Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Lone Justice: Go 'Way Little Boy (Live in '85)

"I was a big Lone Justice fan...(Maria McKee) was so young and so good. But she got told that way too much."
Jason Ringerberg, Babylon's Burning
Getting labeled promising in the mid-eighties via endorsements by such figures as Bob Dylan, Jimmy Iovine, U2, David Geffen, Emmylou Harris, Tom Petty and Linda Ronstadt ended up destroying L.A.'s Lone Justice's shot at cow-punk glory. Instead, after an almost-great album, Maria McKee ended up alone with Mimi Steve Van Zandt making a soulless, mercenary grab for eighties pop radio gold before finally striking out under her own name.

As proof of their anointing, their debut album from 1985 featured not only an unreleased Tom Petty song ("Ways to be Wicked) but also, as a B-side, a Dylan out-take from from his 1984 album Empire Burlesque called "Go 'Way Little Boy". Dylan himself plays on the song, which, not unlike his own version, never rises much past the pleasant mark.

16 is Bob Dylan's solo version "Go 'Way Little Boy"
11 i
s Lone Justice (w/ Bob Dylan) doing "Go 'Way Little Boy"

"We were fairly radical. We had all these punk rock influences. My style of music [which] had always been very raw and urgent...got sublimated by people who thought it would impede commercial progress. The minute the record business was involved, I was fodder to these satin-jacketed men."
Maria McKee, Babylon's Burning
Lone Justice's lived and died by Maria McKee's voice. It was a bold and powerful instrument but it was frequently showcased to such a degree that it overshadowed the songs, the band and anything else that got in the way. Their earlier work, from which era this FM broadcast originates, still sounds like a real band, and a damn fine one too.

Live at The Paradise Theater link is in the comments

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  2. One of my favorite-ever Dylan stories has to do with the recording of LJ's version of Go Away Little Boy. In the great anthology Wanted Man, Maria McKee tells the story of how Dylan, who produced, kept pushing the band to do take after take, unsatisfied with her vocal. Finally, in frustration, she says she just threw her head back and sang the next take in her very best Dylan imitation, just to spite him. After the take ended, Dylan got on the studio mic and said "That's it, girl! Now you're really doing some singing!!!"

  3. CallPastorJerkfaceMay 11, 2010 at 9:34 AM

    It took 25 years but now at least I know why everyone was in a tizzy about this band back in the day. My brothers Rolling Stone's couldn't get enough of LJ and I had no idea why. These live tracks have opened up my eyes. Thanks!

  4. Hi,

    Each day I get about 30 minutes to run around the web, visiting sites that I've discovered in which I know I'll find something special and that every so often will make my day.

    Your tiny blip in the universe in such a place. Music ruined my life as well. I'd always hear, "Jeff, you're smart, people like you, you could make a success of your self out there - so get a haircut, give up your rock and roll dreams, quit your job doing overnights at that radio station and become an accountant, or a lawyer... be something..."

    Of course, I don't think my life has been ruined, even if others do. I have a feeling you can relate.

    If so, another thing we have in common is the music. There's always something interesting here - always something worth adding to my treasure chest aka, my music stash, which, of course, is where we can go when we need something to make sense of the world or we just want to feel good.

    Maria McKee is a beautiful woman with intelligence who has been blessed with once in a lifetime talent. I've loved her since the moment I first heard her sing. Her solo work is truly, singularly special and more than deserving of the work one might be required to do to gain access to her body of work.

    Thanks for being there for me, day after day. And, of course, give Maria my love.

    Jeff McKee (no relation, which is okay, cause she'd never be interested in me if I were, like a third cousin, but now, as an eternal I believe I still have a chance with her. If it doesn't work out, that's okay too. She's already given me more joy than seems fair. See ya real soon...

  5. I remember an interview with LJ where McKee admitted they'd been given a Dylan song... but ended up not using it. Oh to be in that position...

  6. Thanks for this chance to hear Maria McKee from before the amazin' _Life is Sweet_. Totally riveting, that. The one before LIS, _You've Gotta Sin to be Saved_, has a LJ requiem on it, I think.

    The J&Scorchers lovely too. Taking me back. Time for some Gun Club?


  7. The quote you included it really nails it about MM and LJ:

    "I was a big Lone Justice fan...(Maria McKee) was so young and so good. But she got told that way too much."

    Still - a lot to like there anyway.


  8. TPC
    What a hiarious story - I'd love to hear the different outtakes from that session!

    Honoured to have done so. While I do still prize their debut album they were the victims of record company malfeasance in so many different ways.

    Jeff (what a fine name)
    Thanks for the good words about the blog and for your take on McKee and the life-ruining power of music. Comments such as these what keep me going during those times it is I wonder just what the fuck it is I'm doing here.


    Supposedly Dylan gave a song to Joe Strummer in the late eighties but Joe was afraid to even take it of the drawer.

    'Gun Club' - good call. I was thinking of doing some 'X' at some point maybe I'll tie those two together.

    Yeah when I read that quote it was too perfect not to lead off with. Now I gotta go back and listen to her early solo albums again.

  9. Thanks for this one. Loved this band. Also, I totally support the posting of X shows.

  10. Maria McKee came close to greatness with the first L.J. album and her first solo LP. Thanks for sharing this. W.

  11. CT
    Enjoy - the X is incubating and will hatch soon.


    Damn straight - now I have to go back and listen to 'Ya Gotta Sin to get Saved' again.

  12. great band who rose pretty high pretty fast - always a pity they didn't last alittle longer to see where they could take things

  13. I have to admit I prefer McKee's post Lone Justice work but while they were around the band had their moments - and not all of them on their first album.

  14. MMLiS
    I've got to give another listen to some of the solo stuff, I remember liking "You Gotta Sin..."

  15. I so dearly wished they'd stayed doing the cow-punk/country stuff they started out doing. Their version of This World Is Not My Home is brilliant: simple riffs with McKee's unbelievable voice and energy over the top. There is an obscure video on youtube of them playing an old George Johnson song Nothing Can Stop My Loving You, and the energy and style McKee gave to this kind of music would have made her a country music superstar had she not been pushed down the overproduced pop/rock route of the 1980s. Such a crying shame.

  16. Tim
    I could not agree, it's one of the greater musical losses of the that entire decade.

  17. Ways to be Wicked...a true great single; thanks for some great posts, too.


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