The Jim Jones Revue ‘The Savage Heart’ – album review

The Jim Jones Revue ‘The Savage Heart’ (Punk Rock Blues Records/PIAS)
Released 15th October 2012

Notorious for their maniacal high-energy shows, The Jim Jones Revue have been described by MOJO as “the greatest rock n’ roll band in the world right now”…

Damn right!. Take the teeth-chattering piano and a-wop-bop-a-loo-mop-a-lop-bam-boom of Little Richard, the waaaaaaaah!!! and stomp of the Sonics, the sartorial elegance and dynamics of the Clash (playing Brand New Cadillac or I Fought The Law) and you get the essence of the kind of rock’n’roll that the Jim Jones Revue specialise in.

There press release is so articulate & accurate (and quite possibly under-stated) that it’s almost not necessary to review the Revue at all……

”Their most exhilarating work to date, The Savage Heart expands the sonic remit of The Jim Jones Revue beyond their renowned brand of manic rock ’n’ roll to explore a virtual “heart of darkness” of new musical territory in the form of tribal stomps, field hollers, a capella rave-ups — even a fuzzed-out feedback-laden doo-wop ballad!

This is their third album since they formed in 2007 and its produced by Jim Sclavunos (Grinderman / Bad Seeds) who also did Burning Your House Down in 2010.

The Savage Heart swaggers with all the balls-out rocking of its predecessors, but offers too an expansive vision of the band, with a wider palette of sounds…

“While the group look back into the roots of rock n’ roll, we’ve never gone backwards in what we do,” says Jim Jones. “It’s always about pushing things forward for us.”

Contributing mightily to the vigorous sound captured on The Savage Heart is new member Henri Herbert on keyboards. Henri, who joined just last year, has diversified the band’s keyboard vocabulary, drawing not just on the likes of Jerry Lee Lewis and Little Richard but Otis Spann, Pete Johnson and Albert Ammons as well.

“He’s the Professor of Piano,” affirms Rupert. “His wealth of knowledge is astounding. He’s really re-shaped our approach.”

It really is a tremendous album and a contender for best of the year. It’s a definite ‘progression’ from Burning the House Down, the only criticism you could’ve leveled at which, was that it was ‘a bit samey’. The Savage Heart has variety as well as savagery and… heart.

So here’s my traditional track-by-track run down;

It’s Gotta Be About Me opens in stupendous form, sounding like Blank Generation being performed by a bizarre supergroup made up of members of the Dolls, Slade, a manic Tom Waits and Little Richard. The lyrical cliches’ tumble out, on a song about self-obssession and ego, including sexual references from A Clockwork Orange, and 50’s & 60’s heptalk.

Never let You Go starts like the Doors Touch Me, with Fast Eddie guitars and boogie-woogie pianner fighting it out – before a bit of Bad Seeds style call and response

7 Times Around The Sun is another epic, with the aforementioned field hollers showing how JJ is now a mighty vocalist. The piano gets slightly too Jools Holland on this track but Jones vocal is showstopping and outdoes even Jon Spencer

Where Da Money Go? Presumably this is the ‘socially conscious lyric’ mentioned in the PR although it’s hard to notice amongst the grunt’s n’ hollers, teeth-chattering piano and guitar. “You were always a dick, but now you’ve crossed the line” is my favourite line.

Chain Gang is a bit slower and more bluesy, but a wonderful moody piece conjuring up images from a Cool Hand Luke style movie.

In and Out of Harm’s Way – again a Bad Seeds-type influence which changes into an Iggy & the Doors epic with Aladdin Sane style piano flourishes and runs. Its widescreen and beautifully produced creating Spagghetti Western atmospherics reminiscent of what Theatre of Hate attempted on Westworld. There’s a guitar pattern that apes the sound of a steam train superbly.

Catastrophe Hammond organ and piano cannot stop this seemingly being JJR on autopilot after Harms Way, Saved from mediocrity by a brilliantly delivered line “You light me up like an angler fish”.

Eagle Eye Ball A bit of a JSBX homage going on here, but great performance, superb song where JJ plays a stalker to sublimely creepy effect.

Midnight Oceans & The Savage Heart is the psychedelic-feedback doo-wop masterpiece that closes the album when perhaps Harms Way should’ve been saved for the climax. Instead of a string-section the guitars create sustained delicately controlled feedback. A Twin Peaks feel to this one and great crooning from Jim.

Despite all of my trademark comparisons to other artistes the Jim Jones Revue really do sound like themselves and themselves alone. I’m tempted to say this album outshines even the Blues Explosions new one (which I’ve only heard once) and Grindermans second (which I just didn’t dig as much as the first) but maybe that’s just my personal slant on it, one-guys-opinion.

Overall though, there is no doubt whatsoever, that this is a blinding, powerful, magnificent, cinematic, rip-roaring rock’n’roll album.

The Jim Jones Revue ‘The Savage Heart’ – album review

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Ged Babey is 56. from Southampton, has written since 1985 for Sound Info, Due South, various fanzines and websites, contributed to Record Collector magazine and was sole author of 'Punk Throwback' fanzine -the name of which was taken from an insult hurled at him by the singer with a young band he managed for a while. Ged believes that all good music and art has a connection with punk rock.


  1. Just caught 3 tracks tonight on 6 Music still not heard the album, can’t wait for gig, er Jon Spencer new release pretty cool as well !


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