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Time and Time Again

Morris Day
A Man to Watch: Singer and Prince protégé Morris Day

Photo by Mike Jones



Morris Day and the Time keep on ticking

By Nicky Baxter

'WHAT TIME IS IT?" was once the rallying cry for fans who couldn't get enough of a certain funky but sleek Minneapolis group whose pop-eyed front man was by turns cool as a cucumber and kooky as a loon. The Time was reportedly Prince's more commercial musical mouthpiece in the early 1980s before he became a symbol of his former self. Even if that's true--and the Time vehemently argued otherwise--the group quickly assumed a character all its own.

First, there was lead singer Morris Day, whose "Little Richard as Don Juan" persona was a scream. In concert (and the Time really was a show band), Day was a sight for bored eyes. Watching the conk-haired, razzle-dazzle singer primp and preen like a peacock was a Kodak moment not soon forgotten.

But if Day was a jive-time joker, in guitarist Jesse Johnson, keyboardist Jimmy Jam and bassist Terry Lewis (aided and abetted by drummer Jellybean Johnson and keyboardist Monte Clair), the Time boasted some serious musicianship. Produced by Prince (alias Jamie Starr), the Time's eponymous 1981 debut did solid business on the black front.

Three singles--"Get It Up," "Cool" and the irresistibly twitchy of "777-9311"--swaggered their way into the black pop charts' Top 10. The follow-up, What Time Is It?, however, was the real hit, exploding all over Soulsville. Soon, pre­b-girls and -boys all over wanted to know what time it was.

Unhappily, that album proved to be the band's artistic peak. Ice Cream Castles (1984) may have shipped platinum, but it was a soppy affair without Jam and Lewis, both of whom had been forced to walk the plank by tiny taskmaster Prince prior to the recording. The Minneapolisians reformed for Pandemonium (1990), a surprisingly credible effort. Six years later, and the Time has returned. Any clocks in the house?


Morris Day and the Time perform Saturday (Dec. 14) at 9pm at Palookaville, 1133 Pacific Ave., Santa Cruz. Call for ticket information. (408/454-0600)

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From the December 12-18, 1996 issue of Metro

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