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Rickie Lee Jones
Rickie Lee Jones
Price: $3.99
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars "RICKIE LEE JONES": WHAT A DEBUT!!!, February 21, 2007
This review is from: Rickie Lee Jones (Audio CD)
In 1979, when I despondently thought there wouldn't be any new music coming around that wasn't dance-floor oriented or bombastically loud, along came Rickie Lee Jones with her eponymously titled debut album - and what a debut it was!!!

There have been some really great artists who have come down the pyke with stunning initial efforts, amongst them The Beatles, Carly Simon, Bette Midler, Roberta Flack, to name a few; but by me, Rickie Lee's debut is, perhaps arguably so, by and large the best debut album by any recording artist ever.

This album is immediately immensely likeable. It is jazzy, folky, rock and soulful all at once. It is filled with catchy, interesting songs led off by the hot "Chuck E.'s In Love" and doesn't stop its groove all the way through eleven memorable songs. These songs are tough, yet tender: I love the brazen, cool, hip style of "Easy Money", "Young Blood", and "Danny's All-Star Joint" and yet I can actually cry through "On Saturday Afternoons in 1963" and the heart-wrenching "Company". Her vocals push the emotion of each song right into the listeners' individual beings. How many singers can make you feel such a gamut of emotions?

Rickie Lee Jones is a superb songwriter and these emotions are explored via a variety of well-fleshed-out characters populating her songs here: the now-legendary Chuck E.; Sal the Weasel from "Weasel And The White Boys Cool"; a young mother and her baby on the lam in "Night Train"; a gang of youths roaming the night-time city streets in "Young Blood"; a bunch of devious crooks in "Easy Money"; Cecil the chef in "Danny's All-Star Joint"; and the fragmented gang of "Coolsville".

Yet, when "all the gang has gone home and I'm standing on the corner all alone" as she sings in the closing "After Hours", you know she will be alright because she's strong and she has gathered the momentum she needs just as the broken-down car she symbolically uses in "Last Chance Texaco".

In my estimation, Rickie Lee Jones' debut was the best album of 1979, just edging out Van Morrison's "Into The Music" and Fleetwood Mac's "Tusk". It is not dated-sounding at all because it is so wonderfully original and unique and as the years have gone by I have heard a lot of copycats imitating (or at least attempting to imitate) what this great artist has brought to the musical landscape of popular culture.

The Sermon On Exposition Blvd. [Deluxe Limited Edition --- includes 5.1 SACD version and 40 minute DVD of making the record]
The Sermon On Exposition Blvd. [Deluxe Limited Edition --- includes 5.1 SACD version and 40 minute DVD of making the record]
Price: $15.93
48 used & new from $0.33

10 of 12 people found the following review helpful
Well, I've been listening to Rickie Lee Jones' latest album, "The Sermon On Exposition Boulevard" for one week now and this I can say with absolute certainty: it is 1) an awesome effort in need of several listenings before any judgements can be made and 2) worthy of the necessary time spent with it because 3) it just gets better and better with each listening. Why? Because even though it sounds so sparse and "low-fi" (as the liner notes point out), there really is so much going on on several levels - lyrically, musically, vocally.

Another thing I can say with certainty is this: once again Rickie Lee Jones has just amazed me and blown me away with her artisitic resolve to never repeat herself. "The Sermon On Exposition Boulevard" sounds nothing like her last great release, "The Evening Of My Best Day", which is so different from "Ghostyhead", which is light-years away from anything I ever expected her to do, and etc. on down through what I consider to be some of the best albums I've ever heard: "Traffic From Paradise", "Flying Cowboys", "The Magazine", "Pirates", and her eponymously titled debut. She's always different, always doing something unexpected, always showing herself to be one of the most unique and interesting artists with whom I've ever spent my time, always proving herself great.

"The Sermon On Exposition Boulevard" rocks in a folky, jazzy, punk way. It is raw and earthy, yet, indeed, heavenly inspired. You've probably already read the comparisons to Van Morrison and Patti Smith, but I want to say this with utter clarity: Rickie Lee Jones is her own artist, a force to be reckoned with on her own terms. I adore her for that.

