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September 28, 2012 by  

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ALBUM: The Savage Heart
DATE: 15th October 2012
LABEL: Play It Again Sam/Punk Rock Blues

REVIEW: It’s life Jim, but not as we know it.

First and foremost, if you get the chance to experience the Jim Jones Revue live, jump at the chance. It’s refreshing to see that in these days of X-factor and auto-tuning that the true spirit of rock’n’roll still kicks, screams and wriggles in the form of Jim and his band of retro-rockers. OK, it’s pretty standard 50’s piano-driven rock’n’roll but it’s performed with such a passion and volume you cannot do anything but be swept along in its sweaty wake. Due to some careful production, both their first two studio albums managed to capture the excitement and ferocity of their live shows. Their third album ‘The Savage Heart’ is now upon us.

The first two tracks ‘It’s Gotta Be About Me’ and ‘Never Let You go’ are classic JJR territory. The boys kick in your front door and proceed to go berzerk, trashing the furniture, raiding the drinks cabinet, snogging your sister and forcing the neighbours to apply the broomstick to the ceiling. Unfortunately that is where the fun starts to wane. The rest feels like they sheepishly return to the scene of the crime and do a great job of returning everything to its rightful place before they back slowly out of the room tugging their quiffs apologetically.

However, there are another two fine examples of the strut and swagger of the Revue as we know and love, in the form ‘Where Da Money Go?’ and ‘Catastrophe’ – but these are sandwiched between slower and less fulfilling tracks and, as a whole, the album never regains its initial momentum.

So what’s the problem here? Well, the Revue have obviously been selecting the less-used numbers on their jukebox for inspiration and have come up with some unusual stylings. The guitar-less ‘7 Times Around The Sun’ with its convict call-and-response will be fantastic live with drunken crowd participation. But on record it just doesn’t feel complete. Another track missing out on any guitar crunch is ‘In And Out Of Trouble’. It relies on jungle tom-toms to create mystery but it never really hacks its way out of the undergrowth to see the light of day.

The album has been produced by Jim Sclavunos of Grinderman and his influence can be felt on two of the tracks, ‘Chain Gang’ and ‘Eagle Eye Ball’ – both forays into the off-kilter, seedy feedback workouts that are only too familiar to listeners of Grinderman. But with their faux 50’s stylings and without Nick Cave’s words they simply do not have the drama and menace required make a similar impact.

The last track ‘Midnight Oceans & The Savage Heart’ is a doo-wop styled love song in which Jim’s voice – which can normally loosen your fillings at 100 paces – is reduced to an unsatisfying mumble throughout.

Oddly, the essential pounding piano flourishes of their previous work are remarkably absent on a lot of these tracks with some reduced to a paltry one-note rapid firing throughout which is a crime against keyboard player Henri Herbert, who we know is capable much better.

Yet, it’s doubtful this minor hiccup will make any difference to their live show where this band’s true strength lies. Go see ‘em.

– Jeremy P

Mon Oct 8 – Cardiff – Clwb Ifor Bach
Tues Oct 9 – Leeds – Wardrobe
Wed Oct 10 – Manchester – Sound Control
Fri Oct 12 – Sheffield – Plug
Sat Oct 13 – Aberdeen – Tunnels
Mon Oct 15 – Edinburgh – Caves
Tues Oct 16 – Glasgow – King Tuts
Wed Oct 17 – Newcastle – Cluny
Thu Oct 18 – Norwich – Waterfront
Fri Oct 19 – Birmingham – O2 Academy 2
Sat Oct 20 – Harlow – Square
Sun Oct 21 – Bristol – Trinity
Tues Oct 23 – Portsmouth – Wedgewood Rooms
Wed Oct 24 – Brighton – Concorde 2
Thu Oct 25 – London – Electric Ballroom



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