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May 26 2017

Jill Jones, one of the best Prince satellite acts

Jill Jones Twitter 07-08-2017 (twitter.com)

 

Update 08/07/2017:

Jill Jones herself read this story.

See her reply at the right.

Jill Jones - Jill Jones advert (pinterest.com)

Jill Jones – Jill Jones advert

Preface

As stated in the articles Prince is victorious (once again) with Sign O’ The Times and Madhouse: Prince and jazz, 1987 was the pinnacle Prince year. Next to the release of the fantastic Madhouse albums and Sign O’ The Times the beautiful debut album by Jill Jones was also released.

Jill Jones

Jill Jones - 1999 Tour (princerecordings.com)

Jill Jones (left) – 1999 Tour

Jill Jones came in touch with music from a very early age. Still young she moved from Ohio to California where she delved deeper into music. When Jill’s mother became Teena Marie’s manager (Teena was Jill’s niece), Teena moved into the Jones-household. Jill and Teena started writing songs together. Jill started to get more and more interested in music and learned the piano and to write songs on her own. In 1980 Teena Marie was the support act for Prince, who had just released Dirty Mind. Jill met Prince as she had just turned 18.

Prince encouraged Jill to sing and kept in touch. In 1982 she was asked to provide background vocals to Prince’s new album 1999 and to appear in videoclips to 1999, Little Red Corvette and Automatic . She also became part of the 1999 Tour, providing background-vocals during Vanity 6’s set and with Prince’s band.

Jill Jones in Purple Rain (prince.org)

Jill Jones in Purple Rain

After the tour she moved to Minneapolis and took part in several recording sessions. Her voice can be heard in multiple projects. In 1984 she played a small part in 1984’s hit-film Purple Rain. She portrayed a waitress at First Avenue.

In 1987 her debut album was released on Prince’s Paisley Park label. In the second half of 1988 Jill Jones went to England to record her planned second Paisley Park album. It was never finished. Several songs were recorded, including a video to the song Boom, Boom (Can’t U Feel The Beat Of My Heart), which was meant to be the first single. The album never made it past the planning-stage. In 1990 Jill Jones played a small part in the Prince film Graffiti Bridge (which was a flop).

The fantastic Prince song She’s Always In My Hair (B-side to the Raspberry Beret single) was written about her.

Jill Jones, the album

Jill Jones - Jill Jones (popsublime.blogspotcom)

Jill Jones – Jill Jones

After years of planning, the solo debut of Jill Jones finally saw the light of day on May 26th 1987, called Jill Jones. It was released on the Paisley Park Records label. The album consisted of songs, which were formerly intended for other projects, songs written specifically for Jill Jones and a cover of the Prince song With You (off the album Prince from 1979), which was recorded without any input from Prince.

The songs on the album were recorded between May 1982 and October 1986. Most of them were originally recorded by Prince himself, with Jill Jones replacing Prince’s vocals later on. Mia Bocca and Baby, You’re A Trip stem from 1982. G-Spot was recorded in 1983, and was considered for use in the Purple Rain movie. All Day, All Night was recorded live, with The Revolution, on Prince´s birthday on June 7th 1984.

In May of 1985 Prince composed the song My Man on acoustic guitar. Prince wrote the song from a woman´s perspective (as he did with a lot of songs, especially for other artists) and joked with engineer Susan Rogers about the fact he sung the song too. It was a good zong and given to Jill Jones. The debut album became real now. In the same month they recorded several other songs for the album, among which Come Elektra Tuesday, Married Man, Killin’ At The Soda Shop, Living Doll and For Love. Of the extra songs only For Love made the album.

In search for material for the album they came across Baby, You’re A Trip, which seemed to be perfect for Jill. Susan Rogers remembers Prince being blown away by Jill’s vocals on the song: ‘The woman can sing!’

Midway through 1985 they recorded My Sex, meant to be the title-song to the album. In January 1986 Euphoria Highway was recorded. In February 1986 a first configuration of the album was compiled. The song Violet Blue was not a part of that, because that was recorded in October of 1986.

In November 1986 Prince worked on overdubs and mixing. The definite configuration of the album was compiled on November 12th, 1986.

Apart from the cover With You, Prince was only referenced as a co-writer for 4 songs on the album. The remaining 3 songs were accredited to Jill Jones. However, Prince wrote all of the songs. They are registered under the Prince-moniker Joey Coco.

