Warm Leatherette was a milestone in the career of the Jamaican singer Grace Jones. Not only was the album a reaction to the anti-disco movement in the States, but a new expression for Jones, both audibly and visually. A remastered version of the album is soon to be released through Island Records.
Warm Leatherette was first out through Island Records in 1980. Not only was this album a big contrast to Jones's three previous disco-based records Portfolio, Fame and Muse, but a change in her visual style. Styled by her then-boyfriend, Jean-Paul Goude, the album cover presented Jones's androgynous look for the first time.
1979 was an important year in the history of modern music. The disco scene angered rock fans, who unleashed their hatred on homosexuals, African Americans and Latin Americans alike. The "anti-disco" movement rose to a fever pitch after the infamous Disco Demolition Night in the baseball stadium Comiskey Park, Chicago, whereby a crate filled with disco records was blown up during a match between the Chicago White Sox and Detroit Tigers.
As a result of all this controversy, with its homophobic and racist undertones, some disco artists had to change their style to overcome disco's plummeting record sales. One answer was the new wave movement, which brought punk and disco's avant-garde to centre-stage.
While a name in New York's 1970s disco and party scene, Jones was courageous, so moved towards the new wave movement. Mixing reggae with rock, Warm Leatherette was released in 1981 and was Jones's statement on integrity, sexuality and pride.
Grace shares in her recently released book I’ll Never Write My Memoirs that disco had dramatically changed. So had Jones, but to her, disco would always be the most open-minded music scene.
“Where it [disco] ended up was the fault of the white, straight music business," said Jones to The Guardian, "which drained it of all its blackness and gayness, its rawness and volatility, its original contagious, transgressive abandon.”
The reissue Warm Leatherette: Deluxe Editions will launch through Island Records on 17 June in a remastered version, a special-edition box set featuring single versions, long versions and in-era mixes of the album.