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Monday, June 09, 2008

"it's raining / my sisters why can't we realize / that it won't be long?"

“Contentious” is probably the word I’m looking for to describe the recording of the third (and at the time – har har – final) album from The Time. While “Ice Cream Castle” (the album is strangely singular while the single, “Ice Cream Castles” is plural – hey, it’s Prince, let him explain) talks of peace and harmony, the atmosphere surrounding its making was anything but.

Ice Cream Castle

Just before recording the album, Prince informed Time members Jimmy Jam and Terry Lewis their services were no longer needed. Monte Moir exited in solidarity. New members were propped up, which really meant nothing except in a live setting, since Prince did everything, with some help from guitarist Jesse Johnson and, of course, the inimitable Morris Day. Day was extremely unhappy with the controlling structure of the “band”, not to mention his payday, or lack thereof. The Time was – I’m gonna say it, I’m warning you – running out.

Ignore the credits on the sleeve – Prince, in his “Jamie Starr” mode wrote and played most everything, with the exception of some guitar, vocals (Morris, of course) and lyrics. That control was chafing other band members, so the end was inevitable. Of course, not before The Time had the two biggest singles of their career off this set, “Jungle Love” and “The Bird”. “Jungle Love”, however, was NOT the first single…

That honor went to the title track, “Ice Cream Castles (full version)”, an almost mellow, popish workout with a nice, sweet message that touched on interracial love. The album version tops out after over seven and a half minutes, but it doesn’t feel like it. A radio edit was ignored by Top 40 radio, but then “Purple Rain” hit theaters. Must I continue?

By the time The Time were crossover stars, it was over. Morris and Jesse had a few solo hits, the rest of the remaining band morphed into The Family (where is this CD, Warner Bros? And Vanity 6? C’mon.), and Jimmy Jam and Terry Lewis went on to become fabulously wealthy by producing/ruining the Human League and re-inventing Janet Jackson.

“Ice Cream Castles” was where this gangly white boy first heard of The Time, via a smooth video that MTV embraced for a brief time. I bought the album, loved the three singles and laughed at the amount of filler that padded the rest. But it was a nice gateway drug into the rest of Prince’s world, which I entered into freely. I’m sure I was the only 15 year old boy on my block singing “Do you think I’m a nasty girl?” and “If I was your girlfriend…”

Thank God.

”Ice Cream Castles” peaked at #11 on the Billboard R&B Singles Chart.

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posted by John, 10:06 AM