Grace Jones – Pull Up To The Bumper

3rd November 2023 · 1980s, 1981, Disco, Funk, Music

People were shocked when Grace Jones performed her “One Man Show” at the Theatre Royal, Drury Lane in October 1981. Including me.

First because it was the first concert any of us had ever seen with no musicians. None at all – just Grace singing to pre-recorded backing tracks on (presumably) DAT machine. Like Madonna in 2023.

Secondly, and memorably, when Grace decided she needed some help to illustrate Pull Up To The Bumper from a ‘volunteer’ in the audience.

As the music began, she strode purposefully offstage and up the aisle, scouring the audience for a suitable victim before settling on a speccy-looking chap in a suit.

He looked initially thrilled as the glamazon bent down, hooked a finger around his tie, and dragged him behind her like a dog on a leash and up to the stage.

Less so when she bent him over, grabbed hold of his hips and thrust herself repeatedly into his hind quarters while singing “Pull up to my bumper baby / In your long black limousine / Pull up to my bumper baby / Drive it in between”, “Grease it / Spray it / Let me lubricate it” and “I’ve got to blow your horn.”

Oh how we laughed; and oh how mortified the poor fellow looked – though he was at least rewarded with a huge round of applause when his usefulness was over and she discarded him like a used condom.

Grace had first come to my attention with her disco-fied take on Edith Piaf with La Vie En Rose back in 1977, and then when she surfed back on the New Wave with a funk-reggae album of covers called Warm Leatherette.

In 1981 she was back again with her fifth album, Nightclubbing, blending funk and reggae and disco and dub and punk and postpunk and her own personal style blending chic hauteur with deadpan vocals.

This song was actually recorded for Warm Leatherette but left off it, and features the same musicians – with a rhythm section of Sly & Robbie – recorded in the Caribbean at Compass Point studios in Nassau.

It didn’t chart at the time but was rereleased in 1985 (with La Vie En Rose on the B-side) and reached No.12. There were also several extended remixes – most notably this one: