The Time 'Condensate' to Original 7ven on October Album
by Gary Graff, Detroit | September 28, 2011 3:30 EDT
It's time -- and perhaps over-time -- for some new music from The Time. It's coming in October, but the group will no longer be using that name.
"Condensate," which drops Oct. 18 on Time Life's SRR Records imprint and is the band's first new release since "Pandemonium" in 1990, marks the debut of the Original 7ven, the new moniker for the funky septet adopted after Prince -- who established The Time in 1981 -- denied rights to the original group name. Rather than making a fight out of it, however, the group members decided to view it as an opportunity for a fresh start.
"We took it as a chance to be free and liberated...and that was sort of the approach we took to making the album," keyboardist and co-producer Jimmy Jam (nee Harris) tells Billboard.com. "We sound like ourselves because we have a sound, for sure, when we get together, but we certainly didn't have the constraints of the name, and therefore we felt we could do music that represented where we're at right now. So we just kind of embraced it rather than getting all involved in legal stuff."
Guitarist Jesse Johnson, meanwhile, says that taking on a new name also ends any confusion between The Time -- the original lineup that includes Jam and Terry Lewis, who were kicked out of the band by Prince in 1983 -- and Morris Day & the Time, which tours regularly and includes Johnson, hype man Jerome Benton, keyboardist Monte Moir and drummer Jellybean Johnson. "It got confusing for people -- there's not enough of a distinction between the two acts to make a different," Johnson explains. "I think (the change) is more of a good thing than a bad thing. We are the original guys, so people will know who we are when they hear the Original 7ven."
The group also refers to itself, slyly, as "the band formerly known as The Time," and Jam adds that "the fans can call us The Time if they'd like to. We don't have any problems with that. We don't mind that at all. We can't call ourselves that, but the fans are certainly welcome to."
Though some of the material on "Condensate" dates back to the 90s -- particularly the song "Go Home To Your Man," according to Lewis -- most of the album's 14 songs have been developed during the past three years, since the group began working in earnest on the album following its performance at the 2008 Grammy Awards ceremony. Jam says the Original 7ven wound up working on about two dozen songs and was initially ready to hack the list down to 10 for the album, but he credits Johnson with lobbying successfully for the additional tracks.
"We got down to 14 and said, 'Let's cut two more out,' " Jam recalls, "and (Johnson) just said, 'Man, the fans have been waiting 20 years for us to do a new record. Why not give 'em 14 songs. They deserve it. What's the big deal?' And we all said, 'Y'know what Jess -- you're right.' " Johnson adds that, "the thing that makes me happiest is it's a reinvention instead of the same old same old. I never wanted to be part of that. I wanted to make sure every song on ('Condensate') was something built from the ground up, now, and not something that was pulled out of the closet from years ago. I didn't want to be part of that."
Jam is confident that the remaining songs "will see the light of day" in the future. But with the album done, the Original 7ven is gearing up to get into promotion mode. A video has been shot for the first single, "#Trendin," and the group is lining up TV appearances as well as special showings for a documentary that was filmed during the making of the album, which will also be part of a deluxe package of "Condensate." The Original 7ven will perform Oct. 19 show at Club Nokia in Los Angeles and hopes to play a similar small venue date during October in New York City.
Meanwhile, Jam says, the group will "focus most of our touring towards next year. We're planning on hopefully doing a ton of festival things. There's some interesting possibilities for bills with people that are kind of intriguing -- I can't say names yet, but where we would basically co-headline or even open for somebody. For us it's pretty wide open."
Jam adds that bringing out a new album in 2011 is something of an adventure for the group. "You have to remember that when we released our last record, there was no such thing as Facebook or Twitter or iTunes or any of those types of things," he notes. "The whole industry was totally different. All the record companies were still there. It was all defined. It's a whole different environment as far as releasing records, but we haven't changed the way we make music...We really tried to make it like an album. Those people who want to listen to something from start to finish, I think this'll really satisfy them. And then the people who want to cherry-pick song by song, that's fine, too. But we really tried to make an album that would hold together and was sequenced and would move the way we wanted it to, and hopefully people will enjoy that." The full track list for "Condensate" includes:
7ven Intro (skit)
O7ven Press Conference (skit)
If I Was Yo Man
Toast To The Party Girl
[h=1]The Time now The Original 7ven, on Leno October 27, tour dates[/h]By April MacIntyre Oct 13, 2011, 18:06 GMT
The Original 7ven (the band formerly known as The Time) will debut their new funk-fueled hit, “#Trendin,” on The Tonight Show with Jay Leno on October 27th.
The performance - their first television appearance as the Original 7ven – comes just a week after their album, Condensate, is released on October 17th
A tour and promotional appearances include a show at the Nokia Theatre in Los Angeles on October 19th, the theatrical debut of their documentary at the Grammy Museum on October 18th, interviews on CNN, the Tom Joyner Show, Yahoo! Music, Vibe magazine’s Lifestyle Network, in USA Today and many more.
In early December, the Original 7ven will spend a “Takeover Weekend” at BET’s Centric network, with videos, special programming and exclusive interviews devoted to the music and the history of the band. Centric reaches over 44 million homes nationwide.
