Grace Jones ‎– The Grace Jones Story

Label:
Universal Records ‎– 9833286
Format:
2 × CD, Compilation
Country:
Released:
Genre:
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Tracklist Hide Credits

1-1 That's The Trouble 3:40
1-2 I Need A Man
Written-By – Paul Slade, Pierre Papadiamandis
3:24
1-3 La Vie En Rose
Written-By – E. Piaf*, Louiguy, Mack David
7:29
1-4 Send In The Clowns
Written-By – Stephen Sondheim
7:36
1-5 What I Did For Love 5:18
1-6 Do Or Die
Written-By – Jack Robinson, James Bolden
3:23
1-7 Fame
Written-By – Jack Robinson, Martin Slavin
5:36
1-8 Am I Ever Gonna Fall In Love In New York City
Written-By – Jack Robinson, James Bolden
5:28
1-9 Don't Mess With The Messer
Written By – Grace Jones, Pierre Papadiamandis
4:52
1-10 Sinning
Written-By – Grace Jones
5:07
1-11 Saved
Written-By – Grace Jones
5:02
1-12 Warm Leatherette
Written-By – Daniel Miller
4:29
1-13 Love Is The Drug
Written-By – Andy Mackay, Bryan Ferry
7:11
1-14 The Hunter Gets Captured By The Game
Written-By – Smokey Robinson
3:49
2-1 Private Life
Written-By – Chrissie Hynde
5:13
2-2 She's Lost Control
Written-By – Bernard Sumner, Ian Curtis, Peter Hook, Stephen Morris
8:23
2-3 Pull Up To The Bumper
Written-By – Dana Manno, Robbie Shakespeare, Sly Dunbar
3:41
2-4 Walking In The Rain
Written-By – Harry Vanda / George Young*
4:20
2-5 Use Me
Written-By – Bill Withers
5:06
2-6 Nightclubbing
Written-By – David Bowie, Iggy Pop
5:07
2-7 I've Seen That Face Before
Written-By – Astor Piazzolla, Barry Reynolds, Dennis Wilkey
4:30
2-8 My Jamaican Guy
Written-By – Grace Jones
6:02
2-9 The Apple Stretching
Written-By – Melvin Van Peebles
7:11
2-10 Nipple To The Bottle
Written-By – Grace Jones, Sly Dunbar
5:54
2-11 I'm Not Perfect (But I'm Perfect For You)
Written-By – Bruce Woolley, Grace Jones
3:59
2-12 Love On Top Of Love
Written-By – David Cole, Grace Jones
6:16
2-13 Someone To Love 4:49
2-14 Sex Drive
Written-By – Lee Fraser, Sheep On Drugs
4:01

Notes

This double CD is stored in a hardback book.

Barcode and Other Identifiers

  • Barcode: 602498332863

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IanPhillips1979

IanPhillips1979

August 12, 2015
edited over 3 years ago

Well, the legendary Jamaican-born singer, actress and ex-super model Grace Jones surprised both critics and fans in 2008 when she returned to the music scene after a 19 year hiatus, seemingly with a vengeance, on what is arguably the best album of her career 'Hurricane'. Now in her late sixties, Grace has amazingly never looked or sounded so good. Time seems to have stood still for her. Emulated and blatantly ripped-off by the likes of Lady Gaga, Rhianna, Myley Cyrus and Madonna for the sake of commercialism, it does seem unfair that, although always remaining a larger-than-life celebrity, her music has remained more popular on the underground scene.

'The Grace Jones Story' was a double CD collection, released in 2006, featuring her work prior to 'Hurricane' and is one of the most lengthy, generous sampling of her highly influential, innovative music career. Avant Garde at its best. Where this scores over the several Grace Jones compilations already available is that it highlights all areas of her recording career, from her days as a celebrated disco diva where she was deservedly hailed as the "Queen of Gay Discos", to her heralded trilogy of masterpieces with Sly Dunbar and Robbie Shakespeare, to her short-lived tenure on the Manhatten label where Grace tackled slightly more accessible material. The vast majority of hit singles Grace has scored on the pop, R&B and dance/club charts are included here, as well as a wealth of top-notch album cuts.

The artwork of 'The Grace Jones Story' is very fetching. The CD case unfolds into a short book containing a mini biography and boasts a number of pictures illustrating the weird, ethereal art of Grace Jones. It's a popular, well-known myth that her off-the-wall image has often overshadowed her musical output as far as mainstream commercial recognition goes. This, unfortunately, seems all too true but this 28-track collection re-affirms that Grace wrote and recorded several cutting edge and unique songs, literally attacking each song with a diverse vocal approach, igniting the production and by the time it was through, owning it! Love her or hate her, no one can deny Grace Jones is a true one-off. There's no one else like her!

