Grace Jones-Not a name you hear much anymore. A well known figure in the late 1970's and Through the 1980's, Grace Jones started her career for the Ford and Wilhelmina Modeling Agencies during the 70's, with moderate success until she went to Paris, France during that period. During her stay in France, she began a side-bar singing career, that was at first a great, undiscovered whim. Jones' 1977 Debut, aptly titled Portfolio, was a hit on the New York Gay Disco scene, with her first two Singles, La Vie En Rose and I Need A Man. Two more disco oriented albums(Fame in 1978, and Muse in 1979)followed.
It was around the end of the 1970's that Jones signed on with Island Records. At Island, Grace revamped herself, Rocking harder and Using that awesome voice to the fullest of its ability. Her Island records debut, 1980's Warm Leatherette, despite being solely a cover album, it was a minor hit, Her cover of The Pretenders' song Private Life was groundbreaking.
Grace was Teamed up with the impeccable production of Sly Dunbar and Robbie Shakespeare, and they collaborated on Grace's next album, 1981's Nightclubbing, which included well crafted interpretations of The Police's Demolition Man, Bill Withers' Use Me(one of my favorites!), and Iggy Pop's Nightclubbing. The album was a hit, hitting #9 on the R&B charts and #32 on the pop charts.
Grace's Third Island album, released in 1982 was Entitled Living My Life. A change among her last two albums, now being produced by Chris Blackwell and Grace doing most of the writing, Living my Life, is a hidden gem among the albums of the early 1980's.
The album spawned three Singles; My Jamaican Guy, Nipple To The Bottle, and Everybody Hold Still.
The album Begins with My Jamaican Guy. A reggae influenced mid-tempo track. Grace wrote the song in Jamaican slang in parts, adding in silly tidbits here and there. Some Lyrics include:
Take a Toke From The smoke
never standing by the door
just strecthing out pan de floor
that way he dont waste him wata
no way it gwan run out pan him
I love the song. If you listen to it you realize that L.L. Cool J sampled parts of it in his song Doin' it. Good stuff.
Nipple To The Bottle is also a great track, With its mellow laid back rhythm, reminiscent of Grace's disco days with a touch of 80's funk mixed in. Grace's lyrics are sung with patience, character, and ease, it sounds authentic and real not rehearsed and rehashed! The guitar during the bridge is also essential to the song, giving its music an all-business personality.
The Apple Stretching is a great track also. Written about New york, The track is about the people of NYC waking up and getting in each others way. The lyrics are spoken by Grace, who by the way has a knack for voice overs. The music is typical "reggae fluff" if there ever was any. Some guitars here and there, but mostly composed of percussion instruments. Everybody Hold Still is also a fun track. After listening to it, I realized it was about being the victim of robbery, some lyrics I liked were;
I could've left all my cash and taken a credit card
I should've said don't wear no Jewellry you lookin' fine
If ran back for the phone
but instead I let it ring
I wouldn't be in this mess im in right now.
At the end of the song, Grace and the background singers chant "Please dont take all of my money mister!" Its a lotta fun.
The Next song is called Cry Now, Laugh Later. Which is basically in a nutshell a song about revenge. Each new set of lyrics tells a story about something bad and then vowing revenge later on, for example;
I don't know why I'm laughing
Immigration breathing down my back
ain't got no money for a payoff
stay in jail till they send me back
Don't know why Im laughing
I'm still Hurting from all this pain
A Foreigner in this hellhole
He ain't never gonna touch me again
cry now, laugh later
baby got to sign out, return later
Im just to tired now, to return the favour.
The song is surprisingly upbeat. The next on the playlist is Inspiration, which is a nice laid back tune. Its a song about trying to find an inspring person, thing, or reason to live, sung very beautifully by Grace. It is pretty low to mid tempo, with again, many percussion instruments. The last song on the playlist is called Unlimited Capacity For Love. This is a nice funky rhythm and melody combination, live instruments mixed with synthesizers never sounded so good! The lyrics talk about how people really have a large capacity for love, and are always searching for something new, its not really love though is also part the concept. In turn the title is really just sarcasm--sarcasm coupled with excellent vocal performance.
Final Thoughts? Living My life is a classic Grace Jones album from start to finish. Music is well laid down and lyrical concepts are strong and original. Grace is still durable after 20 years, and though much of her music still remains hidden, much also still remains very influential and was considered groundbreaking during the early 1980's. So take a trip back a decade or two with Grace.
Great Music To Play While:
Taking a Toke from the smoke.
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