Editor’s Note: The Albumism staff has selected what we believe to be the 100 Most Dynamic Debut Albums Ever Made, representing a varied cross-section of genres, styles and time periods. Click “Next Album” below to explore each album or view the full album index here.
Having conquered the fashion world by 1977, the statuesque beauty Grace Jones set her sights upon another field she desired access to: music. Partnered with established disco producer Tom Moulton and songwriter Pierre Papadiamandis, Jones’ first album, the aptly titled Portfolio, revealed its stylish contents enthusiastically. The initial side of the album was a collection of lively stage pop numbers from hit musicals like A Little Night Music (“Send in the Clowns”), A Chorus Line (“What I Did For Love”) and Annie (“Tomorrow”). Performed with panache and a knowing wink on top of Moulton’s lush, but groovy soundscapes, Jones was as charismatic on wax as she was in front of a camera. Her rendition of the Édith Piaf standard “La Vie en Rose” spotlighted Jones’ unique vocal tone best however, becoming one of the definitive covers of the composition.
But Portfolio is also remembered for its own original fare too, particularly the breezy disco funk of “I Need a Man” which endeared Jones to gay club circuit audiences who, effectively, set the foundation for her continued success as a recording artist in her formative years of 1977 to 1979.
There was a sly brilliance to Jones grafting her persona onto the glossy sounds of disco as it prepared to finalize its transition from the underground to the mainstream. Portfolio encapsulates Jones’ keen eye, and ear, for detail and the ability to usurp trends to her own clever ends.