Slave to the Rhythm (album)

Slave to the Rhythm
Studio album by Grace Jones
Released 28 October 1985
Recorded 1985
Length 43:09 (full version)
37:42 (abridged version)
Label Island Records
Producer Trevor Horn
Grace Jones chronology
Living My Life
Slave to the Rhythm
Island Life
Singles from Slave to the Rhythm
  1. "Slave to the Rhythm"
    Released: October 1985
  2. "Jones the Rhythm"
    Released: December 1985
Professional ratings
Review scores

Slave to the Rhythm is the seventh studio album by Grace Jones, released on 28 October 1985 by Island Records. Subtitled a biography in the liner notes, Slave to the Rhythm is a concept album, produced by ZTT Records founder and producer Trevor Horn, that went on to become one of Jones' most commercially successful albums and spawned her biggest hit, "Slave to the Rhythm".


After finishing sessions at Compass Point for her Living My Life album in late 1982, Jones took a break from recording music and focused on an acting career. Within two years, she made her debut as an actress in the 1984 film Conan the Destroyer where she played alongside Arnold Schwarzenegger. She later gained even more notoriety in 1985 in the James Bond film A View to a Kill where she played the villain May Day. After finishing filming in late 1984 she returned to the studio to work on a follow up, ending an almost three-year-long hiatus.

Slave to the Rhythm, both song and album, was written by Bruce Woolley, Simon Darlow, Stephen Lipson and Trevor Horn and was produced by Trevor Horn, who was assisted by Lipson. Unlike most albums that feature a collection of different songs, Slave to the Rhythm was a concept album that featured several, radical interpretations of one title track. The project was originally intended for Frankie Goes to Hollywood as a follow-up to their hit "Relax", but was finally given to Jones.[2] The recording process featured Horn, Lipson and Jones creating a new version of the song every week or so, ballooning the budget for a single song to nearly $385,000 USD. As such, several versions were collected and released as the album proper.

Musically, Slave to the Rhythm ranges from funk to R&B, incorporating go-go beats throughout the album.[3] All eight tracks are interspersed with excerpts from a conversation with Jones about her life, conducted by journalist Paul Morley, hence the a biography subtitle. The album also contains voice-overs from actor Ian McShane reciting passages from Jean-Paul Goude's biography Jungle Fever. Though recording dates of each version of the song are unknown, "Operattack" was created with vocal samples from "Jones the Rhythm"; while "Don't Cry - It's Only the Rhythm" is a variation of the bridge that appears on "Slave to the Rhythm." Also, "The Fashion Show" could potentially be an early version of "Ladies and Gentlemen: Miss Grace Jones". "Ladies and Gentlemen" would be released as a single, under the title of "Slave to the Rhythm".

According to the album's sleeve notes, extensive use of the New England Digital Synclavier was made in its recording.

Slave to the Rhythm is one of the most successful of all Grace Jones' albums in terms of commercial performance. It performed best in German speaking countries and the Netherlands, where it secured top 10 placings. It also reached number 12 on the UK Albums Chart in November 1985. The album remains the second highest-charting album of Jones' on the US Billboard 200 (after Nightclubbing) and her only entry on Canadian Albums Chart. In 1986 Billboard magazine reported that the album sold 150,000 copies in the USA and 1 million worldwide.[4][5]

Abridged version

Portions of the original LP material are absent on several CD reissues. "Jones the Rhythm", "The Fashion Show" and "Ladies and Gentlemen: Miss Grace Jones" are all edited in length (with the latter track matching the 7" single mix); and the interview portions between Morley and Jones are omitted, rendering "The Crossing" a fully instrumental track. "The Frog and the Princess" appears in extended form and is moved further down the running order, after "Slave to the Rhythm". Ian McShane's introduction from the start of the album, "Ladies and gentlemen: Miss Grace Jones," reappears as the intro to the song of the same name. Only the US CD, released in 1987 (Island 422–842 612-2), and the 2015 remastered CD retain the same track listing and running times as the vinyl version.[6]


The album is well-remembered not only for its musical content, but also for its artwork. Designed by Jean-Paul Goude, Jones' partner at that time, the cover picture is a montage of several copies of a single photograph of Jones, that makes her hair look "extended" and her mouth "stretched". The process of its creation is illustrated in the title song's music video.[7] The artwork has its roots in an earlier design of Goude's, the cover of Cristina's 1984 album Sleep It Off.

In 2008, the Slave to the Rhythm cover was included in Jason Draper's book A Brief History of Album Covers, which described it as "glass-shattering", reconfiguring the singer's image "as someone much more approachable and full of humour than previously thought."[8]


Only two singles were released from the album. The first, "Slave to the Rhythm", was a major hit and has eventually become Jones' biggest chart success. As previously mentioned, this version of "Slave to the Rhythm" was released on the album Slave to the Rhythm under the name of "Ladies and Gentlemen: Miss Grace Jones". However, due to numerous performances, usage in the music video and the big commercial success, this version is now more often associated with the title "Slave to the Rhythm". The actual album track titled "Slave to the Rhythm", which is rendered on the packaging in capital letters, is entirely different and has been confused for the single version for some greatest hits albums.

"Jones the Rhythm", the second and the last single, was released at the end of the year, but passed unnoticed, overshadowed by the success of the first single and the release of the Island Life compilation. It suffered from lack of promotion, as no music video was produced for it and it has never been performed live.

