Saturday, 19 September 2009
Rickie Lee Jones - White Girl
I've been a fan of Rickie Lee Jones for 30 years. I own most, if not all, of her records; I've seen her live three times and I'm due to see her again in November.
Like most women performers in popular music she doesn't get the respect that she deserves - certainly not compared to her male counterparts. She is often linked or compared to her ex-boyfriend Tom Waits but he has rarely if ever matched her capacity for musical reinvention and for translating intense personal experience into rich, powerful performance.
I think the public perception of her - if there is one - is that she is West Coast/Jazz-lite - probably on the strength of Chuck E's in Love which is the song for which she is best known (and which is way better than that description suggests).
She has not helped to alter her profile by releasing a number of cover albums over the course of her career - partly due to writers block, partly to satisfy record companies and partly because she loves the music . Although these albums have their strengths, what fans really hunger for are albums of new material.
Most of her work does reference jazz in some ways but often more in spirit. On Ghostyhead she blended it with trip-hop while on The Sermon on Exposition Boulevard she conjured up the beatnik roots of the Velvet Underground.
I think the Youtube performance linked here is from around the time of Ghostyhead and hopefully explodes some preconceptions.