Categories
Ice Cream Castle, 1984 Roundup Posts

Roundup: Ice Cream Castle, 1984

Can you believe that the last time we had a proper album roundup it was for 1999, way back in March of 2020? On second thought, don’t answer that. I know my snail’s pace as a writer is a recurring theme in these updates, and at this point, I’m not even apologizing for it; you know what you signed up for. Still, it feels good to have another milestone in the rearview mirror, even if there’s still an awful lot of road ahead of us.

It may or may not have been evident from my individual posts, but Ice Cream Castle is an album I’m pretty ambivalent about; it has some undeniably classic tracks, to be sure, but it’s a clear step down from the highs of What Time is It? (though, to be fair, what isn’t?). With this in mind, to the Time diehards who will likely quibble with the song rankings below, I apologize in advance:

6. “Chili Sauce I mean, no surprises here. Contrary to whatever reputation I might have acquired, I actually have a pretty high tolerance for Morris Day’s schtick; but this track pushes that tolerance to the limits, spreading an amusing monologue from the Purple Rain movie impossibly thin over damn near six minutes. Throw in Prince’s Mickey Rooney-caliber “Chinese waiter” voice, and you’ve got a strong contender for the worst Time track ever. But you know what? I still don’t skip this song when I play the album; I guess Novi Novog’s viola solo is just that bewitching.

5. “My Drawers Now here’s where I might catch some flack. This isn’t a bad song by any means; after the two movie numbers, it’s arguably the album’s strongest contender for a “classic” Time track. But the formula is starting to get stale, and who wants stale drawers?

4. “Ice Cream Castles The definition of “points for effort.” I would never try to argue that “Ice Cream Castles” is a more quintessential Time song than “My Drawers”; but three albums in and with half of the original lineup scattered to the four winds, I guess I’m more intrigued by their missed potential for experimentation. Imagine a whole album of the Time trying to sound like the Fixx; it may not have been great, but it would have been a hell of a lot more interesting than “The Oak Tree”!

3. “The Bird Speaking of “The Oak Tree,” here’s Morris and company making it preemptively obsolete, and almost blowing the Revolution off the stage to boot. As iconic as this performance is, however, the main thing it does for me is remind me what a drag it is that we never got an official Time live album. Even on their last legs as a group, with permanently crippled morale, they still tear the roof off the sucker; but there are probably 10 other songs I’d rather have heard them play while they were at the peak of their powers.

2. “If the Kid Can’t Make You Come My obligatory dark horse pick. We all know how I feel about Time ballads not called “Gigolos Get Lonely Too,” but this one took me by surprise with the sheer pleasure of hearing Prince and Jesse groove together on the instrumental. If we didn’t also have to hear Morris simulating orgasm, this may have even ended up as my favorite cut on the album… but, well, you can’t always get what you want.

1. “Jungle Love Look, I can’t always be an iconoclast. I’m a simple man at heart, which means that when this comes on in the grocery store, I’m doing the dance in my spirit if not in my body. The Time may have been on life support when they put out “Jungle Love”; but what better way to go out?

A little quick math, before we go: I averaged 1,703 words per song on my Ice Cream Castle posts, which means at the very least that I had more to say about this album than either What Time is It? (1,377 words average) or The Time (a mere 833 words average). Will I break this record with Pandemonium? We’ll find out, eventually; but for now, it’s back to the Purple Rain-era ephemera with a track I, at least, have been looking forward to for a while. Yes, I’m obviously talking about “Sugar Walls.” Until then, adieu!

By Zachary Hoskins

Recovering academic. Music writing at Slant, Spectrum Culture, and elsewhere. I also do podcasts with my little sister as Dystopian Dance Party.

4 replies on “Roundup: Ice Cream Castle, 1984”

There must be something in the water.. I’m finding myself mostly agreeing with you! 😉

Personally, I’d have Ice Cream Castles and Chili Sauce end ex equo in 7th place, but that’s a minor quibble. The only thing I object to is that you call If The Kid Can’t Make You Come a ballad. Sure, it’s slow, but it’s a slow Funk track for dancing (and not slow dancing or whatever you do at the school dance with your puppy love). This might be because I don’t really listen to the first couple of minutes of the track and in my mind it speeds up considerably (although I never actually checked the BPM at start and end) and it’s a slammin’ track. And yes, it would be much improved without the faux sex sounds, as is the case with many a Prince song.

Thanks for continuing, whatever the speed! Where there’s movement, there’s life. (and all the other comments and ideas about how you could develop (and monetize) this writing still stand. Keep talking to Duane until you’re both going to convince the estate to release a song review companion book to the studio sessions books. (not that the estate releases Duane’s books, but that’s besides the point, y’know!)

I’m ready for the next chapter, by the way. No pressure. 🙂

You make a good point about “Kid” not technically being a ballad, which is probably 80% of why I actually like it!

Thanks as always for your support–I’m pretty eager to get out of Purple Rain and into some comparatively less well-trodden territory! Still a ways to go, but the end is in sight. 🙂

Couldn’t agree with this roundup…less! LOL Coming as it did right smack in the midst of Purple Rain mania (which was when I got on board fully with all things Prince), it has a soft spot in my heart and definitely stands the test of Time (duh, had to). Here’s my totally unwarranted round up:

– If The Kid Can’t Make You Come
Meh. A throw away ballad. Plus it just meanders and goes on and on. And the bad edit job when the the tempo speeds up is just sloppy, and not in a good way.

– Chili Sauce
Sorry, this shit is funny to me. Definitely filler, but I was so taken with the Morris character when this came out and it seemed that everyone was in on the joke back then, because they were. So yeah, nostalgia.

– Ice Cream Castles
I’ve come to a renewed appreciation of this track after hearing the initial Prince/Morris/Jesse bootleg recording floating around. Fascinating to hear the bedrock track they built on to make the final version. And Jesse’s almost country style riffs and fills that compliment the vocal melody is just awesome.

– My Drawers
Total banger and an essential deep cut. Love how effortless it sounds. Think we’re in agreement here.

– Jungle Love
Essential. Prince was right to open up composition duties to Jesse, the bass line rips, the ‘oh-wee, oh-wee, oh’s’, and when the claps drop in during the guitar solo. Who can resist this?

– The Bird
The manic peaks this track reaches towards the end is simply incredible. Whoever heard funk like this? This is where my obsession with keyboards and synthesizers began.

There you go. Definitely one of my go to Time albums. Also love Apollonia 6’s album, so there. But that’s a comment for another post. 😉

After Arno’s and my unprecedented agreement, we needed your dissent to restore balance to the universe! Truthfully, I think you make some good points (and my hotter takes are always meant more to engender discussion than to make any kind of absolute judgments). I also think my lukewarm feelings about Ice Cream Castle are colored by how much behind-the-scenes knowledge we now have about the Time’s dysfunction during this phase; I think there’s another interpretation–which contemporary listeners were more likely to have had during “Purple Reign mania”–that it’s a really interesting broadening of their sonic palette. Also appreciate your willingness to succumb to a Time pun, really can’t state enough how hard it is to avoid using the word too much when you’re writing about this band.

Leave a Reply to Zach Cancel reply

%d bloggers like this: