The Jim Jones Revue of London, England, are here to remind everyone that there is no cataclysm like a rock and roll cataclysm. To show that the beast has sloughed off its old skin and emerged newly fanged, clawed and alive. (Photo: IZTOKX,

All Hell Breaks Loose
By Christopher Hill

Here to Save Your Soul
The Jim Jones Revue
Indie Europe/Zoom

Most first year anthropology students learn about something called "cargo cults," a phenomenon observed during and after World War II among the remote Melanesian populations of the South Pacific islands. As Wikipedia tells us:

During the war, large amounts of food and goods were flown in by the Japanese and American combatants, and this was observed by the natives of the islands. When the war ended, the flow of goods and materials ceased. In an attempt to attract further deliveries of goods, followers of the cults engaged in ritualistic practices such as building crude imitation landing strips, aircraft and radio equipment, and mimicking the behavior that they had observed of the military personnel operating them.

Go downtown this weekend to wherever the music clubs are. Odds are you won't have to stop in to more than two or three before you before you find a genuine 21st century cargo cult in action. Up there on the stage, whether it's a national touring act or someone from your local indie-alt-post-rock scene, you'll see the same hopeless ritual being enacted. There's the two-guitar, bass and drums configuration that hasn't changed since the Beatles appeared on Ed Sullivan. Maybe there's a quirky frontman acting out his angst in front of his band. Obeying an inchoate impulse from the pop unconscious, they apparently feel that by arranging the externals the same way they once were when people experienced the collective ecstasy of rock and roll, the power may be induced to descend again and flow through them. But that's just a hope, only half conscious. Most of the time, like those Pacific Islanders, they seem to be going through motions that they don't really understand, their guitars as harmless as rifles made of sticks.

And then, every once in an epoch, a real plane lands again.

The Jim Jones Revue, ‘Princess and the Frog’: A musical ethos that revels in tempting chaos.

The Jim Jones Revue of London, England, are here to remind everyone that there is no cataclysm like a rock and roll cataclysm. To show that the beast has sloughed off its old skin and emerged newly fanged, clawed and alive.

What are the signals that tell you you're in the presence of rock and roll? First of all, it's transcendently noisy—they've found a new level of racket and distortion, built to give offense to even those hipsters who think they can't be offended. As was once said of another band, the Jim Jones Revue will make you feel it or leave the room. Even when you turn it down it still feels loud and when you crank it-I have to fall back on cliché-it blows the walls back. It doesn't seem like it belongs indoors. Like their predecessors in the technique of high energy jams-kicking—the MC5, the New York Dolls, the Sex Pistols—the Jim Jones Revue practice a musical ethos that revels in tempting chaos. You listen in horrified fascination to a track like “Princess and the Frog,” one of their signature numbers, waiting for this careening thing to hit a wall or just fall apart at the seams. This kind of hoodoo is strong enough to make an Elvis throwaway like “Big Hunk O’ Love” sound desperate and vital. (They’ve got some pop sense of their own, too, shown off in originals like “Freak Of Nature,” where they weave some knowing hooks into the righteous testifying.) Even when they slow it down and get bluesy as in “Cement Mixer,” they still manage to sound like the armies of Mordor rolling across a plain of skulls.

The Revue draws their formal inspiration from rockabilly and that most Dionysian of early rockers, Little Richard. But there hasn't been an attack like this since the Sex Pistols. It's as if John Fogerty had joined the MC5. Their most obvious nod to their inspirations is Elliot Mortimer's piano. It's taken 50 years for someone to really build on Jerry Lee's example of a piano as a lead rock and roll instrument, but this one madly elbows its way out of the decorative rut that keyboards typically occupy in guitar bands to rival the guitar in the band's attack. And Brother Jim Jones is a shouter like the young David Johansen; there's no bottom to his shout, it's like the ordinary limits of flesh and blood have been transcended, or violated.

The Jim Jones Revue: (from left) Elliot Mortimer, piano; Gavin Jay, bass; Jim Jones, vocals/guitar; Nick Jones, drums. (Photo: Nathan Seabrook)

All those young men and women standing fecklessly on stages tonight with guitars in their hands now have an exemplar to show them the why and wherefore of what they're doing, like adolescents beginning to understand sex, as the enormous awareness dawns of what those odd body parts are for. This is the rock and roll exultation that someone, somewhere, will keep on rediscovering, despite every shift of taste. There was enough general momentum in the British punk scene to send the Clash through the membrane of public resistance. The Jim Jones Revue doesn’t have the momentum of a movement or a zeitgeist behind them. In to day's pop world they are sui generis. There's no slot for them. But with the kind of power they have, they just may be able to carve out their own.

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Founder/Publisher/Editor: David McGee
Contributing Editors: Billy Altman, Laura Fissinger, Christopher Hill, Derk Richardson
Logo Design: John Mendelsohn (
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Staff Photographers: Audrey Harrod (Louisville, KY;, Alicia Zappier (New York)
Mailing Address: David McGee, 201 W. 85 St.—5B, New York, NY 10024