Singer-Songwriter’s gorgeous-sounding 1981 album finally remastered!MoFi’s Half-Speed Mastered LP of Pirates a must for fans of Steely Dan and Joni Mitchell ”Rickie Lee Jones’ Pirates arrives like a cloudburst in the desert of Eighties formula pop music and recycled heavy-metal rock.” So wrote Stephen Holden in Rolling Stone in his five-star review of the eclectic artist’s sophomore album, a set that continues to defy eras and styles. While less-well known than her 1979 self-titled debut, the ambitious 1981 record remains Jones’ definitive statement – an effort steeped in biographical details, fictional circumstances, and classic literary elements.
Narratively blending West Side Story and Romeo and Juliet while also exploring spirit worlds and her breakup with Tom Waits, Pirates is at its core an idiosyncratic fusion of possibilities. And does Jones deliver! Accompanied by an all-star lineup that includes trumpeter Randy Brecker, Steely Dan icon Donald Fagen, drumming colossus Steve Gadd, session pro Victor Feldman, and legendary jazz arranger Ralph Burns, the singer-songwriter achieves a musical nirvana that encompasses post-bop, coffeehouse folk, bohemian pop, romantic soul, Beat poetry, and Broadway showtunes.
Harmonized vocals and jive talking bring the piano-based record’s rich characters to life, making it seem as if listeners are overhearing conversations between strangers. In more than one way, Pirates is a self-contained theatrical production in which Jones’ singing is the star attraction. Her moody whispers, cries, and coos are the voices of spurned lovers, alienated outcasts, and unlikely heroines. Albums with this kind of stylistic magnitude, close-up intimacy, and emotional intensity come around only once or so a decade.
1. We belong together
2. Living it up
4. Woody and Dutch on the slow train to Peking
1. Pirates (so long lonely avenue)
2. A Lucky Guy
3. Traces of the Western Slopes
4. The returns