The ’87 Sound: “Just That Type of Girl” by Madame X

“Just That Type of Girl” is for my money, at the very top of funky grooves to come out in 1987! Madame X was a group produced and overseen by Bernadette Cooper, drummer and vocalist of the band Klymaxx. Klymaxx themselves stand out in the terrain of ’80s music as one of the few popular female Funk bands. The Black female bands/female instrumentalist led groups I can think of off the top of my head would be A Taste of Honey and the New York No Wave Band ESG. There were also scattered female instrumentalists throughout the Funk era, including Shiela E and Chaka Khan herself, but Klymaxx made a unique mark as a female funk band. Madame X was a vocal group hand picked by Bernadette Cooper. In a rather unusual move for the era, Cooper selected the members, chose the name, and wrote and produced the songs. This is something that has usually been done by male svengali’s such as Rick James, Prince, George Clinton, James Brown, Berry Gordy, Phil Spector and Ike Turner, to name a few. The result was their self-titled debut album, released in 1987. The group consisted of Iris Parker, Valerie Victoria, and Alisa Randolph. “Just That Type of Girl” was that funky song by that group I never knew the name of growing up, a marvel of Afrocentric, tribal, deep, heavy dance funk played in a slow pace, with lyrics that harken back to the best end of ’80s, ‘What you doing for me”, sex and materialism, reminding me somewhat of a heavy Vanity 6 type of vibe.

The song begins with a very funky drum roll, though it may have been played by a drum machine, the roll is much more subtle, and with a nicer touch than to be expected on most drum machines of the day. After which a deep tribal funk groove kicks in, with a deep, low bassline that is wedded to the kick drum of the song. That’s only the beginning as Cooper lays a stew of rhythms all around it, including handclaps on the 2 and 4, occasional Hi Hat accents, a go go bells, and conga drum parts. The whole thing results in a slow-burning funky rhytmic machien that sounds like it could go on by itself until the end of time. The singer goes on to sing about a guy who “lends a hand.” And talks about prefering “Platinum American Express cards.” It’s really nothing to trip on because she’s “Just that type of girl.”

After the chorus a trippy ’80s synth part layers the top of the groove as the rhythm machine keeps pumping underneath. The whole groove comes to a bizarre break that breaks down to nothing but handclaps before going into the next verse. She comes back hard, saying “Gossip from some girls/says I am promiscuous/that’s why no man takes me home to meet their mother/but the real story is/my green eyes are fit to kill/and I’ll take their man/they’ll have to get another.” As the song goes into the next chorus, a synth hammer on backs up the girls chorus vocals. This leads to another interlude and a rhythm break to support chants of “Turn it Up, Crank it!” backed up by some extra kick, after which one of the girls says “Only the sexy people are gonna dance to this groove.” The song goes out on some extended grooving and jazzy/funky scatting.

“Just That type of Girl” is the type of slow, sweaty, grinding funk with an Afrocentric base that I live for. The lyrics made me think the dating game would be very hard by the time I grew up. Thankfully it represented just one type of girl out there in a world of many. But I still admired the sass and attitude displayed in a world of music that was full of so much male braggadocio at the same time. This is the type of joint I can imagine driving dancers on the funky dance floors of the nation wild in 1987. When I mentioned it to one friend, he said, “Oh yeah, that was the type of stuff P Funk should have been doing at the time.” Another said, “That’s some Prince type of stuff.” So Bernadette Peters and Madame X really created a prime piece of funk here, and I hope it becomes more appreciated and recognized as we continue to push music forward!

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1 Comment

Filed under The '87 Sound

One response to “The ’87 Sound: “Just That Type of Girl” by Madame X

  1. What an unusually structured song rhythmically. Falls somewhere between “Nasty Girl” and “Milkshake”-only with a more hollow middle. The vocals remind me of a cross between the jazzy scatting Chaka Khan might do and the vocal refrain from Grace Jones’ “Pull Up To The Bumper”. Of course, I also here a Caribbean style percussion element Sly & Robbie might’ve used too.

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