "you got to shake somethin" from "Gotta shake something" (1985-86, from Prince's prev. unreleased MC Flesh project). In the motion picture Morris Day uses "Release it" to offend the Kid (Prince) and demand that he releases (give up) the stage and his ownership of the Glam Slam Club. "Love machine" finds Morris Day in the role of a love machine, offering sexual satisfaction to a woman. Being a machine implies that he isn't emotionally involved and that he only wants sex without any love. "The latest fashion" is a battle between Morris Day and The Kid over being the hottest live act in town. The Kid boasts that there ain't nobody funky like him and he maintained that he is still the king and Morris Day & THE TIME his court. The lyrics mentions a dance called murph drag, which was the title of a song from the shelved 1989 [Corporate World] album project.
In October 1990 the subliminal dissensions escalated in the band when THE TIME stayed in New York for a live-appearance on Saturday Night Live. Jesse Johnson was subsequently voted out of the band by the other members again.
On 8th January 1991 "Shake!" was released as the fifth and last single from the [Graffiti Bridge] album. The song failed to enter any Top 100 Charts.
On 2nd and 3rd February 1991 a revised line-up of THE TIME played two concerts in Japan, but many people felt, that the reunion had in truth expired by then.
A slightly new line-up with the original members Morris Day (vocals), Jellybean Johnson (drums), Jerome Benton (percussion & vocals), Monte Moir (keyboards) and the new guitar section Torrell "Tori" Ruffin (guitar) and "Freeze" (bass) as well as "Chance" (keyboards) increasingly tours in the USA again. They also added a few somewhat unusual songs in their sets, like "The oak tree" (1985, from the Morris Day album "The Color Of Success"), "Fishnet" (1987, from the Morris Day album "Daydreaming") as well as "White girls" (1983, from a rehearsal jam by Prince & the Revolution) and "U gotta shake somethin'" (1985, prev. unreleased outtake by Prince).
In September/October 1996 THE TIME surprisingly come to Europe for a 13-date club-tour from France to Finland. They did some very cool shows and sounded fresh and funky as in their early years.
At the end of 1999 were rumors around, that a new album, entitled "Old Dogs, New Tricks" was compiled and ready to release. Unfortunately there are not much details known about this record.
In March 2001 a mysterious message shows up at Prince's website: MORRIS DAY is cuttin' NEW trax in the Park, with JAMIE STARR producing! What time is it?
On 17th December 1999 THE TIME performed live at Prince's "Rave Un2 The Year 2000" Show at the Paisley Park Soundstage in Minneapolis, which was partially broadcasted 31st December 1999 as pay-per-view TV-Special. The band performed a set of their most well-known songs. Prince hit the stage to sing with Morris Day on "Cool". At another point George Clinton walked from the side of the stage and pretended to be a little confused. DJ Brother Jules kept encouraging the audience to make a great deal of noise and act like it were New Year's Eve.
On 12th June 2001, THE TIME performed live at the "Prince - A Celebration" Event at the Paisley Park Soundstage in Minneapolis. Their set was clearly one of the highlights of the week of festivities and live-performances by Prince and many other artists. Their act was enthusiastically received by the fans. Terry Lewis guested on bass on some songs. Prince performed "Cool" on keyboards and he also sang the second verse of the song after Morris Day asked him to do so. Also George Clinton appeared on stage and Morris Day was positively surprised about his visit. He cleared the stage and let Clinton lead THE TIME through a brilliant funk-jam based on "Booty" (1993, from the b-side of George Clinton's single "Paint the white house black"), inserting chants of "booty ain't nuttin' but a butt" and shouts of "bend over". This jam lasted about 10 minutes. "Ice cream castles" fades in a jam with the bassline to "100 MPH" (1985, from the self-titled Mazarati album) and "White girls". During the final number Prince came on stage again and performed guitar on "Jungle love".
It seems the master is still in contact with the guys and [Corporate World] / [Pandemonium] also starts with a stripped-down collaboration of only a few members by THE TIME.
According to Monte Moir's homepage THE TIME is also touring in 2002 again and new dates were added in regular times.
This is where the history of THE TIME ends, at least for now...
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