Thursday, June 26, 2008

It's Time in Vegas

The Time has come again

After reuniting for the Grammys, the 1980s Minneapolis hitmakers are doing Vegas and a new album.

By JON BREAM, Minneapolis Star Tribune
Last update: June 21, 2008 - 9:58 AM

Who first had the idea -- Tina Turner or the Time -- to use the 50th annual Grammy Awards to launch a comeback?

Well, the Time's reunion was batted around last fall. "There was a conference call," recalled keyboardist Monte Moir. Then bandmate Jimmy Jam mentioned the idea to the CEO of the Recording Academy, which stages the Grammys.

Before you could say "What time is it?" the seven original members reunited Feb. 10 after 18 years apart to perform with Rihanna on the Grammys. That brought a call from a Las Vegas promoter and, on Tuesday, the Time will begin a three-week engagement at the Flamingo Hotel.

While the comeback isn't as high-profile as Turner's fall arena tour after an eight-year retirement, it is heartening for fans of one of the tightest, funkiest and most fun R&B bands of the 1980s.

"We're getting along great," drummer Jellybean Johnson said last week while shopping for cymbals at the Guitar Center in Hollywood. "These guys are my brothers."

Why a reunion now?

"It's like Terry [Lewis] is telling all the interviewers: 'It's just time,'" said Johnson, who spent the past three weeks rehearsing in Los Angeles, where the other members live; only Johnson and Moir still live in the Twin Cities.

The project is being spearheaded by Lewis -- the group's bassist, Jam's partner in the Grammy-winning Flyte Tyme production team and "the consummate businessman," said Johnson. Lewis and frontman Morris Day cut the deal with the Flamingo.

The Time is actually the replacement for this 15-show engagement at a 700-seat showroom. Toni Braxton has been the longtime attraction there, but became ill.

The group is getting a " handsome" fee, Johnson said -- perhaps its biggest payday ever.

'Not a normal band'

This isn't just a dash for reunion cash. The Time is about three-fourths finished with a new album that could be available in the fall. One or two new numbers might sneak into the group's 90-minute Vegas set.

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