Friday, September 27, 2013

The Jim Jones Revue - The Savage Heart

I truly love the first two albums by this band - not to mention the fantastic Black Moses and Thee Hypnotics that Jim Jones also fronted - so I am sad to say that this, their third release, is a bit of a disappointment. Not bad by any stretch of the imagination, but just not the manic blast of pure, joyfully noisy rock'n'roll that has gone before. Hopefully, they will return to their roots and I truly hope that they will come back to the US sometime soon so that I can experience them live.

This record opens strong with "It's Gotta Be About Me" with its heavy, descending riffs and power chords reminiscent of the best of Gary Glitter, with a dash of Alice Cooper and all mixed with the Revue's brand of punk'n'roll. The band is cooking here - Jones is still backed by Rupert Orton on lead guitar, Gavin Jay on bass, Nick Jones on drums, and they are joined by newcomer Henri Herbert on keys. This promising opener is followed by the equally hot pounder, "Never Let You Go", sounding like something from Burning Your House Down. Unfortunately, "7 Times Around the Sun", just doesn't quite work for me. Good concept on the call and answer verses but the song simply meanders and doesn't really build into a powerful statement - it's like this would be a good start of a song, but it needs a bigger chorus. Herbert gets to start off "Where Da Money Go?" and leads it into a good, 50's-style stomper with a hot solo by Orton. Things drag a bit again with "Chain Gang" - and I understand this conceptually and like the idea (chain gang rhythms), but it doesn't really go anywhere.

Maracas hiss the beginning of "In & Out of Harm's Way" that moves into a reserved, chugging rhythm but, as before, the chorus is lacking and doesn't enough differentiation, though there is a nice build up in dynamics with big, feedbacking chords that does save the song. Another 50's-themed rocker is "Catastrophe", that has a cool riff and enough groovin' energy to make a strollin' dance number. This sounds like something they would have taken to the edge on their previous releases, but remains more subdued here. Still, a good one! Also, somewhat restrained but with a cool start-n-stop, almost mechanical, chord rhythm, "Eagle Eye Ball" does burst into loud choruses - something that a few of the other tunes could use. Some wonderful, "Magic Carpet Ride"-esque noise opens "Midnight Oceans and the Savage Heart" but quickly disappears to make way for a 50's ballad that sounds like something from a David Lynch movie. An apt closer, but would have worked better if it was proceeded by high-energy madness.

I know that bands need to grow or else they stagnate, and after two albums of phenomenal material and some line up changes, I should give these cats a break, but they just set the bar so damn high. I'm glad I bought the record and it is good, but just not the masterpieces that came before. Let's hope that they really let loose again on the next one!