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Current concise reviews of the albums by adult alternative, contemporary, and crossover artists. Images of album artwork and links to both internet-based resources are always included. Click on the title to view the article.

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Rickie Lee Jones - Pirates (Original Master Recording) - CD Cover
Image © Mobile Fidelity Sound Lab 2009

Rickie Lee Jones
gatefold photo: Michael Halsband
Image © Mobile Fidelity Sound Lab 2009


(19 September 2009) Rickie Lee Jones' full length album releases span the past 30 years. Her second album Pirates (Mobile Fidelity Sound Labs (USA) UDSACD 2040, 1979) was originally released in 1981 and reached a chart position of #5 that year. Ricki Lee Jones stood out alongside the likes of Linda Ronstadt back in the day. Learn much more about Ricki Lee Jones artistic development, influences, love interests and music career in Wikipedia. The artist has released 15 albums at this writing.

Pirates is Rickie Lee Jones' second LP and her second highest charting album. Mobile Fidelity has been setting the audophile standard for thirty years. Their 2009 Original Master Recording is presented on a Ultradisc II 24KT Gold CD. The eight tracks were mastered at MSFL in Sebastopol, CA by Rob LoVerde on the Gain 2 System™. The luxurious gatefold cardboard sleeve of the special limited edition includes a color booklet with full lyrics. The booklet includes one of the greatest images of Rickie Lee Jones ever taken. Buy the album to see it.

Rickie Lee Jones' music is characterized by rich instrumental production drawing on jazz, singer songwriter and rock stylings. The tracks are a good 20-25% longer than was typical of the time. Her crystalline vocalise oftentimes glistens in an exclusive style in the final arrangement. Her 1979 hit song "Chuck E.'s In Love," a single from her self-titled debut album, popularized her sound. Soprano almost spoken vocals open Pirates in "We Belong Together." Producers Russ Titlelman and Lenny Waronker obviously knew how to treat Jones' vocals from the start. Sung parts and vocalise draw the listener in from the beginning of this 38-minute record. MFSL's treatment in this Original Master Recording is superb.

Musical themes and melodies that drew attention to Rickie Lee Jones recur throughout Pirates and immediately draw attention in "Living It Up." Backing harmonies are most often provided by Jones although she draws on Sal Bernardi in this track. These harmonies are outstanding. In "Woody and Dutch on the Slow Train to Peking" she is joined by Arno Lucas, Leslie Smith and Joe Turano. While the original vinyl recording was likely wonderful, MFSL's remastering of this recording brightens the vocal work, adds depth to the instrumental and most notably provides a perfect blend.

The tender ballad "Skeletons" highlights Rickie's crystalline vocals gliding over a stark piano part and warm synth, oboe and string washes that perfectly accompany the singer. The title track also harkens musical themes and melodies Jones popularized in her top charting single. The artist clearly draws on a working formula to draw the listener in and then blends rich orchestration, soaring vocals and dramatic texture changes in this standout. The crisp percussion in the downtempo "A Lucky Guy" perfectly punctuates Rickie's jazzy vocal part. Her vocal excursions are tremendous. The robust production of the MFSL edition is evident.

An extended instrumental mid-section on "Traces of the Western Slopes" perfectly compliments Rickie Lee Jones' poerfully expressive and most crystalline lead vocal. We loved the tempo changes and the outstanding production of this almost eight-minute album standout. With the richest orchestral production, the album concludes with "The Returns." A very short track, it clearly illustrates the power and range of not only the singer but her production team. The clarity achieved on this MFSL recording is outstanding.

Rickie Lee Jones has draw attention from female vocalist enthusiasts for 30 years. Mobile Fidelity Sound Lab's Original Master Recording of Pirates is hopefully the first in their series of remasters by this stunning singer. The eight tracks have had an outstanding remastering and the mini-cardboard limited edition sleeve is a stunning collector's item for newcomers to and ongoing fans of the music of Rickie Lee Jones.

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