Jim Jones Revue
Here To Save Your Soul
, November 18th, 2009 15:07
Even Jim Jones, once leader of the well-loved if never quite there (Thee) Hypnotics, must be surprised with the fervid response to the musical fundamentalism of his excellent Revue. What he might have suspected to be his last roll of the dice is turning out to be the career he'd always promised himself, as he finally plays the music he always promised us, an unholy blend of Stooges and blues and barrelhouse piano and the sort of rock'n'roll that defies lyrical transcription, let alone analysis. Jack White's projects are stealth weapons next to the Lancaster bombers of the JJR. Wear open backed headphones and a metal bucket on your head and yell along with your favourite tunes, and you might come close to their feral, frustrated racket.
This collection of their first few singles is hardly essential, but as an edited primer to an already brutally stripped down sound it works fine. Rupert Orton plays guitar with the controlled fury of a man who has just twigged that the parents that so named him also called his sister 'Elizabeth'. Elliott Mortimer's rolling piano lines remind listeners of something they had forgotten they missed. And Jones's bellow has never found a better setting. 'Rock'N'Roll Psychosis' remains an instant classic. The crunching 'Cement Mixer' might have fitted seamlessly on Iggy's The Idiot, entirely industrial save Mortimer's artisanal organ chops. 'Freak of Nature' and 'Burning Your House Down' burst with righteous passion, too often the striver's fallback excuse, but here natural rather than overwrought. Even 'Elemental', with a title that mocks the Revue's own approach, refuses to be knowing.
And why should it- it's not as if they're trying to conceal anything. Covering Elvis's essentially throwaway 'Big Hunk O'Love' or Little Richard's 'Good Golly Miss Molly' might seem pointlessly reductive- what is their own 'Princess and the Frog' but a randier update of 'Long Tall Sally' anyway (albeit one that mocks the fear of miscegenation that drove early rock and takes it to a cross-species extreme). Yet it's great. Hell, everything they do is great. They might be scholars of the form (as a live promoter Orton for instance has long specialised in staging the crudest blues imaginable), but they're hardly academic. There's twenty years of their own field research behind this sound, and the data keeps piling up with every (great) show.
Whether this adds up to a justifiable reason for purchase is more debatable. If you have last year's self-titled debut (and you should) then you'll have a lot of this already. On the other hand, if you love rock'n'roll, can you ever have too much of it?