CD1 is mainly devoted to her disco diva period in the late 1970s where she worked with Tom Moulton and cut three albums 'Portfolio' (1977), "Fame" (1978) and "Muse" (1979) (all of which enjoyed considerable success on the club and R&B charts). Disc one virtually includes the album 'Portfolio' (1977) in its entirety with tracks such as the exceedingly catchy (though campy) 'That's The Trouble' and a credible updating of the Broadway standard 'Send In The Clowns'. Even better from around this late 70's period was the raging 'I Need A Man', a slamming disco classic that ranks right up there with some of the best disco classics of that era. 'Do Or Die' is also another particularly catchy song which stands of strong musical merit but most outstanding of all from this era between 1977-1979, was Grace's inspired, magnificent, vibrant re-working of the 1920s Edith Piaf classic "La Vie En Rose". Grace alternately, and endearingly, sings in a strikingly rich, warm, engaging voice, delivering both English and French passages (after all her music was highly popular in Europe). The glorious, shimmering opening flows into a blend of sprightly-played Latin guitars and a smooth, reggae-like beat. "La Vie En Rose" captures, arguably, Grace Jones most outstanding vocal performance of her career. She literally caresses the lyrics and exudes impressive, passionate vocal phrasing. Quite a masterpiece!

Other disco tracks on CD1 include a beautifully delivered version of 'What I Did For Love', conveying a notably more vulnerable Grace, 'Fame' (distinctly sounding similar to "Do Or Die"), an interpretation of 'Am I Ever Gonna Fall In Love In New York City', the rolling, funky sounds of "Don't Mess With The Messer", bubbling tremendously with flair and fire, while 'Sinning' is edgy and compelling, and finally 'Saved' which closes the disco chapter. Incidentally "Sinning" and "Saved" had originally been included in one long red-hot medley on her 1979 studio album "Muse". It could be argued that these disco tracks are somewhat generic, the kind of fodder she was churning out when she was a formidable force at the famous Studio 54 nightclub (considered THE place to be during the 70s and a haunt of many A-list celebrities).

Her notable cover of the Normal's 'Warm Leatherette' kicks off her legendary reggae-new wave and truly iconic era, which also saw her image switched to that of an adrogynous, warrior-like look, created by her ex-husband Jean Paul Goude. To me (and many others, I'm sure), this was her most incredible and exciting era. Just listen to the classic session playing by the likes of Sly Dunbar, Robbie Shakespeare, Uzziah Thompson, Wally Bardou etc, jamming hard away behind Grace's tough, often scowling vocal approach. The fiery 'Warm Leatherette' consists of striking, thrashing guitar playing on the fiesty chorus. Encapsulating a winning, eclectic blend of reggae/new wave/rock/soul, the tracks boasts an aggressive and robotic-like performance from Grace.

Her thrilling, rocketing version of Roxy Music's "Love Is The Drug", again arguably, surpasses their version. Grace's vocal delivery is snappy, though extremely engaging, conveying soulful qualities, whipping along the verses with conviction. This driving number, which bears such immediacy, is a highlight of her career, and when re-issued in the UK in 1986, raced into Top 40 Chart, previously having been included on the superb, critically-lauded 'Warm Leatherette' album of 1980. CD1 then grinds to a halt following a riveting, funky and soulful remake of the Marvelettes 'The Hunter Gets Captured By The Game' (written by Smokey Robinson) where Grace's performance is playful, exuberant and, as always, bold and assertive.

CD2 is consistently excellent, and in my opinion represents Grace Jones at her best (prior, of course, to her 2008 'Hurricane' album). The disc opens with Grace's fantastically compelling version of the Pretenders 'Private Life', again successfully combining an intriguing mixture of reggae-new wave-rock-soul. Grace talks in her renowned, deep, evocative voice on the thrashing verses while singing gently on the haunting chorus. 'Private Life' became one of Grace Jones' biggest sellers, flying up into the UK Top 20 chart and landing at #17. Chrissie Hynde of The Pretenders even said she thinks Grace Jones improved their original!

