"Pull Up to the Bumper" was co-written by Grace Jones herself, Kookoo Baya and Dana Mano, and is an uptempo pop-dance song incorporating funk and R&B elements. The song's instrumental path was originally recorded in 1980 during the Warm Leatherette sessions, however, it didn't make the album as Chris Blackwell found its R&B sound not fitting in the rest of the material. It was finally completed for the 1981 critically acclaimed album Nightclubbing and became its third single in June 1981.
The song sparked some controversy for its suggestive lyrics, as they figuratively describe sexual intercourse, prompting some radio stations in the United States to refuse to broadcast it. Among the lines are "Pull up to my bumper baby / In your long black limousine / Pull up to my bumper baby / Drive it in between" and "Grease it / Spray it / Let me lubricate it". However, in a 2008 interview with the Q magazine, Jones revealed that the meaning of the lyrics were not necessarily meant to be interpreted in a sexual context.
Over the years, "Pull Up to the Bumper" has been remixed several times. The original 12-inch single featured the unedited album master recording as an extended mix of 6m45s. There also appears to be an untitled long album version lasting 5m48s which can be found on the U.S. Rebound Records/Polygram Records World of Dance: The 80's compilation CD. An extended dub version lasting 7m17s also known as "Remixed Version" was included as the B-side on the 12-inch release of Jones' "Walking in the Rain"; this version can be found on the Universal Music compilation CD 12"/80s. The "Walking in the Rain" 7" single also had an alternate dub mix as the B-side, called "Peanut Butter" and credited to the Compass Point All Stars. The full mix of "Peanut Butter" lasting 7m02s as well as "Pull Up to the Bumper"'s "Party Version" lasting 5m01s can be found on the U.S. Hip-O Records/Universal Music In Good Company CD bySly & Robbie.
In 1985 the track was again remixed and re-released to promote the Island Life compilation, and was released in two different 12" mixes, one an extended mix with additional keyboard overdubs and remix by Paul "Groucho" Smykle, which can be found on both the Rodeo Media 2011 Dance Classics - Pop Edition Vol. 4 2CD Compilation and the very rare EVA Records 1986 Now Dance compilation CD. The other, an eight-minute megamix entitled "Musclemix", which included excerpts from tracks like "Warm Leatherette", "Walking in the Rain", "Use Me", "Love Is the Drug" and "Slave to the Rhythm", remains unreleased on CD.
Upon its release, the song spent seven weeks at #2 on the U.S. Billboard Hot Dance Club Play chart, as well as becoming a Top 5 single on the U.S. R&Bchart. The track has since come to be one of Jones' signature tunes and her first transatlantic hit. Music critic and writer Glenn O'Brien called "Pull Up to the Bumper" "Grace's first car radio hit". The original 1981 release peaked at #53 on the UK Singles Chart. When it was re-released in 1985, then with the 1977 recording of "La Vie en rose" as the B-side, it reached #12 on the UK pop chart in early 1986. The song then finally charted in Ireland and Germany, and became the singer's best-seller.
In 2011, The Guardian's Richard Vine ranked the release of "Pull Up to the Bumper" as one of fifty key events in the history of dance music, proclaiming it "one of those rare records that manages to replicate the sensation of actually being in a club."
Music video for "Pull Up to the Bumper" is a combination of live footage with Jones performing the song on her A One Man Show and excerpts from Godfrey Reggio's experimental documentary filmKoyaanisqatsi. The video uses the edited studio version of the song and its opening section includes excerpts from the song "Nightclubbing".
Another music video for the song was produced, also using the same live footage, cut and re-edited, but this time retaining the original concert soundtrack. The clip ends with Jones jumping from the stage in the audience.
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- A cover version was released by a Jamaican reggae singer Patra in 1995 from her second album Scent of Attraction. It reached #60 on the U.S. Hot 100, #21 on the R&B chart, and #15 on the dance chart.
- Coolio sampled the song on his 1997 single "Ooh La La", from the album My Soul.
- Another cover version was released by an Australian R&B singer Deni Hines, which featured in 2000 film The Wog Boy. It reached #36 on the Australian ARIA Charts in February 2000.
- Also in 2000, short lived British band Made in London covered "Pull Up to the Bumper" as a B-side for their only charting single "Dirty Water".
- Danish artist Funkstar De Luxe remixed the song with Jones' original vocals, and released it as a single in late 2000, with an accompanying music video. The song reached #4 on the U.S. Billboard dance chart and #60 on the UK pop chart.
- Bands Gossip and LCD Soundsystem performed the song together at the Coachella festival in 2010.