Doesn’t have to be complicated does it? that music thang, I mean.  So, technology is great, you can do some interesting shit with it, but you don’t need to.  You can obsessively count, catalogue and conflate genres ’til the cows come home to roost, but you don’t need to.  You don’t need clever, you don’t need dumb and you certainly don’t need virtuoso, but what you do really need is guts.  Guts and a bit of swing.  Guts, a bit of swing and some stomping boogie piano.  Guts, a bit of swing, some stomping boogie piano and a kick ass attitude!  Ladies and gentlemen I give you mere miserable mortals an offering from the Gods themselves, The Jim Jones Revue The Savage Heart!

{Cue much wild applause, whoopin’ and hollerin’ etc}

I fell, hard, for this sharp-dressed bunch of cats during a stormy late-night drive smashing their Burning Your House Down LP on high rotation, getting off on all their speed demon Jerry Lee Lewis kicks and so when they dropped The Savage Heart in 2011, I was right there at the front of the queue, the very front of it!*.   Seeing as how I’m a shallow kind of dude, I was deeply struck by the moody cover, the band walking down the estuary in all their monochrome finery, with the refinery chimneys in the background – the inner sleeve showing them and the South Coast in all its’ depressing glory; The Revue looking for all the world like The Bad Seeds’ (even more) delinquent greaser cousins.

Then there’s some music on this here platter too.  I’ll come right out and say it, there are few things that excite me more than some honest-to-goodness straight-up rock and roll piano playing** and Henri Herbert is the best I can think of in the trade.  This is a shit-kickingly raucous popular beat combo playing at full volume and he’s front and centre whipping the beast on.  Check out this bad boy:

This is just fricking brilliant.  I love the fact that Jim and his boys, as others have before them, gone back to the wellspring of all that is holy and righteous, rock and roll and served it up, not as some historical curio but with real brio and a side order of high voltage.  I could never get off on all the rockabilly stuff from the 80s, it was all too lame Jane, ya dig?  This bites.  Just check out Mr Jones’ snarling, ‘Know your place boy’ about half way through^ and you know this is the real thing.

The Savage Heart gives us lots of tracks to go rockin’ and a reelin’ to, ‘Never Let You Go’ (far more menacing than romantic), the electric glitch-bitch blues of ‘Eagle Eye Ball’ and the swaggering Tomcatting boogie of ‘It’s Gotta Be About Me’, but what I really like about it as an album are the variations they throw out.  ‘In & Out of Harm’s Way’ still intrigues me 6 years after first hearing, a slow-burning ball of menace which occasionally threatens to break into sweetness, it rocks me.  The strange electrical-fault waltz sound of ‘Eagle Eye Ball’ is just excitingly odd, like a malignant Tom Waits with the horn, if you like that sort of thing (and I do!).  Mr Jones, it has to be said, has a damn fine way with a yowl and has had ever since his Thee Hypnotics days.

If I had one criticism it would be that on a couple of numbers the Jim Jones Revue edge a little too closely into the Bad Seeds’ turf, to whit ‘7 Times Around The Sun’ and ‘Chain Gang’, great turf to be on but they’re far better on their own terms.  Maybe this was a side effect of having a Bad Seed, Jim Sclavunos, producing – which he does rather fantastically well by the way, everything sounds so immediate.

The Savage Heart ends on a great downbeat note with ‘Midnight Oceans & The Savage Heart’ which has a wonderful film noir quality to it, sounding rather like the theme tune to the most twisted depressing Disney cartoon you could imagine, the prince is smooching one of the footmen in a dark alley, the princess has just stamped on her lovable frog companion and sits next to a fountain in the rain, toying with a flick-knife.  Mr Jones croons this one like a black velveteen Dracula over the beautifully restrained music, stopping abruptly to bring down the curtain on the album and, as it happened, the band who split after the tour for this LP^^.

So let us honour the dearly departed band in time-honoured fashion by cranking the vols and blasting a chunk more of that patented Ramalama Bee-bop Bamaloo-ie into the skies.

Know your place boy! 

765 Down.

PS:  Mr Herbert at his very best here, playing on a public piano at St Pancras Station –

*this was a completely conceptual queue that I just invented for the purposes of this review, not one of those ugly, time-wasting full-of-real-people queues that really happened.  I probably bought this on line.

**or few things that I’m prepared to put in writing on a blog that my mum might read.

^mind you the line ‘You were always a dick, but now you’ve crossed the line’ comes a very close second favourite for me.

^^although an incarnation of them live on as Jim Jones & The Righteous Mind, who are damned good too.

16 thoughts on “The Jim Jones Review

  1. Great stuff, Joe. Love the title and your description of them being the delinquent greaser cousins of the Bad Seeds.

    Have you bout Super Natural? I haven’t bought it yet, but I’m informed that it’s pretty exceptional.

    1. Thank you, thank you very much.

      Not yet I haven’t, I bought the Aldecide single. The bassist (Gavin Jay) sells his art and photographs online, they’re very good too.

      1. Aldecide is great, huh? I liked that very much. I can’t find the LP in the local music store, so I’ll snap it up online at some point before the year is out.

        I didn’t know about the bass chap’s arty shenanigans, so I’ll check that out.

  2. Holy crap I LOVE that piano bit. It’s like Jon Spencer met Jerry Lee Lewis and they got drunk and made a record. I NEED THIS.

    Also, “you were always a dick but you’ve crossed the line” is just such a great line I wish I’d written myself. That Where Da Money Go track is aimed at Trump, right? ‘Cos it suits him to a T.

    1. It’s possibly his youger brother. Mr Herbert really knows his way around the ivories. What gets me every time about that clip are the various numb nuts who are standing around totally oblivious! Some folks simply have no souls!!

  3. I can assure you I was both whoopin’ and hollerin’ (and will likely continue to do so until the cows come home) when both ‘thang’ and ‘conflate’ made appearances in your opening paragraph!

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