JIM JONES REVUE, NEWCASTLE UNIVERSITY 27/9/14.
In my opinion – no, make that ‘in any sane person’s opinion’ – Whole Lotta Shakin’ Going On by Jerry Lee Lewis is one of the finest tunes ever penned, a perfect depiction of being young and dumb and rushing on the thrill of rock’n’roll music for the very first time; a bona fide teenage anthem from way back when teenagers were only just invented. The lyrics don’t say much beyond ‘we are going to have a pure fucking laugh tonight, us, like…’ but that sentiment right there is a crystallisation of what lies at the core of timeless rock’n’roll songs, a mission statement in six simple words; We’re Gonna Have Some Fun Tonight.
The reason I’m waxing lyrical about Whole Lotta Shakin’…is because The Jim Jones Revue’s basic modus operandi is to take this song and then…I’m grasping for the right word here, but what they essentially do is explode the fucking thing. Massive riffs smash into vocals schooled in the Noddy Holder method of impassioned howling, all devilishly underpinned by the greatest honky-tonk pianner-playing you will probably ever hear in your life, courtesy of Mr Henri Herbert, a man who, when he pops his clogs, surely has an afterlife career lined up as Beelzebub’s personal piano man. (If the devil does indeed have all the best tunes, I reckon most of them are likely to be thumping honky-tonk barrelhouse numbers…)
Also, let’s not forget that all great rock’n’roll bands have to have the three T’s: Tunes, Threads and Tonsorial splendour. Clad all in black with a brace of fine quiffs ahoy, JJR look like a gang, which is exactly how it should be; bands should look like gangs, not trainee teachers.
So yeah, tonight was a glorious celebration, a rock’n’roll injection straight into my cynical old heart, but it was also a wake and a fond farewell, because this is the last hurrah tour, and at the end of it, The Jim Jones Revue will be no more; if you never got to see them, then now you never will. SUX2BU, as the youth of today so eloquently say in such situations.
Mick Jones of The Clash is on record as saying ‘There is no bigger band than The Jim Jones Revue’, and in terms of their sound, songs and attitude, he was bang on the money with that one. JJR are/were the real deal, and I can’t figure out how they’re not as turbo-mega famous as AC/DC or the Stones, because in my mind at least, they absolutely deserve to be.
But let’s celebrate their contributions to Rock’s unholy canon rather than mourn their passing, and hey, how often in one’s life does one get to see a band going out at the absolute height of their awesome powers, preaching the dumb fun gospels at maximum volume and with every gun blazing? Hardly fucking ever; most of them wait until they’ve had at least three tepid later-career albums chart in the mid-thirties before they finally shuffle off to some carp-breeding limbo for a decade, returning the second they’re deemed to have been gone long enough to be classed as a nostalgia act.
None of The Jim Jones Revue will ever turn their hand to carp-farming, I would wager. I wish them all well in their futures, fervently hoping that some or all of them will go on to create music that aspires to be as urgent, thrilling and magnificently goddamn primal as their former band. Truly, Gods have walked among us, and we were too blind to see…
ETTRICK SKOTTY SCOTT.
Photo Collage - Jim Jones Revue in Newcastle 2010 - 2013