In the almost-10 years since we started Jheri Curl June, I’ve learned to keep an eye out in the record store for potential discoveries in the Jheri Curlaverse. Sometimes, this habit pays off–as in the case of 2018 JCJ honoree Georgio. But sometimes, even the most promising-looking record can fail to live up to expectations.
This was the case when, back home in Michigan two summers ago, I came across Confess It Baby, the 1985 sophomore album by Prime Time. “Promising-looking” didn’t even begin to describe it: Posed in front of the skyline backdrop from a local public access talk show, dressed in the finest selections from the Steve Harvey menswear line, the motley crew assembled on the album cover (see below) looked like they stepped out of a production of Guys and Dolls with a cast comprised entirely by the lineups of the Whispers and DeBarge. This–combined with a tracklist full of suggestive song titles like “What’s That You Slipped Into My Wine,” “Sex-o-logical,” and “Baby Don’t Break My Back“–basically put my expectations through the roof.
Likely because of these sky-high expectations, I was underwhelmed when I got home and gave Confess It Baby a spin. It isn’t a terrible record, by any means, and certainly not below par for Jheri Curl June; remember, this is coming from someone who counts discovering Georgio as a success. But it was generic enough that I’d all but forgotten about Prime Time until this Jheri Curl June rolled around and I remembered, “Oh yeah, what about that one record by the goofy-ass Whispers/DeBarge knock-offs?”
All of which is to say, I have good news and bad news about today’s JCJ pick. The bad news is, Confess It Baby isn’t officially streaming, and while we’ve included some YouTube-only tracks in past years, I can’t be bothered doing it for Prime Time. Which brings me to the good news: the group’s 1984 debut album Flying High is streaming, and it’s actually a damn sight better than Confess It Baby.
Don’t get me wrong, it’s also hilarious. The group shot on the back cover (see above) is almost as goofy as the one on Confess It Baby, except this time the assorted Whispers and DeBarge castoffs are in a production of The Outsiders. Meanwhile, lead singer Jimmy Hamilton kicks off closing track “Anytime is Prime Time (Theme Song)”–yes, Prime Time end their debut album with a song about themselves–by yelling, “What time is it?” as if that catchphrase didn’t already very clearly belong to Morris Day of the Time. But the electro-lite groove and sunny melody ensure that you leave with a smile on your face, even if you don’t have as overdeveloped sense of irony as yours truly.
Anytime is Prime Time to listen to Prime Time… and the rest of the artists on these playlists: