photo by Greg Allen
Americana Highways brings you this sneak preview song premiere “Working Late” from album The Western Tapes, 1983 (Omnivore)— unreleased early recordings by Lone Justice that will be available this coming Friday for Black Friday Record Store Day. This set of recordings was a demo made prior to their self-titled debut release in 1985 (which included a completely re-recorded version of the song “Working Late.”) In 1983 – 84, the Los Angeles Palomino Club was in its heyday and bands like Lone Justice were playing there in their nascent stages before their influence began to take shape (see photo above).
Currently the mainstream view of ’80s music is focused on productions of an entirely different ilk than what was happening with Lone Justice and other bands who were passing the torch of quality as they incubated real musical innovation. That’s what you’ll get in this track and the album, the reassurance that quality Americana/country/roots music was alive and thriving. This original 1983 version features Maria McKee on vocals, Ryan Hedgecock on lead guitar and vocals, Dave Harrington on bass and Don Willens on drums. Dolly Parton asked if she could record it — and it sounds like a song you could imagine Dolly singing. In Marvin Etzioni’s words, here’s what happened:
A mini play of a song. Dolly Parton saw Lone Justice perform at the Music Machine in Los Angeles in 1983, prior to me being a band member. I was producer/arranger/songwriter, helping to build the LJ sound from the ground up. She approached me at the end of the night and asked if I wrote “Working Late” and if she could record it. I told her it would most likely end up on the Lone Justice debut album (although there was no record deal at that moment for the band). She wanted to be the first one to record it. With my allegiance to LJ, I turned her down — Marvin Etzioni
I wrote this one specially for the band, The song clicked and locked into place bringing the stamp of originality that I was looking for. One note I shared with (singer) Maria (McKee) while recording vocals was just to sing the words and everything would fall into place. Inspired by producer Craig Leon, we overdubbed cymbals – that’s what he did on the Ramones album. I still enjoy this recording with sideman David Mansfield playing subtle touches of pedal steel and fiddle. — Marvin Etzioni