Sunday, June 15, 2008

Lone Justice Offer Some 'Shelter'

Lone Justice were one of many bands during the 80s who flirted on the fringes of the big time but never quite found the key to unlock sustainable mainstream success. The Los Angeles outfit formed during 1982 with guitarist Ryan Hedgecock and singer Maria McKee at their core. Rounding out the first line-up were bassist Marvin Etzioni and drummer Don Heffington (formerly with Emmylou Harris’ Hot Band). They started life as a country-roots rock (termed ‘cowpunk’) band playing mostly covers, but over time McKee started to write some original material.

The band grew in popularity around the live circuit and among their fans was Linda Ronstadt who assisted them in gaining a recording contract with Geffen Records. A self-titled debut album was released in 1985, and soon the now rockier sounding Lone Justice found themselves opening for U2 on tour. Produced by Jimmy Iovine (who was also the band‘s manager), the album sold moderately at best (US#56) and yielded two minor U.S. hits in the Tom Petty co-written ‘Ways To Be Wicked’ (#71) and ‘Sweet, Sweet Baby (I’m Falling)’ (#73). Featured guest players on the album included Mike Campbell and Benmont Tench from Tom Petty’s Heartbreakers, Little Steven from Bruce Springsteen’s E-Street Band and Annie Lennox (uncredited).

Caught between the cracks of rock and country, Lone Justice experienced a major revamp of their line-up, with Hedgecock, Etzioni and Heffington all departing, leaving McKee to carry the Lone Justice brand and band forward. The new line-up expanded to a five piece, and behind Maria McKee were now Shayne Fontayne (guitar), Greg Sutton (bass), Bruce Brody (keyboards) and Rudy Richman (drums). In early ‘87 they released their sophomore LP ‘Shelter’ which featured a more refined sound. From that album Lone Justice broke into the top 50 on the U.S. singles chart, for the first and only time, with the title track ‘Shelter’ (#47). ‘Shelter’ also became the band’s only Australian hit (#38), but it was another single ‘I Found Love’ that found the U.K. charts (#45). Again though the album sales weren’t great, and soon after the album’s release Maria McKee pulled the plug on the band for good.

McKee went on to a successful solo career and scored her biggest hit with the ballad ‘Show Me Heaven’ (UK#1, OZ#3) in 1990, taken from the ‘Days Of Thunder’ soundtrack. McKee went on to have a string of minor hit singles in the U.K. during the early 90s, but never broke through on her home charts. She has recorded eight albums to date, the latest being 2007’s ‘Late December’. The other members of Lone Justice’s first line-up have gone on to various solo projects and session playing.


Zydia said...

Marvin Etzioni is one of Geoff Pearlman's invited guests to appear at Kulak's Woodshed and, like all of the Woodshed's shows, will be broadcast LIVE OVER THE INTERNET on Friday, March 13, 2009. The show runs from 8:00pm to 10:00pm PST. This will be Marvin's first show since his return from Italy. Geoff and Marvin will be joined by Zack Hexum and Adam Levy.

A. FlockOfSeagulls said...

Thanks for the info Zydia :)