(Punk Rock Blues)
Releasing their self-titled debut album in 2008, the Jim
Jones Revue made quite a splash in their native U.K. with a ramshackle sound
that fleshed out the trendy stateside punk-blues duo conceit with a full-blown,
and full-bore band effort that amped up the noise, threw scraps of honky-tonk
madness and psychobilly rant-n-roll into the blender, pushed the button and let
those razor-sharp blades fly! For most bands attempting this sort of unlikely
hybrid, the sad results would be a foul-tasting musical puree; for the Jim
Jones Revue, however, what poured out of the studio was an album of
highly-flammable rocket fuel.
The band’s debut seemingly caught everybody by surprise,
British musical tastemakers only slightly less so than the Jim Jones Revue
itself. To prolong their fifteen minutes of fame in a country notorious for
whiplash musical trends, and perhaps to stave off a little boredom on the U.K.
charts, the band has released Here To
Save Your Soul, an eight-song singles collection that falls somewhere in
betwixt an EP and a full-fledged album. Providing some value in a short-change
world, only three of the songs on Here To
Save Your Soul are from the debut album, a fourth from a late-September ’09
single, and the others rambunctious B-sides that, honestly, don’t sound all
that much different than the ‘A’ sides of the singles.
Bereft of inhibition, the Jim Jones Revue plays every song
the same way – balls-out with reckless energy and a complete disregard for
polite society. For instance, “Rock N Roll Psychosis,” which opens Here To Save Your Soul, offers up
barrelhouse piano that would make Professor Longhair spin in his grave,
Delta-dirty guitar that’s heavy on grit and soulful feedback and short on
meaningless child’s play like technique, and blood-curdling vocals that would
put a death-metal glass-gagger to shame. The band’s cover of Little Richard’s
“Good Golly Miss Molly” captures the manic energy and crazed soul of
the original with atomic-bomb free-form instrumentation that blurs together
into a single sonic wave of ass-stompin’ sound-n-fury.
Taking their Little Richard obsession to its logical and
tragic end, “Princess And The Frog” jumps completely off the rails,
sounding much like what would have happened had Rev. Penniman dropped acid and
chugged a fifth of Kentucky bourbon before sliding into the studio (rather than
joining the ministry) to record. Elliot Mortimer’s piano-pounding hits your
greedy little ears like Jerry Lee on ‘roids and Robitussin, while the twin
guitars of Jim Jones and Rupert Orton follow a strict “scorched
earth” policy. The purposely crappy production puts the entire performance
behind a thick cloud of sound that recreates the experience of standing in the
back of a crowded juke-joint, trying to glom a peep of the band through the
smoke and sweat.
Thus goes most of Here
To Save Your Soul, the band unashamedly refusing to release singles any less
devastatingly awesome than their album tracks, and certainly no less recklessly
conceived and executed. To be honest, the sound here is so ridiculously lo-fi
that it would make a Brooklyn hipster’s ears bleed Mississippi
River mud, with every nuance and subtlety of the band’s
performances, if they indeed existed, lost in a thunderous storm of dense echo,
feedback, and noise.
Discernable above the din of these eight songs, however, is
one of the most encouragingly anarchic outfits to hit rock ‘n’ roll since the
Clash wore short pants and the New York Dolls swapped their dresses for spandex
and leather. The Jim Jones Revue puts the “unk” back in punk, and
whether they’re just a three-chord seasonal joke or rebellious true believers,
it just doesn’t matter, because for a brief fleeting and glorious moment, rock
‘n’ roll has been taken off life support for one more slam-dance…and that,
children, will indeed “save your soul”!
Standout Tracks: “Rock N Roll Psychosis,” “Good Golly Miss Molly,”
“Burning Your House Down,” “Princess And The Frog” REV.
KEITH A. GORDON