The Jim Jones Revue

Burning Your House Down

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Though they hail from London, the Jim Jones Revue could convincingly just as well be from the Detroit of another era, owing no small debt to the region's down-and-dirty Stooges and MC5. The group actually thrives on numerous anachronisms, noisily throttling through manic rave-ups rooted in a positively wicked distortion of the very early days of rock & roll, and lending major credence to the tag "psychobilly" along the way. While it's difficult to ignore the pangs of Raw Power felt throughout, it's equally impossible to not think of Little Richard as one of the cornerstones here -- unlikely bedfellow though he may be -- particularly in the way the predominant and admirably interwoven strains of rollicking piano interact with the raspy shouts constituting the vocal track. The keys are so essential to their sound that the Revue used a picture of a lone, suitably battered upright on the cover of their debut, and though they have come much further into their own on Burning Your House Down, that striking photograph still hits a resounding chord. A top-notch testament to their powers in this regard is the mid-album cut "Shoot First," a rare moment where the instruments are given ample breathing room from one another and resultantly shine on their own merits. The guitars get their due, too, on the loping groove of the apocalyptic "Righteous Wrong," which takes its time in reaching the record's absolute peak. The Jim Jones Revue certainly are a formidable outfit, running amok at a breakneck pace with sound levels regularly in the red, and seemingly poised to live up to the threat of the title lest anyone dare label them "derivative." Indeed, doing so feels beside the point. Perhaps they represent the bastard child of what the Cramps and Stray Cats achieved with considerably more measure and restraint in their own rights a couple decades prior -- and what the absence of those two crucial elements entails on Burning Your House Down is a certain lack of variation. What they do offer is a consistently flavorful brand of amped-up burlesque that is not totally unlike the way the Hives treat their '60s garage rock palette. The sense of ceaseless energy makes it a safe bet that the Revue's high camp would be ideally absorbed as an audience-baiting live act, and that this record is likely a mere shadow of what they can deliver in that setting. And yet, by the end, when the final words "just can't stop!" are bellowed, it's hard to begrudge them these 30-some minutes of unbridled exuberance.

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