The “Listen Again” series went over well enough here in the L.A. that your favorite rockin’ record reviewer decided to follow the lead of some TV executives and do a spin-off. In this series we once more examine previously-released albums but the platters we shall peruse in this particular series will be (Rolling Stone magazine) five-star albums. In this edition we revisit Rickie Lee Jones’ Rickie Lee Jones.
For those not up on their pop history, Rickie Lee Jones is a singer-songwriter/musician born in the US in November, 1954. Her signature sound is a somewhat fluctuating blend of blues, jazz, pop, R&B and soul as well as her individualistic vocals. Jones would go all out for her eponymous premiere platter leading the way on vocals, guitar, keyboards, and even horn arrangements.
She would be amply assisted by an assortment of other artists including: Dr. John (keyboards), The Doobie Brothers’ Michael McDonald (vocals), Randy Newman and Michael Boddicker (synthesizer), Victor Feldman (percussion, drums and keyboards), Tom Scott , Chuck Findley and Ernie Watts (horns), Ralph Grierson, Randy Kerber and Neil Larsen (keyboards), Red Callender and Willie Weeks (bass), Nick DeCaro (accordion and orchestral arrangements), Buzz Feiten (guitar), Steve Gadd, Andy Newmark and Toto’s Jeff Porcaro (drums), Arno Lucas, Leslie Smith and Joe Torano and Matthew “Break My Stride” Weiner (background vocals), Mark Stevens (drums and percussion) and Fred Tackett (guitar and mandolin) and Johnny Mandel (orchestral arrangements).
The eleven track LP opens on "Chuck E.'s In Love". In addition to demonstrating her usual talents, Jones also debuted on drums and bass here. The jazz-pop piece is rumored to have been based on a romance with singer-songwriter Chuck E. Weiss.
The second selection is "On Saturday Afternoons in 1963". This is the first of two tracks recorded live. It’s followed by "Night Train" which is perhaps overshadowed by "Young Blood" which is the first of a few songs Jones co-wrote with Alfred Johnson whom she had previously performed with live. It also includes Jones on percussion.
"Easy Money" is one of the songs Jones did live at a showcase which led to her record deal. Jones also plays drums and bass on this track as well. The next number is "The Last Chance Texaco" which is a rework of a demo that helped her get signed with Warner Brothers.
"Weasel and the White Boys Cool" is another Jones-Johnson composition--as is the cut “Company”. The former is a bit lengthy clocking in at 6 minutes. It includes Jones on drums once more. "After Hours (Twelve Bars Past Midnight)" is the second example of Jones live work and the album’s end-note.
With a running time of over 42 minutes, Rickie Lee Jones was released by Warner Brothers in the spring of 1979. The critics were generally complimentary although a few only favored a few tracks. The album became a million-seller climbing to number 3 in the US.
The hit single "Chuck E.'s in Love" rose to number four in the US. It even made it onto the black singles chart in America slotting in at number 79. The sophomore single, "Young Blood", scraped into the Top 40 in the US. By the summer of 1981, thanks in part to the singles and Jones worldwide tour, Rickie Lee Jones’ Rickie Lee Jones had sold more than two million copies in just the US. Jones, placed at number 30 on the VH-1 list of their “100 greatest women of rock” in 1999, further proving that Jones had managed to parlay her tuneful talents into a recording that would not be forgotten.
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