Lone Justice

Lone Justice

Lone Justice

This Is Lone Justice: The Vaught Tapes, 1983



Not to go too far down the hyperbole highway or anything, but this previously unheard document from alt-country darlings Lone Justice is akin to discovering an unseen Hemingway novel. Cut live to two-track (no overdubs) in Los Angeles in 1983, this blows the band’s two major label releases (1985’s debut, and Shelter from 1986) away. Engineer David Vaught’s technique — basically, capturing the band’s live set to tape — shows the band’s genius in all their twangy glory… and glorious it is.

Lone Justice was one of the first acts to bridge the gap between old-time country and rock back in the early days of “alt-county” or “cowpunk”, and while many acts came along after — The Knitters, Freakwater, Uncle Tupelo, et al — none had anyone close to vocalist Maria McKee. That voice has never been equaled. I saw the band open up for U2 in a cavernous hockey arena, and despite the poor acoustics and horrid sound mix, McKee’s voice threatened the very walls of the room, and her energetic determination would raise the dead.

The 12 cuts here are essentially the band’s live set, split between reverent covers of Merle Haggard (“Working Man’s Blues”), and Johnny Cash and June Carter’s “Jackson”, coupled with originals that would end up on later releases such as “Soap, Soup and Salvation” and “The Grapes of Wrath”. This is not the boutique country flavorings we’ve become accustomed to hearing ad nauseum from CMT or cable TV, where you add a steel guitar or a fiddle to a pop song, put on a Stetson and call it “country.” No, this is the real deal, unashamedly twangy, with the guitar of Ryan Hedgecock paying homage to Don Rich and those great Texas pickers of 1970’s country. Stripped of the often grandiose production of Jimmy Iovine that plagued their major releases, This Is Lone Justice is pure, heartbreaking country. Take a listen to the opening track, the George Jones/Roger Miller song “Nothing Can Stop My Loving You”. McKee’s breathless delivery sounds completely natural — close your eyes and it’s a honky-tonk somewhere in Bakersfield, circa 1963.

When the record ends with “This World Is Not My Home” you recognize the sheer brilliance of Lone Justice, pioneers of a sound, both traditional and modern, that many would adopt in later years. But nobody had Maria McKee and that voice. Groundbreaking and without equal, Lone Justice was never better then on This Is Lone Justice. Essential.

Omnivore Recordings: www.omnivorerecordings.com

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked with *

Cancel reply

Recently on Ink 19...

  • Christian Scott
    Christian Scott

    Rebel Ruler (Ropeadope / Stretch Music). Review by Bob Pomeroy.

  • Kivanç Sezer
    Kivanç Sezer

    Turkish director Kivanç Sezer’s powerful debut feature, My Father’s Wings, puts the spotlight on the workplace safety crisis that is currently taking place in his homeland. Lily and Generoso Fierro spoke with Sezer at SEEFest 2017 about his film and his need to draw attention to this issue.

  • Temples

    Supporting their just-released sophomore record, UK synth-pop poster boys, Temples, attracted an SRO crowd to one of Orlando’s premier nightspots.

  • Rat Film
    Rat Film

    Baltimore. Rats. A match made in Maryland.

  • Bishop Briggs
    Bishop Briggs

    Bishop Briggs brings a stacked bill of up and comers to Orlando for a sold-out party at The Social. Jen Cray joins in the fun.

  • Rumble: The Indians Who Rocked The World
    Rumble: The Indians Who Rocked The World

    There’s more than black music influencing the evolution of Rock and Roll. Native American rhymes and ideas are every bit as significant, once you know to look for them.

  • Keith Morris
    Keith Morris

    Ink 19 slings a few questions to the punk rock pioneer Keith Morris on Trump, Calexit and looking back.

  • Soul Understated
    Soul Understated

    Soul Understated was a swizzle stick of jazz, funk, pop with a dash of Radiohead in the delightful DC cocktail.

  • Anca Miruna Lǎzǎrescu
    Anca Miruna Lǎzǎrescu

    That Trip We Took With Dad is the debut feature by acclaimed Romanian short film director Anca Miruna Lǎzǎrescu. Generoso Fierro sat down with Lǎzǎrescu during SEEFest to discuss the comedy and drama within the adaptation of her deeply personal family story for the screen.

  • Aware

    The Book Of Wind (Glacial Movements). Review by Carl F Gauze.

From the Archives