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Rickie Lee Jones

LIVE AT RED ROCKS (Artemis) • Rickie Lee Jones

The music business is not usually very kind to artistic performers who won't play by the rules. When your bereted hipster debut wins a Grammy for best new artist, the single goes to #4 and it sells a zillion units, you're supposed to do that again. That same thing again. Don't change your image, don't change your sound. Or do it the Madonna way, change your sound every record, but have your finger so on the cultural marketing pulse that you're in the vortex of the blossoming trend of the moment consistently. Ever changing, always commercial, always sexy.

Rickie Lee Jones has never taken either of these paths. If it's cost her commercially, I doubt it could have been otherwise. The artiste image of her debut was more than an image, after all. In the way that Joni Mitchell has always done whatever the hell she liked, and had her ups and downs, likewise it's gone with Rickie Lee Jones. Neither artist has been genre specific, far from it.

This brilliant Live record is a wonderful show with a great group and an adoring, supportive audience of five thousand or so. Rickie Lee has cut several entire records that feature the songs of others, and a couple are included here, Van Morrison's "Gloria" and the 60s classic "Don't Let the Sun Catch You Crying," the latter is a real killer. Lyle Lovett duets with RLJ on "Love Is Gonna Bring Us Back Alive," one of several songs co-written with former husband Pascal Nabet-Meyer, the French father of daughter Charlotte Rose. The artist and her 12 year old live in Tacoma, WA.

Many of Rickie Lee's best loved songs are included: "We Belong Together," "Weasel and the White Boys Cool," "Chuck E.'s in Love," and "Coolsville," and many other great numbers.

I think that most of us who were around would agree that Rickie Lee Jones put out one of the greatest debut albums ever recorded. Live at Red Rocks makes it clear that this original and uncompromising artist is alive and well, and she sounds great.

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