Monday, June 25, 2007

Record of the Month

I figured I'd do a monthly 'what I'm listening to' kind of thing. This could be viewed as a lame placeholder kind of post. And probably it is. But it's my blog! So there!

These may or may not be newly released disks. They might not even be a good disk - just what is been in heavy rotation in my car (as usually the iPod is playing anywhere else).

I know I bounce back and forth here between new and older music. I'm split about 50/50 on that. It is just how I'm built when it comes to CD purchases. Honestly, there is nothing out there that I really feel compelled to buy. I considered the new Maria McKee or Rufus Wainwright, but I haven't felt the need to actually purchase them. That being said, I do have one of my favouritist disks this month:

Chances are, not a ton of my readership knows Marti Jones' work. And it's a shame, as she has consistently put out good to excellent disks for over the last 23 years. An artist from Canton, OH, she started out in a group called Color Me Gone. One EP is all they produced, but it was a fun and well done effort, even though it pretty much went nowhere.

What it did do is catch the attention of Don Dixon, who had produced REM along with some other independent acts. He not only ended up producing Jones' debut solo disk (and all the rest), he married her too.

Though I like it all, her first three solo disks are outstanding. I had mucho trouble narrowing down which it would be. I settled on Match Game, her second solo album - which by chance is out of print. Though it was released in 1987 and is in dire need of remastering it is still a disk I listen to constantly and completely. There really isn't a bad song on it.

Jones is not really comparable to most other artists. Adult Alternative would be the closest genre to slip her into, though I'm not sure that is completely fair. She has a clear and great alto that is kind of reminiscent of Dusty Springfield (in fact, Marti does a scary-close cover of "You Don't Have to Say You Love Me" on a Dusty tribute disk).

On her first three disk Marti is what you'd call an interpretive vocalist. Taking other people's material and making it her own. Only after this did she start recording music she wrote or co-wrote. Her choice of songs was impeccable - most not well known, but by well known artists including Elvis Costello, David Bowie, Marshall Crenshaw, Graham Parker, Janis Ian, as well as her husband.

Unfortunately, Marti never had what you'd call a bonified hit - radio wasn't and isn't sophisticated enough. The closest thing she had was singing the demo to "Walk Like an Egyptian" before the Bangles got it. Oddly enough, she didn't do horribly with it - even though it's kind of a horrible song, and the Bangles did nothing different to it than Marti's demo.

Jones has been on a few record labels and now it is unclear if she'll still record. Her now defunct myspace page showed some dissatisfaction with recording and touring (which is a shame, since she is just as good live) - and now she'd rather stay home and paint. Her new webpage barely acknowledges her past singing life. I know she's made a few local appearances in the last six months, but I've always found out about them too late.

Half of her disks are out of print, but available on places like eBay. Her debut disk, Unsophisticated Time is available via download at and her last two studio disks are available on iTunes, as well as amazon. If you have the chance, they are all better than average, but Used Guitars, Match Game, Unsophisticated Time and My Tidy Doily Dream are my favourites.

I'd go into specifics on the songs on Match Game - but I fear you may not know them. There is really no use picking out the good songs on the disk, there simply isn't a bad one.

If you can get a copy - I suggest you get one.

No comments: