HomeUncategorizedGrace Jones' Slave to the Rhythm: Classic Album Review

Grace Jones’ Slave to the Rhythm: Classic Album Review

Some pop stars control every note that makes it onto their albums, and a producer serves as their mouthpiece making sure each desired sound is exactly in place. Some pawn the entire vision and process onto their producers, and show up merely to record their parts before calling it a day. But every so often, an artist unites with a producer to create their most indelible work, combining both their producer’s vision and specialized abilities with their own. With Trevor Horn behind the boards, Grace Jones achieved this on her legendary 1985 album, Slave to the Rhythm. 

Slave to the Rhythm is not merely an album. It’s an experience, a biography, a meditation on Grace Jones as a rhythmic deity. It’s eight versions of a single song that show each facet of Jones’ boundless artistry. Perhaps barring the effervescent Nightclubbing, which turned Jones into a global phenomenon upon its release in 1981, Slave to the Rhythm is her most complete and ambitious experiment.

It also represents the greatest artistry of producer Trevor Horn, who worked tirelessly alongside Bruce Woolley, Steven Lipson, and Simon Darlow to pull off the album’s concept. Together,  they created a mythologized presentation of Grace Jones — one whose evocative vision of pop music would influence the genre for years to come.

Here’s something that might sound familiar: When Grace Jones released Slave to the Rhythm in 1985, audiences had been moving away from listening to full albums. MTV dominated the pop culture discussion, prioritizing singles for video syndication, and emphasizing iconography. As Trevor Horn presciently expressed in his 1979 single with The Buggles, video was killing the radio star, and along with it, the album.

But even with MTV’s dominance, there would always be demand for immersion, not just for small offerings, but for a full experience. This is exactly what Jones and Horn had envisioned, and eventually achieved, on Slave to the Rhythm.

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