Outrageous U.K. rockers Jim Jones Revue make their way to North America along their latest single “Collision Boogie.” With a live reputation for pushing RNR limits, this band drives by Detroit balls and the keyboard swagger of “The Killer,” Jerry Lee Lewis. This time, they’ve pushed their own boundaries with material steered by American roots, gospel and the collective energy of Voodoo ceremony music. Jim Jones, JRR vocalist and guitarist, discusses these.
“They’re about raising this energy amongst the people that were there and everybody gives everything until it raises an energy that’s bigger than all of them,” he explains, “this fantastic kind of catharsis.”
Not unlike the experience of a JRR show since their explosive 2008 release – and they’ve been touring relentlessly. The current lineup is Jim Jones with guitarist Rupert Orton, Henri Herbert on piano, Nick Jones on drums and Gavin Jay on bass.
Released as a package with video, the single “Collision Boogie” was produced and mixed by Jim Sclavunos (Grinderman/Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds). Jones was inspired when he heard the sound and rhythm of Jamaican dancehall blaring from a car speaker through the streets of his East London neighbourhood.
“It was louder than anything else,” laughs Jones. From that session, songs were put aside, with intent to be released in their own time. That moment arrived when they met film director, Roger Pomphrey. A video followed and was shot on location with East London congregating in a West London party.
“You can spot a lot of people there from the West London gang,” he points out. “Those connected with the Clash people. Mick Jones and his mates, Slim Jim Phantom is in there too, from the Stray Cats, and Glen Matlock who played in the Sex Pistols, is in that crowd if you look close enough.” During the time of this interview, unfortunately, Pomphrey, had just recently passed.
Their full-length album Savage Heart has its own “journey.” The title shared a connection with the novel Heart of Darkness and with series of circumstances while on the road including, but not limited to, when the band arrived in Russia with public unrest following the election, and another time, returning from tour, Jones found his East London neighbourhood amidst a riot in progress. The vocalist talks about “the fine line” between refuge and survival. This primal rawness is brought out in people when the conditions of comforts are stripped away.
“Hence, the title Savage Heart, “ says Jones. With this album they wanted to work with different sounds but still capture the same intensity of their first release and live shows.
The new album was informed by gospel, old blues field recordings and “elevation” by means of music. “The songs that they sang in their day on those recordings were kind of reflective of the times they were living in. We tried to make sure in the writing – it is reflective of the stuff that was happening to us,” explains Jones. “Being in a band, you are constantly travelling and seeing some amazing things. We tried to take elements of these themes, what we saw, on a global level and make them our own, make them personal and put them into our songs.”
The “call and response” vocals of the historical chain gang field recordings is heard with “Seven Times Around the Sun.” That song was originally intended for a full band, but when they were working out the vocals, reducing the instruments to just drums and piano. They realized it didn’t need layers and guitars. “It sounded great as it is,” says Jones, “so we just left it completely raw.”
There was chemistry when they started to play as a band and noticed the audience was actually dancing. “The swing in the music is what does it, it gives it that sexy sort of grind thing, that’s really important in good rock ‘n’ roll,” says Jones. “Music that gives you something, fills you with enough positive energy that you can take with you to last you through the next few days.”
The Jim Jones Revue hit Vancouver Monday, April 21 at the WISE Hall.
By tiina liimu
Photo: Steve Gullick