Saturday, August 21, 2010

Marti Jones - Unsophisticated Time


Man, I hadn't thought about this singer or album in years, until just recently. I was browsing around in a store in Fredericksburg, VA when the intercom suddenly began softly playing "Lonely Is As Lonely Does" off of this album, and the memories came flooding back . . .


Back in the 1980s and early 1990s, there were various bands that concentrated on the Washington, DC/Mid-Atlantic circuit, and as such were sort of like the local leaders and "go-to" bands for a particular genre or type of music. Probably the most well-known example of this would be Fugazi, who ruled the DC indie scene for years before becoming more well known nationally and globally. But there were lots of others who never achieved significant or far-reaching national success, but who still carved out their own niche and created their own local following - bands like The Slickee Boys, Awareness Art Ensemble, NRBQ, Unrest, Boy O Boy (aka Fighting Gravity), The Dismemberment Plan - it seemed that you couldn't go a week without seeing at least one of these bands' gigs listed somewhere in the DC weekly City Paper's concert schedule.

In the mid-'80s, Marti Jones was one of the darlings of that scene. She first earned notice as a member of Akron, OH's Color Me Gone, a superb jangle-pop band in the style of what was coming out of Mitch Easter's studio down in North Carolina.
Sadly, Color Me Gone only released a well-received six-song EP before breaking up in late 1984 (word has it that the guitar player slugged Marti during a drunken argument while on tour in Georgia, leading to her immediate departure). Jones teamed up with renowned producer Don Dixon (he co-produced R.E.M.'s Murmur with Easter) for her first album as a solo artist, Unsophisticated Time, released on A&M Records on 1985.

All in all, her debut album is superb, featuring strong songwriting and selection (most of the originals here were penned by Dixon, but the album features strong covers of songs by The Bongos and The dBs) and excellent production. Here, Jones moves away from jangle pop, and more towards . . . well, not exactly adult contemporary; more like adult alternative, if there is such a thing. Either way, Unsophisticated Time was very well received in certain quarters, especially in the Washington DC area. The local alternative station, WHFS, played this album to death - that's were I first heard and loved "Lonely Is As Lonely Does" (one of the dBs covers). With this heavy promotion, Jones had great success on the local concert scene, usually accompanied by Don Dixon (who saw some chart success of his own that year, moving in front of the mixing board for his debut album, Most Of The Girls Like To Dance But Only Some Of The Boys Like To, featuring the hit "Praying Mantis").

Local success is one thing, but more widespread fame and recognition of her excellent musical gifts was not to come for Marti Jones. She released two more equally good albums on A&M, Match Game in 1986 and Used Guitars in 1988, that like her debut were not strong sellers (mainly due to A&M failing to push/promote them properly - the label's head of promotion,
the legendary Charlie Minor, was not a fan of either Jones or her records).  After being dropped by A&M after Used Guitars tanked, she moved to RCA and released Any Kind Of Lie in 1990. On the plus side, however, her relationship with Don Dixon evolved from a professional to a personal one, and the two have been happily married for over two decades now.

Since her lone RCA album, Marti Jones has toured occasionally, usually with her husband, and recorded sporadically (a couple of albums, 1996's My Long-Haired Life and 2002's My Tidy Doily Dream, for a small independent label). But nowadays, Jones has mostly left the music industry and concentrates on her new career in painting. She and Dixon are still beloved in the DC area.

It's too bad that A&M sort of shunted her off to one side, and didn't give her the backing she needed to become a big star. With that combination of rare talent, winning songs, and top-notch production, Marti Jones should have been a lot bigger than she was. A&M still hasn't even seen fit to rerelease her first three albums, which is a complete crime.

So here's her debut, Unsophisticated Time, for you to enjoy. I hope that with this, you too become Marti Jones fans, like I am. As always, let me know what you think. Enjoy:  

Please use the email link below to contact me, and I will reply with the download link(s) ASAP:  

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35 comments:

  1. nice blog.. have a view of my blog when free.. http://www.lonelyreload.blogspot.com .. do leave me some comment / guide if can.. if interested can follow my blog...

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  2. I love this album! Are you streaming the CD version, or did you get it from vinyl? Because my vinyl copy is not in the best shape. :-(

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  3. It's the vinyl version, cleaned up considerably . . . mine was in pretty good shape. Glad to make you happy here! Keep coming back!

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  4. You could get "Unsophisticated Time" for digital download at efolkmusic.com For a while they had it on CD but now I think it is only via download.

    GREAT disk. Saw her and Dixon last year - just the two of them. Crowd? around 70 folks. Perfect setting. LOTS of stuff YouTubed from those shows.

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  5. Did you see them in Ohio? I think they live in the southeastern part of the state. That must've been a good show. Is she/are they playing any of their older stuff at the shows?

    Yeah, this is a great album. Like I said, Marti Jones never got her due.

