Prince and the Time Give Birth to Musical Twins
Twins account for about three in 100 births in the United States. In terms of Prince songwriting, such a double blessing happened at least once - with 1990's "My Summertime Thang" and "The Latest Fashion."
The two songs - from the Time's comeback album Pandemonium and Prince's Graffiti Bridge soundtrack, respectively - feature slightly differently arrangements of the exact same backing track, but with different lyrics and melody.
The gestation process took nearly seven years. According to Prince Vault, Prince and Morris Day recorded the initial tracks for "My Summertime Thing" on March 27, 1983, while on a two-day break from the 1999 tour. (The 15-minute comedic oddity "Cloreen Bacon Skin" was recorded by the duo that same day.)
"'My Summertime Thang' started out as another bass and drum groove," Day told us in 2017. "'The Latest Fashion' was Prince's concept, 100 percent. Yeah, I'm not sure about that. But 'My Summertime Thang' was the result of another late-night jam session. That was a nice, serious groove."
"My Summertime Thang" was considered for, but ultimately not included on the TIme's 1984 album Ice Cream Castle. Day left to launch a solo career the following year, and the group remained dormant until Prince decided to create Graffiti Bridge, a film sequel to Purple Rain.
Day and Prince originally planned to record a new Time album in the same way they had made the previous three - without the other members of the group. Together the duo recorded an 11-track album entitled Corporate World, which featured an updated version of "My Summertime Thang" and an early version of a song called "The Latest Fashion," which at that point was not using the same music as "Summertime."
(The album also features what Prince Vault labels an "instrumental continuation" of the track entitled "Rollerskate," so somewhere in the vault there's a triplet lurking about!)
However, Prince and the Time's record label Warner Brothers insisted on having the other now-famous members of the TIme -- including Jimmy Jam, Terry Lewis, Jesse Johnson and Monte Moir - actually contribute to the new album. Three Corporate World tracks - including "My Summertime Thing" -- made their way onto the resulting group album, which was renamed Pandemonium.
Four other Day / Prince Corporate World tracks were moved over to the Graffiti Bridge soundtrack, including "The Latest Fashion," which had its original music stripped and replaced with a version that matched the DNA of "My Summertime Thang" so closely that even its parents probably couldn't tell it apart.
You're not supposed to pick a favorite child, but since we're not the parents it is pretty easy to say that "My Summertime Thang" is the superior song. It's a more fully realized composition that matches a powerful groove with a sweet, upbeat tale of love and ends Pandemonium on an impressively high note.
Although its completely different lyrics and melody are nearly as impressive as its sibling - and it's great to hear Day and Prince trade verses - after a while "The Latest Fashion" turns into less of an actual song and more into something resembling the second half of one of Prince's extended 12" remixes from the mid-'80s.
Everybody gets a little moment in the spotlight, including an extended chant for Jimmy Jam, a couple of rap verses from Prince and a rundown of all of Morris' famous dances. It's fun, but inessential - like something meant to be played during the final credits of a movie after almost everybody has left.
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