For overall consistency, At Peace With Woman is the Jones Girls at their finest
Daryl Easlea 2009
If ever a group encapsulated mystery and sophistication for young, impressionable UK funkateers at the turn of the 80s, it was the Jones Girls. The Detroit-based sisters – Shirley, Brenda and Valerie – had been recording since the early 70s. However, it was the success they had supporting Diana Ross on tour in the middle of the decade that brought them to the attention of Philadephia International Records (PIR) founder Kenny Gamble.
They became something of PIR vocalists of choice, singing backups for many of the groups, taking on the mantle once occupied by the Three Degrees. The Jones’ self-titled debut album in 1979 set out their stall perfectly – woozy, jazz-tinged close harmony soul which proved an instant hit.
Working with the cream of the label's musicians and recorded at Philadelphia's legendary Sigma Sound Studios, the following year's At Peace With Woman took the formula further.
Although their up-tempo material such as Dance Turned Into A Romance and US hit I Just Love The Man were great successes, the UK connoisseur much preferred their slower, quiet storm material. And there are a couple of absolute stormers here. Album opener, the Thom Bell/Linda Creed-penned Stylistics cover Children Of The Night, sets the languid pace, full of images of night and mystery over a humid groove.
It is the title track that typifies their mellow approach. With an introduction reminiscent of Earth Wind and Fire's Fantasy, it espouses a down-home practical feminism – ''There won’t be peace on earth 'til man's at peace with woman''. Their vocal blend here is at its most powerful.
The Jones Girls' smooth soul reached its apogee with Nights Over Egypt from their 1982 album Get As Much Love As You Can. But for overall consistency, At Peace With Woman is the Jones Girls at their finest.