Morris Day and The Time are back, but now they’re called The Original 7ven. Pushed into using the new group name for whatever legal reasons that existed was a tough decision, but what some may see as a setback, The Original 7ven sees as a fresh start. While we haven’t been made privy to the reasoning, insiders speculate that members of The Time wanted to make the album a full-on Time album without Prince‘s involvement and the end result was Prince refusing to let them use the name. Regardless of the truth, the resulting CD entitled Condensate is exactly what you’d expect without the Purple One’s blessing and that is actually a good thing.
Getting an advanced copy of the new album was an amazing treat after literally years of waiting. Like everyone else, we got the samples that were posted on Amazon.com and we’re happy to say that those audio samples don’t do the album any justice. We are so glad that the initial clips we received from Amazon were not good representations of the true feel of the songs, but a tad bummed that people may gather opinions based on those poorly crafted clips. Bad Amazon! What transpires is 14 tracks of pure funky goodness and a couple filler segue tracks (O7ven Intro & O7ven Press Conference) filled with the tongue in cheek humor you’ve grown to love from the boys (Wrecka Stow style).
The Minneapolis pop influence is evident on this album with the opening track of Strawberry Lake, but that’s the only song where you’ll hear anything that even remotely sounds Prince influenced. The rest dabbles in sounds and influences that have been carried over from the members solo projects. The slow ballad Lifestyle is reminiscent of Pandemonium‘s Donald Trump Black Version, as does the closing track GoHomeToYoMan. Rocker song Sick calls back to Pandemonium‘s Skillet, complete with Jesse Johnson‘s thumbprint from the rocking opening chords that he perfected with Bare My Naked Soul. All of that being said, the members brought in their strengths from their hiatus and laid it to bare in a collection of truly great sounding songs that all have commercial potential in some form or fashion.
The funk sensibilities are all over the map with tunes like Role Play that hearken to a minimalist sound not heard since Madame X‘s Just That Type of Girl. #Trending is the first single off the album that should easily find a home in the Top 40 if it gets marketed correctly. The droning single note keyboard stabs that The Time made famous back in the days of Ice Cream Castles is still a main ingredient in the songs. As are the sporadic riffs from Monte Moir and Terry Lewis that polish off edges in a way that only they can.
The boys are back to their strange quirky songs like If I Was Yo Man which is comfortably suited for a 90’s type medium groove somehow glued together with drum fills. But that doesn’t keep them from staying current sounding with songs such as Cadillac that are similar to the drum-centrific Drop It Like Its Hot. One Step is yet another track where they take a chance to try something different with a rockier sound courtesy of Jesse’s amazing solos and Condensate (the meaning of which we’ll let you discover on your own) is a picture perfect song that showcases the funkiness of The Original 7ven that everyone has come to expect. Even though it seems as if it’s outside of their circle of comfort in some parts, they still shine like a freshly waxed limousine no matter what they attempt.
All of this being said, fans of the The Time will be very satisfied with this album even more so than they were with Pandemonium which is saying quite a bit. Even though this album is missing its “Chocolate“, Condensate falls right in line with Pandemonium in the succession of sound for The Time. The individual strength of its members is more evident on this album that it has been in the past and a nod to acknowledge that the sum is not greater than the parts. Condensate makes sure that it goes out of its way to itch the scratch of their fans by giving all of their sounds an excellent presentation and even adding in ingredients to weave in the sound and feel of the solo projects that preceded it.
We’re giving Condensate a 4.5 out of 5 afros, because it’s a great representation of the Minneapolis funk and considering the direction this album could have taken, it really does a phenomenal job at meeting our expectations. You won’t find a better Minneapolis-Funk album than this and we can only hope that the follow up is not two decades away as this one was. The Original 7ven have given us an album that was a long time in the making and actually pretty darn close to being worth the wait. It hits the streets October 18th, 2011.