Ice Cream Castle
Warner Brothers, 1984
REVIEW BY: Mark Millan
ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED: 12/23/2010
Of all The Time’s records, it’s this one that sounds most like a Prince album. That is, of course, because the Purple One produced and performed most of Ice Cream Castle himself (as he had done previously) and although the writing credits belong to Morris Day (lead vocals) and Jesse Johnson (guitars), I’d wager a bet that Prince knocked these six tracks out in a day or two.
Prince really was on a roll by now, and before the year 1984 was over, he would have a hit album and movie (Purple Rain and, er, Purple Rain) out before setting off on his biggest tour to date. The same can’t be said for his beloved The Time, who, not long after basking in the glory of Purple Rain, suddenly disbanded, and it would be nine long years before they reunited and recorded their swansong LP, Pandemonium.
Although Day had a major role in Purple Rain and The Time had enjoyed two hit singles (“Jungle Love” and “The Bird”) that both featured prominently in the film, too many ego clashes and arguments about what to do next spelled the end for the group. Ice Cream Castle is really a mixed affair though and never reaches the heights that their previous release, What Time Is It? did.
The best and most memorable songs to be found here are the two hit singles, as they come closest to The Time’s signature live sound, which is what they will best be remembered for. In fact, “The Bird” is the only track not performed by Prince, who preferred the live version recorded at First Avenue sometime in ’83. It’s a very ‘80s-sounding pop song, but the bass line is funky and Day’s charisma is what stands out, as it always did whenever The Time hit the stage.
“Jungle Love” is a more focused song, and thematically, it’s all about sex, the sleazy kind that Day portrayed so well through his alter-ego in Purple Rain. In fact, his continuous banter throughout this album ended up in a lot of his dialogue in the film, which further muddies the waters as to who wrote what exactly. The title track that opens the album is a massive departure from the rest of the offerings here, dealing with racism, a topic that Prince had visited often throughout the decade. The track itself is a tad too long (over seven and a half minutes), but its mid-tempo, simple groove is infectious and Day channels his inner Prince for a rather somber delivery.
“Chilli Sauce” is one long makeout session waiting to happen. Day takes a “sexy” out to dinner and peppers her with some cheap but hilarious sweet talk before enticing her back to his place to enjoy his “big brassssss waterbed.” It’s the kind of schtick that only Morris could get away with; again the track is just Prince tinkering with his synths and drum machine. The other Prince-by-numbers track is the aptly titled “If The Kid Can’t Make You Come” (Prince was, of course, The Kid in that movie), and although Day again sounds more like Prince than himself, this one probably should have never made it out of the studio. It adds nothing to the record and would have been more at home on a B-side to a Prince single.
Overall, it was probably the end of the road anyway for The Time, but it’s a shame they didn’t go out with a bigger bang than Ice Cream Castle. While Prince went on his merry way and Day tried for an acting career, the rest of the group splintered off to form another Starr Company band called The Family, who Prince signed to his very own Paisley Park Records. The Time eventually got back together, and these days they still tour every now and then and are still capable of producing that old magic on stage. It would be interesting to see if Day could pull off a Time album without the purple shadow looming over him. I, for one, would love to hear it.
|"The Time" was actually just a fun music band that in my opinion made just fun dance music. They were over rated to me just because they were Prince's companion band. Out of "The Time" came Jimmy Jam And Terry Lewis, who became one of the most succesfull producer/songwriting teams ever.They didn't just do "Janet" they brought it in the 80s. For that reason it would be good to see a "Time" reunion. It came to Detroit with all the original members, I was broke, I missed it. Hopfully they'll come back, I heard that they were recording a reunion album. Hopefully it will be without Prince.|