By: Jaime’ En Fuego
It pays to be bad to the funny bone!
Sure it’s like shooting fish in a barrel to get our hearts behind the wide-eyes, would-be hero or to despise the senseless villain with seemingly no redeemable qualities, however when the proverbial ‘bad guy’ adds a healthy dose of humor to their game it often throws a monkey wrench into the reaction of who we choose to root for. That very dynamic is responsible for people cheering on the Joker over his spoiled brat, bat boy vanquisher or the wise-cracking killer Freddy Krueger instead of his packs of hapless victims, because when a character can ride that thin line between being humorous rather than hated they tend to steal the show entirely. It’s exactly what transpires during 1984’s hit theatrical musical Purple Rain where the film’s prissy protagonist Prince, in the days before he went all goofy on us and started referring to himself as a symbol, is routinely upstaged throughout the proceedings by his on-screen rivals and real life proteges MORRIS DAY AND THE TIME. Whereas Revolution leader ‘The Kid’ lives up to his nickname by coming off as both immature and temperamental, THE TIME continually exude an essence of cool confidence that borders on amusing arrogance which works as the perfect nemesis counterbalance and that interplay is likely one of the main reasons why Purple Rain fared some much better than all of the motion picture endeavors that Prince produced in the years afterwards.
Funny thing is that the healthy rivalry amongst the two groups showcased during the movie was actually just another example of art imitating life since a friendly competition between the fellow Minnesota natives was nothing new. Despite THE TIME coming together at the behest of Prince following his recommendation of pairing childhood friend Morris Day on vocals with local guitarist Jesse Johnson and the keys/rhythm section of another Minneapolis group Flyte Time, they honed their funk rock live show so well that apparently Morris Day and the boys were one of the few acts that his purple royalty was fearful to follow up at a concert. Their early singles definitely showed everyone ‘What Time It Was’ by hitting the Top Ten of the Billboard R&B charts with “Cool,” “Get Up” and “777-9311,” which was sampled by 2 Pac on his multi-platinum double album All Eyez On Me. Then came their iconic performance numbers in Purple Rain for “The Bird” and their biggest hit “Jungle Love,” that along with an undeniable onscreen comedic chemistry courtesy of Morris Day and his cohort Jerome Benton, a bodyguard/sidekick who effectively served as the Flava Flav to Morris’ Chuck D, and suddenly the group was shot up into superstardom. Unfortunately, savoring the moment wasn’t quite as sweet since they had already disbanded by the time that motion picture began conquering theaters and save for a brief reunion on 1990’s Pandemonium, an album who’s release coincided with the box office bomb Purple Rain sequel Graffiti Bridge, they stayed largely off the radar until after the turn of the century. Yet the memories they had ingrained into the public’s consciousness would not fade away so easily.
One of the most lasting impressions was made on a few Jersey dudes named Jay and Silent Bob, who sprung from the mind of acclaimed comedic director Kevin Smith, and proceeded to dub THE TIME the “Greatest Band In the World,” bust out an impromptu rap version of “Jungle Love” and invite the band to perform during the closing credits of the duo’s namesake movie in 2001 for everyone’s viewing pleasure here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9O3vC8tDj1M. The spotlight during the hit film either jump started things or at least got the wheels back in motion a bit faster because soon after Morris Day released a few new tracks and high profile performances soon followed at the 50th Annual Grammy Awards along with a residency at The Flamingo in Sin City, Las Vegas. The funkasaurus maximus continues to bring the heat to this very day busting off rollicking rock numbers, their trademark blend of humor and even a softer side at times, the latter two of which can be heard on “Gigolos Get Lonely Too,” a beautiful bit of balladry that reminds us all that even bad boys don’t have to be so rough around all the edges!
MORRIS DAY AND THE TIME think they wanna know ya and present your opportunity this Saturday evening at Wild Horse Pass Casino in Chandler at 8pm.
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