The new album marks the first time the seven musicians have recorded together in over 21 years. Morris Day, Jesse Johnson, Jimmy Jam, Terry Lewis, Jellybean Johnson, Jerome Benton and Monte Moir deliver exciting funk/rock/pop that drove the launch of the Minneapolis Sound, infused with a new energy and power. Irrepressible front man Morris Day captivates and entertains like no other against a backdrop of musical talent that few can match. The first single off the album, “#Trendin,” is already a hit at radio stations nationwide and is the #1 most added song at the Urban Adult Radio format in its first week out.
After their two-week promotional run on the West Coast, the Original 7ven will travel to their hometown of Minneapolis for a special “homecoming” concert, before heading to New York for a number of additional appearances to be announced in the coming weeks. Details will be posted on www.TheOriginal7ven.com.
DuranDuran - have you heard the album yet? Am thinking of getting it, despite my dislike for the first single. Heard a little bit of Cadillac on Youtube, and it sounded more like what I was hoping for. Is the album any good??
I picked up the album about a month ago. It's a pretty solid record. Toast To The Party Girl is a great track and I also love Cadillac and the title track. It would've been a really tight ten track record as I find there's a couple of unnecessary fillers - particularly the last two tracks.
But overall, they definately delivered the goods. I would love for them to come to the UK to do some live shows.
The name on the record may be different, but the musicians who play on Condensate are the same ones who started out some 30 years ago as The Time. Joining forces for their first album since 1990, Morris Day (vocals), Jerome Benton (percussion), Jimmy Jam (keyboards), Terry Lewis (bass), Jesse Johnson (guitar), Jellybean Johnson (drums), and Monte Moir (keyboards) are now The Original 7ven. The funky new album manages to sound fresh while simultaneously feeling like a satisfying throwback to the band’s ‘80s heyday.
Under the guidance of Prince, The Time scored a series of hit singles culled from four popular albums: The Time (1980), What Time Is It? (1982), Ice Cream Castles (1984), and Pandemonium (1990). The band also toured extensively with Prince during the early ‘80s. The phenomenal success of Prince’s Purple Rain in 1984 sent the band’s popularity soaring. Though the film didn’t feature The Time’s entire original lineup, the comic interplay of co-starring Time members Day and Benton arguably stole the show from Prince. Performances of “Jungle Love” and “The Bird” were not only highlights of the film, they were Top 40 radio and MTV fixtures.
Each of the seven Time members has achieved success on his own, the most prominent being the superstar production team of Jimmy Jam and Terry Lewis. Together, Jam and Lewis have produced dozens of hit singles, including nine Billboard Hot 100 chart-toppers by Janet Jackson (some of which featured contributions by various Time members). Morris Day and Jesse Johnson scored solo hits. Day has fronted a touring version of the band that included some, but not all, of the original lineup.
More recently, the original members decided that 20 years was enough time apart. Condensate was the result of a concerted effort by seven musicians who have shared a strong bond for more than three decades. I recently spoke with Jimmy Jam about the impetus behind the reunion, the band’s future plans, as well as the reasons behind The Original 7ven name change.
What lead to the reunion of all seven original band members?
The beginning of this project actually started when we were asked to perform on the Grammys in 2008. We had talked before about the idea of getting back together, but nothing concrete. When we were asked to perform, that became the line in the sand. My sense was, if we can’t get back together for an opportunity like this, we’re never going to get together. I couldn’t think of anything that would be more important or more fun to be involved with.
Was there resistance from anyone initially?
Most of the guys were good right away. A couple members were a little like, “I’m not so sure.” But eventually everyone came around. I had said to [Grammy executive producer] Ken Erhlich, “Only if we can get everybody back together.” If we can get the whole group, the Original 7ven so to speak, that would make me want to do it.
At the time, was there already talk of a full-fledged reunion project?
We had such a great time, great rehearsals, but we didn’t really plan anything after that. It was truly a one-off. After the show we did press and everyone was like, “What are you guys going to do now? You must have an album coming out. Are you getting ready to tour?” We didn’t think of that, we were just like, “Let’s get together and have some fun.”
Eventually we ended taking the gig in Las Vegas. It ended up being a summer vacation. We did 15 shows at the Flamingo, which was cool for us. The room felt very old school, it was kind of the perfect place.
At what point did you start talking about recording together?
When the Vegas gigs went really well, the talks started about maybe recording stuff. So we were recording on and off for maybe a couple years. Once again, it was line in the sand time: are we really going to finish this record and put this out? We’re all riding around in our cars listening to it, loving it, but are we actually going to finish it up?
Everybody committed to putting in the time to support it. It’s tough to do, but we finally felt like everyone was in a good mind space. We’re not getting any younger and all of us are healthy now. We started watching people around us, a lot of our contemporaries, either come upon bad health or pass away. What was the recording process like? Were you all in the studio playing together?
It varied from song to song. We did some songs like that, where we would all be there, basically a jam session, figuring out a song from that. There were also examples where we took advantage of today’s technology. For instance with the song “Lifestyle,” I remember Jesse sent a track to Terry and asked him what he thought. Terry gave it to me and I put a bridge on it. Then we sent it to Morris and he loved it. Monte put a keyboard part on it. We were able to do that being in different places. Monte and Jellybean live in Minneapolis. Me, Terry, Jesse, and Jerome are in Los Angeles. Morris lives in Las Vegas.
