By Paul Flynn
'It happened quite by accident, actually,' says Grace Jones of her latest album, Hurricane, smiling, all faux disinterest. 'I didn't plan to record anymore.' The first new material she has released in 19 years, it replicates its title in each dynamically constructed groove. If a 60-year-old woman is not supposed to act with the indecent funk of it all, no one has bothered to tell Ms. Jones.
When she semiretired in the early '90s, gays mourned the loss of their special relationship with the pop colossus. The clubs missed her too, though hipster DJs everywhere continued to close choice sets with 'La Vie en Rose.'
Reappearing at June's Meltdown Festival on London's South Bank, baring buttocks, oozing preposterous glamour, and gamely sporting a succession of outr' headgear by renowned milliner Philip Treacy, it was as if Jones had never been away. A sweet old fruit next to me confessed that he'd lost his virginity in Brixton after her 1982 bellwether pop-art performance A One Man Show, an anecdote she would have relished.
Jones's has been a story replete with sex, drugs, and rock 'n' roll. Does she regret it? 'Oh, God, no! It's the abuse that is bad'not the use.' She blames genetics for her natural disposition toward the more louche end of the pop spectrum. 'We are all quite mad,' she says of her family. '[My mother] always told me that I am a man-izer and my grandfather was a womanizer. And I'm always getting high. She'd say 'Cool it. Cool it,' as if I was going to die young, like him.'
But Jones never has cooled it. In a 35-year career that spans sharing an apartment in the 1970s with Marie Helvin and Jerry Hall as a model in Paris (an early couture peak) to her latest suite of audacious and highly personal musical stories, Jones has set a succession of precedents combining art and music.
Hurricane's centerpiece is a sensational pileup of piano loops, gospel choirs, and ravishing strings called 'William's Blood.' It's classic Jones, another rewriting of the rules by a fierce black woman. And why not? 'I am Grace Jones,' she says. 'I can do anything I choose.' Paul Flynn
Hurricane is available November 3 as an import on Wall of Sound.