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Live At the BBC (Manchester University 23/3/91)

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Album Review

This title of this volume documenting two distinct concerts done by Maria McKee (post Lone Justice) under the heading Live at the BBC is in some ways misleading — she wasn't performing for the radio stations per se, but her headlining concerts were broadcast by them. Recorded in 1991 and 1993 respectively, these shows were taped at pivotal times for the artist. The first date — the first seven songs here — feature McKee as an American expatriate, living in Dublin and backed by fellow townies Moby Dick. The material is gathered from her days with Lone Justice and includes "Good Heart," "Shelter," and "I Found Love," as well as her chart-topping U.K. hit "Show Me Heaven." There are also a couple of cuts from her self-titled debut, released almost two years earlier: "I've Forgotten What It Was in You (That Put the Need in Me)," and "Drinkin' in My Sunday Dress." The latter 11 tracks were recorded as McKee toured in support of You Gotta Sin to Get Saved and include most of that album's highlights such as the title track, "My Girlhood Among the Outlaws," "Why Wasn't I More Grateful," and the two Van Morrison covers "My Lonely Sad Eyes" and "Young Lover's Do." Both of these selections feature top-notch recordings and are fine performances, but the latter one actually tops the former because of its seasoned approach to the material — McKee had been playing with Moby Dick as her backing band for almost four years at that point. While the earlier set uses crackling enthusiasm to make up for some of the sloppiness inherent in the performance, the latter is somehow more polished and more spontaneous, and nowhere can this be felt more than in McKee's vocals, which go out and walk the wire of her range and dig deep into the well of her marrow for expression. She has a net and therefore goes all the way inside to let it all go. Either way, for fans, this volume is of the essence. It captures an artist who was still a semi-public and active member of the recording community before her great shifts, which occurred first on 1996's hard rocking Life Is Sweet, and have continued into the 21st century.


Born: 17 August 1964 in Los Angeles, CA

Genre: Alternative

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

After making her name as the gritty, soulful lead singer of roots rockers Lone Justice, Maria McKee embarked on an often-rewarding solo career. A native of Los Angeles, McKee was born in 1964; her half-brother was Bryan MacLean, the guitarist and sometime singer of the groundbreaking psychedelic band Love. After studying musical theater as a teenager, McKee started performing on the L.A. club scene in a duo with MacLean and also teamed up with local blues singer Top Jimmy (who inspired the Van Halen...
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