Coolsville: Music Combines Finger-Snapping Style, Beret-Wearing Artfulness, Bohemian Pop Know-How
Rickie Lee Jones was hip before hipsters came of age. Wearing a beret, exuding supreme cool, and visually demarcating herself as a member of a bohemian underground, her image on the cover of her self-titled debut says as much about the singer-songwriter as it does the music within the grooves. Uninterested in coloring within the lines, Jones steps out, a dreamer in the post-punk age, an adventurous drifter seemingly deaf to the noisiness of her era. No wonder the work remains one of the most impressive opening salvos in history.
Mastered from the original master tapes, our 180g 45RPM 2LP edition of Jones' double-platinum 1979 smash finally gives listeners the ultimate version of this long-adored masterpiece. Always prized by audiophiles for its sonics, the record now breathes with a clearer air, with enhancements in dynamics, imaging, soundstaging, and frequency extension apparent seconds after the needle touches down on the opening grooves. Jones' singular, jazzy vocals – straddling territory between youthful surprise, street-smart sharp, and grown-up seriousness – take on stupendously lifelike qualities to the extent you can hear into her lungs. The slower speed enriches all of the information contained within the grooves.
Emerging from a quiet Los Angeles scene that also laid claim to Tom Waits, a former love interest, Jones reflects an undiminished capacity for fusing folk, R&B, pop, jazz, and scatted word poetry on an effort that matches the flexibility and elasticity of the artist's creative approach. As if playing games of hide and seek, Jones often dances around conventional syllabic phrases, using her delivery to stretch language and vowels, turning in diction that's at once gorgeous and enterprising. She taps into a subtlety of texture and ambience well beyond her then 23-year-old age, inserting sly humor when apt, and never shying away from raw emotion.
Renowned for the Top 10 hit "Chuck E's In Love," Rickie Lee Jones overflows with finger-snapping be-bop accents, funky cabaret melodies, bluesy bridges, soothing balladry, and even Westernized fills. Subdued complexities flavor the arrangements, expressly tailored for Jones' portrait-rich storytelling and character-driven narratives. Such diversity is on display on the metaphorical heartache of "Last Chance Texaco," reflective "Company," and corner-hangout musings of "Danny's All-Star Joint." Throughout, intricate guitar lines give listeners further reason to concentrate on the tunes. This one is simply a must-have.