Reviewed on this page:
The Time - What Time Is
It? - Ice Cream
Castles - Pandemonium - Bare My Naked Soul
Minneapolis-based 80s funk act The Time is known now for two things, neither of which has much to do with the actual music they made as a band. The Time started off as a pseudonymic Prince side project: on the first album, he wrote and played every note and laid down guide vocals before bringing in former bandmate Morris Day to sing leads. Then, two original members (fired by Prince) went on to tremendous success as producers: working with Janet Jackson and a host of others, I believe Jimmy Jam & Terry Lewis have produced more Top 10 hits than their former master.
Oh, you're still here? Well, the "group" put out three records before the huge success of Purple Rain broke the band to the mainstream, and Jesse Johnson and Morris Day promptly went solo. They all came together for one more record - timed to coincide with another Prince film, Graffiti Bridge, which was not a huge success - and occasionally reform for a show here and there.
This page initially covered a variety of Prince proteges, but to make it consistent with the rest of the site I've moved Mavis Staples to the 70s page, and everyone else to the main Prince page.
The Time: Morris Day, vocals; Jimmy Jam,
keyboards (left 1983); Terry Lewis, bass (left 1983);
Jesse Johnson, guitar; Monte Moir, keyboards;
Jellybean Johnson, drums.
The Time (1981)
Produced by Prince alter-ego "Jamie Starr," this album outsold
his own release of the period, Dirty Mind. This is a
fun, funky record, with Morris Day playing the role of sex-crazed
egomaniac to perfection on "Cool," "Get It Up" and "The Stick," and
even pulls off a fine ballad, "Girl." Even the best jams, though, tend to go
on too long. (DBW)
What Time Is It? (1982)
A rerun of the previous album, with no really good tunes ("The Walk" is a ten-minute snooze) - the
fantastic bass line of "777-9311" is undercut by a dull,
repetitious chorus. Meanwhile, the ballad "Gigolos Get Lonely Too" can't make up its mind
whether it's a love song or a parody, and doesn't quite succeed
either way. The New Wave "Onedayi'mgonnabesomebody" is definitely a parody, but unfortunately not a funny one.
Jam & Lewis were canned after this release, after they missed a show when they were snowed in while producing the S.O.S. Band. I'd say they had the last laugh on that one.
Ice Cream Castles (1984)
Mostly formula funk in this effort. It was The Time's best seller,
with big hits "Jungle Love" and "The Bird," but that's mostly
because the tunes were featured in "Purple Rain." There is one
great song ("If The Kid Can't Make You Come") which I'm sure was
originally destined for a Prince album. Maybe he had second
thoughts about the lyrical concept. (DBW)
Color Of Success (Morris Day: 1985)
Jesse Johnson's Revue (Jesse Johnson: 1985)
Shockadelica (Jesse Johnson: 1986)
The single, "Crazay," was a duet with Sly Stone.
Daydreaming (Morris Day: 1987)
The Jam/Lewis-produced single was "Fishnet," the chorus of which rhymed "hose" with "holes," and I want to put down for the record that I do not endorse rhyme schemes of such a nature.
Every Shade Of Love (Jesse Johnson: 1988)
Prince had written an album of songs for a Time reunion when former
members Jimmy Jam and Terry Lewis decided to get involved; they
shelved the album's best tune, "Murph Drag," but together with
Jesse Johnson they came up with an even better song, the
heavy metal scorcher "Skillet." "Chocolate," written by Prince during the sessions for Ice Cream Castles, is also outstanding,
but most of the other material, whether by Prince or by Morris Day
and Jam/Lewis, is second-rate. (DBW)
Guaranteed (Morris Day: 1992)
Day decided to get serious this time out, which was a terrible idea.
Bare My Naked Soul (Jesse Johnson: 1996)
Johnson abandoned pop this time out, and the disc is divided roughly into three parts: generic blues-rock with endless soloing (title track); decent old-school blues with nice slide guitar work ("Bring Your Love Down Hard On Me"); and quite pleasant if overly Hendrix-y ballads with Princely vocal harmonies ("Cry Like The Skies"; the "Angel"-derived "I Miss Her Since She's Gone"). There's also some funk-rock that's even less original ("War Babies" steals its refrain from one Funkadelic song and its title from another).
So there's not much creativity but lots of likeability: the rockers have snarling riffs and relentless cowbell (from drummer Brian Edwards) that recalls Mountain ("Let Me In"), the blues has real feeling behind it ("Walk Like Me Talk"), and throughout you get the sense that Johnson's not doing this stuff because he thinks it makes him cool (think Lenny Kravitz) but simply because it's music he loves to play ("Brand New Day").
Billy Cox lays down some bass, and Gabriel Acevedo adds drums, but generally the focus is on Johnson.
It's About Time (Morris Day: 2004)
Whatever you say, Morris. Mostly live versions of Time hits with Moir, Jellybean Johnson, and whoever else Day's playing with these days. There are also a few new studio recordings. (DBW)
Verbal Penetration (Jesse Johnson: 2009)
Condensate (The Original 7ven: 2011)
Apparently Someone isn't allowing this reunited lineup to call themselves The Time.
Somebody bring me a mirror.