THE SAVAGE HEART - The Jim Jones Revue (Liberator)
If you didn't think they were the genuine deal, "The Savage Heart" puts it beyond doubt. The savagery's one aspect, the swing's the real thing. In nine songs, The Jim Jones Revue unleashes energy to fuel a thousand lights.
Even so, this one is destined to divide followers - especially those who have been glued-on since the start. Y'see, sonically-speaking, the Revue has cleaned up its act. Production is many miles away from the all-amps-on-12 distorto blast of the debut album. But more on that soon.
Whether declaiming on the soul-shaking and guttural "Never Let You Go" or crooning like Bobby Darrin with a habit on "Midnight Oceans & The Savage Heart", Mr Jones hisself covers all the bases. There's a goodly dose of distorted guitar and a slice of keys but it's the percussion that nails this mother to the floor and pounds it until it ain't getting up again. "Where Da Money Go?" makes it an open and shut case.
Ex-Cramp, Sonic Youth, Grinderman and (in this case notably) Nick Cave rhythm man Jim Sclavunos produced "The Savage Heart" so there's a temptation to say the Revue has gone all Bad Seeds on us. The aforementioned "Never Let You Go" carries more than a whiff of "Henry's Dream". This is not a bad thing. Really though, it and "7 Times Around The Sun" are mining the same vein of negro spirituals and Little Richard key thumping that's captured a legion of skinny white boys down the years. The point to be made is that few pull it off this well and if it sounds too clean, turn it right up..
You expect a song called "Chain Gang" to sound like one. It does and it comes across all creepy, too. This is mid-period Beasts of Bourbon (before the extreme forcefulness and bluster set in.) A track like "Catastrophe", on the other hand has plenty of bombast. Rupert Orton peels off some ripe guitar licks like a taxidermist stripping off hide, while the engine room swings like an executioner's axe.
As befitting a record produced by one of the earliest participants in the No Wave Scene, "Eagle Eye Ball" has an industrial edge to its spine. Ultimately, however, the album steers a delicate path between being radio friendly (relatively speaking) and retaining old fans. - The Barman
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THE JIM JONES REVUE - The Jim Jones Revue (Punkrockblues)
Forget critical analysis, I am biased towards this CD, okay there you have it! Hear me out on this one, I'll make no bones about it, Jim Jones body of work has always remained a constant on my compact disc player. I love the guy's music. After all, the singer / songwriter has distilled classic influences (Stones, NY Dolls, Stooges/Pop, 60-70s funk/soul), in the process added his own palette of color and created a body of work that is exciting and rewarding.
In this day and age, not many groups or artists can lay claim to remaining this consistent in their output. So now, after four releases with the influential 90's group Thee Hypnotics and two with the exciting Black Moses, Jim Jones re-emerges with his new group. The Jim Jones self titled CD continues in the raunchy tradition of his prior efforts but also places an emphasis on the roots of his influences.
The first thing that strikes you with this self titled release is the beat up piano on the cover of the CD. The instrument is beat to shit, worn out and looks as though it's received a heavy workout in some dirt road juke joint. Judging from the high intensity of the playing of the Jim Jones Revue, the photo is very appropriate and fitting.
On the first track "Princess & the Frog", the band makes it very clear they mean business. Piano musician Elliot Mortimer introduces the song with bluesy, boogie woogie intro and hurls the band towards backwoods abandon. Jones, more manic in his vocal approach than ever before, spins a modern day version of the old fairy tale.
The second track "Hey Hey Hey Hey", a cover of Little Richard, maintains that wild eyed intensity of the Reverend Penniman, but also serves as a blueprint for the band's sound. Other tracks on the CD such as "Fish 2 Fry" and The Meat Man" are in the same vein: heavy swing songs based on excellent keyboard playing, amped up - bluesy guitars and a toe tapping rhythm section.
On a disc filled with so many gems, a few tracks encapsulate the sound of the band better than others. "512", with the timeless imagery of driving in you car ("down the ole I-35"), is chock full of bounce and energy, making it a infectious listening experience. Later on, the track "Make it Hot" starts off with a chunky guitar riff, followed by a heavy jazzy underpinning and display of volume. The song has a nice start - stop time signature.
A key element of this debut CD was to record the band live to four track. The decision to do so works because the band is caught in a fevered state which, as the next logical step, makes the listener want to hear the band in a live setting. Based on the band's live video you can't help but feel that way. Man, I would love to get a ticket for that gig. - Arthur S
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