The Essentials: Lone Justice – self-titled

Here’s a new, occasional series: Albums that, in my estimation, everyone should experience at least once.

First up: Lone Justice’s self-titled debut, which was released on April 15, 1985.


Flashback to that April: I read a review in Rolling Stone touting the album as a good, not great, affair that was highlighted by the vocal power of the girl singer, who supposedly possessed a style reminiscent of Janis Joplin.

I bought it (on cassette) days later, on April 17th; and the album proved great, not just good, to my ears. As I wrote in Top 5: April 1985, it “was a shotgun blast of sonic newness that infused country-rock with punk, rock, gospel and soul. The music roared, soared and seeped from the speakers, and the mercurial Maria McKee’s vocals forged palpable emotions from the simplest of phrases.” I loved it, in other words; and made damn sure to play tracks from it on my college radio show—”You Are the Light” more often than not, as I deejayed a folk music show…

…but, on occasion, “Don’t Toss Us Away” – which, it should be mentioned, was written by her brother Bryan MacLean. But what the hell? Some (early) Sunday mornings I slipped in “Ways to Be Wicked,” too.

And is there a better song, by anyone, than “Sweet, Sweet Baby (I’m Falling)”?! When I listen to it, I think not. After it’s over? Sanity settles in. But to borrow from a review for the Lone Justice This World Is Not My Home compilation that I penned for Da Boot way back when, “her sweat flows from the speakers as if from her brow, and her heart … hell, her heart beats like a rhythm section all its own.”

  1. “East of Eden” (Marvin Etzioni) – 2:37
  2. “After the Flood” (Maria McKee) – 3:40
  3. “Ways to Be Wicked” (Mike Campbell, Tom Petty) – 3:28
  4. “Don’t Toss Us Away” (Bryan MacLean) – 4:19
  5. “Working Late” (Etzioni) – 2:45
  6. “Sweet, Sweet Baby (I’m Falling)” (Little Steven & the Disciples of Soul, McKee, Benmont Tench, Steven Van Zandt) – 4:12
  7. “Pass It On” (Etzioni, McKee) – 3:40
  8. “Wait ‘Til We Get Home” (Etzioni, Hedgecock, McKee) – 3:18
  9. “Soap, Soup and Salvation” (Etzioni, McKee) – 4:04
  10. “You Are the Light” (Etzioni) – 3:59

32 thoughts on “The Essentials: Lone Justice – self-titled

  1. HERC

    You fell under their spell a few months before I did, but Lone Justice became a favorite when they opened for Tom Petty on July 30, 1985, during his Southern Accents tour. (I don’t think I had watched my Live Aid VHS tapes, recorded a couple weeks prior from MTV, at this point yet and I was obviously oblivious it was McKee on the Streets of Fire soundtrack from the year before even though I listened to that album A LOT.) From what I remember of seeing her on stage for the first time, she was sexy as hell; along the lines of a Belinda Carlisle but with a wicked twang. Their music fit in with the Los Lobos, Blasters, Cruzados, Long Ryders, Rank and File, Jason & the Scorchers and others I was listening to circa 1985-1986.

    A friend (my roommate?) bought the Lone Justice album on vinyl back then and I didn’t pick it up myself until more than a decade later on CD. She next appeared on Dwight Yoakam’s “Bury Me” in 1986 but after that, I sadly lost track. I have since caught up with her recorded output, though, so don’t worry about me.


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