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Jim Jones And The Righteous Mind
COLLECTIV Ben Graham , April 5th, 2019 09:02

Jim Jones And the Righteous Mind play heavy lounge on Keith Richards' old guitar

Jim Jones is a true believer in the righteous power of rock & roll, a form he knows from the inside out. Coming straight from a year of life-affirming reunion shows with his 90s band Thee Hypnotics, Jones's second album with current outfit The Righteous Mind is driving, high-energy, distorted guitar music designed to shake 2019 out of its apathetic gloom and get it up and dancing, alive and ready to take on the world.

That said, The Righteous Mind's original musical brief was 'heavy lounge', and equal space is given to slower numbers that maintain the intensity even as they step off the accelerator, giving Jones a chance to extend his range. He shifts easily from a mumbling baritone to a thin falsetto on 'Meth Church', which retains a blackened rock & roll heart even as it flirts with trip-hop atmospherics. On 'Dark Secrets' he lands somewhere between Lee Hazlewood, Leonard Cohen and Nick Cave, in a richly gothic landscape that's pure Joe Meek.

But while it's dark, dangerous and unafraid to stare into the abyss, Collectiv is primarily about having fun. Any album that opens with a track called 'Sex Robot' hopefully doesn't take itself too seriously, and although the second track is officially called 'Satan's Got His Heart Set on You,' Jones is clearly singing "Satan's got a hard-on for you" over the kind of gloriously old school, down and dirty, wild-eyed and flailing R&B that Big Joe Turner would've made if they'd had some decent fuzz pedals back in the day.

Collectiv is hardly ground-breaking, but that isn't the point: the album's aesthetic is less about originality and more about community. As the title suggests, it's about bringing people together using the power of a musical style proven to be singularly effective in doing just that. But The Righteous Mind never deal in pastiche or self-conscious parody; indeed, what comes over more than anything is a sincere love and deep understanding of the form at hand. Where others see clichés, Jim Jones And The Righteous Mind see archetypes, and they know exactly how to handle them, imbuing their blues-punk blasts with just the right sense of theatre, history and mythology.

For instance, does it matter that Jones plays Keith Richards' 1964 Gibson Hummingbird throughout the album? Damn right it does, even if sonically it would sound exactly the same whatever guitar of a similar model he was using. In rock & roll, 55 years is long enough to turn a simple instrument into a holy relic, and if there are only so many ways you can rearrange the same three chords then it’s the mythic power you can bring to bear on them that makes all the difference.

Though it isn't overt, the Stones influence is audible where it matters: the way Mal Troon's overdriven guitar is cut up by Matt Millership's urgent piano flourishes, the tight-but-loose swing of rhythm section Gavin Jay (bass) and Andy Marvell (drums), and the rude interjections of Stuart Dace's tenor saxophone. But this band pulls from all corners of rock n' roll's chequered history, building on a trashy garage chassis with elements of swamp rock, gospel, blues, country, psychedelic pop and gothic post-punk all contributing to the Collectiv stew.

As Jones sings towards the end of the record, "We both know where we're going to go, but we're going there anyway". Jim Jones And The Righteous Mind play rock & roll, and rock & roll plays them. It's a twisted, complicated relationship, but it seems to be working out just fine.