“Go Home to Yo Man” is one where literally we were all in the studio at the same time. Conceived it, wrote it, recorded it, the whole thing all together. It was really any combination that worked, and that made it a lot of fun.
Did a lot of the new songs evolve out of jams?
Yeah, we like the idea of doing that. When we initially decided to do the Vegas shows, part of it was because we wanted to play together. We can all write pretty well, but I think the idea was we wanted to know what everyone’s strengths are. By doing those gigs, it put us in that frame of mind so even if we were not all together, we all had the feel of what things should sound like. So the jam part of it — playing live, the audience reaction — that’s all really important to me. We’re using different technology to record, but we tried to always keep the feeling of the band on all the songs.
Being the first album you guys have done from start to finish with no involvement from Prince, would it be fair to call Condensateyour debut album?
I think it’s totally fair to say. I think we all felt the same way about it. Although I have to say that we did not shun Prince’s involvement in any way. We actually invited him on numerous occasions to be part of the project. I totally agree that it is the first true album of the seven original guys. But we always wanted—and honestly expected—that Prince at some point would say, “I’m going to give you this song,” or that he would be involved. The project was not, “Let’s make a record without Prince.” That was absolutely not the thought the process, I just want to be clear about that. But I agree that the result was the first true record without him.
But I also have to say the record has his influence. As The Time or The Original 7ven, we can’t make a record without Prince’s influence. He was so instrumental in doing the first album in particular, but really in varying degrees all the Time albums. So I think that his influence is absolutely there on Condensate. In a way, we feel like we’re his kids. We got a message from him when the record first came out. He said, “I love the record, I love the name.” It was short but supportive, so that was cool.
Why do you think he didn’t allow you guys to call it The Time?
Well, I think he feels that he’s a member of the group because he was the architect of those earlier records. To draw the distinction, we were not put together by Prince. We were already a band and had been for quite a while. We actually used to compete with Prince’s band, Grand Central, in the early Minneapolis days when we were called Flyte Time. That was sort of the origin of everything. But when Prince got us the record deal, it was the biggest break that we ever had because it set forth all the events that have happened since then, including myself and Terry’s career.
I think that because Prince was the architect of the first record in particular, which continued through the second and the third album, though he started loosening the reins a little bit, letting us be a little more involved in the writing and the concepts, I think he feels that he birthed The Time, basically. He feels he gave it life, so he feels he has the right to kill it. I think you can kill the name, but you’re not going to kill the guys in the band. You can certainly throw road blocks in our way and, by the way, the name change is a huge roadblock. But at the end of the day, we just said, “Let’s make our record.” Hopefully people find it and enjoy it.
How did you personally feel about his attitude regarding the band name?
I think he’s certainly within his rights to do that. It was interesting because when “Morris Day and The Time” have toured, and it’s only three original members of the group, it’s okay to call that The Time. But when all seven of the original members get back together, it’s not okay to call it The Time. The only thing I can figure out is that because it is new music that Prince was not involved with, it can’t be The Time. But it can be The Time as long as it’s old music that he was involved with. If you think about it, it’s the only logical explanation.
It’s not a business thing, because we never had a business conversation about doing it. It was simply, “I own the name, you can’t use it.”Cut and dried. The other little quirk is that we can use it to tour. But we can’t use it to record. So to me, that’s another clue that anything new that we do, Prince isn’t comfortable with us using The Time name because he doesn’t feel he’s a part of it. I think because of the fact that he enjoyed the album, maybe through fan pressure and maybe through common sense, he will decide that we are not ruining the legacy of the band in any way. Maybe one day he’ll be comfortable with saying that we are The Time. But that’s up to him.
Speaking of touring, how has the departure of Jesse Johnson affected your plans?
The plan is to absolutely go forward and do dates. We’re putting those together right now. Our plan is to do festivals where we can get in front of a lot of people, not only the old fans but potential new fans. We’re working along those lines. Our thought is, we’re in it for the long term and aren’t really looking at it as a one-off project. We’re looking at it as supporting Condensate, but also thinking about the next album and future songs.
Jesse is a member of the family and always will be. We wish him well with what he does. We hope all the fans will support him and everything that he does. We obviously don’t see eye-to-eye about some things at this time. At some point, down the line, you never know what’s going to happen. You may see us all together again. In the meantime, we are going to audition guitar players for The Time so we can tour and support the record. Six out of seven ain’t bad, so we’ll go with that.
Was there any talk of not continuing?
Everybody worked hard on the record. We had a long conversation about what everybody wants to do. We’re not necessarily on a timetable. It’s not a shelf life type of project, where if you don’t get it out by a certain date, it expires. I think the project will sound the same a year from now because the roots of it are really in the ‘80s anyway, when we all started. We plan on going forward and we wish Jesse the best, we really do.
So when you’re playing gigs, will it be The Time or The Original 7ven?
You’ll most likely see The Time in a live performance. You may see some sort of Original 7ven reference, so people will know it’s not “Morris Day and The Time.” You’re going to be hearing new songs from Condensate. We’ll figure out how to articulate that a little bit better. It’ll be The Time. We’ll make sure people know it’s basically the original guys, as opposed to the touring band.
Let’s look back to 1990 and the Graffiti Bridge movie. How did the original seven members of The Time come to be involved with that project?
