Monday, January 16, 2012

The Time's Cool: Smooth Funk From The Baddest Boys In Prince's Court

This bumpin' chunk of Minneapolis funk was The Time's second single off their self-titled debut album. The Time began as one of Prince's side projects. The Purple One formed the band in 1981 as an outlet for some of  his more straight-forward R&B and funk grooves, which freed him up to experiment with other music genres on his own recordings. Prince co-wrote "Cool" with Revolution guitarist Dez Dickerson.  Prince produced and arranged the track as well as played all the instruments on the song's original recording. The groove has a smooth flow and is quite funky.

Prince adds some nice little touches that really spice up the track, such as tapping soda bottles with forks and spoons throughout the song. And Prince and Revolution keyboardist Lisa Coleman's background vocals add some extra flavor to the track. On this cut, The Time's lead singer Morris Day assumes his swaggering player persona that he later made famous in the film Purple Rain. You really need to listen to the full 10-minute-plus album version to completely appreciate the full impact of the groove. The long version has a nice guitar solo as well as some funky bass slapping and cool synthesizer vamps.

The Time are probably more recognized for their later hits, such as "Jungle Love" and "The Bird," but "Cool" is a killer groove that is often overlooked or underappreciated by funk fans. The original members of The Time are quite a talented bunch, and two of them went on to even bigger success after leaving the band. Jimmy Jam and Terry Lewis became a much sought-after production team, producing hot tracks for a slew of big names in the music biz, including Mariah Carey, Michael Jackson, Gwen Stefani, Usher and Chaka Khan. The duo's crowning achievement was their stellar production work on Janet Jackson's groundbreaking album Control. And Jesse Johnson is a gifted guitarist and talented songwriter who produced some great music as a solo artist, including the funkified hit song "Crazay," featuring Sly Stone. And Morris Day currently fronts a revamped lineup of The Time, which maintains a solid fan base.

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