Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Rickie Lee Jones Girl At Her Volcano 1983

I was deliberately looking for something unusual, something different, something I liked but hadn't heard in along time. This idea sent me to the back bedroom, where vinyl records that overflow from the living room stacks reside. And just look what I found!

This 1983 Rickie Lee Jones product was originally released as a 10-inch vinyl EP with seven tracks. That's the one I pulled out and listened to.

Side one opens with a nice reading of Lush Life, recorded live, and featuring wonderful piano and a distinctively Rickie Lee Jones vocal. You either like her or you don't. It's a very different thing from you either love her or hate her.

This is followed by Walk Away Renee, a magnificent baroque pop song given an incredible arrangement and super-dynamic recording. The synthesizer break is nearly orchestral. The original Left Banke version is lovely, but this is even more than that.

Hey, Bub follows, and it's a pretty, slow ballad. Then she tackles My Funny Valentine (the other live recording), and it is a bold vocal showcase that Jones almost pulls off. It's good but not great.

Side two opens with Under The Boardwalk, and even though we didn't need another version, even back in 1983, well, here it is and it's a cooker! Jones is joined by four other vocalists, and the song gets another magnificent recording. Close-miked and dynamic. Bests every version but the original Drifters.

Rainbow Sleeves gets the big orchestral torch song treatment, and deserves it, but it's still just OK. So Long, another slow ballad, is pretty and delicate and benefits from stunning orchestration with electric piano, oboe, and strings.

It's jazzy and eclectic, bur really it is a vehicle for Walk Away Renee and Under the Boardwalk. These two songs are well more than enough to cover the cost- and it's available in reasonably-priced used vinyl, CD, and download versions. Two great songs given covers worthy of their remarkable originals, from a sometimes brilliant artist willing to take chances for her art.

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