Follow TV Tropes

Following

Music / The Time

Go To

https://mediaproxy.tvtropes.org/width/350/https://static.tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pub/images/tt.jpg
Morris Day and the Motherfuckin' Time

"What time is it?!"
Morris Day's Catchphrase.

"The real party's across the street, featurin' da greatest band in da world... MORRIS DAY AN'A TIME!!!"
Advertisement:

The most successful of Prince's associates, and Jay and Silent Bob's favorites, The Time (also known as "Morris Day & The Time" and The Original 7even) are a pop-funk-rock ensemble that relied heavily on Rule of Funny and very long jams. They were largely defined by frontman Morris Day's hilarious lyrics and Chivalrous Pervert-Handsome Lech persona, with Jerome Benton serving as his Foil. This dynamic was observed through their appearance in Purple Rain as Prince's rival band, and Day's humorous persona lead to many even commenting that he upstaged Prince's acting (not much of a compliment, admittedly... Prince's acting left much to be desired). Prior to joining Prince, the band was known as "Flyte Tyme", and R&B singer Alexander O'Neal was the frontman of the group. However, after an disagreement with Prince, O'Neal was replaced with Morris Day as frontman. O'Neal would go on to have a successful solo career, with his first four albums being produced chiefly by his fellow Tyme alumni.

Advertisement:

Like many of of the associates developed by him, Prince wrote the songs, and played all instruments on The Time albums, and simply overdubbed their vocals. However, The Time effortlessly played the same songs live and occasionally would show up Prince when opening for The Revolution to get back at him for lack of input and low payments (a live recording circulating from 1983 features Jellybean playing the complicated drum machine part from "777-9311" perfectly, and at a much faster tempo.) The band also became notoriously displeased after having to also play as the backing band for Vanity 6 while live (as they weren't credited or paid well for those performances) during the Prince/Time/Vanity 6 "Triple Threat" Tour. Adding to the tensions were Jam and Lewis' firing by Prince: The duo had gotten snowed in, and missed a flight to a concert, causing Prince to sack them, and were replaced just in time for the film Purple Rain. For his part, Prince denied being the one who fired Jam and Lewis; stating Day had asked him for advice on how to handle their no-show, and bore no ill will to the duo. Nevertheless, the replacement soured the band's relationship with Prince, and caused tension between the remaining members.

Advertisement:

Day left the band after an argument with Prince in 1985, focusing on a solo career. The Time disbanded right then, with its remaining members being amalgamated into The Family. Jam and Lewis, now full-time record producers, revived the "Flyte Tyme" name for their production company, and became the forefathers of the New Jack Swing movement. Jerome Benton also starred as Prince's sidekick in Under the Cherry Moon, and similarly managed to out-act Prince and be considered the one character reviewers liked. Jesse Johnson put out a solo album named Shockadelica in 1986, which drove Prince to write a song called "Shockadelica" since he felt an album with that cool a title needed a title song, but Johnson had neglected to write one. Most of the former Time members also contributed to both Janet Jackson's Control and Rhythm Nation 1814, and Jam & Lewis have remained Jackson's most consistent producers since.

The band reunited in 1990, this time with limited involvement from Prince and much more creative control. The resulting album, Pandemonium, spawned their highest selling single, "Jerk Out". They also appeared on the soundtrack to Graffiti Bridge, on the songs "Release It", "Shake!", "Love Machine" and "The Latest Fashion" (the last in collaboration with Prince). They then kind of disappeared again, spawning two different touring acts; The Time (which included Jam and Lewis) and Morris Day & the Time (which included the other members.) In 2011, spurred by a performance at the 2008 Grammys, all seven original members reformed under the name The Original 7ven (as Prince refused to license the name "The Time" out to them) and are recording together again. In 2022, the Prince estate reportedly blocked Day from using "The Time" name, claiming legal ownership of the trademark.


Lineup (founding members in italics, current members in bold):

  • Morris Day - vocals
  • Jerome Benton - vocals, comic foil, percussion
  • Jellybean Johnson - drums
  • Jimmy Jam - keyboards
  • Monte Moir - keyboards
  • Terry Lewis - bass
  • Jesse Johnson - guitar
  • Mark Cardenas - keyboards, backing vocals
  • St. Paul Peterson – keyboards, backing vocals
  • Rocky Harris - bass
  • Jerry Hubbard - bass, backing vocals
  • Stanley "Chance" Howard – keyboards, backing vocals
  • Robert Grissett Jr. – keyboards, backing vocals
  • Ricky "Freeze" Smith – bass, backing vocals
  • Morris Hayes – keyboards, backing vocals
  • Brice Myles – keyboards, backing vocals
  • Jeff McNealy – keyboards, backing vocals
  • Torrell "Tori" Ruffin – guitar, backing vocals
  • Thomas Austin – valet, dancer, backing vocals, percussion
  • Charlie Redd – bass, backing vocals
  • Jeffree Mak – keyboards, backing vocals

The Time Discography:

  • The Time (1981)
  • What Time Is It? (1982)
  • Ice Cream Castle (1984)
  • Pandemonium (1990)
  • Condensate (2011; as "The Original 7even")

