Saturday, December 2, 2017

"In My House" by Mary Jane Girls

Top 10 Alert!
Song#:  2240
Date:  03/09/1985
Debut:  87
Peak:  7
Weeks:  22
Genre:  R&B, Dance

Pop Bits:  The mid 80s was certainly the height of the Prince vs. Rick James rivalry. For the most part it seemed Prince didn't really care about it, but James did. With Prince having success with protege acts like The Time, Vanity 6, and Sheila E., James wanted to have his own stable of acts that he could form, write songs for, and produce. His label relented and one of his first acts to get off the ground (besides his long-standing relationship with Teena Marie) was the Mary Jane Girls. James formed the group from the four female backing singers that accompanied him on tour. Joanne "Jojo" McDuffie would serve as the lead vocalist as she had previously sang backup vocals in the studio for some of James' recordings. James would write and produce their self-title debut album. Released in '83, the album eventually went gold thanks to three R&B Top 30 hit including the #11 "All Night Long." All three tracks in a mix would reach #8 at Dance. Unfortunately, none of the songs would reach the Pop chart. James also headed up their next effort, Only for You. This first single from the album would be their first R&B Top 10 (#3) and get to #1 at Dance. It also got them on the Pop chart for the first time. It took a while for the song to catch on, but once it did the single cracked the Top 10. It would end up being their only Pop Top 40 hit. It would boost their album to #5 R&B/#18 Pop and it would be certified gold.

ReduxReview:  This is one of the best songs James did in his 80s output, including his own solo recordings. It was just a hot track that jammed along with that great synth/organ riff and steady guitar line. The production was rock solid and the vocal work by McDuffie and the Waters' was spot on. The chorus hit the mark and it was difficult to not dance when this song came on. It's a bummer that James couldn't keep this level of material up for the girls, but it nearly didn't matter because this track was so good that it was going to overshadow any other song they would release.

ReduxRating:  9/10

Trivia:  Double Shot!  1) When James wanted to do a protege project, his initial idea was to get Jojo McDuffie signed as a solo act. However, somehow it worked out that a group would be signed and James filled out the spots with the other three backing singers/dancers from his tour. Although there were four girls assigned to the group, only McDuffie would sing on the first album. The background vocals were provided by the Waters sisters (Julia and Maxine). (The Waters sisters, along with their brothers Oren and Luther, were some of the most sought after backing vocalists in the business for both studio and tour work.) For the second MJG album, McDuffie and the Waters sisters once again did most all of the vocal work, but this time around the other three girls got to sing lead on one track each. Apparently, despite their work on tour with James and coaching, the three girl were not strong vocalists and that limited their participation in the studio. Only McDuffie had the vocal chops to really carry the songs.  2) This song made it on to the PMRC's infamous "Filthy Fifteen" list of offensive songs. The song was cited for sexual content. Although there were no explicit words said, the wink-wink "hey this song is about sex" lyrics caught the parents' group attention and they added it to their naughty list.


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