Let me try to clarify a little bit. There might be a misconception that we got back together to do the Graffiti Bridge movie. That’s absolutely not the case. What happened, Morris [Day] was working on a project with Prince. It was basically going to be more of a solo project. Prince was going to do the bulk of the writing and playing. I think it was going to be calledCorporate World, but there were a few different names floating around at that point. Around that same time period, we had also been working with Morris on different projects and things. We thought, let’s get The Time back together and just make a record. So we got back together and started making an album. This was with Prince’s blessing, by the way. And we had our own idea for a film.
What kind of film did you guys have in mind?
It was basically based on our own true story, rather than a fictional story. Purple Rain was a fictional story based in some truth, the whole backdrop of Minneapolis and the competition of the bands. The way that worked was very true and very well done in that movie. But we really wanted to make a film about our exploits on the road and some of the things that went on, because we had a great time on the road.
How far did you guys get with this project?
We actually brought in someone to write a screenplay. We sat and talked with a couple of screenwriters, telling them the stories we thought were funny, letting them weave a storyline around it. We were in talks with Warner Bros. to do it. The next thing you know, literally out of the blue, Prince called us for a meeting at Paisley Park. And I remember we walked in thinking it was going to be about the movie — the movie we thought we were going to do. All of sudden it turned into Graffiti Bridge, and we were like,“What’s Graffiti Bridge?” Prince was like, “This is my movie.” And it was, you know, this girl and a feather. [laughs] It was like, “No, no, no — we’ve got our own ideas for a movie.”
The Time still made a very successful album though, which includes some songs that were in the movie.
That’s the reason that, when everything was done, Pandemoniumcame out, which was basically our album. Then the Graffiti Bridge soundtrack came out, which had four of our songs on it. Just one soundtrack album probably would’ve made more sense. But it was because we were already doing our other things. We were like, “Okay, we’ll do your movie, Prince, but we’re still going to do our own album.” We were already on the path to do that.
How did the same basic track from “My Summertime Thang” onPandemonium end up being reused for “The Latest Fashion,” which was part ofGraffiti Bridge?
The origin of “My Summertime Thang” came about around Ice Cream Castle , right around when me and Terry got fired from The Time. We always loved the song, so that was one of the ones we asked Prince for. We said, “Hey Prince, ‘My Summertime Thang,’ can we have that? That was our song from back in the day.” And he said, “Yeah, you can have it. But you know what, I changed the words. It’s called ‘The Latest Fashion’ now.” And we’re like,“No, no, no, no.” So that was sort of a compromise. He wanted it as “The Latest Fashion” because it worked in the movie for the scene. But we wanted it as “My Summertime Thang” because that’s what it was back when we had it. There was a lot of that kind of thing going on, which is why I make the distinction that we didn’t get back together specifically for Graffiti Bridge. We were already on our own path, doing our own thing. We kind of reached a compromise to do it.
What did you think of the finished movie?
I thought the music in Graffiti Bridge was great. I didn’t particularly like the movie. [laughs] But I thought the musical scenes were a lot of fun. We were sort of an afterthought anyway. Literally when we would shoot scenes, they would put makeup on us in the morning, and then we’d have to sit around all day in our suits. Then at the end of the day, after everything else was done, they’d go, “Oh, we have to shoot these other scenes.” There was no continuity, everybody looked different. There’s one scene, I swear to God, I have dark glasses on in one shot and regular glasses on in the next shot. There was absolutely no continuity in the movie whatsoever.
Do you think Prince was in over his head, wearing too many hats as writer, director, and star?
Well, I think the downfall of the movie was that it didn’t have a real director. I think that Prince was so accustomed to making music on his own, because he could be the engineer, the producer, the writer, the keyboard player, the guitar player. He could do it all himself without ever really having to communicate to anybody. And he’s a genius at doing that. Movie making is a whole different medium.
What was Prince’s directorial style like during production?
I remember the first day on the set, Prince walked out and said, “Okay, we’re going to shoot this scene.” And about five people standing around him start asking questions. The camera guy asked, “How do you want this shot framed?” And Prince goes, “What?”
He didn’t want to hear any of that stuff. It was more like,“Just shoot it.” He had in his head what it was supposed to be. But to make a movie, you have to communicate what’s in your head to other people. And that was not Prince’s strong suit. I think the movie suffered because of that. It didn’t allow everybody to do their best work. That’s why I say, to me, the best thing about the movie is the music.
The Time wasn’t involved in Under the Cherry Moon (1986), but of course Jerome Benton co-starred with Prince. That film, with Prince directing, was so much more technically accomplished.
That movie had a great look and was very creative. But that was shot on location in France and was a different kind of thing. Graffiti Bridge was all on a sound stage with sets and had a very claustrophobic feel. You weren’t filming at First Avenue, like in Purple Rain, which was already a real club with the vibe of a real club. You were shooting on a sound stage in a kind of fictitious set-up.
Graffiti Bridge almost has a fantasy look to it, like a slightly surreal fantasy.
You know, it’s interesting because now, with Glee and people being more used to seeing characters breaking into song, I think something likeGraffiti Bridge could work really well. I’d love to see Prince do that now. I know he could make a great musical and I think it would work better now because people are seeing it more often on television. Who knows, he probably is going to do something like that. The way he writes his songs I think lends itself to that type of treatment.
