I’ve Seen That Face Before: looking back on Grace Jones’ iconic Nightclubbing with the people who made it happen

Just as you don’t know what you’ve got til it’s gone, sometimes you don’t know what you’ve been missing til it arrives.

Take the new remastered issue of Grace Jones’s 1981 Nightclubbing for example. The album is one of those things in life that it’s easy to take for granted as A Great Thing – the grooves of ‘Pull up to the Bumper Baby’. ‘Walking in the Rain’ and the rest the perfect distillation of early 1980s cool, the meeting point between the Paradise Garage, the Blitz Club and the dancehalls of Jamaica, and Grace herself is utterly unique: half disco diva, half David Bowie. It IS a near perfect album, dammit. But actually, all the editions of it that existed to date have not really done it justice.

The new release (out now) is given a full remaster spit and polish, now sounding as majestic as it always should, and includes the extended versions that were so important to the album taking its place as part of the nightlife it celebrated. There are also two long-lost tracks from the album sessions: the original song ‘If you Wanna be my Lover’ (nothing to do with the Spice Girls) and the absolutely killer Gary Numan cover ‘Me! I Disconnect from You’.

To celebrate the album finally getting the respect it deserves, I spoke to three people with unique insight into what makes it so special. Drummer Sly Dunbar (of Sly & Robbie) and French synth expert Wally Badarou were two members of the band that was pulled together for the sessions that would lead to Nightclubbing, and which would quickly become The Compass Point Allstars, named after the studio in the Bahamas where they took up residency, and featured on a whole series of classic recordings. Mark Wood, product manager at Universal Music and long time DJ as half of the legendary London Readers Wifes, was the man with the tenacity to make the new edition of Nightclubbing happen.