Jheri Curl June: The Time’s “Jerk Out”

Well, here we are: the last day of Jheri Curl June, and I don’t think there could be a better band to go out with than the greatest band in the world, the muthafuckin’ Time. Today’s selection, “Jerk Out,” comes from the earliest of the Time’s many reunion albums, 1990’s  Pandemonium: their first release as a group since 1984’s Ice Cream Castle, and the first time the supremely talented live band were allowed to play their own instruments on record. Like Full Force, the Time during this period represented a transitional moment, bridging the last gasps of jheri curl with the rise of New Jack Swing: just check out singer Morris Day’s hair in the video below, an unholy combination of a flat-top and a pompadour with a tiny rat-tail in the back that would never have passed muster in the first half of the ’80s. But the song itself dates from 1981, when ghostwriter Prince recorded a demo for the band’s second and greatest album, What Time is It? In a way, then, we’re taking “Jheri Curl June” full circle, with a song from the golden age of one of the genre’s greatest innovators, brushed off and updated by his most accomplished disciples to mark the end of an era.

And what a way to go out: “Jerk Out” isn’t just a standout track on Pandemonium, it’s one of the best jheri curl songs ever. It perfectly captures both the Time’s smooth-as-silk funkiness and Day’s ludicrous persona of a squawk-laughing pimp daddy who coordinates the color of his suit with the color of his BMW (though not, it must be said, in the video, which is maddening if you’re even the slightest bit OCD). The song’s glossy production demonstrates all the tricks Jimmy Jam and Terry Lewis learned during their (then) seven years as hitmaking producers for the likes of Janet Jackson and the Human League. The video, too, has everything a Time fan could possibly ask for: Morris preening in a selection of smoking jackets, a bewildering cameo by a Jack Nicholson impersonator in a Batman T-shirt, and of course, the obligatory post-48 Hrs. scene of Jesse Johnson playing one of his sexy solahs in a country and western bar while angry rednecks pelt the stage with beer bottles. And yes, of course, Jerome brings Morris a mirror before it’s all over.

So there we have it: the end of Jheri Curl June. There are a lot of great jheri curl artists we have yet to cover, and we both had a lot of fun doing this, so I’m happy to announce that we’ll be doing it all over again next year. Yep, you heard it here first: I’m committed to keeping this blog up and running for at least another year, if only to give myself an excuse to spend another month writing about jheri curl music next summer. In the meantime, we hope you’ve enjoyed this maiden voyage of the S.S. Jheri Curl. Check out the now-finished Spotify playlist after the jump, and we’ll see you again next summer! (Or…you know, later this week, since we do post other things throughout the year. Seriously, don’t wait a whole year before coming back to this blog.)


3 responses to “Jheri Curl June: The Time’s “Jerk Out””

  1. Classified Avatar

    I love it! The Time are the best and unfortunately, the black bands were done in by this time.

    1. Zach Avatar

      That is a really good point–part of that transition from funk to New Jack Swing, hip-hop, etc. also meant a shift from bands with live instrumentation to mostly studio-based production. And the Time always sounded best as a live band.

  2. […] our second-ever JCJ post back in 2014, and we’ve also considered his work both as a member of the Time and as the producer of late-’80s Minneapolis funk-rockers dáKRASH. But we’ve never […]

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