Friday, October 01, 2010

FDF Volume 3 Issue 202: Lone Justice - Shelter

By: March

Album - Shelter
Artist - Lone Justice
Key Players - Bruce Brody - keyboards. Rudy Richman - drums. Shane Fontayne - guitars. Gregg Sutton - bass and vocals. Maria McKee - lead vocals, guitar, piano
Produced By - Little Steven, Jimmy Iovine and Lone Justice

Release Date
- 1986

What caused me to blow off the dust? - I was in the upstairs closet in our home recently looking for something and that is where many of my wife's cd's are held. This was just one that seemed to jump out as something I normally don't cover on the site, so why not?

Overview - Formed in Los Angeles in 1982 Lone Justice over a mutual love for rockabilly the band was originally a cover band. After some line up changes the band worked on their own material and became a hot attraction in Los Angeles. Rumors have it Linda Ronstadt was a huge advocate for the band and was instrumental in getting the band their first major deal. The band would release a self titled debut and it was a hit with critics but failed to really garner the band much attention. Another line up change would then spring forth the bands second (and final) album "Shelter".

FDF Comments (aka the songs)
- The album opens up "I Found Love". A very clean drum line backs the tempo before the guitars and keyboards come in. McKee is pushing herself right away. The guitars bear down between the vocal passages. As the chorus is sung there are good harmonies, but all appear to be female indicating its probably an over dub of McKee. Sutton has a strong bass line but the guitars work well in tandem. The song has a great tempo throughout and has a great alt/country feel to it. The lone single, and title track "Shelter" follows. It has a slow fade up mostly lead with keyboards before the acoustic guitars ring. It has a big sound reminiscent of the time. McKee once again is in fine form and Sutton bass work holds it together. Fontayne doesn't get too flashy on the guitar allowing Brody to fill the voids. A lot of the chorus sounds a little "Stevie Nicks" like, matter of fact there are times you'd think McKee is channeling her. It is not a bad thing mind you as it sounds strong. After the second chorus the band changes gear some but doesn't go to far allowing Brody and Fontayne to hold court for a moment. There is a very brief guitar solo before the vocals resume. "Reflected (On My Side)" opens with a little slide guitar, and opens with a fun, catchy tempo. The guitar runs are quick and McKee is singing about as quick as she has so far on the record, but it is not an overly "rocking" song. The musicians all seem to mesh well, and nobody is outdoing the other. It is evident this is a vehicle for McKee and that is also okay. The band gets frisky further along before the slide guitar comes back and the song heads to completion. The band seems to work with electric drums at the start of "Beacon". There are more sampled sounding hand claps and a very buzzy guitar. The song has an almost robotic feel to it before the strong acoustic guitar comes up 45 seconds or so into the song. McKee and Fontayne play off one another while Sutton keeps the rock solid bottom. Brody and Richman are also key on this track. For some reason, this feels like the most musically focused song on the disc (at least to this point). Another quick and to the point guitar solo runs before the vocals come back and the song starts to fade. Brody gets to showcase himself at the start of "Wheels". It is a solo piano along with McKee. McKee hits notes a little out of her range of comfort, but we haven't heard her do that. She has a little gruff, yet still feminine voice. The band slowly comes in as the song progresses keeping the focus on the Brody lead progression. On some of the harmonies in the chorus is this almost comical sounding baritone voice, its just "too deep" but it stands out. (Kevin Dorsey is credited with this). They felt they were on to something as they did this again. With the prior songs it feels nice to get a little more "rocking" and "Belfry" scratches that itch. A much more straight up rock affair. The acoustic guitar cuts through it all and Sutton gets punchy on the bass. It feels like McKee is really on target here. Singing to "someone" with that urgency is refreshing and this song is a stand out on the album. There are two strong percussive breakdowns that always have strong payoffs. "Dreams come True (Stand up and Take it)" is another slower track. The bass seems to be up in the mix a little more and Sutton has more pop on the strings. The acoustic guitar is still more of the dominant instrument. The drums feel a little "canned' at times, almost too clean sounding. Come the third verse McKee really pushes herself, and although strained, she does not waiver. We continue with a little more laid back feel on "The Gift". The bass is a little more sweeping at the outset, but come the verse it returns to single notes as the guitars work slowly. Come the chorus the band strikes up strong and McKee is the showcase with her soaring range. The band calms during the verses to allow for the diversity on the track. There is a good solo section as well, with the band really feeding off one another but it is kept short and to the point, and the chorus is done once more. "Inspiration" is up tempo from the start. The guitars jump right out. Once seems to ring the chords as a second chops through it. The bass and drums are tight letting McKee soar per the norm. The album closes with the piano led "Dixie Storms". The track is just a ballad of solo McKee and a piano. A pretty ending to a solid record.

