Am I wrong to assert that if it ain’t driven by a piano then it ain’t rock’n’roll? Well, I guess so. No piano on the Sun Sessions, nor Eddie Cochran, Buddy Holly or Gene Vincent. Then again, they were the good guys. Jerry Lee Lewis, Little Richard, Ike Turner, Chuck Berry (guitar-powered, but just check Johnny Johnson’s piano pounding away alongside) and Larry Williams ~ now you got some trouble on your hands.
The Jim Jones Revue have been around for two years and are fast building a following of folk who like to see bad guys rock’n’roll. Proper r’n’r with the handbrake off, in fact all brakes have failed and the engine’s overheating. By the way, you’re going downhill too, on a steep gradient. I have seen this band three times now and they are blisteringly exciting to watch.
Madame JoJo’s, in the heart of Soho, is a near-perfect venue for them, but the band are out-growing it. People were being turned away at the door, a double-edged sword for any band. Inside, the vibe was great, with hip cats of varied ages all digging the band, if not totally letting their selves go nuts. The gig is a launch for the new download only single Cement Mixer (see below).
This band look the part. Singer Jones, late of Thee Hypnotics and Black Moses, is the city marshal, with a trusty possee of pylon stanced guitarist (and promoter) Rupert Orton , Gavin Jay on bass, Nick Jones on drums and the amazing Elliot Mortimer on piano. All stand tall, with way too much hair any men of their age have a right to own. (Jealous? Yes).
They have great instruments ~ Gretsch and Gibson semi-acoustics, Ludwig drums but attack them as if their last pint has been spilt a minute after closing time. They play LOUD too. Or should that be TOO loud? The volume obviously adds to the blitzkrieg feel that they create, yet the PA in this venue couldn’t elevate Jones’ vocals to match. They were totally lost and this is a big shame for Jim gives it his absolute bloody all. He screams and he means it. The instruments were perfectly balanced, but when the crowd begged for more from the most important instrument of all ~ the vocals, the mic couldn’t cope and howled for mercy for the remainder of the set. If the band’s amps were tuned to 9 rather than 11, I doubt the impact would have been any less and we’d have heard Jones clearly. Plus my head may not be pounding so much this morning.
A word about Elliot Mortimer. I’m no pianist, I can barely tell Les Dawson from Jools Holland, but he is the business as they say in tv programmes that call for a cockney geezer to spout bollocks about something or other. He ploughs the same field as the lad Holland, why they even dress similarly, with the same mop of black hair, yet there all comparisons end. Mortimer is exciting, whereas Holland seems to plod. Holland is for mums and dads, Mortimer is for kids ~ just shift the analogy on a couple of generations! He pounds the piano like the Killer at his best and, when turning to organ on Cement Mixer, is the blood brother of the Faces’ great Ian McLagan.
The set was comprised mainly from the eponymous debut album; an extremely lo-fi recording with the dials way into the red, amps again at 11, that goes a fair way to recreating their live sound, plus some judicious covers ~ Alvin Lee’s Goin Back to Birmingham, Little Richard’s Good Golly Miss Molly and Elvis’ last great rock’n’roll recording, Big Hunk O’Love.
The Rolling Stones ~ The Greatest Rock’n’Roll Band in the World? You’ve gotta be kidding. The Beatles, now they were a great rock’n’roll band ~ Rock’n’Roll Music, Slow Down, Dizzy Miss Lizzy, but not the Stones, they ain’t never played a rock’n’roll song in their lives. The greatest white r’n’b band the world’s ever seen ~ I’ve got no argument with that, but as their drummer says, “we’re not rock’n’roll, rock’n’roll is Little Richard”.
Rock’n’roll is also The Jim Jones Revue. Catch ‘em now, while you can. In fact, catch ‘em tonight (March 6th) in session on Tom Robinson’s 6Music show.