The Album -- "Warm Leatherette," ISLAND (ILPS 9592).
Grace Jones still glows and glistens with the heady, sweaty aura of her disco origins, but now a few good measures of musical depth and diversity have been added to the mix. "Warm Leatherette," her fourth album, beats an obvious path to the dance floor, yet several of the LP's tuneful and lyrical tracks will be attractive to a listening and foot-tapping audievce as well.
Jones belts out a couple of strong rockers, lays back on a few others and generally lets the music have its own way. With the albums's hearty studio sound to support her, she moves with ease and assurance from the minimal, punky title piece, "Warm Leatherette," to the passionate "Love Is a Drug."
Born and raised in Jamaica, Jones recalls that as a child she played the role of a tomboy while her twin brother played with dolls. It was then, she says, that her well-known mannish manner first evolved. Indeed, her singing style can best be described as "butch": rough, thick, almost unkind. (Adding an aggressive visual facet to her aural image is a photo, on both of the cover sleeve, of Jones sporting heavily padded shoulders and her trademark flat-top haircut.)
The finest work on the record is a steamy, sexy version of Smokey Robinson's "The Hunter Gets Captured by the Game." Jones is at her best here -- vigorous and throaty. ("Every day things change," she sings, "and the world puts on a new face. Certain things rearrange and the world seems like a new place.") The beat is driving and the song moves along so fine that you've got to stop the record and play it again. No kidding.
Another prime cut is an icy-cold rendition of Tom Petty's "Breakdown": Jones is loose and detaches and makes a heavy hit out of the musical change-up. Also of note is some deft guitar work on "Private Life" and Jones' moving vocal on "A Rolling Stone."