Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Rickie Lee Jones - The Magazine

This week (September 12th) marks the thirtieth anniversary of The Magazine, the third studio album from Rickie Lee Jones. It spent twenty-one weeks on the US Billboard Album chart, peaking at number 44. It also went to number 40 in the UK and number 20 on the US Billboard Jazz chart. Some of the album was written in Paris while Jones was kicking her addiction to heroin and cocaine.

Side one opens with the lovely instrumental “Prelude to Gravity”. The track was originally titled “Things Made of Glass” and was planned to accompany a children’s fantasy story that Jones had written.

In contrast, “Gravity” explodes with Jones’ powerful voice and a rocking rhythm. It then settles in a slower pace but that builds again and again.

“Juke Box Fury” easily captures the same spirit of her self-titled debut album from in 1979, a perfect blend of easy-going rock and her sweet jazz vocals.

She slows things down a bit with the smooth swaying “It Must Be Love”. The light percussion of this one carries me along, much like those adolescent waves of falling in love for the first time.

The side closes out with the title track “Magazine”. The first verse is just Jones and her piano, which ends up being enchantingly intimate.

Side two begins with “The Real End”, the track that casual listeners are likely to recognize. As the album’s sole single, it peaked at number 82 on the US Billboard Hot 100.

Things slow down once more with “Deep Space”, another piano based ballad.

Jones draws inspiration from the 1960’s girl-group the Shirelles for the next track “Runaround”.

The final two tracks make up a musical suite titled “Rorschachs”. First up is “Theme For the Pope” with its acoustic guitar and old-world vibe. Jeff Pevar is featured on mandolin on the track.

The final half is “The Unsigned Painting/The Weird Beast”. Here, Jones appears to be searching, very likely on her journey to a clean and sober future. This one includes spoken word-prose from the singer.

Back in 1984, I likely would not have given The Magazine a second glance. This was definitely not the kind of music I was into during my college years. Today, as an adult with many years behind me, I can enjoy the nuances and colors that Rickie Lee Jones was painting with on the songs. If you want to check it out for yourself, you can find it over on Spotify.

For more of my reviews of Rickie Lee Jones’ music, click here.

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