Robert Christgau: Dean of American Rock Critics

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The Time

  • The Time [Warner Bros., 1981] B+
  • What Time Is It? [Warner Bros., 1982] A-
  • Ice Cream Castle [Warner Bros., 1984] B+
  • Pandemonium [Paisley Park, 1990] **

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Consumer Guide Reviews:

The Time [Warner Bros., 1981]
The Bugs-Bunny-gets-down voice that's been a funk staple since the Ohio Players is death on ballads--cf. Slave, Rick James. These Princeoid punks are slyer--"Oh Baby" can pass as a mock seduction in the manner of "Cool," which is a mock boast, though I wouldn't be sure about "The Stick" (mock metaphor?). And that's only side two. But it's also half the tracks, and while the others are fun, I wouldn't call them funny--especially the ballad. B+

What Time Is It? [Warner Bros., 1982]
"Wild and Loose" pops wilder and looser than anything they've cut, and their dogging-around jive is wilder and looser still--on "The Walk," Morris Day does an outrageous burlesque of Prince as pussy-stalking youngblood, an inside version of one of the cutesy-pie jokes the little boss plays on himself to prove he's human. The slow "Gigolos Get Lonely Too" is Princelike, too--Morris doesn't approach that patented love-man croon, but he does induce you to take a ridiculous conceit literally. And then there are three great grooves. A-

Ice Cream Castle [Warner Bros., 1984]
This is certainly the most "conceptual" of the three Morris Day showcases, but "Jungle Love" certainly digs as deep a pocket as "Cool" or "The Walk," and the two spoken-word tracks are outrageous, weird, and waggish enough to hold up against Morris's dubious (mock?) confessional ballads on What Time Is It? They may well devolve into a comedy act, but for now it's just as well that the holes in the player Day plays (is?) gape as wide as possible. B+

Pandemonium [Paisley Park, 1990]
not enough concept/too much band ("Skillet," "Chocolate," "Pandemonium") **