Warner Bros. Records
It was jazz, but wasn’t
Much of the material for Times Squared had been recorded throughout 1985 and 1986 at Prince’s Galpin Blvd. home studio. The work was finished off in 1988 at Paisley Park Studios, forming a collection intended for release in late 1989 as 24, the third album of Prince’s jazz side-project Madhouse. But at Prince’s request the work evolved into Times Squared, the debut solo album for Eric Leeds. The eight Madhouse tracks were consequently renamed. Prince either writing or co-writing each track on the album (with the exception of Kenya, and Lines – later additions) he also plays drums on most.
Prince first met Eric in 1984, introduced by his brother, Alan Leeds who was Prince’s tour manager since 1983 as well as President of Paisley Park Records. Prince immediately enlisted Eric, a maestro saxophonist, for his new project The Family and in 1985 Eric Leeds joined Prince’s band the Revolution for their Purple Rain Tour. Eric Leeds also introduced Prince to jazz and was a heavy influence on the Sign O’ The Times Tour in 1987, out of this collaboration Madhouse was formed. Eric Leeds remained a full member of Prince’s touring band until 1989. When later asked how did he last so long in Prince’s band, Eric’s answer was simply, “I play an instrument that he never played.”
Eric Leeds released two albums under Paisley Park Records; Times Squared in 1991 was followed by Things Left Unsaid on 23 February 1993. The latter album received just one Prince writing contribution. Prince and Eric’s final collaboration together was with the N.E.W.S. album in 2003.
- Synths, Guitar
- Flute, Sax
- Eric Leeds
- Atlanta Bliss
- Ricky Peterson
- Levi Seacer Jr.
- Sheila E Andorra, Night Owl and Over Night, Every Night
- Prince and Eric Leeds
- Paisley Park Records
- Warner Bros. Records
- Lee Stanford and Dirk Walter
- 30 years, 1 months ago on 19 February 1991
- Running Time
- US Chart Peak
- UK Chart Peak
- Orig. Formats
- Lines (6:30) 2
- Andorra [formally 17] (3:31) 1
- Night Owl [formally 18] (4:00) 1
- Overnight, Every Night [formally 19] (4:10) 1
- Cape Horn [formally 20] (4:10) 3
- Little Rock [formally 21] (3:41) 4
- Easy Does It [formally 22] (2:22) 4
- The Dopamine Rush [formally 23] (7:36) 3
- Kenya [formally 24] (2:40) 5
- Times Squared [formally 25] (5:44) 4
- Once Upon A Time [formally 26] (7:19) 4
1 Written by Prince, Eric Leeds, Sheila E, and Levi Seacer Jr.
2 Written by Eric Leeds Matt Blistan
3 Written by Prince
4 Written by Prince and Eric Leeds
5 Written by Eric Leeds
Times Squared – review
Times Squared is a tricky listen, being a Madhouse project but not quite, as was formed out of the remnants of what was supposed to have been the third album for the series. Yet, like what came to all Prince’s side projects it no longer held his interest. Still, do not underestimate Madhouse’s achievement to hold Prince’s attention to dedicate three albums to a single project, has only been matched by The Time. So as Prince’s focus on Madhouse dwindled, its leftover material was passed to Eric Leeds to reconstitute as he wished and form his very own debut album. Leeds reworked the material at Paisley Park, adding two of his own – Lines, which begins the album with a Moroccan feel, is well produced. The instrumentation remains strong throughout, as the album continues with the vibrant Andorra, Night Owl, Over Night, Every Night – all three are gleaned from 16’s sessions of 30 July 1987. Those sessions are significant, being the first to take place at the newly operational Paisley Park Studios. The latter could easily be mistaken for the older cousin of Xenophopia and the roots of The Rainbow Children. The dainty Cape Horn is from 1988 and sets the low tempo middle section of the album, maintained by the dreamy Little Rock – the best track as well as the oldest, dating from 1985. The next is the soft samba groove Easy Does It, from 1986, with cool guitar embellishment. The Dopamine Rush, from 1988, albeit in the outer rim of leftovers from Madhouse’s sessions is the only track largely in its original form, although originally some 18 minutes longer. The tempo shifts gear with Kenya, Leeds’ second penned track and the album’s fourth from the July 1987 sessions. The title track, having a movie soundtrack feel, is the latest track, albeit from 1988, and therefore the most contemporary sounding of the bunch. The album closes with Once Upon A Time, another from 1987, a quite reflective track as if to bid a fond farewell to the Madhouse era. Times Squared was released on Paisley Park Records in 1991 as Prince and the music-buying world had moved on to hip-hop. Lacking the snappiness of previous Madhouse outings, Times Squared was a casualty to the NPG’s purple haze and at the time of its release and somewhat a ready-made relic of the past, yet it today performs stronger in the second-hand market due to the provenance that it keeps with Prince and the legend of his 1987 catalogue.
Times Squared is rated 3 out of 5 by Goldies Parade.
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