Grace Jones

Hurricane/Hurricane Dub

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Initially released in 2008, Grace Jones' tenth studio album, Hurricane, was an appropriately titled whirlwind of dub rock, reggae, industrial electro, and trip-hop which effortlessly re-established her status as pop's premier avant-garde diva following two decades in the musical wilderness. Three years later and seemingly out of nowhere, Hurricane/Hurricane Dub sees producer Ivor Guest further explore its bass-heavy nature on ten reworkings which make the original's downbeat and claustrophobic nature seem positively cheerful, particularly the likes of "Cannibal Dub," whose predatory lyrics ("I'm a man eating machine") sound even more sinister when surrounded by a haze of Massive Attack-esque paranoia, and "Crying Dub," which turns the surprisingly vulnerable piece of jazz-funk into a doom-laden slice of sparse, minimal electronica. Elsewhere, the title track collaboration with Tricky is drenched in reverb-soaked skank guitars and squelchy, techno basslines; the sweeping strings and gospel undertones of "Love You to Life" are replaced by an array of strident military rhythms, Hammond organs, and ambient synth effects; while "Well Well Well Dub" ramps up the authentic riddims and echo-laden ska riffs to produce a suitably atmospheric, old-school reggae number. Of course, considering the prevalent dubby leanings of Hurricane, Guest doesn't always need to provide such radical overhauls, with the likes of "This Is Dub" and "Sunset Dub" given just a slight tinkering rather than an extreme makeover. But by reducing Jones' unmistakable ice maiden tones to a cut-and-paste flurry of vocal loops, he inevitably dilutes some of the qualities that made the original such a captivating record, especially on "Williams Dub" ("William's Blood"), whose autobiographical themes of family and religion are lost among the scratched vinyl samples and chopped-up melodies. Following her previous 20-year hiatus, Hurricane/Hurricane Dub is a slightly out of the blue addition to her back catalog, and although Guest's interpretations work well as an accompaniment piece, it's the return-to-form original (also included here in its entirety) which remains the more essential listen.

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