The Prince estate released the previously unheard track “I Need a Man” on Thursday (Sept. 17) in advance of the song’s inclusion on the upcoming expanded reissue of Sign O’ The Times. The sly, predictably funky song was recorded on Jan. 22, 1987, by engineer Susan Rogers just months before Prince’s iconic Paisley Park Studios opened for business, according to the press release announcing the tune.
Once the singer opened the sprawling complex that would become his home and recording base, he reached out to blues singer/guitarist Bonnie Raitt after seeing her perform to offer her the track, according to the release. It was the first of four songs he offered to Raitt, who briefly considered signing with Prince’s Paisley Park label before she inked with Capitol and released her long-sought career breakthrough, 1989’s Grammy-winning Nick of Time.
According to the estate, the song was originally recorded in August 1981 for The Hookers, a predecessor band to the Prince-protege group Vanity 6, then completely reworked for Raitt’s consideration, with the addition of live drums, Fairlight and Mirage synths, sax, trumpet and Prince’s guide vocal. “If money’s all you got, I don’t want it/ If you can’t me hot, I don’t need you ’round/ If you can’t turn me on, I don’t need it/ I need a lover that’s strong, I don’t got time to fool around,” Prince sings on the pre-chorus of the bubbling funk song with bleating horns, a lyrical reference to Bruce Springsteen and a steamy chorus that seems custom-cut for Raitt’s signature urgent, yearning style.
The Raitt collab never happened, though, and the song was placed in Prince’s legendarily deep vault and wasn’t released until Thursday’s drop. The expanded, remastered Sign O’ The Times reissue will be released on Sept. 25 on digital and streaming platforms, with a Super Deluxe edition featuring 63 previously unreleased tracks, as well as a previously unreleased 2+ hour live performance video.
Listen to “I Need a Man” below.