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Album Review: The Jim Jones Revue – The Savage Heart

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The Jim Jones Revue may be born of British blood, but, musically speaking, they’re plenty American at heart. The band’s rollicking amalgam of ’50s-inspired rock ‘n’ roll and menacing garage rock feels more indebted to Memphis or the Motor City than the band’s native London.

Evidence of such is spread thickly across The Savage Heart, Jones and friends’ third offering for Punk Rock Blues Records. At nine tracks and just under 40 minutes, the band cranks out a sweat-stained slate of ugly, rootsy American rock charged full of greaser gusto. Following in the hefty footprints of its strong 2010 record, Burning Down Your House, The Savage Heart once again draws from an American foundation, from the rip-up piano work of Jerry Lee Lewis and George Thorogood’s boogie blues swagger to the wild aggression of proto punk upstarts like the MC5.

But while that’s a lot of sonic history to pack into a limited slate of tracks, it’s the way the band picks through its hefty musical lineage and mines its best attributes that helps the record live up to its name. “It’s Gotta Be About Me” cruises with retro flair and biker cool, while the bouncy piano lines give “Where’d Da Money Go?” a groovy kick in the ass. But the real show comes courtesy of Jones, who lets his madcap frontman instincts and hoarse voice run wild on tracks like the love-scorn “Catastrophe”. The record comes to a comparatively tame close on “Midnight Oceans & The Savage Heart”, but even that tune’s seemingly innocent throwback to a long-departed era of drive-in movies and high school sock hops is coated in a thick layer of kitschy nostalgia.

Is the Jim Jones Revue a playful detour through rock history? Or maybe a bourbon-soaked bar band from hell? The Savage Heart is a little bit of both, thanks to a band with the smarts, chops, and passion to make something fresh out of the expansive musical fodder that helped lay its rowdy foundation.

Essential Tracks: “It’s Gotta Be About Me”, “Catastrophe”, and “Where’d Da Money Go?”

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