So, I'm not through with this new "Sermon On Exposition Boulevard" yet; because another thing of which I'm certain is this: these songs, based on translations of the words of Jesus Christ, may (or may not) help bring further revelations to me regarding my own spirituality (as I gather and assimilate input while on my own earthly journey); but insofar as the artistry of Rickie Lee Jones is concerned, the fascinating (and, at the very least, respectful) nature of this work will further my admiration for her ability to convey her own muse's meandering, offbeat ways to me.

In My Life
In My Life
21 used & new from $11.94

4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars "IN MY LIFE": JUDY COLLINS SETS THE ARTISTIC PACE, February 12, 2007
This review is from: In My Life (Audio CD)
Judy Collins' "In My Life" has always been highly referred to as being innovative, artsy, and classy; and all of these accolades are quite true. For with "In My Life", Judy straddled the gap between pure folk music and popular music in many of its delineations, setting the pace for musical artistry.

The orchestral arrangements which would come to the forefront with her following release, "Wildflowers", show their origins in her work with this strong 1966 release as evidenced by the lovely, almost classical-sounding arrangement given to Dylan's "Just Like Tom Thumb's Blues", the opening cut, and two other extremely strong tracks - "Marat/Sade" and "Pirate Jenny", both from the theatre and both important in the messages the artist wishes to convey: the inappropriateness of political and social oppression with the former and the need for equality with the latter.

Elsewhere on this album there are further strong musical commentaries including "La Colombe", a fierce anti-war diatribe, and the very first recordings of songs by the incredible songwriting master, Leonard Cohen: "Dress Rehearsal Rag" and most importantly "Suzanne", a beautiful folk-pop number about how one's love can be as strong and as equal whether the subject of one's love/desire be as lowly as Suzanne "wearing rags and feathers from Salvation Army counters" or a lofty as Jesus Christ, Himself.

Another track which is potent in its meaning and, given the same sublime solo-acoustic guitar treatment as "Suzanne", reaches new pinnalces of meaning thereby, is the title track, a beautiful rendering of The Beatles' "In My Life".

I also really love the fun of Richard Farina's "Hard Lovin' Loser", with its great keyboard arrangements and jazzy drum highlights, and Donovan's hippy-dippy "Sunny Goodge Street". "I Think It's Going To Rain Today" is also a standout cut, stark in its performance, highlighting Randy Newman's bleak lyrics of portend.

Judy's vocals on this album are just amazing: she sings with a ferocious fervor on "Pirate Jenny", "Marat/Sade" and "La Colombe"; an almost accusatory exactness on "I Think It's Going To Rain Today" and "Dress Rehearsal Rag"; a rock-and-roll verve on "Hard Lovin' Loser"; a loving, touching sweetness on "Suzanne" and "In My Life". All the emotions that each of the eleven tracks on this album hold are fully realized in her gorgeous singing.

Judy Collins' "In My Life" is one of those albums from the mid-1960s which showed that the true artists populating the music scene at that time were quite serious about the intent to bring change into the world via their artistic sensibilities; and Judy Collins was certainly at the forefront of that endeavor. "In My Life" was cutting-edge in its time and still is.

Whales & Nightingales
Whales & Nightingales
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
This review is from: Whales & Nightingales (Audio CD)
Although somewhat musically related to "Wildflowers" in it's orchestral stylings, Judy Collins' "Whales And Nightingales" has a slighter folk-rock tinge to it and is a more scenic, if you will, view of the world - encapsulating political, social, spiritual, ecological, and romantic concerns into its captivating musical panorama.

"Whales And Nightingales" opens with her compeer Joan Baez's "Song For David", her then-husband who was arrested and jailed for resisting the draft into Vietnam while she waited with their new-born son for his release. It is a powerful song; its power belied by its beauty, as it actually sounds apolitical. It is followed by Jacque Brel's "Sons Of", a solo-piano accompanied lullaby, of sorts, reminding us of the diversity of human life and how all, created equal, can come to so many different paths in life. On this album, Judy has also included Brel's wonderful "Marieke", sung in French and Flemish.

