“Ladies And Gentlemen: Miss Grace Jones”: Actor Ian McShane says that he recorded his iconic Slave To The Rhythm spoken-word intro after smoking “a large spliff” with Trevor Horn in the studio

Ian McShane
(Image credit: Axelle/Bauer-Griffin/FilmMagic/Getty Images)

Grace Jones’ Slave To The Rhythm album features one of the most memorable spoken-word song intros of all time, and now actor Ian McShane has revealed the details of the circumstances that led him to record it with producer Trevor Horn.

In answer to a question put to him by a reader of The Guardian, McShane confirmed the rumour that Horn approached him about lending his vocal talents to Jones’ 1985 album in a chip shop, telling him that “I need a voice, and Orson Welles is dead.”

“That’s absolutely true,” McShane says. “I’ve known Trevor forever. I was having fish and chips back in 1985 with my wife in Notting Hill Gate. He was at another table and said: ‘Ian, how are you? What are you doing after dinner? Do you want to come over and do something?’ So we went back in the studio, smoked a large spliff, and did the opening of Slave to the Rhythm.”

There’s certainly a strong sense of ‘vibes’ to McShane’s delivery, which is first heard at the beginning of Slave To The Rhythm’s opening track, Jones The Rhythm, as he explains the nature of rhythm to expectant listeners (possibly after eating a large bag of Monster Munch). 

“Rhythm is both the song's manacle and its demonic charge,” McShane begins. “It is the original breath, it is the whisper of unremitting demand.”

It’s the actor’s final line - the one that begins “Ladies and gentlemen, Miss Grace Jones” - that’s become the most famous, though. At the start of the album, this is followed by “Jones The Rhythm”, the name of the first track, but McShane pops up again on the final track, Ladies And Gentlemen: Miss Grace Jones, to say “Slave To The Rhythm” instead.

It’s all a bit confusing, particularly as, on most CD releases of the album, this second McShane intro was removed. What’s more, several songs on the record are based on reworked bits of others.

To keep things simple - and if you want the definitive Slave To The Rhythm experience - we’d recommend the Hot Blooded Version of the song, which has McShane at the start, a few minutes of Trevor Horn flexing his production muscles and plenty of Grace Jones as well. Enjoy.

Ben Rogerson
Deputy Editor

I’m the Deputy Editor of MusicRadar, having worked on the site since its launch in 2007. I previously spent eight years working on our sister magazine, Computer Music. I’ve been playing the piano, gigging in bands and failing to finish tracks at home for more than 30 years, 24 of which I’ve also spent writing about music and the ever-changing technology used to make it. 

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