Disco motherload! Four whole LPs, containing Grace Jones’ first three albums (Portfolio, Fame, and Muse), and, crucially for disco music, the 12” extended versions of the singles. The quality is absolutely faultless, Grace herself and the genre of disco being right at the top of their game during this period. All remastered, all 180g vinyl, all Disco Years.
7/10 Frederic Goulet Customer review, 19th June 2017
Disco is a boxset bringing together the first three records from Jamaican supermodel turned singer Grace Jones: Portfolio, Fame and Muse. These are disco albums produced by the 12'' vinyl format inventor : renowned producer and mixer Tom Moulton. It's a sort of disco trilogy that came before her famous landmark Compass Point albums of the early 80's. It offers a Grace Jones before the famous persona kicked in. Nowhere you'll find the reggae infused rock of Warm Leatherette or the detached icy Parisian chanteuse of I've Seen That Face Before (Libertango).
The boxset clearly hits the mark. It is a superb packaging, with the original artwork , a neat remastering and a delightful bonus disc that offers 12’’ remixes, instrumentals and even some singles from the era (note that the CD version of the boxset includes even more tracks). On the other hand, I’m afraid that the original material on the albums is simply ok. We are far from the avant-garde of her next three albums, Warm Leatherette, Nightclubbing and Living My Life. Instead we are in front of run-of-the-mill disco songs with flashes of brillance. You’ll dance all night all right but you won’t be scratching your head over the creativity behind those songs. And, as Ms. Grace Jones wrote herself in her memoirs: you’ll hear a singer trying to find her voice, trying to hit her note.
Portfolio, being her first album, is the best example of that. Side A consisting of disco versions of Send In The Clowns, Tomorrow and What I Did For Love is precarious. Jones' vocals are fragile and thin. Side B, on the other hand, delivers highlights of her disco period. ‘’La Vie En Rose’’ clearly being one. A cover of the most famous french song of all time infused with a supçon of salsa, acoustic guitar and melodramatic phrasing, it has since become a classic and can be found on every Grace Jones best of. Finally, Jones future campiness can be found on the exquisite I Need A Man, closing the album.
Fame marked a step deeper in the glamourous, dramatic and heartbreaking disco world. The suite on side A will have you sweaty by the end of Fame, the third song in the mix. You'll be dancing to love stories, disillusionment and freedom all wrapped up in latin percussions and out of this world choruses. Unfortunatly after this it goes downhill with an attempt at Donna Summers' grandiosity and a failed attempt at singing Les Feuilles mortes.
Muse offers a small glimpse of the Grace Jones of the 80's. The songs here are darker and moodier. Even the production begins to mix elements of rock and synth-pop. And Jones finally finds a niche for her voice, especially in Sinning, Atlantic City Gambler and On Your Knees.
All in all, those albums clearly needed a reissue and the boxset offers just that! However, listening to these albums now is more a matter of curiosity about disco or a desire for completist towards Grace Jones as the singer clearly has outdone herself later, in better albums.
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