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The Jim Jones Revue
Savage Heart Julian Marszalek , October 17th, 2012 14:57

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. Witness the truly remarkable four-album arc that ran from The Gun Club’s feral Fire Of Love through to the 3-D rock & roll of Mother Juno. The Jim Jones Revue know and understand not only what has to be done but also what’s at stake here.

Similarly, as a band known primarily for their ferocious and almost unfeasibly exciting live show, The Jim Jones Revue are only too aware of the need for a greater sense of pace when it comes to their recorded work. So it is that The Savage Heart is the album that finds The Jim Jones Revue shaking off with ease any dismissal of them being mere revivalists; this is still rock & roll to be sure but a variant made in and for the 21st century.

Guided once again by the production of Grinderman/Bad Seeds tubthumping powerhouse Jim Sclavunos, The Jim Jones Revue are making far greater brush strokes than at any point in their career. Blasting off with ‘It’s Gotta Be About Me’ – a kind of demented second cousin of Elmer Bernstein’s ‘The Man With The Golden Arm’ – the band make an early and successful claim at moving into new territories. Though the usual components are all present and accounted for – Jones’ shredded voice, Rupert Orton’s powerhouse guitar, the pounding keys of Henri Herbert and the supertight rhythm setion of Gavin Jay and Nick Jones – the track’s creeping sense of dread of increased use of band dynamics is a satisfying trawl into new waters.

‘Eagle Eye Ball’ and ‘Chain Gang’ are two further examples of a band willing to go beyond the boundaries of its comfort zone. The former is based around a circular organ blast that pumps ominously throughout and proves conclusively that there’s more to The Jim Jones Revue than meets the eye while the latter is characterised by the sort of tension that preludes an almighty bar room brawl just seconds before tables are upended and chairs go hurtling into the bottles hanging behind the bar.

Of course, the rockers are still very much in evidence but some with an added twist. ‘Where Da Money Go?’ is a righteous blast of indignation in the wake of the banking crisis and is precisely the raging howl of anger that’s in all too short supply in these desperate times. Elsewhere, ‘Never Let You Go’, with its call-and-response framework, is just champing at the bit to be released into a live setting.

Perhaps the biggest surprise comes in the form of closing track ‘Midnight Oceans And The Savage Heart’ wherein the normally bellowing Jim Jones slows things down to an admirable and convincing croon. A ballad from Satan’s own antechamber, the band’s grip on the proceedings refuses to let things drift into mulch.

With The Savage Heart, The Jim Jones Revue display a deft ability to move things forward whilst retaining firmly in place all the components that made them such a seductive proposition in the first place. This is one revue that’s set to run for some time to come.