Dylan's "Time Passes Slowly" is one of my favorite tracks here and is a lush, folk-rocking love song; Judy's voice soars on this number, once again showing how well she interprets Dylan. She also does a spectacular job of Pete Seeger's "Oh, Had I A Golden Thread".

Collins, herself, composed for this album: her contributions being "Nightingale I", a romantic song in which she is the nightingale hunted but not struck by the arrow aimed at her by her potential suitor. She accompanies herself on piano, once again showing her classically trained musicianship, which fully blossums on the following "Nightingale II", an ambitious, completely orchestrated classical sounding instrumental piece.

"Whales And Nightingales" also includes traditional songs, supremely arranged and adapted by Collins: "Prothalamium", a song of rejuvination; "Farewell To Tarwathie", a centuries-old Scottish whaling song performed over a backdrop of the songs humpback whales sing to each other, reminding us of the beauty of the natural world and, conversely, how it is NOT to be squandered and depleted; and the closing spiritual cuts "Simple Gifts", about the simple recognition of the essence of being and the gratitude for life; and her colossal hit, "Amazing Grace".

Judy Collins' "Whales And Nightingales" covers a broad spectrum of the issues of life and living. When time is spent with it, lights shine, revealing its messages of hope and faith and peace and love.

Wrap Around Joy
Wrap Around Joy
Price: $11.98
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars "WRAP AROUND JOY": CAROLE KING'S POP-ROCK MASTERPIECE, January 17, 2007
This review is from: Wrap Around Joy (Audio CD)
In 1974, while Carly and Joni were battling it out for top honors amidst the proliferation of female singer-songwriters at the time, Carole King released "Wrap Around Joy", a mostly joyful pop-rock entry into the fold, showing that she was still one of the mighty queens of the rock world.

Of course her endeavor was tremendously aided by the huge hit single, "Jazzman", with Tom Scott's memorable sax performance; but "Wrap Around Joy" has many other noteworthy songs.

Carole's power piano chords of the sing-along opening cut "Nightingale" (a second top ten hit for her from this album) really capture the listener's attention right from the get-go. "My Lovin' Eyes" and "You Gentle Me" are wonderful pop-rock confections, as is the title track and "You're Something New", one of my favorite Carole King start-of-love songs ever. Conversely, "You Go You're Way, I'll Go Mine" is one of the best break-up songs I've ever known.

"We Are All In This Together" is a great song of unification of the human race and is, therefore, quite an IMPORTANT message still today in this mad, mad, mad, mad world in which we live. I love the optimism of this song especially when balanced with the closing song, "The Best Is Yet To Come", which never fails to lift my spirit. Songs like these make me very grateful to Carole King for the solace her music has given my life on so many occasions. Listen and see if you don't know what I mean.

Who Knows Where the Time Goes
Who Knows Where the Time Goes
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
Judy Collins' 1968 release "Who Knows Where The Time Goes" is a true folk-rock masterpiece which may very well have set the standard and was the template for the modern folk-rock wave that took hold of the music scene by by dawning of the 1970s. Filled with masterly covers of songs by Leonard Cohen, Bob Dylan, Fairport Convention, The Incredible String Band and Ian Tyson, "Who Knows Where The Time Goes" has a country-rock edge to it and a smattering of her classical inclinations mixed into its folkiness.

The album starts out with "Hello, Hooray", a rousing number about performing, something the hard-working Collins knows quite a bit about.

Next up is Cohen's bizarre tale, "Story Of Isaac", with its religious overtones and its haunting harpsichord accompaniment. On this album, she's also covered (what I feel) is the premier cover of his "Bird On A Wire", done in a countrified style, as is Ian and Sylvia's "Someday Soon", a hit for Judy.

Collins' beautiful soprano floats on Dyaln's "Pity The Poor Immigrant" and The Incredible String Band's "First Boy I Loved".

