Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Jim Jones Revue Burns Houses Down

Hearing the Jim Jones Revue for the first time, most people naturally assume that the band is made up of all American boys. After all, they play the type of dirty rock and roll that evokes images of bars, white blues, and garage band practices in the deep South. Maybe with a swamp cooler.

But anyone who thinks so is wrong. The high-octane quintet hails from London — they’re a British band, with most members in their early forties.

In fact, most Americans never heard Burning Your House Down when it was initially released. Europe had it last year. Until recently, it was only available in the U.S. as an import.

Americans are finally discovering what hip Brits already know.

The Jim Jones Revue kicks ass. Right from the very first listen, it's clear where their influences lie. Try to imagine what it might sound like if Jerry Lee Lewis and Motorhead played a honky tonk and then cleared the place in a barroom brawl.

Exactly. You might hear some remnants of Lewis, Elvis, Johnny Thunders, or even Gun Club, but there is something more. Burning Your House Down is gravelly, noisy, fierce, and brutal.

Even when the band performed on Late Night With David Letterman to help promote the album's release, they delivered American-styled rock with a ferociousness and energy that prompted Letterman to suggest dancing be made illegal. Just watching them perform made me sweat.

These guys aren't newbies and Burning Your House Down isn't their first release. Their self-titled CD came out in 2008, followed by a collection of singles called Here To Serve Your Soul in 2009.

Few critics or industry types took notice, but fans did. Grassroots and word of mouth earned the band a small and fervent following. The addiction is in seeing them live. They beat some of the best with their performances, hitting everything hard, fast, and with plenty of heat.

The Jim Jones Revue vision includes leaving blisters.

The band is made up of Jim Jones (vocals, guitar), Gavin Jay (bass), Nick Jones (drums), Elliot Mortimer (piano), and Rupert Orton (guitar). Orton is the brother of folkie Beth Orton, and wears several hats, including band manager.

Together, their vision has always been to turn blistering live music into recorded tracks with nothing sacrificed. They do it on Burning Your House Down with a little help from accomplished producer Jim Sclavunos. You know his work: Sonic Youth, Nick Cave, and Grinderman.

And now more people will know it from the Jim Jones Revue. Sclavunos manages to rein in all their songs and yet set it loose all at the same time. Things stay fiery during all 11 rollicking tunes (13 on iTunes), delivered in a breakneck pace of 33 minutes.

Some picks: On Dishonest John, Jones sneers and snarls his way through, with Orton providing an infectious and driving riff. High Horse pays tribute to Lewis, who should certainly be proud. Burning Your House Down highlights some smoking hot piano with a few Killer-like flourishes along the way.

If you want to look for a fourth as a starter set, Foghorn is propelled by Jay and Nick Jones’ driving rhythm section, Orton’s unhinged guitar, and Jim Jones’ guttural wail. Better, buy the album.

High Horse, Big Len, Dishonest John, Burning Your House Down, and Shoot First are among my favorites. There isn't much to call a weakness, with exception to some standard fare lyrics here and there. However, the musicianship and delivery make up for it. These guys are serious about what they do.

The Jim Jones Revue’s Burning Your House Down Rollicks 7.3 On The Liquid Hip Richter Scale.

The band is touring Europe during October, but watch for some shows in the U.S. in support of the album's U.S. debut. Joining the band on piano and replacing Mortimer is Henri Herbert, who does a fine job pounding the ivories. You can stay up to date with them on their site.

Burning Your House Down is all over iTunes for its no-nonsense blaze. You can also find the CD on Barnes & Noble. Burning Your House Down is also up on Amazon. Fans there raved about it back when it was an import, saying it was still worth every dollar.
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