Rarities, oddities, and other fun stuff

Out Of The Vault – Maria McKee & Lone Justice, August 23, 2013

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Maria McKee’s birthday – August 17th

Lone Justice was an American country rock band formed in 1982 by guitarist Ryan Hedgecock and singer Maria McKee.   They began their career as part of the L.A. cowpunk scene of the 1980s. Lone Justice was inspired by Hedgecock and McKee's mutual affection for rockabilly and country music. The group started out as a strict cover band, but the additions of veteran bassist Marvin Etzioni and Don Heffington, a former drummer in Emmylou Harris's Hot Band, prompted them to compose their own material. Their early recordings can be described as a fusion of country and punk rock, with rockabilly elements. But by the time of their first album, the band had begun to incorporate elements of roots rock and singer-songwriter styles. Benmont Tench of Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers was a frequent guest musician at their live shows.

Lone Justice became a popular attraction and a local LA favorite. Rock Journalist Stann Findelle noticed and wrote about Maria McKee in Performance Magazine where Findelle reported that the band "stole the show" at the Whisky A Go Go from purported headliner Arthur Lee, who was attempting a comeback that night, but left after two songs. With the help of Linda Ronstadt, they were signed to Geffen Records and were soon hyped as the "next big thing".

Their self-titled debut appeared in 1985, followed by a tour in support of U2. Still, despite good press and media hype—Jimmy Guterman, then a critic at Rolling Stone, included it in his list of the best albums ever made — “Lone Justice” failed to sell; produced by the band's manager, Jimmy Iovine, it failed to connect with country or rock audiences. Even with radio-friendly singles like "Sweet, Sweet Baby" and "Ways To Be Wicked" (written by Tom Petty and Mike Campbell), the album didn't meet commercial expectations.

In the record's wake, Hedgecock, Etzioni, and Heffington all exited the band, leaving McKee to lead Lone Justice alone. After enlisting guitarist Shane Fontayne, bassist Greg Sutton, drummer Rudy Richman, and keyboardist Bruce Brody, Lone Justice recorded their second LP, Shelter. Steve Van Zandt was the producer. This record saw them almost completely abandoning much of their earlier cowpunk, rockabilly, and roots rock influences in favor of what could be considered more typical 1980s pop/rock production, with heavy emphasis on drum machines and synthesizers. Commercially, the album charted lower than its predecessor, only reaching No. 65 on the album charts.

Shortly after Shelter's release, McKee broke up the band for good and went on to a solo career. Heffington became a session drummer, while Etzioni recorded under the guise of Marvin the Mandolin Man. Rudy Richman played drums with UK rock band The Quireboys between 1992 and 1993, appearing on the album Bitter Sweet & Twisted. Fontayne played guitar in Bruce Springsteen's band for the tour backing up the Lucky Town/Human Touch albums.  After a decade removed from the music industry, Hedgecock returned in 1996 as half of the duo Parlor James. A posthumous Lone Justice retrospective, This World Is Not My Home, followed in early 1999, including early demo recordings.

McKee is the younger sister of Love guitarist Bryan MacLean, with whom she played in a duo as a teenager. She has described Bryan as her "mentor, best friend and soul mate." After he died in 1998 of a heart attack, McKee wrote a musical play loosely based on their life together during her adolescence titled From our T.V. Teens to the Tomb. She attended University High School in West Los Angeles, California, and Beverly Hills High School. She is married to her bass player Jim Akin, who co-writes and co-produced her solo albums since High Dive in 2003. In the 1990s, she spent time living in Dublin and the West Village, before settling in her native Los Angeles.  She contributed "If Love Is a Red Dress (Hang Me in Rags)" to the Pulp Fiction soundtrack in 1994.  McKee also contributed a song "Never Be You" for the soundtrack to the Walter Hill movie Streets of Fire.  She teamed with Dwight Yoakam for a duet on "Bury Me," from his 1986 debut, Guitars, Cadillacs, Etc., Etc.

 

Lone Justice – EAST OF EDEN  - (Marvin Etzioni).  From “Lone Justice” (1985)

Lone Justice – WAIT ‘TIL WE GET HOME - (Etzioni, Hedgecock, McKee).  From “Lone Justice” (1985)

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Lone Justice – DON’T TOSS US AWAY – (Bryan MacLean). From “Lone Justice” (1985)

Lone Justice – YOU ARE THE LIGHT -  (Etzioni).  From “Lone Justice” (1985)

Lone Justice – "SWEET, SWEET BABY (I'M FALLING)" (Little Steven & the Disciples of Soul, McKee, Benmont Tench, Steven Van Zandt).  From  “Lone Justice” (1985)

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Lone Justice – SHELTER – (Maria McKee, Steven Van Zandt).  Taken from the CD, “Shelter”, the second album by Lone Justice, released in 1986.

Lone Justice – I FOUND LOVE – (Maria McKee, Steven Van Zandt) Taken from the CD, “Shelter”, the second album by Lone Justice, released in 1986.

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Maria McKee – DRINKIN’ IN MY SUNDAY DRESS – (Maria McKee).  From  “Maria McKee” (1989).

Maria McKee – AM I THE ONLY ONE (WHO’S EVER FELT THIS WAY) - (Maria McKee).  From  “Maria McKee” (1989).

Maria McKee – I’VE FORGOTTEN WHAT IT WAS IN YOU (THAT PUT THE NEED IN ME) - (Maria McKee).  From  “Maria McKee” (1989).

Maria McKee – YOU GOTTA SIN TO GET SAVED - (Bruce Brody, Sam Dogg, Etzioni, McKee).  From  “You Gotta Sin to Get Saved” (1993).

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Lone Justice with Bono – SWEET JANE (LIVE) – "Sweet Jane" is a song by The Velvet Underground, originally appearing on their 1970 album Loaded. The song was written by band's leader Lou Reed, who continued to incorporate the piece into live performances years later as a solo artist.  Taken from “This World Is Not My Home” (Best of / Greatest Hits Compilation with Unreleased Tracks) (1998).

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Tom Petty & The Heartbreakers – WAYS TO BE WICKED (DEMO) - (Petty, Campbell) – First appearing on “Lone Justice”, the self-titled debut album by American roots rock band Lone Justice, released in 1985.  Taken from “Playback”, a box set compilation by Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers, released in 1995. It contains popular album tracks, B-sides, previously unreleased outtakes, and early songs by Petty's previous band Mudcrutch.