The title track is by the late Sandy Denny of Fairport Convention and is a shining example of how Judy Collins' artistry can make a song her very own.

The eerie "Pretty Polly" (a "traditional" song and, again, I don't know where Collins digs up some of these interesting things she's recorded over the years) is a staggering account of physical abuse and murder with a moral to it.

Her own composition, "My Father", is truly magnificent and shows what a polished songwriter and keyboardist she is.

"Who Knows Where The Time Goes" really moves and is another album from Judy Collins' pinnacle of fame that has stood the test of time, sounding as modern as ever amidst the new trend of Americana-flavored music which has made headway in recent years and is a great example of the influence she has had on the music world.
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Don Juans Reckless Daughter
Don Juans Reckless Daughter
Offered by Farmhouse Girl
Price: $19.99
38 used & new from $0.24

2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
Before jumping head-first into the abyss of straight-away jazz with "Mingus", Joni Mitchell released the intriguing "Don Juan's Reckless Daughter", which is a culmination of the folk-jazz of its predecessor, "Hejira", and its predecessor, "The Hissing Of Summer Lawns", with its own share of jazz inflections and world rhythms.

"Don Juan's Reckless Daughter" is a sprawling effort: the lengthy, non-Top 40 song formats she incorporated on "Hejira" are really pushed to the extreme on this album. The most obvious example of this is her epic masterpiece, "Paprika Plains". Dissonant sounding at times, this sixteen minute magnum opus alone makes this album worth owning. I love reading the parenthetical lyrics that are couched between the vocalized lyrics, matching them to the discordant (in a very good way!) orchestra mixing with her clunky piano playing. It almost sounds like it wants to be easy listening, is anything but, and is well worth the effort.

The title track is another extreme masterpiece and is one of my very, very faves of all her songs. Her imagery beautifully captures the dichotomy of desire/lust and higher emotinal needs and is just astounding. Musically, the groove of her guitar, Jaco's bass and the percussion here just sucks you right in.

The opening "Overture/Cotton Avenue" is an entrancing, mood-evoking song about going out for an evening of dancing and I find it irresistible! The theme, or at least the backdrop of dancing/dance floors, comes up several times through the album: the aforementioned "Paprika Plains" takes place in a dance club as does "Talk To Me", which contains one of her most fascinating (of many fascinating) lyrics: "I didn't know I drank such a lot/Til I pissed a Tequila Anaconda the full length of the parking lot".

"Jericho" is a really different kind of love song, promising to let the walls of defense one puts up come down just like...well, you know.

"Otis And Marlene" is a not-so-sly condemnation of idyllic health-spa vacationing off-set by some ominous trouble-in-paradise.

Trouble also looms in "Off Night Backstreet", a song about discovering the cheating of a lover, while "The Silky Veils Of Ardor" closes the album with a calm bemusing about the trickiness of love and romantic relationships.

Rounding out this complex album are the third-world rhythmic "Dreamland" and "The Tenth World", with Chaka Khan amongst the chanting vocalists.

Be prepared for quite a wild ride with "Don Juan's Reckless Daughter" - it is far from any ordinary album and is certainly a great milestone in the catalogue of Joni Mitchell.

True Stories & Other Dreams
True Stories & Other Dreams
17 used & new from $9.98

4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
When this album was first released in the early 1970s, Judy Collins had already written some really amazing songs ("Since You Asked", "Albatross", "My Father" and "Nightingale" amongst them), but she was mostly known as being a great interpreter of others' material; but with "True Stories And Other Dreams", she placed herself right up there firmly with the other great folk-rocking singer-songwriter troubadours at the forefront of the musical scene.

This album contains some nice versions of songs by Valerie Carter (the superbly enjoyable "Cook With Honey"), Stephen Stills ("So Begins The Task") and Tom Paxton ("The Hostage", a really riveting number about a prison riot).

