The Jim Jones Revue - The Savage Heart
Review by Jack Foley
THE Jim Jones Revue are a band that exist to be explosive. In live form, they’re renowned for the power and energy they bring to their shows. And their albums, too, are delivered with a raw audacity that’s difficult to resist.
Hence, third album The Savage Heart finds them once again tearing down a strip with their sharp mix of frenzied blues and rock and roll, albeit broadened out this time around with the odd ballad.
It’s business as normal on robust opener and former single It’s Gotta Be About Me, which sees a foot-stomping piano and some loud riffs combining for a gutsy romp given extra impetus by Jim Jones’ throaty vocals.
The pace even picks up for the frenzied Never Let You Go, which finds Jones sounding like a man possessed over livewire riffs and crazy piano arrangements, the sort of which Jerry Lee Lewis would be proud of. The central refrain of “I ‘aint never gonna let you go” is delivered with real conviction and even has a classic Rolling Stones vibe (circa “I just wanna make love to you”).
Perhaps better, though, is the slightly more reined in 7 Times Around The Sun, which combines a kick-ass rock ‘n’ roll beat with more robust piano arrangements and a layered approach to the vocals, which finds the rest of the Revue chipping in. It’s destined to become a firm live favourite, especially in light of the excellent piano solos.
Admittedly, the album threatens to become one long rock ‘n’ roll riot by the time you reach the similarly intense Where Da Money Go? but then Jim Jones’ toss in one of several surprises.
Chain Gang slows things right down and layers in the blues and atmosphere, as if appealing to the classic chain gangs of the Deep South of yesteryear. It’s moody, even down and dirty, and finds Jones coming close to a capella at times… with just the odd crash of drum or foreboding piano to accompany him. It’s an eye-opening moment that succeeds in making you think twice about what Jim Jones have to offer.
There’s more restraint on the chugging piano chords and guitars of In And Out of Harm’s Way, which hits you with some moody backing vocals to offset Jones’ lead ones, and which is as close to funky as this band gets. Sexy and edgy too!
Later on, Eagle Eye Ball also layers on the edgy intensity, being built around a distressed siren-like guitar riff that sets the tone for another relatively stripped back offering. It’s perhaps not as accessible or as successful as Jim Jones in their pomp but, like Chain Gang, it’s evidence of evolution and it’s consistently interesting.
The final track, Midnight Oceans + The Savage Heart surprises even more, emerging as the album’s one ballad that’s emphatically delivered. The central piano arrangement is a beauty, while Jones’ vocal restraint (he’s practically at a whisper early on) makes you sit up and take notice. It’s a variation of style that really gets you excited.
Hence, for all its early bombast and predictability, The Savage Heart also has several surprises up its sleeve too. It’s evidence of a band not afraid to experiment successfully, as well as one that knows how to rock your socks off too. It’s a bit of a cracker.
Download picks: It’s Gotta Be About Me, 7 Times Around The Sun, In And Out of Harm’s Way, Midnight Oceans + The Savage Heart