Grace's startling cover version of Joy Divisions 'She's Lost Control' had first surfaced as the B side to her Top 20 hit 'Private Life'. The track is exceedingly manic throughout, Grace sounding totally demented by the climax! Although beginning endearingly enough, it careers along to a point where it becomes slightly monotonous, clocking in at over seven minutes long. Far better, though, is the funk-driven 'Pull Up To The Bumper'. The lyrics are riddled with double entendres (drive it in between WHAT, exactly? She definitely isn't referring to parallel parking), the fabulous arrangement containing lots of groovy, spiraling rhythms, incessant jangly guitars and a persistent, squelching, reggae-like beat. For those that don't know, and without being crude, the song is in fact all about the joys of anal sex! 'Pull Up To The Bumper' was originally released in 1981 and stalled at a disappointing #53. Upon its re-issue in 1986, following the top 5 success of her compilation album 'Island Life', it raced into the Top 20, hitting #12, and also scored high on the Club and R&B Charts. Undoubtedly one of her definitive classics.

The dark, swirling, hypnotic sounds and unearthly vibes of 'Walking In The Rain"' from 1981's critically-acclaimed 'Nightclubbing' (a top 10 R&B hit album and also voted "Album Of The Year" by readers of NME magazine) is a stand out! Grace delivers her trademark half-sung, half-spoken passages, all adding to the intensity of the beguiling mood and atmosphere. The boisterous, utterly superb "Use Me", a Bill Withers cover version, is another knock-out track with a red-blooded, ferocious, performance by Grace, while 'Nightclubbing' (written by David Bowie and Iggy Pop) sporadically includes bizarre and haunting synchronised sound effects. Extraordinary version to say the least.

'Ive Seen That Face Before' is something of an over-looked masterpiece. Immersed in a dark setting, Grace once again delivers English and French passages, intertwined with Latin-flavoured, reggae-like arrangements. It cleverly encapsulates vibes of Jamaica, Paris and New York! A lilting mix!
The sparse 'My Jamaican Guy' from 1982's organic 'Living My Life' (another Top 20 seller in Britain), features Grace endearingly singing in Jamaican twang. The mid tempo confection of Reggae and Soul, became another international hit to her credit. She also injects Jamaican twang in her fascinating cover of Michael Van Peebles' 'The Apple Stretching' which depicts life in "sunny" New York. The bouncy, infectious delights of "Nipple To The Bottle" is another marvelous slice of reggae/new wave/soul that echoes the sounds of her classic hit "Pull Up To The Bumper". "The Apple Stretching" and "Nipple To The Bottle" were released as a double A side single, chalking up another hit to her name in the process.

In 1986, following the mammoth Top 5 success of her compilation album 'Island Life', Grace departed Island Records, signing a new deal with the Manhatten label. Here, she headed in a new direction musically. Grace was immediately teamed with the genius Nile Rodgers (who had weaved successful hit singles for the likes of Diana Ross and Madonna) for the delightful, tropical-like pop/R&B/dance project "Inside Story" (1986). From this album was the contagious "I'm Not Perfect (But I'm Perfect For You)", steering Grace into a more commercial sound. Distinctly 1980's but a splendid number (if you like 80's pop/R&B music layered with drum machines and synthesizers) that boasts a sizzling, pumping, pulsating bass-line. The track was one of Grace's biggest hit singles States side, bouncing into the R&B Top 10.

'Love On Top Of Love' was taken from 1989's less-successful and very disappointing 'Bulletproof Heart', a disjointed (and dated) album, that seemed to lack the inspiration and innovation of her earlier work. 'Love On Top Of Love', however' is a bright, commercial-like belter, instantly infectious (all depending on whether you like this era of Grace Jones or not). It whirled up to the top of the dance/club charts though failed to cross-over. Grace conveys a more vulnerable side on the rousing, soft-rock/pop ballad "Someone To Love", which yet again intertwines English and French lyrics and was one of the better tracks lifted from 1989's 'Bulletproof Heart"'. CD2 then closes with Grace's cracking 1993 club hit "Sex Drive" which comes complete with some mildly risque lyrics and a rather generic dance arrangement to boot.

'The Grace Jones Story' is one of the most comprehensive compilations of her work. Anyone wanting a thorough over view of her music career, then this 2 disc collection is one of the best on offer, yet it omits other notable cuts such as Grace's Top 20 smash hit and one of her signature tunes, 'Slave To The Rhythm'. It's just a shame Grace hasn't always been rewarded with the commercial acceptance she deserves. Even so, The Grace Jones Story' is a testament to her extraordinary, if off-the-wall, remarkably diverse musical talents and artistic gifts.

Ian Phillips