The Jim Jones Revue Burning Your House Down Review

Album. Released 2010.  

BBC Review

Blues-rock renegades rip the genre a new orifice.

Johnny Sharp 2010

The noble art of the 12-bar boogie has gradually been devalued over the years.

Fifty years ago, it was one of the most vital, life-affirming forms of musical expression known to mankind, but it has since been watered down by a million rubbish bar bands playing ‘good time rock’n’roll’ with neither the energy to rock nor the sensibilities to roll.

But there are still a few snake-hipped firebrands determined enough to trace this form of beefed-up blues back to its primal, screaming essence. This second long-play offering from east London quintet The Jim Jones Revue specialises in boogie with the speaker-ripping rasp of a Little Richard rather than the sedate chug of a Status Quo.

There’s a noble lineage of this back-to-basics approach, dating back to Creedence Clearwater Revival’s swamp rock, and carrying on through bequiffed 90s stompers like Jon Spencer Blues Explosion and Rocket from the Crypt. But frontman Jim Jones’s raw, tonsil-eviscerating delivery is less stylised than those latter two, and the 21st century production, courtesy of Bad Seeds/Grinderman drummer Jim Sclavunos, make it sound considerably fiercer than John Fogerty’s blue collar bawling.

Often this kind of act doesn’t do itself justice on record – you’ll catch them live and be blown away, vowing to ‘testify’ and get their name tattooed on your neck, but then find that once their untamed sound is squashed into a 60-watt speaker on your living room stereo they don’t have quite the same pant-wetting effect. So it’s tribute to this album’s crackling, slash’n’burn sound that the impact is hardly dampened.

The sheer power of presentation more than makes up for an occasional lack of conventional songwriting skills. Jones camps it up a treat on the pantomime villain vocal of Foghorn, while Burning Your House Down sounds like Tom Waits after a monstrous night on the whiskey. Killin’ Spree resembles Nick Cave channelling the louche rumble of Dr Feelgood, and elsewhere, string-shredding guitar, furiously chattering piano and blistering, blustery rhythm mean you’re bombarded with sonic viscera.

In other words, resistance is futile. The Jim Jones Revue have come to save rock’n’roll. Sign away your souls here.

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