While we’re talking about Prince, have you and Terry every talked about producing him?
We’d love to do it. And he knows it. We’ve talked about it over the years. When we were in Minneapolis, and had our studio up there, he came by and visited one day and fell in love with Studio A, the design for which was based on a studio called Westlake. It just was a great, big, comfortable room.
And we asked him at one point, “Could we ever go through your vault and just pick out some songs and maybe mix them or do something like that?” And he said, “Yeah that’d be great. I’ll let you guys have ten songs and you can do with them what you want.” So we’ve talked about that. We’ve talked about us producing him. We’ve talked about him using our studio to record. And I think Terry might have had a conversation with him in the last couple months where some of those same things came up. So you never know. I don’t even know whether that’s something that would be successful or not, but I’d love to try it. At the end of the day, I’m probably one of the biggest Prince fans ever.
You and Terry, of course, have done phenomenally successful work with Janet Jackson over the years, but weren’t involved with her last album, Discipline (2008). Any chance you guys might work with her again?
I think so. The ball’s in her court there. We started working on a record with her. Around the time that Michael passed, we were actually in the studio. Matter of fact, we had actually gotten one song done. She was going to take three weeks off to go down to Atlanta to work with Tyler Perry on Why Did I Get Married Too? When she was done, we were going to resume working. And of course, Michael passed. And we never really got back in the studio again. She went straight into another film and then did the Up Close and Personal tour.
We have songs for her that we think are great. And if she thinks they’re great, I think we would work together on something. If she doesn’t think they’re great, maybe we wouldn’t. It’s as simple as that. If we’re thinking along the same lines about what she should do next, then I think we’ll definitely work together again. There’s a comfort level there. There’s never been any animosity between us or any bad blood in any way. She’s like family to us. As a matter of fact, she’s the godmother to my first son. So beyond the music part of it, we’re close anyway. But we’ll see. I would love that.
Speaking of Michael Jackson, what can you share about working with him on HIStory (1995)?
Michael was amazing. I can’t think of a studio moment that blew us away more than the first time he got in front of a microphone on“Scream.” It was really funny. First of all, when we put that track together, I had Janet come to Minneapolis. I just said, “I need you to be here for inspiration.” So Terry and I put together four or five different tracks, and for one of the tracks, Janet said, “I hope he doesn’t like this one, because I want this one for me.” And another one of the tracks, she said, “This is the one he’s going to like, I know my brother.”
So we go to the Hit Factory in New York. We played all these tracks, and when the track that ended up being “Scream” came on, he said, “Yeah I like that.” Janet said, “I told you that’s the one he was going to like! I’m so glad he didn’t like that other track.” Well, the other track ended up being“Runaway,” her single from Design of a Decade. I actually thought that track would’ve been a great duet for them, but Michael wanted to be real aggressive and real hard. He had things on his mind about how he felt he was being treated in the press. And the track for “Scream” was sonically perfect for what he wanted to do lyrically.
When he went into the studio, the idea was that he was going to sing it first and then Janet would go in and sing after him. So Janet’s sitting there, me and Terry are sitting there, and Michael goes in. Before he sings, he’s just real calm and quiet, “Can you turn my headphones up a little bit?” Then all of a sudden the music comes on and he starts dancing around the room, hitting all his signature moves. And he’s like, wearing a bracelet or something while clapping — you’re not really supposed to do that when you’re on the mic, but it didn’t even matter. When it was over, I swear to God, it was just silence in the room. He said, “How was that?” We’re like, “Yeah, that sounded really good.” And I turned and looked at Janet and she said to me,“I’ll just do my vocal in Minneapolis.” It was like, “I’m not going to do my vocal right now.” Obviously he just killed it, right? [laughs]
So we go to Minneapolis with Janet, where she does a great job on her vocal. We send it to Michael, he goes, “Wow, Janet sounds great. Where did she record that vocal?” I said it was in Minneapolis. “I’m coming to Minneapolis.” So Michael comes to Minneapolis to re-record his vocal, and it was a real glimpse into his competitive nature. It didn’t even matter that it was his sister. It was just like, “No. I have to redo it. She did hers, I have to redo mine.” It was just crazy, his competitiveness even with his own sister. But it was that drive for perfection. And the original vocal he did in New York ended up being probably 90 percent of the vocal on the final song.
That’s pretty unique that you’ve had opportunities to work with both Prince and Michael Jackson.
It was great too, working with Prince and working with Michael, they were polar opposites in the way they worked. Prince would walk in the studio at the beginning of the day and he’d walk out with “1999,” done. Michael, we’d spend a day just on the volume of the handclaps. I mean, literally. And we’d turn them up and he’d say, “Okay, I’ll come back tomorrow and we’ll listen to it again.” We come back the next day, and he’d go, “Can we turn that up just a little more?” Yes, we turn it up. “Okay, make me a tape.”Okay. “I’ll come back tomorrow and we’ll listen again.” I mean, it was literally like that. But that was, you know, learning from people like Quincy Jones, people who were very meticulous about what they did.
What was Michael like on a personal level?
