Release Date: Jul 23, 2013
Record label: Punk Rock Blues Records
Genre(s): Pop/Rock, Alternative/Indie Rock
When the notoriously difficult third album rolls around, bands arenormally faced with a stark choice: evolve or die. Normally with afollowing secured – a dedicated one with any luck – should a bandplough on with their audience in mind or bow to artistic kudos and trysomething new? This is ordinarily reflected in critical assessment;groups are either derided for a paucity of ideas or lambasted forchanging too much, especially if a new style doesn’t immediately gel. Damned if you do, damned if you don’t.
“I wanna get down, man like… ‘GO MAN, GO!” comes the howl, two minutes in, over a menacing Fats Domino boogie. From there, the in-yer-face intensity doesn’t let up at all. Even when the pace slows, as on ‘Eagle Eye Ball’, it still feels like Londoner Jim Jones is about to bite your face off. He and the four gents in his Revue are here to remind you there’s nothing more thrilling than the primal howl of proto-rock’n’roll, and this, their third album, is their most convincing sermon yet.
Jim Jones first surfaced in 1989 with Thee Hypnotics, black-leather-clad Stooges fanatics who spread fear and feedback among Paisley-shirted indie wimps. The Stooges remain in the Revue's DNA 23 years on, but these untamed fortysomethings dip into a much wider palette of raucous rock'n'roll. Their third album lurches towards 1970s glam rock, opener It's Gotta Be About Me swaggering like an unlikely collision between Grinderman and Suzi Quatro.
When you’re known for being a formidable live band, how do you approach a studio album? Is it an unwelcome distraction from getting up on stage, or a place to stretch your wings and reveal another side to your story? That’s the dilemma that The Jim Jones Revue have faced so far in their career, as they’ve built up a reputation for being one of the most ferocious rock and roll bands around, without really making a massive dent in many people’s record collections. On The Savage Heart, the band’s third studio LP, Jones and his cohorts have broadened their scope a little, adding to the frenzied blues stomp they’ve become known for with forays into doo-wop ballads and call-and-response hollers. There’s still an over-riding sense that these tracks are waiting to be heard on stage before they can truly take flight, but there’s still plenty here to suggest that The Jim Jones Revue are more than beefed up rock and roll revisionists.
For their third studio album, bluesy garage rock five-piece The Jim Jones Revue have unleashed a piano-heavy Little Richard and Jerry Lee Lewis-inspired follow up to 2010?s Burning Your House Down. For this outing their fractious rock ‘n’ roll takes a turn back and looks at their rockabilly and ’50s influences and as such features a far more diverse exploration of sounds by throwing acapella and doo-wop into their mix of gritty staples of rock guitar, drums and vocals. Adding new flavours for the ears, latest recruit Henri Herbert’s chattering piano keys take the album that bit closer to a classic rock record for modern times, while at the production helm Jim Sclavunos (of Grinderman/Nick Cave fame) keeps the recording aligned with the ferocity and zeal of the band’s live performances.
The Jim Jones Revue may be born of British blood, but, musically speaking, they’re plenty American at heart. The band’s rollicking amalgam of ’50s-inspired rock ‘n’ roll and menacing garage rock feels more indebted to Memphis or the Motor City than the band’s native London. But while that’s a lot of sonic history to pack into a limited slate of tracks, it’s the way the band picks through its hefty musical lineage and mines its best attributes that helps the record live up to its name.
So what happens when the quantity of your own recorded output begins to exceed that of the influences that led to your creation? It’s a question that must have run through the minds of The Jim Jones Revue as they realised that, approaching album number three, Little Richard recorded just two incendiary rock & roll albums before bouncing between God, showbiz and nostalgia like a hormonally loaded squash ball. Yet The Jim Jones Revue have always drawn from other sources. As long-term admirers of combustible bands such as The Gun Club, The Cramps and The Birthday Party among others, the band are smart enough to realise that, like their 80s forebears, the trick is to use and transcend those influences to create a voice that’s truly their own.
Rock’n’roll isn’t dead, it’s merely been left in a daze by the waves of mediocrity crashing into it. But the gospel according to Little Richard, the word as told by Chuck Berry, the parish newsletter as published by The MC5, will forever form the basis of what is good and holy. So long as you do it right.To reference another sacred text, namely the truth as proclaimed by Bananarama: it ain’t what you do, it’s the way that you do it.