However, the big highlights on this album are Judy's own magnificent compositions: "Fisherman Song" is a great folk-rocky number with an ecological overtone; "Song For Martin" is about a friend's suicide and is, therefore, quite sorrowful; "Holly Ann" is a beauty of a number about her sister and, musically, sounds like the weaving she does; "Che" is an epic masterpiece about political unrest in South America; "Secret Gardens", as you may have already read in some of the other reviews of this album, is a supreme masterpiece and must be heard, as it reminds all of us how our ancestors stay young somehow and are always with us, even as we grow older - it never fails to move me and I long to hear it again as I type these words into the computer.

"True Stories And Other Dreams" is a true testament to the artistry and talent that is Judy Collins. Her voice is as beautiful as ever on this recording and her songwriting here puts her right there with all the songwriting greats of that era (or any era, for that matter!).

Rhymes & Reasons
Rhymes & Reasons
34 used & new from $0.98

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
This review is from: Rhymes & Reasons (Audio CD)
Carole King's "Rhymes And Reasons" is an album of "pianoscapes": arpeggios and pumping chords dressed with light percussion and bass lines. The result is a flowing, entrancing set of homespun songs that simply cut through to the heart of the matter while dealing with some weighty subjects.

Romantic relationships ("Come Down Easy"), lonliness ("Feeling Sad Tonight"), isolation ("My, My She Cries"), spirituality ("Stand Behind Me"), prejudice ("Peace In The Valley") and the struggles of life ("Gotta Get Through Another Day") are handled with her trademark of simple acknowledgement and wisdom.

There are no huge blockbuster hits here - just twelve spectacular songs that spin a cycle of life, of sorts.

After listening, one feels let in on some clues as to where we all have been and may be heading, while feeling a peaceful calm because "Rhymes And Reasons" has a tranquil overtone accentuated by Carole's sweet vocals.

I highly recommend taking some quiet time with this album, where and when its subtle nuances will wash over you and transport you to a contented place, aware of the troubles and trials of life yet feeling redeemed because of the warmth and placidity of this superb recording.

For the Roses
For the Roses
Price: $13.58
87 used & new from $1.15

6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars "FOR THE ROSES": JONI MITCHELL'S FLIGHT FROM THE BLUES, PART ONE, December 27, 2006
This review is from: For the Roses (Audio CD)
Between the pivotal "Blue" and the exceedingly popular "Court And Spark", Joni Mitchell escaped to her homeland, Canada, away from the pressures and trappings of her career. Emotionally raw from her "blue" period where her privacy crashed with fame, it was there, it is my understanding, where "For The Roses" was born, freed somehow by terra firma. What we have with "For The Roses" is an album of great complexity and simplicity, the isolated artist continuing to grow and change just as the lush vegetation and water around her in the album's magnificent photos would attest.

Rooted in folk-rock, "For The Roses" shows the first ever-so-slight dabblings into the jazz foray where her muse would take her for basically the rest of her career. However, the songs are mostly stripped down, reminiscent of their origins in the wilderness of Canada, rugged. The vulnerability of "Blue" is still there, but there is also the strength of the deep roots of home.

Lyrically, "For The Roses" shows signs of further growth and strength, also. From the start, Mitchell had been quite articulate, but this album marks the start of her supreme poetry. The songs tackle subjects from hunger ("Banquet") to drug abuse ("Cold Blue Steel And Sweet Fire"). The title track hauntingly evokes the lonliness of isolation still aware of popularity ("I heard it in the wind last night, it sounded like applause") while understanding and comraderie is sought with another great musician in "Ludwig's Tune". One can hear the stalwartness in emotionally ravaged autobiographical songs such as "Lesson In Survival" and "Let The Wind Carry Me" and "Woman Of Heart And Mind", which really captures what one would sense to be the essence of Joni Mitchell; and, of course, there are the songs about romantic relationships gone awry, "See You Sometime" and "Blonde In The Bleachers", two of my favorites amongst a collection of great songs.

The retreat, precipitated by "Blue", that marked the creation of "For The Roses" garnered Joni Mitchell the renewed strength to create the L.A. jazz-based "Court And Spark". However, "For The Roses" is a great achievement, in and of its own merits, and deserves that recognition.

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