Morris Day solo discography:

  • Color of Success (1985)
  • Daydreaming (1987)
  • Guaranteed (1992)
  • It's About Time (2004)

The Time provides examples of:

  • Album Filler: "Dreamland" from Pandemonium is an extended dream sequence in which The Time reunite on stage. It is the first 2:30 on the album. The short skits "Yount" and "Pretty Little Women" also qualify, though "Yount" is actually kinda funny.
    • Anyone not interested in an extended version of the "I have a brass waterbed" scene from Purple Rain will regard "Chili Sauce" as this.
  • Artist and the Band: The Time occasionally referred to themselves as Morris Day and The Time.
  • Blatant Lies: Several early songs (notably "777-9311") include moments where Morris calls for band members by name so that they can solo. In actuality, Prince played every note for them. Averted on 1990's "Jerk Out" and everything on "Pandemonium" past that song: once Morris declares, "Cut 'em, Jesse," Jesse Johnson actually solos for himself. The version of "The Bird" heard on their album Ice Cream Castles is a live cut, and is also the only time the original 1980s band is heard playing their own instruments.
    • In an extension of this, The Time were credited with performing every note on Vanity 6's album, when it was actually all Prince again.
    • From "Wild and Loose": "Don't worry baby, I can keep a secret for as long as snow is white / Hey Jesse! (Yeah?) Come here man, guess what I did last night?"
  • Call-and-Response Song: A staple of their repertoire. Live performances transformed more of their catalogue into this type of song.
  • Catchphrase: "What time is it?", "Ain't nobody bad, like me", "Now I know that's right!", and "Somebody bring me a mirror (so I can look at X)"note 
  • Chivalrous Pervert or Handsome Lech: Morris Day.
  • Dance Sensation: Parodied with "The Walk". Played straight with "Jungle Love" and "The Bird".
  • Early-Installment Weirdness: Despite being The Casanova, Morris sang both a ballad about pining over a love that had moved on from him and a new wave track about the end of high school on the band's first album. These topics were never revisited.
  • Epic Rocking: "Get It Up", "Cool", "The Stick", "Wild and Loose", "The Walk", "Ice Cream Castles", "The Bird", "Jerk Out", "Chocolate", "Skillet".
  • Genre Savvy: In "Chili Sauce", Morris tells Jerome in an aside to prompt Morris to stop wooing on a girl by the number 17. He then fills the next 16 phrases (or loops of the backing track) with his bravado, stopping directly at the start of phrase 17. She falls for him.
  • I Am the Band: A weird variant: Prince recruited an absolutely killer lineup of top-shelf musicians like guitarist Jesse Johnson, drummer Jellybean Johnson (no relation), and soon-to-be legendary production duo Jimmy Jam and Terry Lewis... and then arranged and played every backing track himself on the studio recordings. According to Jesse, Morris had the biggest role out of all of them because he would sing lead and be delegated as the drummer on many tracks, meaning that Prince hadn't even replaced Jellybean so much as outsourced his replacement to someone who was already the face of the band. But, as the Revolution's frequent opening act, Morris and the Time began taking it upon themselves to play their hearts out whenever they were on stage, just to show him up.
  • Intercourse with You: The lengthy jams on their first album, "Get It Up" and "The Stick."
  • Large Ham: Morris Day.
  • The Minneapolis Sound: Next to Prince himself, Morris and the band were the most famous performers of the sound, and stuck with it; even as Prince began to flirt with psychedelic rock later in the 80's.
  • New Jack Swing: Jam, Lewis, Jellybean, and Moir would go on to be significant producers in the new jack swing era, with Jam & Lewis being the most prominent, thanks to their work with Janet Jackson. The Time as a whole would embrace new jack swing heavily on their 1990 reunion album Pandemonium and the Graffiti Bridge soundtrack. Morris Day's 1992 release Guaranteed went heavy on new jack in an effort to stay with the times, but it put the skids on his solo career.
  • Self-Deprecation: The conversation in "Wild and Loose", as well as several moments in "Jerk Out".
  • Self-Titled Album
  • Stealth Parody: "After Hi School", "Onedayi'mgonnabesomebody" and "Gigolos Get Lonely Too". "Donald Trump (Black Version)" also counts, as making fun of Trump's poor finances and his insistence that he's "the most succesful" weren't new in 1990, but the satire definitely got lost once the real Trump ran for President of the United States of America in 2015.
  • Spoken Word in Music: Some of their songs on the second and third albums eschew ending in favor of repeating the backing track and adding dialogue that may or may not be all that funny. The song "Chili Sauce" is five straight minutes of seductive dialogue, while "Wild and Loose" features two sets of dialogue at once: groupies who were happy to have met Morris in the left channel and the band in the right, culminating in Morris meeting the girls again in the center channel, unable to remember that they met and hooked up the night before.
  • Title by Number: "777-9311" was named after Dez Dickerson's actual phone number (in-universe, the reporter in "Grace" lists it as her number.) Dickerson had to change it after receiving unwanted calls.

Alternative Title(s): Morris Day And The Time, Morris Day

Top