Rickie Lee Jones – Pirates

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A distinguished member of the Better Records Rock and Pop Hall of Fame. 

The typical copy of this album has a number of problems: midrange honk; hardness to the vocals; lack of presence; congestion; insufficient energy; blunted transients; grainy highs and so on. The Warner Bros. team of this era (Herscberg, Titleman, Waronker, etc.) brought us some wonderful recordings, but you’d never know it from listening to the typical ’80s WB Tan Label LP, which tend to be pretty poor. Of course, search hard enough and you can find a copy that delivers some of the magic of the master tape, and that’s exactly what we have here.

Anyone who has spent serious time listening to Rickie Lee’s music probably knows by now how phony and unnatural her music can sound. Let’s face it: This music is designed to “pop” out of the speakers, and everything does. It’s a neat trick when you have a good copy, but it’s just plain unmusical on a bad one. 

TRACK LISTING

Side One

We Belong Together
Living It Up
Skeletons
Woody and Dutch on the Slow Train to Peking

Side Two

Pirates (So Long Lonely Avenue)
A Lucky Guy
Traces of the Western Slopes
The Returns

AMG Review

There are a wide range of musical influences represented (rock, jazz, soul), but the acoustic arrangements are more piano-based than most of her other albums. While there is an undercurrent of reflection on failed romances, Jones also reveals her playful side with songs like “Woody and Dutch.” The musical and lyrical variety on the album is best represented in the album’s centerpiece, “Pirates (So Long Lonely Avenue),” where she moves through mood and tempo changes with ease. Although the songs may not immediately grab the listener, the lyrical and musical complexities ultimately make this album more rewarding with every listen.

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