In 1989, Prince, Morris Day and Jerome Benton reconvened to start work on a new album by The Time. None of the other original members of the band had anything to do with the project which was completed and slated for release on November 14th of that year. The album was shelved at the insistence of Warner Bros., who were not willing to back Prince's next movie project, the colossal bomb Graffiti Bridge', unless the original seven members of The Time were involved in both the film and their new album.
So in came Jellybean Johnson, Monte Moir and the songwriting/production masterminds that are Jimmy Jam and Terry Lewis for a full blown reunion of The Time. Although most of the "Corporate World" tracks have since been released in one form or another, the subsequent album, "Pandemonium", was quite different from this unreleased project. It was also far superior as for the first time the other band members legitimately were allowed to include tracks they produced and wrote on a Time album. The first three releases by the band were, for all intents and purposes, written and recorded by Prince with Morris Day and various band members adding vocals over his finished tracks. "Pandemonium" succeeded with the mix of old school Prince tracks and material recorded, written and produced solely by the band.
So that takes us back to the unreleased "Corporate World". Though not a bad album, I actually like most of the songs, it just does not feel like an album by The Time. The fresh funk of the earlier Time material is missing here, replaced by the electronic bass and beats Prince had fallen in love with during this period. As a whole, the album sounds stale, like a band trying to recreate the old bad-ass spunk they used to have and falling flat. That was corrected by the time "Pandemonium" came out, a worthy addition to The Time's sadly not deep enough catalog.
As far as this release, the 4DaFunk label has again produced a sparkling version for Prince and Time fans to enjoy. The sound is damn near official release quality, and this is the entire unreleased album from start to finish. Apart from cleaning up some of the glitches in the original circulating tapes, the only real change here is they have melded the unreleased "extended portion" of "My Summertime Thang" with the album track, to make for an over eleven minute "extended" version, whereas the true version of the song on "Corporate World" was 7:14. It's the only real liberty taken here and it does not detract from the release, although I am sure some purists would prefer this had been done as a bonus track after the proper album finishes.
As a collector of Prince's unreleased catalog, I always get excited when a complete unreleased album sees the light of day, even when it comes to associated artists, as he is normally all over their projects as well. Although I prefer "Pandemonium" over this, and "Corporate World" would have went down as the weakest album in The Time's catalog, it's still a worthy listen and a must have for fans of The Time and Prince. Only one song amongst its ten tracks is the same as it was released, meaning you have nine songs that have either never been officially released, or appear here in alternate versions, making it a must have for collectors of the Minneapolis Sound, especially in this pristine sound quality. A track-by track rundown follows.
"Murph Drag" - The album opens with this funky unreleased tune, introducing another new dance courtesy of Morris Day. A chicken scratch guitar line runs throughout the song and samples of Morris yelling 'What time is it?', along with samples from other classics from The Time, repeat the entire song. The 'fellas I'm back, the aristocratic black' chant was re-used on the title track for "Pandemonium". Prince did end up semi-releasing this song by including an altered version from this one in an NPG Ahdio Show when his NPG Music Club was still active.
"9 Lives" - Originally slated to be the first single from "Corporate World", but remains unreleased to this day. A mid-tempo rock track with Morris rapping the vocals while female backing vocals (possibly Margaret Cox?) sing the chorus. The song was later offered to Prince's former dancer Cat for consideration for her album, which also never saw the light of day.
"Donald Trump (Black Version)" - This song wound up on "Pandemonium" but this is a slightly alternate version, just not as polished as the released version. Prince can clearly be heard on backing vocals, as he often was on tracks by The Time.
"Love Machine" - This song ended up on Prince's "Graffiti Bridge" soundtrack, albeit heavily edited. This version is about 90 seconds longer, clocking in at just over five minutes long.
"Data Bank" - Another track that made it to "Pandemonium", but again this is an alternate version. The basic recording is the same as the released version, this again is just not as finished. The Time's version however is a huge letdown if you've heard Prince's original 1986 version, a funny, loose, funky classic. All the funk was sapped out of this over-produced version.
"Shake!" - Another song that ended up on Prince's "Graffiti Bridge" album. Much like "Love Machine", the same recording was used, it was just edited down for release. This version is about 50 seconds longer.
"Corporate World" - The last of the songs from this album that has yet to be released. Somewhat simplistic lyrics, but oddly the sentiment of the song seems to run along the same ideas expressed by Janet Jackson on a number of tracks on 1989's "Rhythm Nation" album. A rather generic attempt at a dance track, good call burying this one in the vault.
"The Latest Fashion" - Unlike the other tracks that wound up on "Graffiti Bridge", this is a completely different version. This is an alternate vocal, more of a back and forth with the woman Morris is dumping, and the music is entirely different as well. The song was completely re-recorded for the movie as a duet between Prince and The Time, with Prince deciding to re-use the music from "My Summertime Thang" to back it all.
"Release It" - The only "Corporate World" track that does not differ from the released version. This is the same as what was used on "Graffiti Bridge", but a great, funk workout nonetheless.
"My Summertime Thang" - Again, this is the basic song used on "Pandemonium", but this is slightly longer with some different parts that were cut out or changed including dialogue that wound up in the "Graffiti Bridge" movie. As I mentioned above, 4DaFunk has added the also unreleased 'extended portion' to this song to make for an over eleven minute version, the only liberty they took with any of the songs here, other than cleaning them up for better sound quality.