Breaking Out: The Jim Jones Revue
Stylish Brits bust out the piano, revive the wop-bam-boom.
Lately, hellzapoppin’ boogie believer Jim Jones has been dealing with a problem unknown to his stylistic forefathers. “I like to wear vintage string ties,” says the howling frontman, “but the real old ones are clip-ons. They were fine for Hank Williams, but if you’re rocking out like I am, they fall off. Maybe that’s why I’m one of the only guys still wearing ‘em.”
Retro neckwear isn’t the only thing that Jones’ London-based quintet is doing its damnedest to bring back. The raw, rebellious spirit of Little Richard and Jerry Lee Lewis — spiced with Detroit proto-punk testifying — courses through the band’s self-titled 2008 debut, which gets a Stateside release this month (via Punk Rock Blues/Redeye).
“Think about it,” implores Jones, who first encountered early rock via his private-eye dad’s collection of 45s. “Little Richard was a gay black man in makeup screaming about sex in the 1950s. There was a level of excitement in his music that’s missing today. Capturing that feeling is what we’re all about.”
And they’ve got the YouTube videos to prove it (see “Rock N Roll Psychosis”). The album’s needle-in-the-red butane burners like “Fish 2 Fry” and “Who’s Got Mine?” adds Jones, “have some swing to them. Our music makes people move side to side instead of up and down. You can actually jive to it.”
Abetted by guitarist Rupert Orton (brother of folktronica balladeer Beth Orton), pianist Elliot Mortimer, bassist Gavin Jay, and drummer Nick Jones (no relation) — all vets of London’s garage rock scene — Jones will be inducing plenty of side-to-side movement in the coming months. A jaw-dropping showcase at South by Southwest in March, where the band impressed the New York Dolls’ Sylvain Sylvain and Patti Smith guitarist/Nuggets compiler Lenny Kaye, impelled an invitation to play three New York City shows in late July. (“We don’t mind bringing coals to Newcastle,” says Jones of his band’s American dates.) After that comes headlining tours of France and the U.K., with an as-yet-untitled album due this fall.
“We’re taking more care recording this time,” admits Jones, formerly of ’90s psych-blues ravers Thee Hypnotics. “That means two takes — but only if we really mess up the first time.”
LISTEN: The Jim Jones Revue, “Rock ‘n’ Roll Psychosis”