Where are they now?
- The band broke up after only two records in 1986. The musicians found various work. Fontayne for example was a touring guitar player for Bruce Springsteen. The key players was taken from the liner notes, but what is curious is that the article on Wiki about the band, doesn't even mention any of these players as "members". Only McKee was mentioned on both the album and wikipage. She has been a solo artist since the bands demise with over 10 albums released (including collections etc).

FDF Personal Comments (aka the Live experience) - The only time I saw the band was on an opening slot for U2 at the Worcester Centrum. The show was May 3, 1987. Honestly I don't recall much of them but mostly it was due to the fact they were opening for U2, and that is who I really was focused on. My now wife was the opposite, she went to see U2 just "go on after" Lone Justice on the same tour in Detroit.

FDF Overall Take - Being a "casual at best" fan of the band I was surprised at the depth of the record. There was some really great moments on the records that I've since "heard" on more recent releases. The band is hardly mentioned it seems as influences but as time passes they should, and will get the mentions and praises they deserve. There are only two studio albums so it shouldn't break the bank.

Links -

Maria McKee official page here.

Curious? Check out some MUSIC!

mp3's have been removed.
The Gift

Video for "Shelter" is here.

Tracks from "Shelter" which you can buy here.

Disclaimer - For the most part songs listed you can find on iTunes or your local cd shop. The idea is to give you a little taste of the music. Please support the artist buy purchasing some of their work. Songs are posted for about 1 week but can and will be removed at the request of the artist, band, band management etc. If you are one of those persons contact me via the email link in the profile and they will be removed as soon as we are made aware of the request.


At 6:07 PM, Blogger Marc nichol said...

hey march,
i just sent a response to your shelter review to you but i'm not sure if it went through, not sure if i signed in correctly so i'm going to try again...if it did go through i'm sorry to bother you twice
i recently just got into maria and lj after years away (i'm 49)...i came upon your review after typing "jimmy iovine on lone justice break-up" into google..i've become a bit obsessed about the history of this band, and of course maria herself...why did they break-up, how, the change from the first line-up to the second?..i've heard and read maria comment some but nothing from iovine, dvaid geffen, little steven, ex-bandmates...i did see a dutch tv special about maria from 96 that includes a fantastic, fascinating interview with her where she goes into it, but i'd like to hear the other side so to speak...i exchanged e-mails with the dutch director and he remembers it being one of his best and he's done alot...i really believe there is a book or long-form video project about maria out there to be made if someone would do it..she and her husband have a new movie out called "after the triumph of your birth" where she acts for the first time
but that's another story..i really enjoyed your review, you obviously know your music and write about it very well, especially the music itself, which for someone like me who's not an expert in muscianship is great..most reviewers do seem to write more about the lyrics, and while i could have used a little more about that, you made me feel like i was right there in the studio
the interesting thing about shelter is that most maria fans really dislike it compared to the first album...they complain that it was "over-produced"... i tend to agree, and i enjoy the live versions of the songs i see on youtube better, but i'm sensitive about it because i'm a huge springsteen, and little steven, fan so i kind of take it personally ("i don't like to see my favorites fighting")...i do like the songs though and would really like to know just how much steven and maria collaborated...did they write together, he more the music, she the lyrics?
as you can tell i'm more than a casual fan, more like your wife, and i really regret not seeing lj when they came to cleveland in the eighties
take care, my best to you and your wife, good site
marc nichol
youngstown, ohio
p.s. if you and your wife want a funny look at maria fandom that i can totally relate to go to youtube and type in "purple state of mind, deleted scene, maria mckee"..i exchanged e-mails with john and the story also involves a roadie who believes defending maria includes throwing deli meat at her male fans..rock and roll baby

At 6:46 PM, Blogger Marc nichol said...

and march,
obviously i know the albums didn't sell, so of course that's the bottom line..i'd still like to know the inside story


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