Michael was married to Lisa Marie Presley at the time we were working with him. And I remember my wife asking Lisa what attracted her to Michael. She looked at my wife and just said, “He’s the kindest man I’ve ever known.” And I remember thinking the same thing after working with him. Just a nice dude.
That reminds me, we used to get into these big, long conversations. And Michael would pick my brain about stuff, always curious about everything. He said to me, “Jimmy, how do you want to be remembered?” I asked him what he meant. “When people talk about you after you’re gone, how do you want to be remembered?” And I said, “I want to be remembered as a nice guy.”Michael goes, “No, I mean, as a producer, how many number one songs,” you know, whatever, whatever. I just said, “Michael, those are statistics. I don’t want someone to say ‘Oh yeah, that Jimmy Jam, he had a bunch of number one hits.’ I just want them to say, ‘Jimmy Jam, he was a nice guy.’”
Fast forward about a year later. We needed to get a sample cleared and he was the only one who could clear it. I ended up having to call him directly. I said, “Michael, how are you?” He said, “I’m good. I know you wanted to ask me something, but before that, can I just tell you something?” I said sure. He said, “Remember what you said about how you want to be remembered?” I said yes. “Well, every time someone asks me about you, I just say, ‘Jimmy Jam, he’s the nicest guy.’” And I said, “Great! You get it now, Michael?”And he said, “I totally get it.”
At the end of the day, after all the talent and all the groundbreaking stuff he did, he was just simply a nice guy. He was one of the nicest people I’ve met and worked with ever.
What’s next on the horizon for you and Terry Lewis?
I would say the three things that are in various stages of being recorded, one would be Usher. We’re working with him on his new album. We’re in the studio with a group we just signed called the RoneyBoys. My 11-year-old son discovered them on YouTube, which I think is getting pretty common these days. They’re three young kids - 10, 12, and 16 years old - who play their own instruments and write their own songs. The 10-year-old sounds like the first time you heard “I Want You Back” by The Jackson 5. He’s got that voice and that kind of soul to him, pretty amazing. The older one, the 16-year-old, is basically John Mayer Junior, except on the ukulele. They’re super talented. So we’re in the studio with them right now.
And then New Edition is back together, all six of them. The last time they had all six guys together, we did a record called Home Again that was very successful. We did some stuff with Johnny Gill for his solo album, and now he’s saying that all the guys want to come down and get some new music out. If that happens, it would be fantastic. When we did the Heart Break album with New Edition, that was the point where they kind of grew up and went from being the little boys to the big guys. And they haven’t really looked back since then. We really share a great bond with them, so we’re looking forward to doing that.
And then of course, last but not least is getting The Original 7ven together to tour and go play these new songs from Condensate live in front of crowds.
What concluding thoughts you can share about the approach The Original 7ven took with Condensate?
As producers, one of the strengths me and Terry have had is being able to look at somebody who is already established and see them from a fan’s perspective. We simply think, I’m a fan and this is a record I’d like to hear them do. I think that was the approach with The Original 7ven’sCondensate. We tried to take ourselves out of it and go, “Man, if I was a fan of The Time and I hadn’t heard any new music in 20 years, what would I like to hear?” And we immediately wrote “Strawberry Lake.” It was like, “This is what I’d like to hear. I want to go right back to where I was 20 years ago.” And then together, all seven of us created that record.
Many thanks to Jimmy Jam for sharing his insights and experiences. Keep up with The Original 7ven on the band’s official website and on Facebook.
He was once a part of Prince's musical camp. Now, after 35 years, Jerome Benton is taking his faith and talent to a different stage.
FOX 9 News found Benton at Pepito's Parkway Theatre, where he'll soon be showcasing his new play.
These days, you'd be hard-pressed to find Benton pulling out mirrors and dancing alongside Morris Day.
"I know I'm going to be dealing with people who can't seem to shake away the image I created for myself over the past 35 years," he admitted.
Benton refers to the image as that of a "side kick, hype man" -- a character we see when he takes the musical stage with Morris Day, when he appears in films like "Graffiti Bridge" and as Prince's hunting partner in "Under the Cherry Moon."
On his new stage, he's exposing his spiritual side with his new play.
"‘I Want to Go To Heaven Because Hell's Too Hot' -- it's a morality play," Benton explained. "It's about false freedom a young lady who's out there bad. She's turning all the spiritual light off in her life. It raises the hair on your back, creates goose bumps. It'll put a tear in your eye."
FOX 9 asked Benton if he's worried fans might be put off by the theme.
"You might be disappointed because I'm not laughing loudly and rolling on the floor and carrying a mirror," he replied. "Time out for that right now."
Benton said he decided to create the play because "people are losing morality about themselves." He promises musical satisfaction with musical support from Terry Lewis. The play itself is co-written by Ilunga Adell, and the young cast was scouted in Minneapolis.
"We found some really amazing people," Benton said. "Minneapolis is a place that I chose to come back home to to give this gift -- a gift that, I think, may be a gift to the community," Benton said that gift is worth putting down the mirror, even if only for a little while.
"I'll do that," he said. "It doesn't stop me from going to the spiritual side of things and delivering a word. This is special."
Tickets go on sale in late June. The play is set to hit the Pepito's Parkway Stage in Lake July. Benton does plan to continue performing with The Original 7ven and currently spends his time between Minneapolis and Los Angeles.
