Friday, June 28, 2024

Archive Review: Lone Justice’s This World Is Not My Home (1999)

Lone Justice’s This World Is Not My Home
Lone Justice was a band at least ten years, maybe even a decade and a half ahead of their time. They were one of the first outfits to take their cue from Gram Parsons and the Byrds, successfully mixing traditional country leanings with roots-rock and punkish energy, pre-dating such “cowpunk” bands as Rank & File or Jason & the Scorchers by a year or two. Although Lone Justice was comprised of talented musicians with a bit of experience under their belt, it was the golden angelic tones of vocalist Maria McKee that made this material special. With one foot in her country and gospel upbringing and the other in the early-‘80s L.A. punk rock scene, McKee was often compared to a young Dolly Parton. Like Parton, McKee lent a presence to a song that was undeniably distinctive and unique.

The band’s first two albums were completely unexpected affairs, offering songs with complex themes of sin and salvation, love and lust that featured McKee’s incredible voice and were propelled by a band that was as equally endeared of the Sex Pistols as they were of Hank Williams. This World Is Not My Home is the first proper compilation to take a long hard look at those first two Lone Justice albums, paying the band their due respect. Offering up the most magical moments from those discs alongside a number of unreleased and obscure import tracks and a handful of live performances, This World Is Not My Home is as good a snapshot of Lone Justice as you’re likely to find.

All of the best songs from the band’s mid-1980s college-radio days are here, great big slabs of country soul like “East of Eden,” Tom Petty’s “Ways To Be Wicked,” and “I Found Love.” Some of the unreleased early tracks are real gems that should have seen the light of day before now. Among these are McKee’s duet with guitarist Ryan Hedgecock on “The Train,” the spirited “Drugstore Cowboy,” and the gospel-tinged title track. The live tracks are a bit of a disappointment, however. Lou Reed’s “Sweet Jane” is steady enough until guest star Bono from U2 sticks his smarmy nose into the song. The other live cuts are from a later, inferior incarnation of Lone Justice without guitarist Hedgecock or bassist Marvin Etzioni and just aren’t up to the band’s earlier standards.

As with all good things, the members of Lone Justice eventually went their separate ways, with McKee moving on to a critically-acclaimed though short-lived solo career. The band never broke out of the alternative, college-radio market, however, standing alongside such equally esteemed but commercially bankrupt bands as the Long Ryders, the Del Lords, Green On Red and the True Believers as the lost children of Gram Parsons. This World Is Not My Home is a good place to acquaint (or reacquaint) yourself with Lone Justice, however, a fine band that would have fit in right at home with today’s alt-country scene. (Geffen Records, released 1999)

Review originally published by Alt.Culture.Guide™

Buy the CD from Amazon: Lone Justice’s This World Is Not My Home

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