Five Reasons Why Grace Jones' "NIghtclubbing" Album Was an Instant Classic

Jamaican singer Grace Jones posing for a photoshoot. Italy, 1981 (Photo by Angelo Deligio/Mondadori via Getty Images)
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(Angelo Deligio/Mondadori via Getty Images)

Nightclubbing was the album Grace Jones had been working towards for years. After breaking out as a disco queen fashion model, Jones underwent a radical reinvention with the release of 1980 album, Warm Leatherette. Disco beats gave way to minimal new wave, stark punk and loping reggae grooves as the singer set up shop in Jamaica's famed Compass Point Studios.

Working with a group of musicians known as the Compass Point Allstars--Sly and Robbie, Wally Badarou, Barry Reynolds, Mikey Chung and Uziah "Sticky" Thompson--alongside producers Alex Sadkin and Chris Blackwell, Jones would crank out enough solid songs to populate two albums. After the positive critical reception for Warm Leatherette, Jones and the crew sorted through the best of songs not included on the LP. Those sessions resulted in a handful of new tunes, and soon NIghtclubbing was born.

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Refining the post-punk edge of Warm Leatherette to a razor-sharp point, Nightclubbing was the full realization of the "new" Grace Jones. Her command over the cover songs was astounding, as she tackled such heavyweights as Bill Withers, Iggy Pop and The Police.

Released on May 11, 1981, Nightclubbing was immediately hailed as an outstanding achievement. At the end of the year, NME would declare it the #1 album of 1981. The album's immense success pushed it onto the Billboard charts, peaking at #32 for the week of July 25, 1981. The #1 album in America that week: The Moody Blues' Long Distance Voyager.

1. "Pull It Up to the Bumper" crossed disco and reggae for the dance-floor
The urgent, funk-heavy track brought the dub sound to nightclubs around the world with a pumped-up tempo and Jones' commanding vocal performance.

2. "Walking in the Rain" proved Jones could turn an obscure tune into a classic.
Originally released in 1978 by group Flash and the Pan, "Walking in the Rain" took on a whole new meaning and menace in the hands of Grace Jones.

3. Grace Jones celebrated the best of classic soul
Considering her ability to make pretty much anything sound good, Jones was meticulous when it came to picking cover tracks. Not many people can handle a Bill Withers song without getting burned. Jones grabbed his 1972 hit, "Use Me," with both hands, cranking up the intensity to a simmering boil.

4. Grace Jones has always had friends in high places
For "Demolition Man," Jones would tap Sting of the Police for his songwriting abilities. The song was the basis of a high-point from her One-Man-Show tour, featuring an army of Grace Jones body doubles. The Police would record their own take on the track for 1981 LP, Ghost in the Machine.

5. Marianne Faithfull wrote the album's most tender moment
Nightclubbing closes on an unexpectedly vulnerable note with the lovely ballad, "I've Done It Again," written by Faithfull and guitarist Barry Reynolds. "Barry wrote most of it, he wrote the book actually - and I wrote some of the verses," Failthfull told The Guardian in 2016. "I remember particularly the one about Jenny Lin - I was there when Jenny Lind first sang... I can't remember what it meant but I wrote it!"

BONUS BEAT: Nightclubbing also included Jones' take on the Iggy Pop/David Bowie tune from Pop's The Idiot that served as the title track.

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