I was mad about Lone Justice‘s debut album in 1985. Maria McKee had the voice and the band a sound that was often described as cowpunk. I went to see them live at The Park West in October of 1986. I still remember that as one of the best concerts I’ve ever been to. I didn’t quite remember that she was about the same age as I was at the time. She sounded so much wiser than her 21 years.
‘Ways to be wicked,” “Don’t toss us away” and “East of Eden” were three of the album’s standout cuts, which were produced by current “American Idol” mentor Jimmy Iovine. I turn 47 on the 9th, and sometimes, late at night, I suspect that perhaps I still I know so many ways to be wicked but I don’t know a single thing about love. I definitely felt that way at 21.
They appeared on “SNL” on December of 1986. They opened for Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers and U2 and performed at Farm Aid.
Maria McKee was one of the most underrated talents to come out of the 80’s. “East of Eden” puts to shame anything by any woman on the charts in 2011. Listen to how pointedly offhanded she can invoke more sexual innuendo in one line in “Ways to be Wicked” than Rihanna can invoke in a whole CD. In 1989, Maria released her first solo album “Gotta Sin to Get Saved”, which contains one of my favorite song titles of all time: “I’ve forgotten what it was in you that put the need in me.” (It’s only rivaled by Dinah Washington’s “My new man is an undertaker and he’s got a coffin just your size,” which appears on one of my favorite albums of all time “The Late, Late Show.”)
Listen to the title track on “Gotta sin…” and hear how much Miranda Lambert, for instance, might owe to Maria McKee. The current crop of country tough love girls should be indebted to Maria’s songwriting–even when it’s been stripped of every ounce of authenticity by the likes of Carrie Underwood (Undo It, Last Name, Before He Cheats) and the unbearably cloying Taylor Swift (see recent ACM performance. Miss Swift, YOU TALKING TO ME? Why you got to be so meaningless?)
Lone Justice on iTunes