Jill Jones - singles (princevault.com)

Jill Jones – singles

Reception

The album was (very) well received, particularly by critics. However, in the US it wasn’t a hit. The 3 singles, Mia Bocca, G-Spot and For Love did little to nothing. Meanwhile, in Europe the album did pretty good. Jill spent a lot of time in Europe doing interviews and television-shows.

As was the case more often than not (unfortunately), Paisley Park Records albums were poorly marketed and promoted. Just like the fabulous The Family album, Jill Jones’ album soon vanished from the public eye. An album doesn’t sell itself, even if it’s as good as the Jill Jones album.

Jill Jones - Mia Bocca clip (dailymotion.com)

Jill Jones – Mia Bocca clip

Mia Bocca was a modest hit in Europe, partly due to the beautiful videoclip, made by Jean-Baptiste Mondino.

Jill Jones - Promo (eil.com)

Jill Jones – Promo

Songs

  • Intro (Baby, You’re A Trip) *
  • Mia Bocca **
  • G-Spot **
  • Violet Blue *
  • With You ***
  • All Day, All Night **
  • For Love **
  • My Man *
  • Baby, You’re A Trip *

 

* Composed by Prince (accredited to Jill Jones)
** Composed by Prince (accredited to Jill Jones en Prince)
*** Composed by Prince

 

Review

Number of stars: 

Yes, the album is really that good. Prince reserved much of his best work for Jill Jones. Jill sings beautifully and convincingly. Barring the With You cover, the album consists of highlight after highlight. With Violet Blue (zie ook Prince satellites, top 10) the album contains one of the very best Prince songs, which I play regularly. A beautiful, rich and varied album, that obviously received a lot of attention.

Life after Prince

Jill Jones - I Miss U (single) (albumism.com)

Jill Jones – I Miss U (single)

After Graffiti Bridge Jill disappeared from the/my radar, Until I ran into her Facebook page a couple of years ago. She still makes music and releases that independently. In 1989 she provided vocals on the great song You Do Me by Ryuichi Sakamoto. Later, she was part of Chic, the live-band.

Recently she released the song I Miss U, which is about Prince’s death. Of everything I have seen by (former) Prince associates/partners, that song is the one that comes across as sincere. I believe her.

In closing

Do you know this great Jill Jones album? Or do you have another view? Let me know!

 

9 comments

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  1. David Simmonds

    Great album

  2. Orpheus

    yes i have a cassette of this album and still loving it. I love With You and listen to it like forever. Wish i could get the CD but downloaded the digital version. Mia Boca is so sexy and Violet Blue is so sexy. This album is oozing with Prince ‘s charm and Jill’s sexuality. Anorher masterpiece by his Royal Purpleness.

    1. A Pop Life (Erwin Barendregt)

      I couldn’t agree with you more!

  3. Mark Weisz

    Excellent piece on an excellent album – you are spot on! I’ve owned this album on cd since its release. I played this a lot when I first got it and I loved it. In my top three of the Paisley Park releases – Sheila E self titled ’87 release and The Family being the other two. I have revisited this album a lot in recent years and it still holds up as an excellent album. My hope now is that ALL the Paisley releases get a remaster and rerelease.

    1. A Pop Life (Erwin Barendregt)

      Thanks for your reply. I personally prefer the Madhouse releases over Sheila E’s album. Regardless, I also hope for remastered versions of all Paisley releases….

  4. Luud Breuking

    It’s not one of the best. Jill jones is the greatest Prince satellite album. In my opinion it still sounds fresh although its released 30 years ago. Her voice is incredible. I’m so fortunate to own the cd and it’s my favorite all time album. Whenever I can I tell friends to listen to it because Jill’s album deserves all the attention it can get.
    Thank you so much for the article. I love it.

    1. A Pop Life (Erwin Barendregt)

      Thank you so much for your reply and kind words. The three best satellite acts, for me, are Jill Jones, The Family and the first two The Time albums. Although The New Power Generation’s Exodus is really good as well….

  5. Tyler Anthony

    This album is a great album. Some songs were released in the wrong time and could have benefited from the 1999 Purple Rain Around the World in a Day & Parade excitement. But great music none the less.
    What Time Is It? Glamorous Life the Family Jill Jones Madhouse are some of the best protégé albums from the Prince camp.

    1. A Pop Life (Erwin Barendregt)

      I agree 100% with your list of favorite satellite albums!

Compliments/remarks? I´d love to hear them!