Nightclubbing became Jones' chart breakthrough and remains one of the greatest commercial triumphs of her entire career. It entered top 5 in no less than four countries, and became the singer's highest-charting record on the U.S. Billboard mainstream albums and R&B charts. The album brought Jones from being a former disco diva with a loyal cult following but dropping sales figures to an international star with mainstream chart success. It later formed the basis of her groundbreaking concept tour A One Man Show. The album was released to critical acclaim, claiming the number one slot on NME's Album of the Year list.Slant Magazine listed the album at #40 on its list of Best Albums of the 1980s.Nightclubbing is now widely considered Jones' best studio album.
Release of a two disc deluxe set, containing most of the 12" single versions of singles, plus two unreleased tracks from the "Nightclubbing" sessions, occurred on April 28, 2014, and Jones enjoyed a UK Top 50 chart placing the following week - her first since 2008.
Universal Music Group re-released the album on vinyl in 2009, and again in 2014, but this time as a two-disc set.
The Nightclubbing album cover, by Jean-Paul Goude presents Jones posing in masculine attire, wearing an Armani jacket and holding a cigarette in her mouth. The look is complete with her trademark flattop haircut. The image was created in New York in 1981 as 'oil paint on cut up photo'.
The lead single from the album was "Demolition Man", written by Sting. The single was not a commercial success and did not chart, although would later become one of Jones' signature songs. "I've Seen That Face Before (Libertango)" was released as the second single and became one of the most commercially successful songs in Jones' repertoire. It secured top 20 positions in several European countries and became another signature song for Jones.
The R&B-dance track "Pull Up to the Bumper" was a quick follow-up to "Libertango". It met with a great success on the U.S. club market, but turned out a modest hit in Europe upon original release. The song would re-emerge in Europe in 1985 as a major success, especially in the UK, where backed with "La Vie en rose" it became one of Jones' highest-charting singles in that country.
"Use Me" and "Feel Up" were then released as singles, but were unsuccessful in charts. The final single off Nightclubbing, "Walking in the Rain", was a minor chart success.
In the UK Adrian Thrills of NME said, "I spent an otherwise-miserable weekend afternoon with the sound of Grace swirling around my little earphones, grooving on songs effortlessly sung but put together with a jeweller's eye for detail".Melody Maker stated, "Now here's an album with something for everyone: reggae, electronics, disco, blues – even a snatch of salsa funk. The incredible thing is that it all gels together so well – the common denominator is the danceability, which lasts all the way through: changes in tempo and pace only help to sustain the energy level."
Andy Kellman of Allmusic praised the album, stating: "Sly & Robbie provide ideal backdrops for Jones yet again, casting a brisk but not bristly sheen over buoyant structures. Never before and never since has a precisely chipped block of ore been so seductive." Music reviewer Robert Christgau wrote, "For as long as 'Love Is the Drug' and 'Private Life' last, Jones makes you forget the Pretenders and Bryan Ferry by sheer weird force of personality, but Bill and Iggy never relinquish 'Use Me' and 'Nightclubbing'."
In 2014 Andy Beta of Pitchfork Media labeled the album's reissue as "Best New Reissue", describing the album as "the record that further cemented her iconic status in pop culture". He also stated: "She treats each cover not as a singer tackling a song, but as an actor inhabiting the skin of a role".Mojo called it "probably the greatest of Grace Jones' Compass Point trio".Uncut called Nightclubbing "the album that came to define Jones as the complete performer, in her own way, as singer, muse, actress, alien and androgyne. Its sound, a sublime mix of reggae, funk, new wave and disco, was as arresting as its cover image... The indigo mood, cool gaze and cigarette suggested Marlene Dietrich, the gender-bending a touch of Bowie. No one had seen or heard anything quite like this, though."Q stated, "The music on Nightclubbing is as stripped-down and full of space as Jones's froideur demanded. Then again, when it evokes more emotional qualities, it also triumphs." The review concluded, "The fact that this music was first released 33 years ago beggars belief: it showcases great minds alighting on the future, and points the way to Madonna, Björk, Lady Gaga, Gorillaz, M.I.A. and more."