Rickie Lee Jones/Duchess Of Coolsville-An Anthology Pt. 1

This 3 disc collection covers most of the best released material from this Grammy Award winning songstress. Long one of my very favorite artist, Jones covers a wide range of musical styles. From pop to blues, Jones always delivers a stellar vocal and instrumentation. Released in 2005, this excellent Rhino Records release covers Jones’ career from 1979-2003. Jones is slated to release new material in October 2009.

Disc One:

A Tree On Allenford—-Stripped bare and more barren than an acoustic song, the song does offer some more instrumentation as the song progresses. Upon the chorus, the song opens up and becomes a pretty mass appeal type of vocal delivery. The key points are an incredible insightful lyric…somewhat sarcastic and self effacing and a wonderful string and harmonica delivery. Fantastic!

Altar Boy—-Again, heavy on self-effacement, Jones delivers a vocal that is pained and more real than any artist could hope to come close to these days. Any song that begins with a line like “A monk with a hard-on…..” has got to be journey and indeed this is. Perhaps a rally cry against religion, I’m not sure…I gave up trying to analyze Rickie’s lyrics quite some time ago. They are complicated and best left to your own interpretation.

Beat Angels—-This is a duet of sorts and offers the listener a beautiful country flavored harmony. The vocals are soul stirring and will bring tears to your eyes when listened to in the right frame of mind. The music is not as pretentious and is mostly an acoustic guitar with a nice percussive backdrop. This is classic Jones and must be heard.

Bitchenostrophy—-The song, from the onset, has an almost island feel to the music and offers a great flute player also. The vocal seems to be layered and offers a denser sound than earlier releases. The harmonies and the melody are carried by the flute and the vocal falls right in to line with it. This is fantastic!

Bye Bye Blackbird—-Jones delivers a 20’s styled fling with grandeur and competence. This is straight out of an old illegal blues club in the prohibition period when white people would not dream of singing the blues. This is an amazing display of talent and the sax solo is worth the listen alone. Gosh…what an amazing woman.

Chuck E’s In Love—-A single in 1979 that won Jones a Grammy Award or two, the song still manages to sound fresh to me today. Jones has a magic in her voice that has not diminished with age. This was a magical moment for any teenager who listened to radio in the late 70’s…a nice escape from disco and the harder edge of the burgeoning rock scene. This is CLASSIC and TIMELESS!!!

Company—-Catching Jones at her most poignant and introspective, the song urges vocal from Rickie that are not oft heard. The tone and caliber of her vocal delivery is fantastic, and the music again transports you to a nice smoky club where whiskey and water is the drink of choice and the blues are the topic of conversation. Incredible! When Jones reaches her vocal peak, it is history making.

Coolsville—-The piano begins with a traditional Jones sound, the difference is the timbre of her vocal. The style is laid back and extremely cool. The blues tinge is not to be ignored. but it is done in an un obtrusive manner. Jones can deliver a line with the most sarcastic, subtle tone and that is made clear in this song. This is classic Jones and should be heard by even the most casual fan.

Cycles—-Another song that is nearly stripped bare at the onset, Jones has a vocal delivery that is so clear and laid back and lazy. She really does define the word ‘cool’, and this song only proves it. The emotion in her steady voice is full of sarcasm, hurt and despair all at once. This is wonderful.

Firewalker—-With a more modern lyrical soundtrack, the band delivers a great pop song that would play well on Alt Radio. Jones delivers again and again with an emotive and expressive vocal that is without disappointment in any realm of the imagination. Outstanding.

Flying Cowboys—-The song begins with a musical sound that makes me think of classic Tom Petty. The vocal is mixed with a male vocal that rounds the song out in a masterful way…..the play between the two voices only add to the sedate and serene sense of the music. This is pure magic and features Jones at a rather ‘talk-through; vocal that works so well, I listened to this three times before moving on. Great!!!

Ghost Train—-Befitting the title, the song begins rather eerie. The song quickly evolves into one of the bluesiest songs I have ever heard Jones deliver. The tone of this song is down and dirty blues that would even make B.B. King  or Stevie Ray Vaughnproud. This is down and dirty blues delivered ala Jones…..Incredible.

Hey Bub—-A track from my all time favorite Jones release…Girl At Her Volcano[see review 5/7/2009]. The song is a piano bar rendition of the classic song. This is stripped bare and again allows Jones to display her knack of emitting emotion through the power of her voice. This is classically beautiful and sublime in delivery. You must hear this if you are reading this!!!!

It Must Be Love—-Remarkable, because the mix of the song is loud and clear. The vocal seems secondary to the percussion in the mix, but it works incredibly well. The chorus is a strong point for Jones as her emotive vocal rises above the music and they become almost one. This is classic and should be heard by YOU!

Living It Up—-Another very favorite of mine from the Piratesrelease [reviewed 6/13/09]. the song is very piano based and Jones delivers a lyric that is so full of twisted meaning and innuendo, one really has to listen to catch all of the double entendres. Jones has a clear and understandable vocal that makes you think about the content and reflect on the whole Genesis of the song. The song has great mood changes throughout, brought on by the incredible band that is backing the songstress.

Magazine—-With another intro that begins upon the onset of the first note, Jones delivers a narrative of modern. real life. The emotion is goose bump inspiring and the tone is pure Jones. The song develops a mid song journey into melody and harmonies that will take your breath away and quickly dissolves into a pure strong vocal that makes you bawl. This is pure musical ecstasy and I’m so glad I have been a part of this woman’s career.

On Saturday Afternoon In 1963—-Another classic track that tells a story all of it’s own in 2:34. The piano plays a wonderful melody that matches the vocal of Jones to a tee. The strings swell in the background and grow the song to an incredible size. This is beautiful, touching and unforgettable.

Pirates—-The Title track to the release of the same name, Jones is welcomed in by a band intro that is huge and full of jazz sty lings. The vocal is classic and pure….the emotion and the strength is somewhat over powered by the large sound of the music, but the interludes allow Jones to take a starring role in the delivery of the song. When Jones lets loose with the refrain. you are submerged in the pain and the loneliness of the song. Incredible.

Sailor Song—-Haunting and beautiful in delivery, Jones surprised me by embarking on a subject somewhat different than most of her compositions. The tale is very ‘sea’ oriented and less in the vein of street tales, but it works very well with the lonely quality of her vocal. This is very nice but unfamiliar to me?

****3/4 out of 5


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