How the h*ll did I miss this? All I need to find out is that Vanity 6 reunited and my head will more than likely explode! For someone who considers himself such a huge music geek, I am a bit embarrassed and a lot ashamed to say that I had no idea that two—- TWO!——celebrated acts from Prince’s unmatched stable of artists released new music in the past year. Will people still be checking for Lil Wayne’s Young Money marquee acts decades from now? Nicki? Drake?
An afternoon of perfectly innocent web surfing quickly turned into the discovery that I somehow had no idea that The Time and The Family, who because of Prince endorsed legal restraints are now known as The Original 7ven and fDeluxe respectively, released new albums last fall. More impressive that this material exists is the fact that both groups feature all of the original members!—- no 2.0 replacements, no random people brought in simply to “complete” the line-up*.
Usually reunions of this sort are, for fans, simply an exercise in nostalgia with no real interest in hearing any of “the new stuff”. However, what is most surprising about The Time’s (I refuse to call them that other name) new album Condensate so far for me as I listen to it while I write this piece is how d*mn good it is! The group has somehow pulled off the difficult hat trick of staying true to their classic sound while making it current at the same time. Lead single “#Trendin” could have come off as desperate with all its talk of Twitter ‘n’ blogs, but it’s a undeniable jam that shames most of what passes for R&B on the radio right now.
The hardest of jam sessions seem to have given birth to tracks like “Strawberry Lake”, “Condensate” (these dudes don’t sweat, they “condensate”) and “Cadillac” while the fellas flex their New Wave/Rock muscles on funkdified smokers like “One Step” and “Toast To The Party Girl”. Not content to simply update sounds that they were known for in the 80s, they successfully rock a very right now pop vibe with “Hey Yo”, a song that will not get props from radio because its sung by adults and not pouty pinups of the teenage variety.
I’m heaping all of this praise on the album and yet, Condensate apparently did not sell well nor did it yield any hits. Unfortunately, there doesn’t seem to be a place in today’s music biz for grown men in suits who play instruments and create undeniable jams that will eventually be sampled or copied by their lesser peers. I mean, various members of The Time have been responsible for some pretty significant moments in R&B and Pop from the last 25 years including, but certainly not limited to, Mary J.‘s “No More Drama”, #1 singles for Usher and Mariah Carey and the entire part of Janet Jackson’s career that matters.
So, do yourself a favor and jump into the Ambassadors of Cool doing their thing in the video for “#Trendin”, sample a few of the other tracks below and then once you’re done groovin’, swing by iTunes or Amazon and buy the album.
* After further research, I learned that Jesse Johnson has since left the group. Ugh… there is always one.
OK, I admittedly will not be as breathless in my praise for the album from The Family, aka fDeluxe, but still… how effing cool is that all of the original members from the group reunited (minus Jerome who is busy holding up Morris Day’s mirror onstage) and released a new album??? While The Family isn’t as well known as The Time, they managed to rack up minor hits with “Screams of Passsion” and “High Fashion” and their mainstream claim to fame is having recorded the original version of Sinead O’Connor’s monster re-make of “Nothing Compares 2 U”.
Although it’s been more than 25 years(!) since the release of their debut and yes it was Prince who basically wrote and produced the whole thing, The Family seems to have sonically picked up where they left off in 1985 with new tracks like “Drummers and Healers”, “Gas Light” and “When You Go”. While they too seem to have updated their sound, The Family’s jazzier sonic template is more like an after hours comedown to the The Time’s up all night party soundtrack jams.
Sample selections from Gaslight below and check out remixes of songs from the new album here before diving into the 80s green screen classic that is their pajama clad video for “Screams of Passion”. Again, swing by iTunes or Amazon and show a lil’ love by purchasing the album.
fDeluxe’s website: http://www.fdeluxe.com/index2.php#/home/
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