Here's an excerpt from a new interview by Prince at Ebony.com
EBONY: Did you hear the last album by The Time, Condensate? Prince: No. You know, it was Morris playing drums and me on the bass. That’s how we would make the basic track. Naked. Just like that, and nobody would know. And then when you put the keys on it and the guitar, then that’s what The Time was. And it was perfect. Going through it now, I can hear all that stuff. Like “The Walk.” I hadn’t heard “The Walk” in ages. It’s like you can’t believe that you did it. I don’t even know how it’s possible. I don’t. I do but I don’t. That can never be duplicated again. It was a time period. His son [Derran Day] sings now, and look just like he did. So it should be like Steph and Dell Curry. Let’s do this. The Time can still be alive, he just needs to do it. I’m gonna see him in a minute anyway to work together. Musicians I’m cool with.
Cool, I love the Time, they were so funky and all their early stuff and idea for the group was Prince. The first two albums are virtually all Prince, theres more Morris Day on the 3rd album and all of their albums up to Pandemonium are Prince like productions. Morris was a hoot in Purple Rain too, being the manager and performer in the Time and Apollonia 6, he stole the show with his jive ass atitude and nasty ass persona.
Morris "You ladies don't seem to realise, how valuable my time is, now you are going to make my boys looks bad whats happening, your shoes on too tight or something"
Brenda (Of Apollonia 6) - Let us come up with our own steps
Morris - We tried that remember, now you are in the possible position you could be in, now lets have some asses wigglin, ah want some perfection"
"Aowoooww" slaps 5 with Jerome and aims fingers at guy playing synthesiser, girls start moving to music.
Morris "Oh lawd I think I am going to need a drink"
outside on the street
Morris "The bitches are okay, but we need something more exciting"
Jerome "Yeah we could be doing better"
Morris "That Apollonia babe looks fine"
Jerome "Great, why don't we call her, I have her number"
Morris "No, no no, that ain't classy enough, I wnat the bitch to come to me, I'm the only star in this town"
Later on at the club Morris is trying to seduce Apollonia
Morris "Your lips would make a lollypop too happy"
Morris " I wish you could see my house... It's so exciting, I have a chef called Jerome Sci cassagracchi or something like that"
Apollonia "Hmm mmm"
Morris "In my bedroom I have a brass waterbed"
Morris - Its not often I put my cards on the table, when it comes to meeting the young ladies, but I'm gonna MAKE YOU LOVE ME!"
Its a laugh fest from start to end, I just wonder how Michael Jackson thought of these lines and Morris Day in general when he saw the preview of Purple Rain at Burbank on June 28th 1984, he did not like the treatment of woman, but I guess even he would have laughed at that stuff.
Jesse Johnson feels “strange” — his word — about performing at First Avenue on Friday night. He’s always felt that way about playing there — from his First Ave debut in 1981 with the Time to his latest gig there, in fall 2015, in D’Angelo’s band.
“It’s always felt strange. I always felt out of place there. Like I was in Prince’s living room,” Johnson said a few days ago. “I thought it would be different when I played there with D’Angelo, but it was the same feeling. I’m looking forward to it. It’ll be exciting, scary, anxiety-laced.”
It was one of Prince’s former band members, drummer Michael Bland, who persuaded Johnson to become part of a power trio this weekend along with ex-Prince bassist Sonny Thompson, who had worked with Johnson years ago.
Said Bland, who’d never played with Johnson but admired his appearance on “Saturday Night Live” with D’Angelo in January 2015: “I thought to myself, ‘They’re hiding Jesse. He’s a star player.’ From that point, I think I was subconsciously waiting for the right reason for the three of us to work together.”
The repertoire will include songs associated with Johnson, the Time and Jimi Hendrix — as well as maybe a Prince tune or two that Johnson was doing before the Purple One died.
Johnson, 56, was crushed by Prince’s death. Friday’s performance will be Johnson’s first appearance since Prince’s passing in April. He said he turned down invitations to play the BET Awards tribute this summer and other salutes.
The guitarist considered Prince a close friend even though they didn’t talk much in recent years. Johnson, who is from Rock Island, Ill., always appreciates that Prince gave him his break by hiring him for the Time in 1981 shortly after he arrived in the Twin Cities.
Many observers of the Minnesota music scene thought Johnson, an accomplished guitarist, lived in Prince’s shadow because the Purple One became the more famous guitarist. Johnson didn’t feel that way about Prince.
“I’ll always be this blue-collar Midwestern kid who bought his first Stratocaster for $626.87 after pumping gas at Rock Island, Ill., before they had self-serve,” he said from his Los Angeles home. “You can call [Prince] a competitive person but I never looked at it like competition. I used to say to him, ‘Why you worry about me? You’re Prince. I’m nobody in the world that you’re in.’ ”
Anyhow, Johnson wasn’t one to fight. “I walk away from things rather than get into a brouhaha,” he said.
That’s sort of what happened with Johnson and the reunion of the Time as the Original 7ven from 2008-11. (Prince wouldn’t grant them permission to use “the Time,” a moniker he owned, so they coined a new one.) Johnson participated in the concerts and the recording of the 2011 comeback album “Condensate.”
However, at a hometown show at the State Theatre in 2011, Johnson, with his impassive face and body language, looked bored the entire night, even when he played some ferocious guitar (everything from Hendrix-ian rock to Buddy Guy-evoking blues to Princely funk).
