Grace Jones' The Collection, released in 2004 by the Spectrum offshoot of Universal U.K., found enough room for a demo of "Ring of Fire" (a Johnny Cash cover) but decided not to include "Pull Up to the Bumper," one of the singer's biggest singles (if not the biggest). It's one of few flaws, but it is a massive flaw, and it makes the disc a wasted opportunity. Otherwise, the disc covers a lot of ground, despite cutting off at 1982 (so "Slave to the Rhythm" isn't here, either). There's plenty of Compass Point-era coverage, with her spectacular covers of the Normal's "Warm Leatherette," Roxy Music's "Love Is the Drug," and Joy Division's "She's Lost Control" present. The lack of chronological sense is another drawback.
By all means a phenomenal pop album that hit number nine on the black albums chart and crossed over to penetrate the pop charts at number 32, Nightclubbing saw Grace Jones working once again with Sly Dunbar, Robbie Shakespeare, and the remainder of the Compass Point team. Nightclubbing also continues Jones' tradition of picking excellent songs to reinterpret. This time out, the Police's "Demolition Man," Bill Withers' "Use Me," and Iggy Pop's "Nightclubbing" receive radical reinterpretations; "Nightclubbing" is glacial in both tempo and lack of warmth, while both "Use Me" and "Demolition Man" fit perfectly into Jones' lyrical scheme. Speaking of a lyrical scheme, "Pull Up to the Bumper" (number five black singles, number two club play) is so riddled with naughty double entendres – or is it just about parallel parking? – that it renders Musique's "In the Bush" as daring as Paul Anka's "Puppy Love." Drive it in between what, Grace? It's not just lyrics that make the song stick out; jingling spirals of rhythm guitar and a simplistic, squelching, mid-tempo rhythm make the song effective, even without considering Jones' presence.
In a career of myriad highlights 'Nightclubbing' remains the high water mark of Grace Jones's imperial years with Island Records. It is indisputably the album on which her musical legacy rests, and rightly considered one of the greatest albums of all time. A sophisticated melee of sound, blending post-punk cool with a hot Caribbean vibe and a catwalk Studio 54 sensibility, it's a perfect example of artist and musicians working in complete accord. It contains the all-time Grace classics in 'Pull Up To The Bumper', 'Walking In The Rain', 'Demolition Man' (written by Sting) and of course the Bowie / Iggy Pop-penned title track. There is magic in its every groove.
After three albums of more or less mediocre but entertaining Philly-disco stuff, Grace entered the 80s with a total transition. Produced by Chris Blackwell & Alex Sadkin and featuring a band comprising funk legends Sly & Robbie, Grace's Warm Leatherette with its unique blend of reggae, rock and funk combined with Grace's die-hard vocal deliverance was a powerhouse of an album, still sounding sparkling fresh today.
Grace Jones' flamboyant outfits and statuesque looks made her one of the most unforgettable characters to emerge from New York in the late '70s. Teaming the singer/model with Chic mainman Nile Rodgers was a musical marriage made in heaven. Rodgers' sleek and funky production wrapped around Jones' deadpan and powerful delivery created some of the most memorable music of her career. With former Camera Club leader Bruce Woolley on keyboards and songwriting chores, this was a perfect blend of New York sass and New Wave sauce. 10 tracks including 'I'm Not Perfect (But I'm Perfect For You)'.
Grace Jones fans have been well served by Universal Music in recent years with an excellent Nightclubbing reissue in 2014 and last year’s Disco box set which brought together Portfolio, Fame, and Muse in one smart package. This trend continues in 2016 with deluxe editions of Jones’ 1980 album Warm Leatherette due in June…