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Jim Jones & The Righteous Mind
Super Natural Julian Marszalek , May 10th, 2017 10:57

Following on from Thee Hypnotics, Black Moses and his acclaimed Revue, the hollerin’ and testifyin’ figure of Jim Jones has come to be rock & roll’s very own Dr Who as he now enters his fourth incarnation with The Righteous Mind. And while each band has worshipped at the altar of ramalama to varying degrees of popularity, they’ve all been defined by individual characteristics and nuances to ensure that, while the fundamental zeal remains in place, there’s enough of a remove from each other to offer something new.

So while the Jim Jones Revue swan-dived into rock & roll’s primordial ooze with an unrestrained sense of glee and abandon, Jim Jones And The Righteous Mind is an exercise in intensity, dynamics and space that, while summoning up the feral excitement of the former outfit, delivers a satisfying and continuingly intriguing payload from a great height. This is less a case of being steamrollered and more of exploration, experimentation and execution.

Jones calls it “heavy lounge” – a combination of tribal rhythms, Nashville glides and touches of psychedelia but there’s more at play here than simply that. The use of space is much more in evidence and the resulting textures, tones and tinges allow the songs to breathe and flex their muscles and preen. The hints of what was to come was much in evidence on the Revue’s swansong, The Savage Heart, most notably on the title track and ‘In And Out Of Harm’s Way’. Here, as displayed on the thoroughly creepy ‘Shallow Grave’ wherein Jones delivers a convincing croon that’s at some distance from his trademark howl, and the narcotically soothing ‘Everyone But Me’, Jones and his new cohorts roam with a greater sense of freedom and conviction.

And while the release of debut single, ‘1000 Miles From The Sure’ wrong-footed a lot of observers with its creamily dreamy caresses, you always knew that it would be impossible for Jones not to rock out; you’d have an easier time stopping bears shitting in the woods. Yet that said, the pace here is measured with a good deal of feral tension thrown in for good measure. ‘Base Is Loaded’ is gloriously salacious, a soundtrack for Satan’s very own burlesque club located somewhere in those nine circles, as guitars cascade over each other to provide an increasing sense of instinctive and priapic release, all propelled by some genuinely sexy dexterity on the piano.

It’s taken Jones some time and a bit of jiggery-pokery to assemble a line-up that brings his vision to life and Matt Millership’s fingers dance across his keyboards with as much menace as there is swagger. That rolling intro to ‘Aldecide’ sounds like the start of bar room brawl the moment the card table is upended and bottles are smashed while Dr Mal Troon’s subversion of the pedal steel guitar on ‘Boil Yer Blood’ is an act of fabulously wanton vandalism as let rip by a hooligan in double denim.

This is righteous stuff, all right, but then again, it would be. Jim Jones And The Righteous Mind play it straight and with a total conviction from a lineage that includes The Bad Seeds, Tom Waits, The Stooges and all the way back to those primal urges that fuelled that first generation of rock & rollers as much as they did the seekers of hidden knowledge. It was ever thus with Jones but this time around the focus is less on rutting and more on harnessing those primeval energies to transcend reality, and in that respect and others beside, Super Natural is an album that more than lives up to its name.