Words by DJ Autograph
After Brooklyn’s DJ Autograph broke down Snow’s “Anything For You” video so eloquently a few weeks back, we brought him on as a regular, monthly contributor to Throwback Thursdays. As a bonus, we also included his “Reggae Live!” video mix, featuring videos from Buju, Bob, Busy Signal and more.
When I hear the name Grace Jones, I immediately think of her performance as “Strangé,’’ the out-of-control fashionista in Boomerang. What many people don’t know is that the Jamaican-born Jones has an extensive film, runway (she modeled extensively in New York and Paris), and music catalog. Her career began in 1973 and continues even now. She has recorded 10 studio albums: the first was 1977’s Portfolio, a disco LP released on Chris Blackwell’s Island Records.
The 1980s marked a distinct change in Grace’s sound. Her embrace of New Wave was reflected in Warm Leatherette and Nightclubbing, her fourth and fifth studio albums, respectively. Grace used the best Jamaican talent for both albums, including musicians such as the legendary Sly & Robbie, Mikey Chung and Tyrone Downie. Nightclubbing spawned “Pull Up To My Bumper,” which she co-wrote and was produced by Chris Blackwell and Alex Sadkin. The single, which became one of her signature hits, spent seven weeks at the No. 2 spot on the U.S. Billboard Dance Hot Club Play chart, and was also a Top 5 single on the U.S. R&B chart. Jones’ lyrics in the song were raunchy, though not overly sexual. The surreal video paired what appears to be performance clips with time-lapse footage from the film Koyaanisqatsi, with Jones appearing and disappearing among the scenes of cars, industrial plants and night and daytime footage from various cities.
In 1995, Dorothy Smith, better known as dancehall diva Patra, remade the song. One of the breakthrough crossover dancehall artists of the ’90s, Patra successfully released two studio albums, Queen Of The Pack and Scent Of Attraction during the period. (She also recorded The Great Escape and Where I’ve Been in 2003 and 2005, respectively). Her remake of “Pull Up To The Bumper” resulted from a collaboration with producer Clifton “Specialist” Dillon, and climbed to No. 60 on the U.S. Billboard Hot 100 charts, No. 21 on the U.S. R&B Charts and No. 15 on the U.S. Dance Charts. Several remixes of Patra’s version were made—my personal favorite is Salaam Remi’s party remix, released on the B-side of the 45 in Jamaica. Patra’s video for the song was particularly memorable. It begins with Patra in an all black skin tight outfit with silver dark glasses against a white background as she asks her male audience if they want to “fit inside her space” and “see my headlight and my bumper.” Patra’s remake and accompanying video are raunchier than the original but fit the feel and style of dancehall. The ability of Patra to make this song her own makes me wonder what’s in store for us as she hits the comeback trail…