I can think of no better way to end a decade than to laud the woman, the myth, the legend that is Grace Jones. It is not hyperbolic to state Grace Jones has had the second greatest influence on my life, after mother/father dearest(s) of course. Slave to the Rhythm was the first record I ever bought. I bought it for £4 from the British Heart Foundation in Harrogate because the cover was torn (The G and R in the corner are missing). This is still the pride of my record collection.
Few human beings have so fully embodied the notion of a “singular artist” more so than Grace Jones. In the annals of pop music and fashion, there has simply never been anyone else on earth quite like her—strong, severe, and otherworldly in every way, Jones has blazed a trail through popular culture over the past four decades that remains unrivaled in terms of boldfaced originality. Pitchfork
I find it quite difficult to write about Grace Jones. She means so much to me and to so many others. Meeting her in Piccadilly in 2014 was one of the highlights of that year, topped only by seeing her play live at Parklife Festival in Manchester. The potency of her presence is not to be understated.
Working closely with the Jamaican duo Sly and Robbie as her rhythm section, her brilliantly eclectic sound at the time fused elements of rock, funk, post-punk, pop, reggae and more. In more recent years this hybrid has been credited for influencing alternative acts like Massive Attack, Gorillaz, Todd Terje, Hot Chip and LCD Soundsystem. Tidal
How does one even begin to speak about Slave to the Rhythm? This was a concept album produced by the legendary Trevor Horn (founder of ZZT records). It is an autobiographical work which tells some of Grace Jones’ story in song but interrupted with fellow ZZT founder & journalist Paul Morely interviewing Grace. This album is etherial and enormous in scope.
An audio biography of Grace Jones, produced by Trevor Horn, it’s a sonic treat along the lines of Yes’s 90125 or Frankie Goes to Hollywood’s first album (both produced by Horn). The music ranges from slick R&B runaway grooves to striking audio montages, interrupted occasionally by conversation about Jones’s life. Serious ear candy. All Music
Ian McShane opens the album in a haunting rendition of John Paul Goude’s Jungle Fever. This sets the scene for a melodic journey through Grace’s wonderful vision. Grace worked with some of the best musicians there are (Sly & Robbie of course were Black Uhuru) to produce an album of such beauty that words to describe it are failing me. This had to be album of the year. It’s scope is enormous and I seldom utter a word when listening.
Stylistically, Slave to the Rhythm incorporates funk, R&B and go-go beats that encompass the classic ’80s sound that Trevor Horn is known for, while losing the reggae and new wave elements found on Jones’ previous trilogy of albums. Originally intended for British group Frankie Goes to Hollywood following their debut hit “Relax,” the album’s titular centerpiece ”Slave to the Rhythm” was written by Bruce Woolley, Simon Darlow, Stephen Lipson and Trevor Horn. In something of a unique approach, the album’s tracks are, in essence, radically different interpretations of the same original song. Tidal
Grace Jones changed my life. I remember the moment it happened too. We had just moved to our second house in England and my father made me a compilation CD called ‘Movin’ On Up’. Inevitably, the famous track by M People was on there. But the track which really caught me off guard was ‘I’m Not Perfect, But I’m Perfect For You’. Nothing was ever the same. Please enjoy Slave to the Rhythm, which is album of the year, but also the album of my lifetime.