Classics: Grace Jones – Slave To The Rhythm (ZTT Records)
Lookin’ back at her various facets, Grace Jones was not a fashion icon. She was the fashion! With thanks to a versatile character. But also to a one of a kind plastic which allowed her to wear everything with obvious distinction.
Jones turned everything she embraced into gold. From modelling to acting. Not to mention singing. Scoring an impressive array of classics. From the Disco stomper I Need A Man’ to the Reggae-influenced ‘Libertango’. But also the glamourish ‘La vie en rose’ which she took from French singer Edith Piaf, to name but a few.
She would make the sensation once again back in 1985, after a 3 year hiatus. This time along with British producer Trevor Horn who added his distinctive symphonic approach to it. Somehow ironical when thinkin’ this gem was initially destined to be the follow-up to Frankie Goes To Hollywood‘s ‘Relax’. Given to Jones at the end, ‘Slave To The Rhythm’ is her biggest success ever along with ‘Pull Up The Bumper’. It appeared in no less than 8 different versions / mixes on her album of the likes…
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A native of Spanish Town, Jamaica, Grace Jones landed with her siblings to their parents’ home in Syracuse, NY at the age of 13. Livin’ at her mom’s parents for some time, she would have hard time with her grand dad. This most likely explaining her rebellion. A rebellion she would express in many different ways artistically speaking. She started wearin’ make up, drinkin’ alcohol, and visitin’ gay clubs with her brother.
At college, she took a theatre class, with her drama teacher convincing her to join him on a Summer stock tour in Philadelphia, PA. Arriving in the city, Grace decided to stay there for a while. Immersing herself in the Counterculture of the 60’s by livin’ in Hippy communities, and makin’ money as a Go-Go dancer.
Movin’ back to the Big Apple at the age of 18, she signed a deal as a model with the Wilhelmina Modelling agency. Movin’ to Paris in 1970, she litteraly made the buzz. Working as a model with some of the most famous fashion designers in the world. Sharin’ a flat for some time with Jerry Hall and Jessica Lange, Jones starting becoming a regular of Le Sept. One of Paris’s most popular gay clubs of the 70’s whose director – Fabrice Emaer – was to soon after give birth to Le Palace.
Grace Jones delivered her first single – ‘I Need A Man’ – back in 1975 with production work by the likes of Tom Moulton. Her debut-album – ‘Portofolio’ – followed two years after. It notoriously featured a seven-minute reinterpretation of Edith Piaf‘s ‘La Vie en rose’.
With the anti Disco feeling spreading from the early 80’s, Jones slightly transformed her approach. Eventually flirting with New Wave. This giving birth to gems such as her cover version of Roxy Music‘s ‘Love Is The Drug’. If not Ástor Piazzolla‘s ‘I’ve Seen That Face Before (Libertango)’. But also the firing ‘Pull Up The Bumper’. As many cuts she recorded along with Sly and Robbie, not to mention Wally Badarou among others.
Also famous as an actress, Grace Jones got further success along with Trevor Horn. This resulting in the delivery of the memorable ‘Slave To The Rhythm’ album back in 1985. She eventually teamed up with producer Nile Rodgers the year after on her ‘Inside Story’ album. And released another one – ‘ Bulletproof Heart’ – in 1989, before an almost 20 year hiatus. Jones would come back in 2008 with ‘Hurricane’. With her latest album to date – ‘Hurricane Dub’ – released back in 2011.
The subject of countless comments for its visual aspect, Grace Jones‘ look would owe a lot to French illustrator, photographer, and graphic designer Jean-Paul Goude as a matter of fact.
On a more personal note, I briefly happened to meet Grace Jones. That happened back in 1990 at Geneva’s Arthur’s club grand opening party.
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