The Jim Jones Revue
It’s 4 short years since The Jim Jones Revue exploded into thenation’s consciousness with the release of their visceral, back-to-rock’n’roll-basicsdebut album, of which Mojo Magazine proclaimed, "If Little Richard hadwritten this he'd still be boasting about it today!"
Theband have since toured the world many times over, shared bills with TheStooges, Grinderman and Jack White, become rock ’n’ roll statesmen in France,sold out London’s Koko and made phenomenal live appearances on TV's Later with Jools Holland and The Late Show with David Letterman.Their third studio album The Savage Heart to be released on October15th is all set to secure their place in music’s rich rockheritage.
Their most exhilarating work to date, TheSavage Heart expands the sonic remit of The Jim Jones Revue way beyondtheir renowned brand of manic rock ’n’ roll to include exciting new musicalterritory in the form of tribal stomps, field hollers, a capella spirituals andeven a doo-wop ballad.
“We’re not going to keep making the same record over andover again,” says Jim. “That doesn’t interest us. We are interested though inkeeping up the same high level of intensity.”
Jim Jones has pedigree, having first honed his craft inThee Hypnotics, who recorded four albums between 1989 and 1994, including theirdebut Live’r Than God on the Sub Poplabel. After Black Moses, his garage rock trio, The Jim Jones Revue was bornfrom a collaboration with guitarist Rupert Orton, who Jim met at the Not TheSame Old Blues Crap club night Rupert has run since 2004. With a line-upcompleted by bassist Gavin Jay, drummer Nick Jones and keyboardist ElliottMortimer – replaced in 2011 by Henri Herbert – the group found their feetimmediately.
“We wanted tocapture the excitement we’d felt when we were younger and watching The Ramones,The Gun Club, The Birthday Party,” says Rupert. “We felt it was missing in somany new bands we were seeing at that time.”
Their 2008 self-titled debut, The Jim Jones Revue, recorded live in just 48 hours, was anexciting collision of raucous hollering, rama-lama-lama riffing and tear-it-uppiano in a pinned-in-the-red wall of distorted noise. Here To Save Your Soul, a collection of non-album singles andorphan tracks, followed in 2009, confirming their role as the premier purveyorsof deranged rock ’n’ roll, with an extra dash of The Sonics and Bunker Hillthrown in for good measure.
2010’s BurningYour House Down saw their first collaboration with producer Jim Sclavunos(of Grinderman and Nick Cave & the Bad Seeds), delivering a swaggeringeleven-song assault, with a warmer full-bodied sound and solid rock n’ rollsong craft.
Producer Jim Sclavunos is on board once again for theirlatest, The Savage Heart. Recorded in just over two weeks at The Chapelin Lincolnshire and Edwyn Collins’ West Heath Yard studio in West London, TheSavage Heart builds on the balls-out rocking of its predecessors, butalso offers an expansive vision of the band, with a wider palette of sounds anda broader scope of material.
“While the group look back into the roots of rock n’roll, we’ve never gone backwards in what we do,” says Jim Jones. “It’s alwaysabout pushing things forward for us.” It was in this same spirit of bringing innew challenging elements into the proceedings, that Jim Abbiss (Arctic Monkeys,DJ Shadow) was called in to mix the album at Elephant and Castle’s The EngineRoom.
Integral to the group’s vigorous sound is the additionof pianist Henri Herbert, who replaced original member Elliott Mortimer lastyear. Henri has diversified the group’s keyboard vocabulary, drawing not juston the likes Jerry Lee Lewis and Little Richard but Otis Spann, Pete Johnsonand Albert Ammons as well. “He’s the Professor of Piano,” affirms Rupert. “Hiswealth of knowledge is astounding. He’s really re-shaped our approach.”
The Savage Heart has everything a die-hard Jim Jones Revue fancould possibly ask for, and even more to entice new followers. Driving opener “It’s Gotta Be About Me”, an intense track that builds toexploding point,the thunderous tribal beat of “Never LetYou Go”, and the polemical rage of “WhereDa Money Go?” are all classic up-tempo Jim Jones Revue tunes. “Eagle EyeBall” sees Jim Jones linking voyeurism and surveillance TV, the outro climaxingin berserk rant with torrential backing from the band.
The Savage Heart also contains surprises. “7 Times Around The Sun” (which featuresJim’s testifying backed against a stark backing of group vocal, percussion andpiano -- not a guitar in sight!) and “Chain Gang”, a potent feedback-layeredtake on an Alan Lomax-style field holler, throw some curve-balls into the mix,offering unprecedented facets of what The Jim Jones Revue are all about as aband.
Album closer, “Midnight Oceans And The Savage Heart”,the group’s first-ever ballad, conjures up a strange mixture of innocentheartache and unsettling David Lynch-style eeriness.
The tribal groove of “In And Out Of Harm’s Way” issomething else again, drawing on the voodoo rhythms of Screamin’ Jay Hawkins.Rupert explains the song’s origin: “We were travelling back from France lastAugust, and saw what looked like London going up in flames on a TV in thepetrol station, but didn’t know what was going on. As we approached Hackney, werealised we were heading straight into the riots. Police were marching down thestreet and we suddenly found ourselves in a war zone. It was our very own Heartof Darkness. Instead of going up the Congo, we were getting close to the heartof savagery in our home town.”
“And that’s where the title of the album, TheSavage Heart, comes from,” says Jim. “We got to thinking how thin theveneer of civilisation actually is, and how quickly it comes away to reveal thebrutality of man, whether it be the 1% banking traders or the kids rioting onthe streets. There’s this savage undercurrent in all of us and it’s amazing howquickly we revert to that. The closer we got to Hackney that night the moreinsane everything became. That fed into the music.”
Among their legions of fans, the group can count severalrock luminaries including Jack White, Mick Jones, Bobby Gillespie, NoelGallagher, and Nick Lowe. The latter, credited on The Savage Heart as“spiritual advisor”, even dropped by rehearsals for a one-on-one with the band.“It was an honour for us to get Nick Lowe’s thoughts and advice on the record,”says Rupert.
“We do this because we love doing it. You get on stagein front of a crowd, it doesn’t matter how exhausted you might be feeling, theexperience elevates you,” says Jim. “You connect with a higher power, and thecrowd connect too. We want to keep pushing that, taking it higher and higher.”
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