October 02, 2000 12:00 PM

Rickie Lee Jones (Artemis)

On this collection of classics, hipster Rickie Lee Jones’s song selection is just plain wonderful. Surprising, seldom covered tunes like the Beatles’ “For No One,” Traffic’s “Low Spark of High Heeled Boys,” Marvin Gaye’s “Trouble Man” and Steely Dan’s “Show Biz Kids” are included along with the usual, much more often heard pop beauties from the Gershwins (“I Can’t Get Started,” “Someone to Watch over Me”).

Unfortunately, her cooler-than-thou beatnik treatment, which seemed hip when Jones hit big with “Chuck E.’s in Love” 21 years ago, now just sounds sloppy—or lazy. “When she scat-sings, as she often does, it sounds as if she doesn’t want to make the effort to sing actual lyrics, preferring to take the easy, nonsensical way out. At times words spill out like food, as if she’s singing with her mouth full.

Great tunes. Now if she would just learn to enunciate.

Bottom Line: Annoyingly cool

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