Track listing

Original UK/US vinyl & US CD, and 2015 remaster pressings

Side A

  1. "Jones the Rhythm" – 6:26
  2. "The Fashion Show" – 6:26
  3. "The Frog and the Princess" – 7:04
  4. "Operattack" – 2:45

Side B

  1. "Slave to the Rhythm" – 6:35
  2. "The Crossing (oohh the action...)" – 4:58
  3. "Don't Cry – It's Only the Rhythm" – 2:53
  4. "Ladies and Gentlemen: Miss Grace Jones" – 5:56

Abridged UK CD version

  1. "Jones the Rhythm" – 5:24
  2. "The Fashion Show" – 4:05
  3. "Operattack" – 2:16
  4. "Slave to the Rhythm" – 6:12
  5. "The Frog and the Princess" – 7:34
  6. "The Crossing (oohh the action...)" – 4:51
  7. "Don't Cry – It's Only the Rhythm" – 2:53
  8. "Ladies and Gentlemen: Miss Grace Jones" – 4:27


  • Ambrosian Singers – background vocals, choir, chorus
  • Guy Barker – trumpet
  • Pete Beachill – trombone, trumpet
  • J.J. Belle – guitar, percussion, bass, vocals, hi hat
  • Dave Bishop – tenor saxophone
  • Stuart Brook – trumpet
  • David Gilmour - guitar samples[9]
  • Glenn Gregory – background vocals
  • Jean-Paul Goude – design
  • Trevor Horn – production
  • Luis Jardim – percussion, bass
  • Grace Jones – lead vocals
  • Stephen Lipson – guitar, bass, keyboards, engineering, synclavier, assisting production
  • Andy Macintosh – tenor saxophone
  • Gary Maughan – keyboards
  • John McCarthy – conductor, choir, chorus
  • Ian McShane – voice-overs
  • Andra Faye McIntosh – baritone saxophone

  • Paul Morley – interview
  • Paul Cooke - Jovial Interview
  • Richard Niles – arrangements
  • Tessa Niles – harp, background vocals
  • Geoff Perkins – trombone
  • John Pignegny – French horn
  • Andrew Richards – guitar, keyboards, background vocals
  • Andy Richards – drums, keyboards
  • Frank Ricotti – percussion, arrangements
  • Jon Sinclair – keyboards
  • David Snell – harp, French horn
  • Stan Sulzmann – alto and tenor saxophone
  • James Talbot – alto saxophone
  • John Thirkell – percussion, trumpet
  • Shorty Tim – percussion
  • Philip Todd – alto saxophone
  • Wallmen – keyboards
  • Bruce Woolley – guitar, bass, keyboards, background vocals
  • William "Ju Ju" House - drums

Chart positions

Chart (1985-1986) Peak
Australia (Kent Music Report)[10] 34
Austria[11] 7
Canada[12] 75
Germany[13][14] 10
Italy[15] 15
Netherlands[16] 8
New Zealand[17] 11
Norway[18] 13
Sweden[19] 23
Switzerland[20] 9
United Kingdom[21] 12
United States[22][23] 73
United States (Top R&B Albums)[22][24] 25

Certifications and sales

Region Certification Certified units/Sales
New Zealand (RMNZ)[25] Platinum 15,000^

*sales figures based on certification alone
^shipments figures based on certification alone

Release history

Region Year Format(s) Label
Worldwide 1985 LP, Cassette Island, Manhattan, ZTT
US, Europe 1987 CD Island, Island Masters
Europe 2015 HDCD LMLR, Universal


  1. Scott Bultman. "Slave to the Rhythm - Grace Jones". Retrieved 2006-12-28.
  2. "Perfect Songs artists/writers Trevor Horn". Retrieved 2012-02-12.
  3. "Go Go History". Retrieved 2012-04-09.
  4. Billboard – Google Livros. Google Books. 22 November 1986. Retrieved 29 March 2011.
  5. Billboard – Google Livros. Google Books. 13 December 1986. Retrieved 29 March 2011.
  6. Scott Bultman. "Grace Jones - Slave To The Rhythm (CD) at Discogs". Retrieved 2012-04-08.
  7. "Grace Jones - Slave To The Rhythm - Video Dailymotion". Retrieved 2012-04-08.
  8. Draper, Jason (2008). A Brief History of Album Covers. London: Flame Tree Publishing. p. 262.
  9. "David Gilmour: The Rightful Heir? - Q Magazine, Sep 1990". Q #48. September 1990. Retrieved 2011-07-23.
  10. Kent, David (1993). Australian Chart Book 1970–1992 (Illustrated ed.). Sydney: Australian Chart Book. p. 160. ISBN 0-646-11917-6.
  11. "Discographie Grace Jones" (in German). Retrieved 2009-11-10.
  12. "Item Display - RPM - Library and Archives Canada". RPM. Retrieved 2012-04-05.
  13. "Suche nach "grace jones"". (in German). Retrieved 2012-04-05.
  14. "Liedsuche" (in German). Retrieved 2009-11-10.
  15. "Hit Parade Italia - ALBUM 1986". (in Italian). Retrieved 2012-04-05.
  16. "Discografie Grace Jones" (in Dutch). Retrieved 2009-10-15.
  17. "Discography Grace Jones". Retrieved 2009-11-10.
  18. "Discography Grace Jones". Retrieved 2009-11-10.
  19. "Discography Grace Jones". Retrieved 2009-11-10.
  20. "Grace Jones" (in German). Retrieved 2009-11-10.
  21. "The Official Charts Company - Grace Jones Search". The Official Charts Company. 6 May 2013.
  22. 1 2 "Grace Jones". Allmusic. Rovi Corporation. Retrieved 2009-11-11.
  23. "Grace Jones Album & Song Chart History". Retrieved 2012-04-05.
  24. "Grace Jones Album & Song Chart History". Retrieved 2012-04-05.
  25. "NZ Top 40 Albums Chart". Recorded Music NZ. Archived from the original on 1 March 2016. Retrieved 1 March 2016.

External links

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