In 1987, Prince recorded a clutch of songs with Bonnie Raitt in mind — and while the celebrated blues singer never released any of them, that doesn’t mean she never recorded them herself.

Prince's “I Need a Man" was recently issued as the sixth and final preview track for the Super Deluxe Edition of Sign O’ the Times. But fans can also check out Raitt's scintillating version, which was uploaded to YouTube in March 2020.

As with many tracks Prince produced for other artists, the tune is built off his original recording, cut at his Galpin Boulevard home studio in Chanhassen, Minn. just months before Sign O’ the Times was released. Over a tight, minimal groove and punchy horns from Eric Leeds and Atlanta Bliss, Raitt added her unmistakable vocal and some blistering guitar licks.

It’s an unbelievable meeting of the minds that could have altered Raitt’s fortunes had it been issued on an album. Until 1983, she and Prince were both part of the Warner Bros. Records roster, and in 1986 she belatedly released Nine Lives, a record made up in part of sessions she was finishing when Warner dropped her.

Not long after catching a Raitt show at Los Angeles' Beverly Theater in December 1986, Prince offered her a contract with his own Paisley Park label; according to PrinceVault, he gave her a pick of several tunes, including “I Need a Man,” “Jealous Girl,” “Promise 2 Be True” and “There’s Something I Like About Being Your Fool” — all of which appear, as Prince recorded them, on the Super Deluxe Sign O’ the Times. Ultimately, plans fell through after Raitt suffered a skiing accident and spent a stint in Alcoholics Anonymous; in 1990, her Nick of Time won three Grammy Award for Album of the Year and subsequently topped the Billboard album chart for three weeks.

“I Need a Man” has deep roots in Prince’s history before his fateful meeting with Raitt: it was first recorded in summer 1981 for an unrealized project by the Hookers, an all-female trio that would later become Vanity 6. Another one of the songs intended for Raitt, “Jealous Girl,” was also one of two songs pitched by Prince to the Bangles, who instead took his “Manic Monday” to No. 2 in 1986 (kept out of the top spot by Prince and the Revolution’s “Kiss”).

 

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