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THE TORCH SINGER,
This review is from: Nightclubbing (Audio CD)
Nightclubbing is the best starting point for those wishing to explore Ms Jones' immediate post-disco phase. This 1981 album followed the previous year's groundbreaking Warm Leatherette and was a commercial triumph. More accessible than both Warm Leatherette and Living My Life, this second work in the Sly & Robbie trilogy is packed with outstanding songs of lyrical and melodic distinction. They include compositions by Bill Withers, Astor Piazzolla, Sting, David Bowie/Iggy Pop, Barry Reynolds and Grace herself. The sound is crystal clear and despite the Jamaican influences the album has a bohemian European air about it.
Varied yet cohesive, Nightclubbing successfully explores different directions but gives the overall impression of a concept album. It is polished and sophisticated, displaying none of the raw edges of Warm Leatherette and offers a broader appeal than Living My Life. On the opening track Walking In The Rain Grace applies her semi-spoken vocal style over a light pop-reggae beat. Notorious for its risqué lyrics, Pull Up To The Bumper with its jerking Jamaican rhythms and car horn samples is a perennial club favorite which has seen a multitude of remixes and covers down the years.
The slower numbers are Bowie & Iggy's Nightclubbing which is sinister rather than celebratory and I've Done it Again which is romantic and soulful as opposed to the title track's menacing undertone. Speaking of which, her interpretation of Sting's Demolition Man takes menace to new dimensions; it's the most explicitly rock-influenced song here and packs a punch. Bill Withers' Use Me & her own composition Feel Up are both buoyant uptempo tracks, the first being a show of defiance with an infectious reggae beat and the second a Caribbean feast with rattling percussion, choral vocals, what appears to be flutes & whistles and a dialogue in French patois between Grace & a male vocal.
The magnificent Art Groupie is the most poetic & literary track with a flowing rhythmic lilt and a synth that resembles the golden age of Human League or Eurythmics. Reggae meets an accordion on the bouncy Libertango, a catchy bilingual track on which Grace speaks and sings elegantly in French and English. The album concludes with the wistful ballad I've Done It Again where an introspective lyric and an understated sound create a delicate gem. The follow-up Living My Life concluded the Sly & Robbie trilogy and therewith the reggae & dub phase of her career.
On her 1986 and 1989 albums - Inside Story & Bulletproof Heart - Ms Jones focused on soulful pop music. Then followed 19 years of silence. It was only in 2008 that Grace worked with Sly & Robbie again, on the challenging and ultimately rewarding Hurricane where Brian Eno and Tricky count amongst the other contributors. In my opinion, Nightclubbing remains Grace's masterpiece, a work that best demonstrates her distinctive styles as vocalist, interpreter and composer via an exceptional set of songs.
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Initial post: 8 Nov 2010 06:50:50 GMT
Miranda Mason says:
Not sure I understand the purpose of setting up 'Jamaican influences' in contradistinction to something called a 'Bohemian European air' or its meaning? Is this just rhetoric for the sake of it? the music has different influences and comes from the collaboration of musicians and styles of different origins.
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