    Thanks for the comment.

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  6. Just to make you guys/girls envious: I have the CD-version of this great album (it's my second copy, the first one got stolen). Maybe I'm going to put my copy in a safe :-). A strong debut it was. Never got any airplay at all, shamefully.

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  7. I AM envious . . . well done! And you're right - like I said, A&M never gave Marti Jones her due. In the right hands, this debut album should have been huge, and the beginning of a long, Joni Mitchell/Carole King-esque career for her. Her label really dropped the ball on this one, and on her in general.

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  8. It's funny, but I hadn't thought about this singer for years, and I was driving along thinking about an upcoming Cowboy Junkies concert in a small venue, and it flashed me back to what may be the best small venue concert I ever saw - MJ and DD in Ottawa so far back I can't' remember the date. 1980's anyway, when this album had been released. Her voice was so powerful it was unbelievable. The album was good - live it was way better. Anyway, thanks. It was great to here this album again, particularly Follow You All Over the World.

    Any chance you have Suzanne Vega Solitude Standing from the same era?

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  9. A fantastic album by a terrific and, as was mentioned above, under-celebrated singer. Thanks so much for making this favorite available!

    Now, there is a new album showcasing the dynamic duet—Marti Jones & Don Dixon. “Their first in 27 years.”:
    http://www.dondixonmusic.com

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  10. A lovely piece about an under appreciated artist. Thanks

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  11. Thank you for your efforts... mini-review to come soon. Cheers!

    Kurt Weber

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  12. Thanks a million - I have the LP but side two was badly damaged.

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  13. Thanks. It's nice to be able to hear this again.

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  14. How nice to be re-united with this gem. Thanks!

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  15. (If I Could) Walk Away has been in my mind for more than 25 years, but I never had the singer`s name, until last week, when I came across this blog!
    Thank you so much
    uehl aka Heiko

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  16. Nice blog, glad I found it. An extra thank you for the Marti Jones file - only place on the net that had it!

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    Replies
    1. Glad you're happy. Enjoy, and see you here again soon!

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  17. love this album, and lucky to have the original cd from west germany.....the cd was re-released 10 or 15 yrs ago in limited numbers by don dixon on his dar label. her first 3 were all excellent. match game is probably my favorite.

    good blog...my first visit. do you have a facebook page?

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  18. Terrific blog! So much great music!

    I just have one question: I can't seem to get the link for your email to work, and I really want to download the Marti Jones album. Help, please?

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    1. Dear angstytimelord - I forwarded back to you a link to this album file via the email address you used to send your comment above - please let me know if you received it properly and it worked OK. Thanks!

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    2. Whoops - apparently, when I attempt to sent you the file via the email address that you used for your comment, it sends it to the "comment@blogger.com" address - which is a no-reply location. Please forward me an email to my address (peepeesoakedheckhole@hotmail.com) and I'll get you the files ASAP.

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  19. Thank you so much for the Marti music, as well as all the other great stuff you have here! This wonderful blog is an oasis of terrific music that's much needed!

    Again, THANK YOU SO MUCH for the work you do in getting this great music out there!

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    1. The pleasure is all mine! Enjoy!

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  20. Thanks for the Marti Jones file and for this blog! Wish I had found you sooner. You are awesome and providing a badly needed service of preserving music that has fallen through the cracks over the years!

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  21. Amazing how well this album holds up. Hats off to Marti and Dixon.

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  22. Used to go see her at happy hours at a bar in Cleveland (Rusty Scupper) in the late 80s when she played in a duo called Alias Smith and Jones. Sadly most there were more interested in drinking than listening but I was impressed by her. Have this on vinyl but would be nice to have the disc. Will keep looking.

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  23. Thanks for the work you do in getting this great music out, and for the Marti Jones albums! Do have the most of her work on vinyl, but I am hoping for reissues. They still sounds GREAT, after all these years :-)

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  24. Oh boy, am I one happy music dork today! I used to have this on vinyl, until it fell through the cracks of time. I still had "Lonely Is (As Lonely Does)" & "Follow You All Over The World" in my head for thirty years. It's much better hearing the real thing! Thank you very much for this.

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  25. Wow! I have been jonesing for this album for a long time. Had it on vinyl and loved it. First time visitor to your blog. Very nice.

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  26. Lifesaver ! I had ordered 2 cd's from Marti's site several years ago , only to recieve a nice reply that they were out and would contact me when they made more... never happened. Clean files, much better than listening to my 30 year old vinyl

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    1. Well, I have her first four albums, mentioned above. Let me know if you're still seeking any of the other ones.

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  27. Total lifesaver as my 30 year old vinyl is worn out. Here i am right outside DC and my savior is in New Zealand. Mighty clean files

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  28. You are so amazing and generous! I had three vinyl copies and all were lost over time. Words cannot express how appreciative I am. THANK YOU!

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