I got this album in college because I had this thing for Jesse Johnson's screeching funk guitar and the Lewis and Jam wall of rhythm. What the first 6 tracks of the Time's 1990 PANDEMONIUM album did to a bunch of post-high school, pre-bar aged alternative rock kids when played through a couple of 500-watt Kenwood speakers was nothing less than a God spell. After PANDEMONIUM no party had officially started until we heard Morris Day shout out his famous "What is time is it?"
What makes PANDEMONIUM such a buried classic is that everyone from fans to critics to passive listeners want to prop it up against other unrelated distractions. The album was released nearly simultaneously with Prince's GRAFFITI BRIDGE (1990), a great album that contained a couple of Time song itself. The backbone of the Time, Terry Lewis & Jimmy Jam, were starting the 90s as the hardest working R&B producer team in the world. But worst of all, the best selling Time album was the watered-down and rushed produced ICE CREAM CASTLES (1984), that had two legit songs by the Time and a whole bunch of filler.
In a way the Time couldn't turn around in 1990 without bumping into categories or comparisons. It is obvious that when the band went into the studio for PANDEMONIUM, they had one thing in mind: make the album that defined what Time it was.
PANDEMONIUM was sexist swagger slapped down time and again by disinterested or disgusted girls. Listen to track 3, "Jerk Out" and you'll hear Morris Day walk the fine line between over-the-top chauvinist and a man afflicted with insecurities. It was funk ("Pandemonium", "Sexy Socialists") with no other-worldly aspirations or regret. It was rock ("Blondie", "Skillet") without the cruelness of that era's white-boy sex- anthems. Best of all PANDEMONIUM was a driving, well executed jam, "My Summertime Thang" is the jam overture to end all jams. The band throws everything they have to keep your body moving throughout the album.
There are some missteps, of course. "Chocolate," "Donald Trump [Black Version]," and "Data Bank" are nowhere near as intriguing as their titles. But "Cooking Class/Skillet," "Dreamland/Pandemonium", and "Summertime Thang" are enough to make this album stand the test of time, no pun really intended.
Day finishes off the album with his car breaking down, he abandons it with some mild expletives, and sets of down the road singing "Kansas City, Here I Come." It is an incredible moment knowing he is leaving the greatest band and party in the world yet there are still knows that greener pastures lay ahead.
(Rest in Peace, Jesse)