The Second Disc

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Don’t Mess with the Messer: Gold Legion Reissues Early Grace Jones Albums

with 3 comments

With her striking, even fearsome, physical appearance, distinctive voice and commitment to only the most danceable of music – a commitment that’s netted her scores of Top 10 hits on Billboard‘s dance charts – it’s safe to say there is no one quite like Grace Jones. Now, thanks to the efforts of the Gold Legion label, part of Jones’ oft-overlooked early history is coming back out on compact disc.

Jones’ discography is considered most bountiful during her time on Island Records, working with producers Chris Blackwell and Alex Sadkin on records like Warm Leatherette (1980), Nightclubbing (1981) and Slave to the Rhythm (1985). But before that, she recorded a trilogy of albums, also on Island, with disco legend Tom Moulton that set the groundwork for the rest of her career.

The albums – 1977’s Portfolio, 1978’s Fame and 1979’s Muse – all follow a very similar pattern. The first side of each album features a lengthy, continuous presentation of songs, sometimes around a similar theme (Portfolio features three showtunes – Sondheim’s “Send in the Clowns,” “What I Did for Love” from A Chorus Line and “Tomorrow” from Annie – while Muse‘s song cycle centers on songs about sin and salvation). Each second side is a non-continuous, non-thematic side, sometimes featuring notable songs in French (“La Vie en Rose” on Portfolio, “Autumn Leaves (Les feuilles mortes)” on Fame, featuring English lyrics by Johnny Mercer). While all were respectable hits in nightclubs, particularly those lengthy side-long medleys, their releases dovetailed with the growing anti-disco backlash, forcing Jones to change her style and thereby leading to the gloriously off-the-wall music that would make her a star in the ’80s.

Gold Legion is now bringing the last two of Jones’ Moulton-produced albums to CD, one of which makes its debut on the format. (Fame was released on CD in Europe and Australia under PolyGram’s Karussell/Spectrum imprints in 1993 – a disc that commands very high prices on the secondary market.) While no bonus material is included – a few international bonus cuts would have been viable additions to Fame – it’s certainly a blast to have them on CD for a relatively more affordable price. Both discs are remastered from the original tapes and feature new liner notes by Christian John Wikane, a contributing editor for PopMatters.

Order links and track lists are after the jump. (Thanks to super reader Dean Harris for the tip!)

Grace Jones, Fame (Island ILPS 9525, 1978 – reissued Gold Legion GLDN-56226, 2011)

  1. Do or Die
  2. Pride
  3. Fame
  4. Autum Leaves
  5. All on a Summers Night
  6. Am I Ever Gonna Fall in Love in New York City
  7. Below the Bealt (La Vieille Fille)

Grace Jones, Muse (Island ILPS 9538, 1979 – reissued Gold Legion GLDN-56227, 2011)

  1. Sinning
  2. Suffer
  3. Repentance (Forgive Me)
  4. Saved
  5. Atlantic City Gambler
  6. I’ll Find My Way to You
  7. Don’t Mess with the Messer
  8. On Your Knees

Written by Mike Duquette

September 29, 2011 at 14:59

Posted in Grace Jones, News, Reissues

3 Responses

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  1. Very cool..where are the order links?

    Robert Lett

    September 30, 2011 at 00:20

  2. While this is not my favorite era of Miss Jones, I will be picking these up!
    I would love to see her entire catalogue remastered in a uniform fashion w/bonus cuts & maybe some extravagant packaging.
    Also a double disc of new (good) remixes wouldnt bother me a bit.

    Grace take note.
    Love, cdmaniac


    September 30, 2011 at 02:36

  3. Thrilled Muse will be finally released on cd. (Bought Fame cd on Spectrum in the early 90s) Disappointed the extended mix of Don’t Mess with the Messer (B side of the On Your Knees 12″) won’t be on it though. Too bad but I guess I should just be satisfied that the “lost” album will at last be coming out on compast disc.


    November 11, 2011 at 21:54

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