Marti Jones was one half of what passed for a power couple in the land of college rock, circa 1988. Jones was part of the band Color Me Gone in the mid-nineteen-eighties. They released a bit of music on A&M Records. It didn’t take, but the label clearly liked Jones, signing her to a solo contract that led to the release of the LP Unsophisticated Time, in 1985. The man behind the boards for that record was Don Dixon, then a hot, up-and-coming producer thanks to his efforts, with Mitch Easter, on the first two R.E.M. albums. He wasn’t making colossal commercial hits, but his very presence conferred a certain respectability to those filling out the playlists on the left end of the dial. By the time Dixon produced Jones’s sophomore album, 1986’s Match Game, the two were husband and wife.
I first became aware of Jones with her next album, Used Guitars, released in 1988. It received a laudatory review in Rolling Stone at precisely the right time to capture my attention, as my interest was shifting away from the material that clogged the airwaves to those artful obscurities that resided apart from broader popular attention. I was just beginning to learn that the best music often required some digging, getting past the artists who were the beneficiaries of the brightest corporate spotlights. Just because, for example, A&M Records had no earthly idea how to market Jones didn’t mean her records didn’t deserve an eager needle drop.
When I landed at my college radio station that fall, I sought out Used Guitars, finding it over in the C Stacks, where the least well-known artists resided. I can easily draw up the memory of scuttling over to the particular spot where Jones’s record sat, all the artists that began with a J just around the bend necessitated by the corner of the studio. When I feeling particularly clever, I played one of her tracks back-to-back with something off of one of Don Dixon’s fine solo albums from around the same time. It’s been a while since I’ve done it, but I’ll bet Jones’s “You Can’t Take Love for Granted” still segues pretty nicely into Dixon’s “Praying Mantis.”
Listen or download –> Marti Jones, “You Can’t Take Love for Granted”
(Disclaimer: Like so many of the excellent releases on A&M records from that span in the late-eighties and early-nineties when the label was actively courting the college radio crowd, Used Guitars seems to be out of print, at least as a physical object that can be procured from your favorite local, independently-owned record store in a manner that compensates both Jones and the proprietor of said store. Thus, I am sharing this track here with the belief that doing so impedes no fair commerce out there in the world. For those who feel guilty about downloading it, why not go and inquire about buying one of Jones’s paintings. She probably makes more money from than she would from a record sale anyway.)