Jerk Out is the fourth track (third song) on The Time’s fourth and final album Pandemonium, and, two weeks before the album’s release, Jerk Out was released as the album’s first single. Jerk Out was originally written and produced by Prince, but writing was credited to Prince, Jimmy Jam, Terry Lewis and Morris Day, as they wrote additional portions later. Prince plays most instruments on the track.
While specific recording dates are not known, basic tracking took place in late December 1981 at Prince’s Kiowa Trail Home Studio in Chanhassen, Minnesota, and was intended for The Time’s second album What Time Is It?. Morris Day’s lead vocals were likely recorded in early 1982 at Sunset Sound in Hollywood, California, although this information is unconfirmed.
In 1985, the track was given to Mazarati (along with 100 MPH) for use on their album Mazarati; lead vocal overdubs were recorded by Sir Casey Terry in April 1985, at Sunset Sound and Prince worked on the track further in May 1985, also at Sunset Sound. The song was ultimately rejected by Mazarati, however, probably due to the song’s lyrics containing overt references to sexual violence and racism.
When The Time’s planned album Corporate World was put on hold in late 1989 and the original members were brought in to work on the album (which developed into Pandemonium), the bandmembers chose this song from Prince’s vault, and re-worked it significantly at Paisley Park Studios in Chanhassen, Minnesota, to eliminate some of the more controversial lyrics, but the basic tracks, including Sir Casey Terry’s background vocals, were kept.
The track was also remixed by various outside remixers in 1990 for the maxi-single.
The track’s lyrics were inspired by an incident on the Controversy Tour, when some of The Time’s band members were removed from a flight ("jerked out") for causing a disturbance.