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Flying Cowboys

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Album Review

Five years after the disappointing The Magazine, Rickie Lee Jones returned to form with Flying Cowboys, which shared much of the playful, childlike charm of her debut, Rickie Lee Jones, and some of the musically diffuse, lyrically ambitious form of its follow-up, Pirates. From the opening track, "The Horses," which suggested a mother's delight with her child as much as a lover's devotion, Jones reintroduced the joyous tone of her early work as well as establishing the Western theme that would run through the album — cowboys, rodeos, horses, deserts — without adding up to an actual storyline. The easy rhythms and lazy, flexible singing on the first few songs were reminiscent of Laura Nyro's work with Labelle on their Gonna Take a Miracle album, after which Jones branched out into reggae and folk-blues, coming up with an affectionate bluesman voice on "Ghost Train." "Satellites," the college radio hit, used the sprung rhythms and surprising choral parts familiar from her popular early songs. If Jones could be obscure and unfocused as a writer, that weakness was also her strength, since it was an expression of the imagination that also produced her most striking musical effects. Producer Walter Becker may have helped keep things from getting as grandiose as they had on The Magazine, but it was really the artist herself who managed to rein in from that album's self-importance. If what resulted was not as accomplished as Pirates, it was the most accessible and enjoyable music Jones had made since her debut.

Customer Reviews

Musical alchemy

I just love this album of songs a symphony of melodies and complex lyrics. Outstanding!


Born: 08 November 1954 in Chicago, IL

Genre: Pop

Years Active: '70s, '80s, '90s, '00s, '10s

From her 1979 debut onward, Rickie Lee Jones has proved to be an original, mixing beatnik-based poetic sensibilities with R&B, jazz, folk, and pop. Most of her commercial success came at the outset of her career, but a restless creative spirit -- combined with a stubborn refusal to fit comfortably into any one musical niche -- sealed her ultimate destiny as that of a highly regarded cult heroine. Jones was born on November 8, 1954, in Chicago, but the volatile relationship between her mother and...
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