Grace Jones’ huge tune ‘My Jamaican Guy’ sits strongly on the ‘Where Ya At’ playlist, taken from 1982’s ‘Living My Life’ album, her third and final killer studio album recorded at Compass Point studios in The Bahamas. Hopefully you know the relevance of this studio. But we wanted to go back to another of her earliest efforts there, 1981’s ‘Nightclubbing’ itself a brilliant record. From the outstanding cover of the David Bowie penned title track to the reggae tones of ‘I’ve Seen That Face Before’ and the sensational ballad that closes the album, ‘I’ve Done It Again’. It is a record that flows brilliantly and works wonderfully as a cohesive whole, while also being innovative and featuring an array of seemingly diverse styles.
Grace Jones, it is difficult to deny, is a fascinating artist. But while her carefully crafted and consistently intriguing and slightly menacing public image may in itself be worthy of note and consideration, we have always felt that her music has been somewhat overshadowed by her persona. And this is a great shame because in fact her recorded output is often highly inventive and progressive, unique in some senses, and technically very accomplished.
Her vocal range is relatively wide at 2 1/2 octaves, and her mastery of technique is more impressive than she is given credit for, with her almost spoken monotone delivery in some songs itself an interesting instrument, and in stark contrast to her other soprano singing style which is surprising smooth and soft. And her early 80s output, working closely with the legendary Sly and Robbie rhythm section, the incredible Wally Badarou on keys, and enjoying the considerable production talents of Chris Blackwell and Alex Sadkin, is always interesting to behold, often diverse and ground-breaking, and quite simply downright excellent. But ‘Pull Up To The Bumper’, as well as possibly her most well-known track, is also an absolute stormer.
There are numerous tunes that are guaranteed to move a crowd, and this is a particularly prime example of a massive crowd-pleaser. But it somehow adds something different to the mix, providing an incessantly funky groove, but one that also filters the most extremely dark and dirty elements of the sensuality and sexiness of disco. If Donna Summer's ‘I Feel Love’ is an extended audio orgasm on vinyl, played out in dreamy comfort on satin sheets, pull up to the bumper is the stripped down, raw passion of a wild night in the midst of urban jungle. A calculated and slightly disturbing seduction. Jones' outright sexual confidence, her clear beauty coupled with an almost androgynous kind of detachment is as beguiling as it is intimidating.
Like I say we think her music is underrated, but more than that we think she is that rare kind of star who seems to transcend easy categorisation or description. Part performance artist, part disco diva, part model, part singer, part actress, and part muse, but never less than wholly impressive in all categories. That having been said, we sure as hell wouldn’t want to meet her in a dark alley. She has always scared the bejeezus out of us!