“It was a disagreement on how things are done,” Johnson said of his dissatisfaction with the Original 7ven. “I love those guys to death. We’re brothers, family. I had real, real issues with the [album] production. I didn’t like a lot of the lyrics. It was that aging lothario thing. Do you keep doing the same thing over and over or do you try to birth something new? I’m about reaching, not about retreading.”
Johnson doesn’t sound bitter. Just resigned. In a freewheeling three-hour phone conversation recently, he seemed calm and accepting, lacking the chip on the shoulder he often exhibited when he lived in the Twin Cities from 1981 to 1996.
He tried to set the record straight on a few things. For instance, singer Morris Day left the Time first in 1984 to make a solo album so Johnson figured he shouldn’t stick around, either — even though Prince invited him to join a new band called the Family with Paul Peterson and Susannah Melvoin, among others.
Johnson, who co-wrote the Time’s big hits “The Bird” and “Jungle Love,” wasn’t overly excited about the Time reunion for Prince’s 1990 movie, “Graffiti Bridge,” which was something of a sequel to 1984’s hugely successful “Purple Rain.”
Johnson flashed back to the spring of 1983 when, at Prince’s house in Chanhassen, the budding star played the song that would become “Purple Rain.”
“I play chords completely differently. He plays guitar chords like he transposes them from the piano and they’ll be incorrect but they sometimes make his chords unique. I said ‘It’s cool, but it’s a Willie Nelson song.’ He said, ‘No, it’s not.’ ‘It’s from ‘Honeysuckle Rose’ soundtrack,’ I said. He thought it was more like a Journey song.”
In the 1980s, Johnson had a modestly successful solo career, releasing three albums on A&M and enjoying a string of R&B hits including “Be Your Man,” “Can You Help Me” and “Crazay,” which featured Sly Stone.
He also toiled as a producer and songwriter with such acts as TaMara and the Seen, Janet Jackson, Paula Abdul and After 7. In recent years, Johnson says he’s worked with Snoop Dogg, Dr. Dre and others without taking credit on the records, and he filled in for Stevie Wonder’s guitarist on tour one night.
Johnson played on D’Angelo’s acclaimed “Black Messiah” in 2014 and toured in the soul star’s band to promote the album. In 2009, Johnson self-released his first solo album in 14 years, “Verbal Penetration.”
But he never hyped the album during the long conversation. He preferred talking about Minnesota and the Midwest.
“Who I came to be happened in Minneapolis,” he said proudly, adding that he has two daughters living in the Twin Cities.
Sounding soft-spokenly modest, he marveled at his appearance in front of President Obama in 2012 in the house band for an all-star blues tribute in the PBS special “In Performance at the White House: Red, White and Blues.” The guest stars included B.B. King, Buddy Guy, Jeff Beck, Derek Trucks, Susan Tedeschi and Gary Clark Jr.
“At the first day of rehearsal in this hotel ballroom, I got my head down, I’m playing guitar, I’ve got a hat on. Then this hand goes underneath the hat and goes, ‘Hey, Jesse. I’m Mick.’ It was Mick Jagger, and I was speechless.”
The Midwestern guitarist sounded dumbfounded and flattered at the same time. At least he wasn’t feeling strange.
Jimmy Jam and Terry Lewis are one of the greatest songwriting and producing duo in music history. Meeting on the same ’70s Minneapolis music scene that produced Prince, the pair formed the band Flyte Time, an outfit that would morph into the original line up of one of the most storied funk groups of the era, the Time. By 1983 the duo had begun more actively pursuing songwriting and producing, commencing a series of essential R&B singles for the likes of the S.O.S Band, Cherrelle, Cheryl Lynn, Alexander O’Neal and others.
In 1986 they began their now legendary association with Janet Jackson, producing the Grammy Award winning LP _Control_, the first of many career defining efforts over the next three decades. In addition, they have crafted classics for the likes of Force M.D.’s, Sounds of Blackness, New Edition, Human League, George Michael, Usher, and Mary J. Blige. In their lecture at the 2016 Red Bull Music Academy, Jam & Lewis recalled their formative Minneapolis years and revealed some of the secrets behind making hit records and staying relevant.
I was wondering was Jesse going to be there, he was! <blockquote class="twitter-tweet" data-lang="en"><p lang="en" dir="ltr">Morris Day and The Time still got it! <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/GRAMMYs?src=hash">#GRAMMYs</a> <a href="https://t.co/1v2gjTViYz">pic.twitter.com/1v2gjTViYz</a></p>— EntertainmentTonight (@etnow) <a href="https://twitter.com/etnow/status/830989718460305408">February 13, 2017</a></blockquote>
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<blockquote class="twitter-tweet" data-lang="en"><p lang="en" dir="ltr">Morris Day mirror check & audience doing the Jungle Love shuffle may be the best thing of 2017. <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/GRAMMYs?src=hash">#GRAMMYs</a> <a href="https://t.co/JzvYGzgMKS">pic.twitter.com/JzvYGzgMKS</a></p>— David Poller (@PollerPhoto) <a href="https://twitter.com/PollerPhoto/status/830993531321741312">February 13, 2017</a></blockquote>
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