Robert Christgau: Dean of American Rock Critics

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Marti Jones

  • Unsophisticated Time [A&M, 1985] A-
  • Match Game [A&M, 1986] B
  • Used Guitars [A&M, 1988] C+

Consumer Guide Reviews:

Unsophisticated Time [A&M, 1985]
Suggesting both Dusty Springfield's breathy yearning and Karen Carpenter's AM plainstyle, Jones is a Bonnie Ronstadt for the local-band era--a nonwriter ready to raid the enormous store of good songs only pop cultists have ever heard. Of course, in the CHR era her audience may never get beyond pop cultists, which would be doubly unjust: it's bad enough when a dB's album leads off with two Peter Holsapple sure shots and stiffs, but this record leads off with two Peter Holsapple sure shots and then goes on to mine Richard Barone, Elvis Costello, even producer-svengali Don Dixon. And topping them all is a loony vow of romantic devotion called "Follow You All Over the World," by one B. Simpson. Wonder how many more B. Simpsons have hidden such stuff away on their demo cassettes. (Please do not mail tapes to The Voice; Donald Dixon c/o A&M Records, 595 Madison Avenue, will do fine.) A-

Match Game [A&M, 1986]
Seeking airplay worthy of Bonnie Raitt if not Linda Ronstadt, Don Dixon slows Jones down a little, to less than no avail--the airplay has failed to materialize (or whatever airplay does), and the tempos reveal the reluctance of perfectly hooky modern songwriters to say something and/or the inability of a perfectly attentive modern interpreter to make you ignore it. I know the world is confusing enough to warrant indirection. But when you're going nowhere, do so either fast or in fine style. B

Used Guitars [A&M, 1988]
She satisfies that familiar hankering for self-expression, a disquiet known to any female interpreter worth her salt, by doing her lesser songwriting buddies some favors--at least their material will be identified solely with her. Best track is the outright cover, written and originally performed by that closet feminist Graham Parker. C+