1981, Music

Nightclubbing (1981) by Grace Jones

More than once I’ve begun listening to a Grace Jones record, really not enjoyed myself and then looked to see if it had high enough sales or enough acclaim and stopped listening to it the moment I could justify it. Not this one though: near universal acclaim.

If you read about this album, you will hear how influential it has been, both in terms of musical fusion within pop and in terms of style and fashion. (I honestly do not know what LPs themselves have to do with this but I guess the idea is if people don’t listen to the music – and don’t watch the videos, don’t look at the covers and don’t go to the concerts – they don’t see the clothes.)

I like how drastically different “Use Me” is. Is it better? I don’t think so, but it is very, very different. And I appreciate that. The title track is significantly closer to the original but it’s still distinctly her. Weirdly I don’t remember “Demolition Man” but it is on my least favourite Police album.

I guess I get the idea that bringing actual reggae musicians into the intersection of disco and new wave is different. I have no idea if Jones was the first to do it but wasn’t this the same group on Warm Letherette? (I never made it through that one.) I also don’t know how influential it was. Some people claim this has been influential on sophistipop but I don’t hear that – this is too “street” (for lack of a better word) for sophistipop, it’s too edgy. There are also claims of influence on trip hop, which I guess I can sort of see, and lots of 21st century stuff.

Frankly, I just don’t know pop music well enough to know how serious these claims are. All I can tell you is what I hear: a relatively diverse post disco record with some decently idiosyncratic covers (though I don’t know all the originals) and a very distinct performer. If it’s really as big a deal as people claim, I should up my rating but I can’t really evaluate that at the moment.


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