Classics: Grace Jones – I Need A Man (Disco Mix) (Beam Junction)
‘I Need A Man’ is typically the kind of cut you would have loved or hated at the time. Just like Disco as a matter of fact… Initially appearing back in 1975 on obscure French label Orfeus, with writing work courtesy of Paul Adrian Slade and Pierre Papadiamandis. It didn’t do that much back then to be honest. Apart from highlighting the abitility of the artist to sing in a convincing way.
NYC label Beam Junction gave ‘I Need A Man’ both a new life and, in the meantime, a second chance. This while releasing an extended version of the song in 1977. This with producer Tom Moulton delivering more of an edit that would expand its instrumental parts than a remix on its own. Enough to bring the attention on Grace Jones who soon after signed with Island. Then eventually re-recorded the track as a part of her ‘Portofolio’ debut-album. This at Philadelphia famous Sigma Sound studios. With its strings and horn lines under trhe direction of Vincent Montana, Jr.
A native of Spanish Town, Jamaica, Grace Jones landed with her siblings to their parents’ home in Syracuse, NY at the age of 13. Livin’ at her mom’s parents for some time, she would have hard time with her grand dad. This most likely explaining her rebellion. A rebellion she would express in many different ways artistically speaking. She started wearin’ make up, drinkin’ alcohol, and visitin’ gay clubs with her brother.
At college, she took a theatre class, with her drama teacher convincing her to join him on a Summer stock tour in Philadelphia, PA. Arriving in the city, Grace decided to stay there for a while. Immersing herself in the Counterculture of the 60’s by livin’ in Hippy communities, and makin’ money as a Go-Go dancer.
Movin’ back to the Big Apple at the age of 18, she signed a deal as a model with the Wilhelmina Modelling agency. Movin’ to Paris in 1970, she litteraly made the buzz. Working as a model with some of the most famous fashion designers in the world. Sharin’ a flat for some time with Jerry Hall and Jessica Lange, Jones starting becoming a regular of Le Sept. One of Paris’s most popular gay clubs of the 70’s whose director – Fabrice Emaer – was to soon after give birth to Le Palace.
Grace Jones delivered her first single – ‘I Need A Man’ – back in 1975 with production work by the likes of Tom Moulton. Her debut-album – ‘Portofolio’ – followed two years after. It notoriously featured a seven-minute reinterpretation of Edith Piaf‘s ‘La Vie en rose’.
With the anti Disco feeling spreading from the early 80’s, Jones slightly transformed her approach. Eventually flirting with New Wave. This giving birth to gems such as her cover version of Roxy Music‘s ‘Love Is The Drug’. If not Ástor Piazzolla‘s ‘I’ve Seen That Face Before (Libertango)’. But also the firing ‘Pull Up The Bumper’. As many cuts she recorded along with Sly and Robbie, not to mentionWally Badarou among others.
Also famous as an actress, Grace Jones got further success along with Trevor Horn. This resulting in the delivery of the memorable ‘Slave To The Rhythm’ album back in 1985. She eventually teamed up with producer Nile Rodgers the year after on her ‘Inside Story’ album. And released another one – ‘ Bulletproof Heart’ – in 1989, before an almost 20 year hiatus. Jones would come back in 2008 with ‘Hurricane’. With her latest album to date – ‘Hurricane Dub’ – released back in 2011.
The subject of countless comments for its visual aspect, Grace Jones‘ look would owe a lot to French illustrator, photographer, and graphic designer Jean-Paul Goude as a matter of fact.
On a more personal note, I briefly happened to meet Grace Jones. That happened back in 1990 at Geneva’s Arthur’s club grand opening party.