Release Date: Apr 28, 2014
Record label: Universal
Genre(s): Pop/Rock, Contemporary R&B, Dance-Rock, Post-Disco
Like Josephine Baker nearly 50 years before her, it was when Jamaican-born Grace Jones left New York City and went to Paris in 1970 that she went from being mere Wilhelmina Agency model to international cause célèbre. Towering at nearly six feet, with an obsidian skin tone and facial features like flint rather than flesh, Grace Jones and her androgynous looks made her a sensation in the fashion world. She stalked the runways for Yves St.
As the 80s dawned, Chris Blackwell’s Island imprint seemed on a mission to fill the void left by punk’s implosion and the disco backlash with shiny new stars (B-52’s, U2) and buffed-up 70s reliables (Steve Winwood, Robert Palmer). Striking supermodel Grace Jones had built a big gay following with three showtune-dominated albums produced by disco godfather Tom Moulton, before Blackwell formed the Compass Point All Stars to propel her next move. The mix of cool reggae sensibility and post-punk funk forged by guitarists Mikey Chung and Barry Reynolds, keyboardist Wally Badarou, percussionist ‘Sticky’ Thompson and rhythm section Sly & Robbie allowed Jones to slide panther-like into an alien new persona on 1980’s covers-studded Warm Leatherette before the following May’s Nightclubbing provided Jones with her commercial breakthrough.
Nightclubbing was the accumulation of a work-in-progress, the project being Studio 54 habituee and model Grace Jones' recording career. Having released some largely forgettable disco efforts that operated around the camper end of the spectrum (that's not giving them all total shade, there's some good bits and pieces on them plus Tom Moulton has rarely been involved in producing rubbish), but singing about needing a man in the single dimensional form and thus rinsing the gullible homosexual has never really given anyone much of a career. However, her version of ‘La Vie En Rose’ by Edith Piaf from this era was the seed that Island Records boss Chris Blackwell needed.
Although Nightclubbing has become Grace Jones’ best-selling album, it might be a certain incident during the promotional treadmill that’s more memorable than the songs that make up the collection. During an appearance on Russell Harty’s ITV chat show in 1980, Jones – outraged that he’d dare to turn his back to speak to another guest – smacked him in the face. This, along with the iconic Jean-Paul Goud painting on the cover - showing Jones at her most masculine - was the artist at her most abrupt, honest and daunting.